Okay I apologize, the blog heading is click bait but I just wanted to prove a point. Yet it worked, I have somehow gotten your attention by being a little different or by standing out from the crowd. Very similar to an initial sales lead generated by some clever marketing person. Think about this way, you are standing in a busy street and you spot a potential customer, you shout at them from a distance and they stop and look to see where the voice is coming from. They have seen you, they kind of heard you, but haven’t quite gotten what you have said. This is make or break time! You see getting someone’s attention isn’t too difficult if you shout loud enough. But what comes after, is the important part of the sales cycle. Your first call, first presentation or first meeting is really going to set the tone of the sale and could set you up for success or failure. This is why we always relay this message in all our presentation training “You don’t get a second chance, to make a first impression”. So how can we give ourselves the best opportunity in each situation to boost our first impressions?
First Impressions Count
*Enters the meeting room of a potential customer.
Actually first impressions might happen in the blink of an eye, almost unconsciously. So do we ever stand a chance? The answer is Yes, if we are prepared.
Our unconscious reactions come out of a locked room, and we can’t look inside that room. but with experience we become expert at using our behavior and our training to interpret – and decode – what lies behind our snap judgment and first impressions. ― Malcolm Gladwell , Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
The judgement people make in a blink of an eye is based on our biases and once formed is difficult to change. That’s why it’s critical that we place our best foot forward right from the get-go. We want to come across as confident, likable, similar, engaging, trustworthy and open. We want to have the benefit of the doubt rather than be on the back foot from the start. So lets look at how we do this;
Fail to plan, plan to fail. First question and an obvious one but “why are we in this meeting?” Most sales people forget to ask this question in the initial telephone or email exchange. Do a little research on the company, look up the LinkedIn profile of the person you are meeting. This might give you some insight into the background of the person or the problem that they might be facing, thus giving you the opportunity to prepare a solution that fits their need. It may also give you the opportunity to find mutual connections, maybe they worked with a friend or someone you did business with in the past. All this helps with building initial rapport and getting past those first uneasy moments of a meeting. This is also relevant when giving a larger presentation knowing the demographic of the audience allows you to contextually tell your story.
This is often overlooked and its importance not highlighted enough. I see this a lot when it comes to presentations. The person walks up to the podium shoulders slouched forward, eyes looking at the ground and mumbles; “I am delighted to be here today”. Everything else tells us otherwise. You need to become aware of your body language when entering a presentation pitch or meeting. This comes with practice but i also advise you to ask your colleagues for feedback. You will be surprised by the feedback you get. Some of the mistakes I see quite often is speaking to fast and not knowing what to do with our hands. Please never say; “I am a little nervous before a presentation” if you feel you are a little nervous remember to take a breath, use silence as time to compose yourself.
Talk in terms of their needs:
Time is a valuable resource and understandably we want to make an impact in our presentation but this doesn’t necessarily mean we should bombard them with as much information as possible. What we are trying to do in both situations is to stimulate thought, create a conversation and show we understand their need. Remember to be interesting, be interested.This is where many presenters fail. They talk at people and have the attitude that one pitch fits all companies. Ask questions that are thought provoking and open ended, show that you have considered them. Can you see how better communication might lead to more sales? Imagine having a pitch deck you are confident to present? Have you considered by investing in a powerful presentation you might be able to tell your story better and win more contracts? Use language that is conversational. This gives a more natural feel to your meeting or presentation and brings it back to a human level.
Wrap up and call to action:
When wrapping up or closing your meeting be sure to recap on what was agreed in the meeting and any call to action. If there are any outstanding actions, make sure that you send a follow up email by the end of the day highlighting these as this will show that you were listening and are proactive. If it’s a case where the client has a tight deadline you might say; “You mentioned today, you need to have your presentation ready for this [date]. Working backward from that day and factoring in the time needed to design, get feedback and sign off, it looks like we would need to have a signed contract by this [date] to make sure we meet your deadline. Can you commit to that date?.” Here you are showing that not only you are listening to the client, addressing the challenges up front, but you are also and most importantly for a sales person, asking for the order.
First impressions count whether we like it or not. So let’s give ourselves the best opportunity in every situation, if you take on board just one or two of these points you will see more positive outcomes in both your presentations and your sales. After all who doesn’t like to feel good leaving a meeting? Be prepared, have fun, be open, be genuine and most importantly remember why you are there.
If you still need some more help with creating your slides, developing your story or need to improve your delivery take a look at www.audiencealive.com
Conor Hyland – Presentologist at Audience Alive
3rd of October
Unlearning along the way.