Part of my process before working with sales teams to help improve the win rate of their sales calls or presentations, is to talk with sales managers about where they see room for improvement. I frequently hear comments like these:
“Our salespeople know the product, they say all the right words, but they’re just not connecting with prospects on their calls.”
“They’re smart and passionate about the solution, but it’s not coming across in their presentation.”
In my experience, a flat or unenthusiastic presentation is rarely due to a lack of passion. More often it’s due to a lack of understanding that being an effective presenter requires more than just “feeling it.” It requires making sure those feelings are transferred to your audience, in other words, being intentional.
What is an Intentional Salesperson?
An intentional salesperson understands that words are just part of how we communicate to others. In addition to the sound of your voice and your body language, the intention, or impact you intend to make on your listener often speaks louder than the words themselves.
Have you ever had someone say “I’m sorry,” and you know darn well they’re not?! They use the same words as someone who is truly sorry, but it’s clear in their tone, perhaps their expression, and actions that they are not. Intentions influence how we say things and therefore, how people respond to us. In the performance world actors consciously choose strong, specific intentions to direct their actions and words and to make a strong impact on their audience.
In sales we want to make a strong impact on our audience as well, yet rarely leverage the power of intention to do so. Here’s an example from a recent coaching session I did:
Let me set the stage: John is a super sharp sales consultant who believes strongly in his solution, and has just delivered an informative, but boring presentation.
Me: “What was your intention, John?”
John: “I’m trying to tell them how our solution can help them.” (“Duh,” I believe he whispered under his breath.)
Me: “But what impact do you want to have on your audience?”
John: “Well,” he hesitates. “I want them to buy the product after I tell them how it’s going to help solve their issues.”
This is where the problem lies.
Telling isn’t selling
If it were enough to tell people feature and benefits, the world wouldn’t need salespeople. How many times a day does someone “tell” you something? Most of the time it has little impact. This is what actors call a “weak” intention and it has no particular passion or energy that can be transferred to your audience. It’s simply a transfer of information. There is a much more effective way, and that is choosing and acting on a strong intention.
The Power of a Strong Intention
I asked John to repeat his presentation, and without changing the words, to have as a goal or an intention to “excite his audience” about his solution. He looked at me skeptically at first, but once he started it was like watching an entirely different presentation. At the end, the rest of the class burst into applause. All because of his focus on a clear, strong intention.
How you want to make your audience feel or what you want them to do after hearing your presentation? As an intentional salesperson, you can start to use your intention to help get them there. For example, perhaps you want to “engage” your audience initially, “excite” them when you reveal benefits and “motivate” them when it’s time to close.
How to leverage the power of intention in Your Presentation:
Decide what impact you want to have on your audience. Do you want to excite or motivate them? Do you need to persuade or challenge them? Get clear on your intention early in your presentation practice.
When delivering your presentation try to focus on why you’re saying the words as you say them.
Notice the difference in your energy and how your audience responds to you when you are intentional.
Want proof? Record yourself before and after. You will be struck by how much more engaging your delivery is when you choose and use a strong intention.
Being an intentional salesperson can produce powerful reactions, passion and commitment in you, which will in turn, have a direct impact on your audience.