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A common concern I hear from sales manager’s centers around the ability of their sales team to passionately or enthusiastically present their solution:
“I don’t know what it is. They know their material, they say all the right things, but they’re just not connecting with the audience.” “I know they’re passionate about our product, but it’s just not coming across in their presentation.”
In my experience the cause of a dispassionate presentation is rarely due to the presenter’s lack of passion about their solution. It more often stems from the presenter’s intention, or lack of intention.
What is an intention?
Intentions are the driving force under all of our words and actions. They 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 create a specific effect on their audience. We are trying to impact our prospects as well, yet notice what intentions salespeople typically use in this real example below:
Actual post-presentation coaching session:
(Presenter has just finished giving an accurate but boring presentation.
Me: “So, what was your intention?”
Presenter: (Looking momentarily confused.) “I’m trying to sell them.” (“Duh,” I believe he whispered under his breath.)
Me: “Of course that’s the overall goal,” I said. “But in this specific section of your presentation, what are you trying to accomplish?”
Presenter: “I’m trying to tell them how our solution can help them.”
Me: “Ah!” I said. “So your intention is to tell them.” Presenter: “Well, yes. I’m telling them about the benefits, which will sell them on our product.”
Telling is not selling
We all know that telling is not selling when it comes to the content of our presentation (e.g., features with no benefits) but the implications of that statement on the delivery of the presentation is rarely discussed. Few salespeople consciously consider what their intention is, or what intention would be most effective in any given circumstance. When communicating information to an audience, it is very easy to fall into the default intention of “telling.”
The problem with weak intentions
Think about how many times a day people “tell” you something. It’s not particularly compelling is it? The same goes for “showing” or “educating.” These words are what actors call “weak” intentions and have no particular passion, energy or power of persuasion which can be transferred to your audience. There is a much more effective way, and that is simply choosing and acting on a strong intention.
Advanced Technique: Choose a Strong Intention
Imagine if my intention were not to “tell” you about how to improve your presentation skills, but instead to “excite” you about it. I guarantee I would naturally be more passionate and engaged in communicating with you. In the same way, you always want to choose a strong intention for key sections of your presentation. 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. Powerful intentions can produce powerful reactions, passion and commitment in you, the presenter, and therefore have a direct impact on your audience.
For easy-to-follow steps on how to apply the power of a Strong Intention, and 9 more advanced tips, click here to get my new e-book FREE!