Two Keys for Successful Sales Presentations

1967 Red Sox and keys for successful sales presentations
Team Photo of the American League Champion 1967 Boston Red Sox

I frequently write about taking a consultative approach, where listening and asking questions are the keys for successful sales presentations.  I’m not referring to the presentation step of the sales process, as much as I am using “sales presentations” as a replacement term for “sales calls.”

While watching game 2 of the 2023 World Series, it occurred to me that while I still remember and can name every member of the 1967 Boston Red Sox, I can’t do the same for this year’s Red Sox team.  Could the difference be that the ’67 team went to to the World Series while the 2023 team finished last in the American League East?  It could also be that I was an impressionable 12 year-old that didn’t miss a single pitch that season, while this year’s team wasn’t even worth watching.  Could it be my short-term memory?  Maybe it’s time to start taking Prevagen!

The point is that while I am fascinated by this insight, there is little chance that YOU care about this.  It’s simply not important to most of you.

If it is not important, than why did I bring it up?

Salespeople must differentiate between what is important to their prospects and customers, versus what is important only to them.  I know that much of what salespeople share with their prospects falls into the category of, “boring” and “who cares?” or, as Greg from Season 2 of My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, sings in, “I Could If I Wanted to” , “Whoop-dee-frickin’-doo.”

According to data from Objective Management Group (OMG), which has assessed more than 2.4 million salespeople, 95% of the very best salespeople emphasize listening over talking, but more than half of the worst salespeople take the opposite approach, emphasizing talking over listening.  While the primary skill to prioritize listening is asking good, timely questions, only 28% of all salespeople ask enough questions.  Even worse, that drops to just 4% of the worst salespeople.  As my cousin, Rush Burkhart likes to say, these salespeople are “chain-talkers!”  He would also say, “they must think that their prospects are buying words by the pound!”

The majority of salespeople are more comfortable talking and presenting than listening and asking questions.  Worse, the topics they choose to discuss are usually known to their prospects because the company’s website prominently features those talking points.  Where is the value in that?

Practically speaking, crappy salespeople will dominate 75% of their conversations while the best salespeople will likely limit their talking to 30% of the conversation.  But all salespeople will talk.  The difference?  The best salespeople only include content that has the following two things in common:

It adds value because isn’t commonly known information

It is important to the prospect and/or customer

Anything else that salespeople choose to discuss will have the effect of the insight in this article’s opening.  Who cares other than me?  Listening, asking questions and talking about what your prospects and customers care about are the keys to successful sales presentations.

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