Do you ever get the feeling that you're
speaking one language, while some of the
people you're addressing understand another?
Do you ever wonder why that diagram you spent
two hours creating is being met with more
than a couple of blank stares? Do you
sometimes question whether you're all on the
same page - or even reading from the same
book? If so, you're not alone.
Communication is a two-way street (well, the
most effective communication is, anyway).
Unfortunately, it's not a street many of us
navigate as well as we could. In any
in-person or phone communication, we play two
roles - the speaker/presenter, and the
listener. Listening is an important skill in
sales - one we discussed in a previous
tip - and if not performed well can cost
you sales. Speaking and presenting are also
communications skills that can work for you,
or against you, depending on how well you
perform them. Sales people who are the most
successful presenters are those who have
mastered the art of speaking and
communicating with the different types
of people they encounter in meetings.
Unfortunately, too many of us haven't. We
fail to take into account style,
temperament, personality, and preferred
learning methods, and treat everyone as
if they were the same. We say the same
thing, the same way, at the same pace -
regardless of whom we're speaking to. And
then we're surprised when these same
things don't connect with the
different personalities of the people
we're communicating with.
So let's try something different.
In sales, it often helps to be a chameleon.
Chameleons, as most of us know, are known to
change the color of their skin (though not,
as is popularly believed, on demand). Now,
I'm not suggesting for a moment that you whip
off that red tie and throw on a blue one
midway through your presentation.
But I am suggesting that by paying attention
and adapting to the behaviors of the members
of the audience you're presenting to (whether
it's one person or ten) you'll have a better
chance of connecting, gaining agreement, and
For example, you're introducing an aspect of
your offering that only a techno-geek would
understand, to a 60-year old executive who's
already mentioned that his grandkids run
circles around him on the computer (and that
that's not terribly hard to do). Try
presenting it in a way that this obvious
technophobe will understand, without
coming across as talking down to him. "This
is a somewhat technical concept - often only
the computer whizzes in the audience get it.
So let's discuss in plain English what this
is and why it's important."
Or when you perceive that a person in the
meeting likes directness (and, by extension,
considers indirectness in a sales
person to be evasiveness), don't beat
the bush when she asks you a question. Just
answer it. Directly.
And if you've been coached in advance that a
key person at the meeting needs to see
things - charts, diagrams, images - please
don't ramble on about the features and
benefits of your offering. Make sure this
person - and others like him - gets a chance
to see the features and supporting visuals
that provide the benefits your product offers.
Prior to your next meeting, find out what you
can from your coach (if you've established
one) about the style, temperament,
personality, and preferred learning methods
of each of the attendees. Then develop your
presentation and prepare yourself to engage
each of these people in the way most
conducive to each. Throughout the meeting,
be aware of the fewer blank stares, and
greater number of heads nodding in agreement,
as each person feels that you're speaking to
him or her personally.