Today’s post is by Julie Hansen, founder of Performance Sales and Training and the author of ACT Like a Sales Pro! and Sales Presentations for Dummies. Download two free chapters here. Connect with Julie on LinkedIn or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kodak, Blockbuster, Blackberry. These are just a few examples of companies that chose not to react to key trends in buyer behavior. Each company suffered costly – and in some cases, irreparable – consequences.
If you deliver presentations or product demos, you’ve likely noticed some changes in your prospects’ behavior: increased number of distractions, unapologetic use of smartphones or tablets, and greater resistance to change. It’s not your imagination. A significant shift is taking place in buyers’ behavior today that is directly impacting your prospects’ ability to hear your message, remember it, or take action on it. If you’re still using presentation techniques that were developed before the words “smart” and “phone” became a noun, you may wake up to find you’re a Blockbuster in a Netflix world.
In my new book, Sales Presentations for Dummies, I explore several key trends you can’t afford to ignore in your presentation or demo today, including these three:
- Falling attention spans. The attention span of the average adult is half what it was just a decade ago. From texting to tweeting to getting their news, people consume information in bite-size pieces today. You only have to look at your own habits to recognize this behavioral change. Unfortunately, this new way of digesting information is at complete odds with the long, linear way most sales presentations are designed and delivered.
- Increased distractions. There’s no putting the genie back in the bottle. Tablets, smartphones, and wearables are here to stay – and they’re a major cause of distraction in your presentation. But it’s not just technology that’s the problem. Your prospect arrives at your presentation with a number of things on her mind – the least of which may be you! Winning the mindshare of your prospect is your first order of business today if you want to ensure your message lands on its target.
- Competing with the status quo. Your fiercest competitor today is often not another vendor, but the status quo. As solutions become more complex and decisions produce greater consequences, prospects become more risk-averse. Change can bring up fear and anxiety – powerful emotions that are not easily cast aside by a parade of your best features and benefits.
Delivering a winning presentation or demo in today’s changing selling environment requires new strategies and skills. Here are some strategies for addressing these three trends:
- Chunk your message.
Instead of structuring your message around how your solution works, break it into small, bite-size chunks that align with the average attention span of 5 to 7 minutes. Attention isn’t constant, so you need to re-engage your audience at strategic points in your presentation to make sure key messages aren’t falling on deaf ears. I recommend having an engagement plan that defines how and when you’re going to engage your audience.
- Cut to the chase.
Give your prospect an immediate and compelling reason to put their smartphone aside. Dump the company overview and take a tip from the movies: start with the car chase. What’s the car chase in your presentation or demo? It could be a key issue, an insight, or a custom value proposition framed in a unique and relevant way that intrigues your prospect without giving away the entire plot.
- Explore impact.
A thorough understanding of what’s keeping your prospect from changing their existing solution – and the potential impact or consequences of sticking with it – is necessary when competing against the status quo. With that understanding, craft a message that addresses that fear or anxiety before jumping into your solution. Telling a spot-on analogy is a very effective method for shifting a prospect’s perspective and softening his resistance to change.
Your prospects are not the same as they were 10 years ago, so neither should your sales presentation.
Download two free chapters from my new book Sales Presentations for Dummies, plus get monthly tips and tactics on how to meet the demands of presenting today.