If you want to make your next sales pitch a success, if you want to hit a home run with your next presentation, start with the one you just gave, and then just add one killer question.
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So you give a presentation at an industry conference.
At the coffee break, several people in the audience pat you on the back and say, “Great presentation. I’ve got some good takeaways. Thanks!”
That feels great, doesn’t it?
And you take this at face value, right?
Audiences are people, and in situations like this, people are usually polite.
“That was great” is the polite thing to say.
You, however, should want to improve your next presentation, your next pitch.
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We simply don’t learn from the positive comments.
In fact, receiving only positive comments can hurt your future presentations. It might give your ego a boost, but it can reinforce your negatives, your blind spots, which we all have.
But you shouldn’t expect most people in the audience to provide you with critical feedback. And yet, that’s the only way to improve, to make your next sales pitch more of a success.
So, you should absolutely ask for it. And if you do so in the right way, you will also form a strong bond with that person. You will make them feel important, that their opinion matters. Paradoxically, you’re spreading the love!
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So what should you do?
After your presentation, by all means, stay positive. Accept the congratulations with appreciation, especially if your audience members are quickly shaking your hand and moving on.
But when you’re one-on-one with an audience member, or when you’re with a small group of people who are hanging around talking about your material, ask them this one question.
“What would you have done differently?”
This is a killer question that invites candid and constructive feedback, and it won’t make them uncomfortable.
It doesn’t put them in a position of even suggesting that your presentation was bad; just that they might have done something differently, which is, in essence, constructive feedback.
It demonstrates confidence on your part.
It shows that you’re focused on your own future improvement. Most people find that admirable.
Sometimes it’s simply not feasible to ask the question. But often, someone is really picking my brain and, of course, I’m happy to answer and give them the additional value they seek.
And that’s where the quid pro quo comes in.
They have just gotten value from your presentation and from their brain-picking. They’ve showed you they think you’re valuable. Now show them that you think they’re valuable… and learn something, at the same time.
“Hey, your questions really show me we’ve connected. Now I’ve got a question for you. If you were the one up there presenting just now, what would you have done differently?”
This also works in a sales pitch with a prospect.
You may want to modify your choice of words, but the purpose and the objectives are the same: to build trust with the customer now, and to make your next sales pitch an even greater success.
Whenever you present to a prospect, be comfortable in asking them, “If we’ve missed the mark on anything here, let me know, ok?” Or, “Your closer to this than we are, so if you’d look at this differently, please point it out.”
One sales professional I know had a first coffee with a prospect, and lined up a more substantive meeting a week later where he outlined a “recommended way forward.” The objective was to then secure a big pitch to the executive committee.
The prospect commented superficially about the material presented.
My colleague then asked, “What’s the worst part of our material? If you could change one thing, what would it be?”
The meeting took a totally new tone… and it was positive. The customer and the salesman essentially rolled up their sleeves and went deeper into the key issues. They started refining the material and building the solution together!
This gave the customer the confidence to put my colleague and his team in front of the executive committee a short time later.
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Asking for critical feedback is actually the easy part. The more difficult part is accepting the feedback with grace… and with an open mind.
If and when the customer offers a point to improve, you’ve just earned a golden moment. You’re about to get value in return.
Handle this golden moment like a confident person. Listen! Clarify, if necessary.
And thank them. Not just afterwards, but be appreciative while the person says, “I really liked your material. But now that you ask, there was one thing that…”
Again, this will earn trust from the customer, and it will also help make your next sales pitch a success.
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Now, I’m ready to listen to you.
What would you do differently in this post? I’d really like to know. Leave a comment below.
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I help presenters make their presentations high-impact, and I help sales teams improve their performance by putting the “love” into the sales process. The tools and techniques vary, but the mindset is simply a heart-set.
Let’s talk about love and sales. Contact me here and let’s set up a call.
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Photo by Karola Riegler: firstname.lastname@example.org