An elephant and blind men
You might know the story: A group of blind men ran into a strange animal, an elephant. None of them had met an elephant before. They were curious and said: “Let’s inspect and learn it by touch”. And so they did. The first blind man, whose hand landed on the trunk, said “This animal is like a thick snake”. The second one reached its leg and said, “the elephant is a pillar-like tree trunk”. The third blind man placed his hand upon the elephant’s side and shouted, “this animal is like a huge wall”. The fourth touched the elephant’s tail and described it as a rope.
All of these blind men were right. Even though an elephant isn’t a thick snake, tree-trunk, wall nor rope, for each of them their point of view was true. Their experience was real even though the whole concept of an elephant was left unfinished.
Your customers are blind
In sales, as the concepts and solutions are getting more and more complex, your customers are like the blind men, when first introduced to your product or service. But unlike the blind men that were curious about the elephant, your customer doesn’t actually care about your product.
That’s why you need to be able to start from something familiar. Maybe the blind man doesn’t know the concept of an elephant, but he knows the snake, pillar, wall, or the rope – and has an idea what those can do for his business.
The most important part of any presentation is the audience.
After finding the common ground, you can start to explain the whole concept of the product. All of the cool features that it has and how it can help your customer.
This – finding the common ground – is what tailoring is. It is rewriting your story to start off from where your customer is now – and then telling them, where your product can take them. This is why you should tailor your every presentation.
8 rules of tailoring your presentation
Remember, whether it was a face-to-face or a virtual meeting, the most important part of your presentation is your audience. Consider everything you do to meet the needs of your audience.
1. Understand what your audience is looking for
If your audience is looking for more information, give them information. If your audience is waiting for a sales pitch, give them a sales pitch. If your audience wishes to be educated, then educate them. It is really important to learn to investigate your audience before the meeting.
2. Focus on your opening
Your audience will make two decisions in the first few seconds of your presentation. Will they like you and will they trust you. After those first few seconds, it is really hard to change those two made decisions. So, think carefully about how you start your presentations. Reflect and learn from your experiences. To do well in sales you want people to like you and to trust you.
3. Prepare to answer any questions that might arise
This is something that you can learn from experience but it also is something that your colleagues can help you with. Remember sales is teamwork. Statistically, if you are able to cover 5 of the most commonly asked questions, you are already very well prepared.
4. Prepare to change your topic on the go
No matter how well you have studied your audience’s expectations for your presentation, surprises are possible and eventual. That’s why you need to be prepared to change your angle on the go. Sometimes instead of a trunk, your audience needs a wall. And remember – you don’t need to change the whole concept just the common ground.
5. Make sure your presentation is visual, smart, and appealing
From the times of Aristotle, all persuasive communication has aimed to speak to the mind and to the heart. A good presentation has the facts delivered in an emotionally appealing way. Don’t be corny, though. Creating a great presentation isn’t easy and it’s a good idea to ask for help and feedback in doing this. Sales is teamwork.
6. Meeting is interaction; remember to ask questions
When you go on a date, a monologue seldom is sexy. The communication in your business meetings is no different. Remember, the most important part of your presentation is your audience. Ask if they’re doing fine, understanding what you’re trying to explain and if they find your story interesting. Think of good questions beforehand, it is your responsibility to help your partner enjoy your date.
7. Use humor, but don’t be an idiot
Humor is difficult. Jokes and business meetings are generally a bad match. People tend to like positive people in positive surroundings, so if you can with humor make the meeting, your customer, the weather, or yourself be seen in a more positive way – give it a shot. Never ever slip out an offensive joke – it makes you look like an idiot.
8. Know your brand inside and out and treat it with respect
Remember always whom you represent. It’s not just you that is meeting with the customer. You represent your company’s brand – the past, present, and the future of it. You represent all the people that have worked hard to get your company to where it is at this point. So make sure to do good for your company’s brand in every meeting – you owe it to the ones who are carrying you on their shoulders.