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Product Demo 101: Learning the Basics

What’s one of the best ways to convert potential clients into paying customers? Aside from presentations where you get to wow your audience, there’s another scenario where you can achieve the same results. Imagine it: You already have a prototype of the product you’re trying to market, and you’re looking for people who will gladly take your offer; you think an amazing deck won’t be enough, so you decide to take things up a notch and do a demo.

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However, you don’t know the first thing about product demos. Sure, you’re a rock star when it comes to presentations and public speaking, but demonstrations can be different. For one, instead of handling two important elements—yourself and your deck—you add one more: your product. And balancing that act can be stressful, especially when you’ve got hundreds of eyes staring at you and you know that a lot is at stake. Another is that there’s a new dynamic in audience engagement, a level that places you closer to them—and them to you and your product.

Look at the bright side, though. If you do remarkably well, then you’re sure that your audience will take a good, long, hard look at your product. And when they like what they see, they might just want to have your offer. Then, you’re on your way to closing deals left and right. But that is if you do remarkably well.

So, how do you go from A to Z of a product demo? What can you expect from showing off your product in front of a live audience? Are there even benefits to doing so? How do you even begin preparing and how do you start off a demo? Let the following infographic tutor you on the basics of a product demo, and the dos and don’ts during the proverbial curveballs during your time onstage.

Resources:

Kokemuller, Neil. “The Purpose & Benefits of a Product Demonstration.” Chron. n.d. www.smallbusiness.chron.com/purpose-benefits-product-demonstration-55113.html

Presenting Your Business Pitch with Confidence

Not everyone has what it takes to be an entrepreneur. There’s a wide set of skills and traits you have to possess in order to become an effective business leader. Among those traits is self-confidence, a natural magnet that can draw people to you and make them want to listen to what you have to say. As such, it’s an invaluable skill during a business pitch.

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To entice potential investors, you need to appear and sound confident while pitching your idea. Investors are naturally drawn to leaders with high self-esteem because it signifies strength of character, another trait necessary to lead a business venture forward. As Larina Kase, a psychologist and author, said, “True confidence is not thinking that you’ll get a great result. It’s knowing that you can handle any result.” When the path towards success is dark and murky, confidence can carry a strong business leader through.

Self-Confidence: The Top Trait You Need for a Business Pitch

How to Boost Your Confidence for a Business Pitch

There are things you can do to pump up your spirits before facing investors and presenting them your business model. Here are seven of them:

1. Look and sound the part

The thing about confidence is that you don’t need to have it to look the part. You can carry yourself with poise even if you’re feeling intimidated or scared inside. There are a few things you can do to package yourself for success: dressing well, correcting your posture, minding the pacing of your speech, using precise language, and smiling. In other words, by making a conscious effort to look confident, you can make a good impression.

2. Exude conviction from every pore

To sell a business idea, you should be able to show investors how passionate and committed you are. They’ll try to gauge whether you really know what you’re doing, so make sure that you remain composed but enthusiastic throughout your business pitch. Make the investors believe in your potential to succeed. To achieve this effect, you have to communicate a certain aura that tells investors how confident you are about your product. This means avoiding uptalk and articulating a statement with a declarative—not an inquisitive—tone.

Self-Confidence: The Top Trait You Need for a Business Pitch

3. Know your key differentiator

To identify your business’s primary selling point, ask yourself what your edge is as opposed to competitors. Why should investors choose you over businesses similar to yours? You must have something unique to offer to make your business pitch stand out. Apart from this, you should also be able to explain what your worth is to investors. How can they benefit from your business? What gains can they expect, and when?

4. Find an external manifestation of success

Perhaps the best way to gain self-confidence is to find an external manifestation of your business’s capability to survive and succeed. It’s easier to sell a business idea if you have something tangible to back it up. An example of an external validation of success is a solid customer base that raves about your product. A sizable social media following that has positive things to say about your company is also a good proof that you’re breaking ground. Determining your niche is crucial during the first stages of business development because if you sell to the wrong customers, your business is bound to flop. On the other hand, with the right audience, you can improve your revenue and boost your credibility, which will ultimately attract investors towards your business.

5. Solve problems before they appear

Amateur entrepreneurs who only want to impress investors often make the mistake of acting like they’re immune to disasters. They’re hiding behind the assumption that their business model is so perfect, it can’t possibly be taken down by any future problem. As a general rule, before you present your business pitch to an investor, you should think through the possible challenges that you may encounter along the way. If possible, look for various solutions for each issue so that if one fails, you’ll have a backup to fall on. Set up contingency plans for when things don’t go as planned. By making sure that you’re prepared for the ugly as well as the good, you’ll be able to present yourself as a competent leader who can weather the storm when the worse comes to the worst.

Self-Confidence: The Top Trait You Need for a Business Pitch

6. Rehearse and refine your business pitch

Preparation is key to any speech. As with any other field, achieving a certain level of self-confidence takes time and an immense amount of effort. Research also plays a major role on how competent and confident you will appear in front of a panel. Make sure that your presentation has no loopholes and that everything goes as planned.

7. Worry less and just do your part

Fussing over the aspects of your business pitch that you can’t control will only stress you out. Instead of worrying over the negative aspects of your situation, just focus on the positive. Don’t zero in on your weaknesses as that will only distract and discourage you. Instead, strive to turn your weak spots around and let go of the things you can’t change. Optimism can go a long way in boosting your self-confidence, so try to appreciate the good parts as much as you can.

Above all else, smile even if you don’t feel like it. As Christine Clapp, a public speaking expert at George Washington University, said, “Smiling not only makes your voice more pleasant to listen to; it also conveys confidence…. You will appear friendly, approachable, and composed.” That reason alone should be enough for you to flash a smile during a business pitch.

If you follow the aforementioned tips, you’ll be closer to improving your self-esteem. Just be patient and remember that confidence is built over time. With determination, you can stand in front of a panel of investors and present your business in the best light possible.

 

 

 

Resources:

Connick, Wendy. “How to Find Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).” The Balance. June 19, 2017. www.thebalance.com/how-to-find-your-unique-selling-proposition-usp-2917402

Landrum, Sarah. “10 Secrets to Sounding Confident.” Fast Company. July 20, 2015. www.fastcompany.com/3048748/10-secrets-to-sounding-confident

Lobb, Jennifer. “How to Pitch Your Business Like the Pros on Shark Tank.” Nav. December 28, 2016. www.nav.com/blog/how-to-pitch-your-business-like-the-shark-tank-pros-15102

Whitmore, Jacqueline. “9 Ways to Show More Confidence in Business.” Entrepreneur. September 30, 2014. www.entrepreneur.com/article/237634

“How to Give Investors Confidence in Your Business Idea.” Virgin Startup. n.d. www.virginstartup.org/how-to/how-give-investors-confidence-your-business-idea

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Are Mind Games Still the Secret to an Effective Sales Talk?

If you’ve been in direct sales, then you know what it’s like to: 1) get the initial attention of a potential buyer, 2) maintain said attention on you, 3) promote your product, 4) keep the customer from walking away, 5) end your spiel, 6) somehow manage to induce your prospect to purchase your offer, and 7) thank your buyer and end the transaction. Rinse and repeat. Of course, this may be a gross, basic oversimplification of the whole process, but the main steps are there.

Let’s face it: even if trained salespeople have gone through the cycle hundreds of times, it’s statistically impossible that they have a 100 percent success rate. The next best thing is to reduce the number of naysayers. But how does that work when people are turned off by sales talk? By playing on their psyche.

Let’s be clear: this isn’t manipulating their minds into buying what you’re offering but rather talking to them and making them see the benefits of having your product. For that, you must know what you’re about to go up against.

Sales Talk 101: Talking to Your Customers with Sales Conversation

Types of Customers

Depending on who you talk to, there are generally four types of customers. Retail expert Rick Segel segregates them as The Director (likes to take charge), The Analytical (analyzes the finer details), The Relater (knows someone from everywhere), and The Socializer (loves to build relationships).

In a HubSpot article, Leslie Ye classifies customers as Assertive, Amiable, Expressive, and Analytic. While there are obvious similarities between Segel’s and Ye’s lists, i.e., Assertive and The Director and Amiable and The Socializer, the difference is that Ye has the Expressive that lean more on how a purchase affects customers and those around them.

With those laid down, how do you sell to them? The following are the bottom lines.

Sales Talk 101: Talking to Your Customers with Sales Conversation

Appeal to Emotions

Knowing how to deal with diverse customers is the basic of sealing a deal. By pleasing them despite their very different natures, you satisfy a golden rule in sales: making them happier. And that leads to better experiences. Basically, good customer service equals great customer experience.

For your part, flexibility is always welcome. With the multitude of people coming through the door, you’re bound to find yourself in a conversation with your potential client, and you’re expected to be able to cater to their personalities. Got an Assertive type? Cut to the chase, lay the down the facts, and don’t waste their time. Got the Socializer? Then by all means, socialize with them. Engage them in a friendly conversation and build that relationship.

In those ways, you can show them that you’re not taking a one-track-mind approach and considering only the profit of a sale. Make them feel that their trust and loyalty are the best things you can have.

Sales Talk 101: Talking to Your Customers with Sales Conversation

Appeal to Aspirations

There are people who buy because of impulse, while there are those who carefully plan their expenses. Despite these—or perhaps because of these—sellers often don’t consider the far future and are only concentrated on the moment.

Rather than doing that, though, when you’re having a conversation with your potential buyer, cater to their present needs and show how your product can provide a “better” future. After that, maybe they can present an easier manner of how people around them work or a more efficient way of doing things just because of their simple purchase. By meeting that expectation, you enrich how people view themselves and give them the opportunity to do something good.

This subconscious aspiration to be respected—that sense and level of self-esteem—is always good to enrich because this is one way you get your clients to trust you.

Conclusion

Over the years and after many refinements in the art and techniques of selling, most people have their defenses up. They turn a deaf ear to blatant sales talks and a blind eye to obvious schemes. In short, don’t underestimate your potential clients.

People are more aware of the mind games, so these don’t work anymore. So, what do you do? Be human when you do your sales talk. Instead of putting up a wall between seller and buyer, do your best to connect with your customer. Being honest and genuine are traits most people look for in a relationship, so why don’t you start that chain? You’ve nothing to lose and much more to gain.

 

Resources:

Corbett, Barr. “The Best Sales Pitch Ever.” Fizzle. November 16. www.fizzle.co/sparkline/the-best-sales-pitch-ever

Dachis, Adam. “How to Plant Ideas in Someone’s Mind.” Lifehacker. October 21, 2014. www.lifehacker.com/5715912/how-to-plant-ideas-in-someones-mind

Segel, Rick. “4 Types of Customers and How to Sell to Each of Them.” Business Know-How. n.d. www.businessknowhow.com/marketing/personalities.htm

Ye, Leslie. “How to Sell to 4 Different Personality Types.” HubSpot. December 13, 2016. blog.hubspot.com/sales/how-to-sell-to-different-personality-types

“Mind Games: Can We Use Psychology to Grow Sales?” Pharmacy Magazine. July 31, 2015. www.frontshop.co.za/mind-games-can-we-use-psychology-to-grow-sales

“The Rule of Esteem – How Praise Releases Energy.” Westside Toastmasters. n.d. www.westsidetoastmasters.com/resources/laws_persuasion/chap12.html

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4 Ways to Promote Your Business in a Trade Show

If you’ve been to the more mainstream conventions of recent years, like Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Mobile World Congress, and The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), then you know what the experience is like. Right off the gate, you have long lines of participants waiting to get in. Upon entering, you’re greeted with any of the following: booths filled to the brim with products and memorabilia, guests carrying freebies and whatnot from other exhibits, etc. You can hear multiple voices and gimmicks coming from everywhere. There are too many sights ahead and overhead.

Mind you, these are major events, with conglomerates from all over the world sending their representatives for the chance to present in one the industry’s biggest stages. If you’re in a relatively smaller fair, though, do you need to be well-advertised?

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Yes—or at least emulate how the big names draw people to their booths. A primary benefit of this type of gathering is that you can interact with your potential customers face to face—arguably the best way to engage them—instead of through different schemes, screens, and means.

Before that, however, you must get their attention. How? By employing the following.

Grabbing Attention for Your Booth in a Trade Show | Demo vs Actual Games

Demos

When you have a working model of your product or service, you’re in a prime position to show potential consumers a demonstration of how it works: its strengths and unique traits that make it different from competitors’ offers. The best thing is that they get to see it firsthand and up close, if not outright experience the quality-of-life improvement.

Alternatively, you could let them try it themselves. A free trial can give potential customers a taste of how to handle your item and immediately experience the help you’re offering. When you leave them wanting for more, you’ve got them hooked.

Games

Small activities that get the blood pumping and let participants win are good icebreakers for you. The point is enjoying their presence. The more you let them feel that they’re important to your booth—and by extension your company—the more you pique their interest and start and deepen bonds. Even new relationships can go deeper than usual when customers have fun with you.

That’s the main point of this activity. You seek to leave a very good first impression upon your booth visitors. When that release of dopamine, serotonin, and possibly adrenaline hits them, that triggers a connection that they remember from your exhibit and your brand.

Grabbing Attention for Your Booth in a Trade Show | Desktop Presentation vs Projector Presentation

Photo Opportunities

When people visit your booth and have fun, you want to have a record of that. And they will too. Taking photographs is a good way of providing yourself with a good reminder of each customer, but you can take it one step further. Share those pictures on your social media platforms (don’t forget your hashtags) and tag them.

Better yet, ask if they can upload it on their own pages. And lucky you if they do. It’s like a visual representation of word of mouth: the more their personal connections see your stuff and how the poster enjoyed your booth, the more curious they become. They can also become leads given time and the proper attention.

Live Social Media Updates

People usually tweet and post updates about everything, especially when in a state of euphoria. What follows is a long series of statements about how great the event is and how nice the people are, which are often accompanied by pictures to hype everything up.

You could do the same. By giving your online audience a sneak peek, you not only update those who couldn’t come but also give an idea, or at least some level of expectation, on what future participants can experience the next time you’re going to a trade show.

Grabbing Attention for Your Booth in a Trade Show | Trade Show Presentation

Your Afterparty

At the end of the day, you’re going to look back on how and why those people went up to your booth and listened to what you have said. If you’re wondering why so many visited your spot, then think no more. Your attention grabbers worked beautifully. You may soon see more visitors because other attendees saw how fun your booth is. Isn’t that your end goal? To have people know about your venture?

Will traditional means of promotion cut it? Don’t expect your competitors to skimp on the basics—since they don’t expect you to cut corners on the same. When you’re all on equal footing, the deciding factor becomes the extra mile you’re willing to take to hook people in, to show them and let them experience something memorable, and to make them come back.

Are you willing to do it?

 

Resources:

Biala, Susan. “How to Boost Your ‘Happy Hormones’.” Best Health Magazine. October 2014. www.besthealthmag.ca/best-you/mental-health/how-to-boost-your-happy-hormones

Fusion, Jennn. “Trade Show Promotional Ideas.” Chron. n.d. smallbusiness.chron.com/trade-show-promotional-ideas-1444.html

Hovde, Kristin. “5 Trade Show Promotion Ideas for More Engagement.” TSNN. August 24, 2014. www.tsnn.com/news-blogs/5-trade-show-promotion-ideas-more-engagement

James, Geoffrey. “Give a Great Product Demo: 5 Rules.” Inc. May 24, 2012. www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/give-a-great-product-demo-5-rules.html

Kaufenberg, Jackie. “19 Ways to Integrate Social Media into Your Next Tradeshow or Event.” Vivid Image. August 13, 2014. www.vimm.com/social-media-tradeshow

Thimmesch, Mike. “10 Top Tips for Trade Show Promotions.” Skyline. November 16, 2011. www.skylinetradeshowtips.com/10-top-tips-for-trade-show-promotions

Wyse, Susan E. “7 Tips to Market Your Business Effectively at Trade Shows.” Snap Surveys. April 10, 2012. www.snapsurveys.com/blog/7-tips-market-business-effectively-trade-shows

“12 Trade Show and Event Promotion Mistakes to Avoid.” Skyline E3. February 7, 2017. www.skylinee3.com/blog/12-trade-show-and-event-promotion-mistakes-to-avoid

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The Real Cost of a Poor Presentation

The truth may be more prevalent than you would like to admit, but it’s unhealthy to ignore the fact that there are good presentations, and there are also bad ones. If you could give an estimate, how many from the total number of existing presentations are poorly made? Around 50 percent? That’s a big number. Assume for a second that, around the world, there are over a billion PowerPoint files today. That’s 500 million at the very least.

With all the design and content tips littered all over the Internet about making the best pitch deck, you’d think that by now, everyone can create decent slides. But let’s not get too idealistic. PowerPoint is tricky to master, especially when you consider how people have different reactions to presentations in general.

Should you cater to their wants then? “Yes” would be a short answer, but it has serious implications for your succeeding attempts at presentation. For example, when you’re creating a pitch deck. You can’t make a one-fits-all since it’s practically impossible to create slides according to the preferences of every executive you’re looking to impress. It’ll be a mishmash of different styles, and that can be distracting.

Does it mean that this is a hopeless case? Of course not. The best you could do is minimize the negative effects of a bad pitch deck presentation, like death by PowerPoint. Other suggestions are doing your best to create the most visually appealing deck people will ever see or hiring a good team of presentation specialists to make awesome slides—as long as you avoid using poorly designed presentations. Why? Because you stand to lose more than just cash by crafting pitch decks or sales presentations sloppily. The infographic below will help you see that you shouldn’t be worried with just your profit margins because you put at risk something bigger than money.

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Resources:

Griffith, Eric. “17 Tricks to Master Microsoft PowerPoint.” PC Mag. October 14, 2014. www.pcmag.com/feature/328357/17-tricks-to-master-microsoft-powerpoint

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Key Lessons from Cliff Atkinson’s First Five Slides

In 2005, presentation pitch deck consultant Cliff Atkinson published his bestselling book, Beyond Bullet Points, which revolutionized the way people used PowerPoint. Atkinson was one of the first presentation gurus to displace the bulleted list by introducing a more viable alternative. It’s a principle called “the first five slides.”

Atkinson claimed that a presenter only needs the first five slides of a pitch deck to hook the audience. But the real question is, “What exactly do these slides contain, and what effects do they have on potential clients?” Let’s find out.

The Only Five Slides You Need in Your Pitch Deck | Cliff Atkinson

A Story Only Slides Can Tell

The premise of Atkinson’s book is the ability of the first five slides of a deck to tell a good story. Stories are easily relatable, and they’re more effective in evoking emotions compared to plain facts. A good narrative can help you create an emotional bond that will get your audience to empathize with you and see things from your perspective.

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To lay out your deck in a narrative form, make sure that the order of your slides fall within a good story arc. You can do this by establishing the setting and the protagonist in the first two slides of your presentation. The setting should clearly define the business environment you find yourself in, and the protagonist, naturally, should point to your audience.

In the third slide, establish the imbalance that your protagonist encounters in the setting. What problem is your audience experiencing? What incident is weighing them down? You may outline an existing dilemma that your business aims to solve. Before you can present the solution, however, you need to establish a sense of balance in your fourth slide. What’s the ideal situation that your audience should aspire for? How good should the state of affairs be for them to achieve a sense of fulfillment?

The Only Five Slides You Need in Your Pitch Deck | Cliff Atkinson: Solution

Once you’ve successfully presented these four elements, it’s time for the most important part: the solution. The fifth and last slide should contain your proposal to the audience. What can you do to alleviate their discomfort? How can your business help in addressing their concerns?

Your business pitch should always focus on your audience. Customers are interested in what you can do for them, so bank on that.

The Supplemental Nature of Slides

A common misconception presenters have about PowerPoint is that it can replace their presence during a live pitch. However, because your deck’s main purpose is to serve as a visual aid, loading each slide with too much information can burn out your viewers. People aren’t wired to process information in bulk, so break things down into bite-sized pieces to help them remember your points better.

Divide your hook into five brief statements that focus on specific aspects of your pitch. Establish your credibility by forming a personal connection with your audience. Each slide should have one topic that you can expound on. In terms of design, place only keywords and powerful images related to your message, and leave the rest for your verbal explanation. After all, your audience went to hear your pitch, and not to see your deck.

Cliff Atkinson: Supplemental Slides

The Ultimate Investment

Although the first five slides might be the most important in attracting your audience’s attention, they only serve as the first act of an elaborate performance, as your fifth slide acts as the end of your opening credits. The next step is to convince your listeners to invest in you.

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After drawing people in, give them a good reason to stay. Walk your audience through the succeeding chapters of your pitch. Refer to your earlier slides, particularly the existing conflict in which you have a unique solution to. This is your opportunity to present your products and services, your business strategy, and your current standing in the market. While emotional appeal works in hooking your listeners, giving actual facts and data will help strengthen your pitch.

The Power of Five Slides

Every good presentation has a clear structure with an effective hook, line, and sinker. Take inspiration from Cliff Atkinson’s best-selling book and drop the bullet points. Focus on your first five slides to draw in prospects.

Your pitch deck is a story waiting to be told. Make sure it’s worth every minute of your audience’s time. Keep in mind that your job doesn’t end in hooking your audience—it’s still a long stretch from there. Your first five slides are only the beginning of your winning pitch deck.

Closing a Deal Without Assuming a Salesperson’s Role

Contrary to popular opinion, there’s nothing inherently wrong with hard selling. If you know you have a wonderful product that should see the light of day, then by all means go and sell it hard. However, you need to be wary of the caveats and repercussions that you may encounter along the way. Make sure that when convincing a prospect of the value of your business, you remain honest and true. Also, before going around and trying to talk people into investing in your product, make sure that you’re adept enough to communicate and empathize with them.

The problem with most salespeople today is that all they care about is closing the deal. They don’t bother about being honest with the consumer. They hardly go out of their way to find out what the consumer really needs. This is exactly why sales agents have developed a notoriety so ill that people recoil when they see a salesperson trying desperately to catch their eye. The harsh truth is that being a salesperson today is synonymous to being pushy and annoying. If the economic landscape is to reach a higher bar, this stigma has to end.

The Logic Behind Using a No-Pitch Promotion

No one can change the salespeople’s reputation but the salespeople themselves. Many companies have already figured out the right ways to reach consumers without distressing them. Surely, a lot more would follow if only they knew how. If you still haven’t employed the right techniques in selling without coming off as obnoxious, here are two of the main reasons why you should change your ways now:

How to Make a Deal Without Sounding Like a Salesperson

  • To take the pressure off the audience

What seems to be the salespeople’s role today is to serve themselves and their company. However, there should be a shift in perspective. Instead of thinking of their own good, salesmen should serve customers and see how they can help alleviate their concerns. Instead of inconveniencing prospects, salespeople should strive to make matters easier and more convenient for them.

The last thing you want as a salesperson is to give the impression that you’re trying to squeeze every penny out of your customers. Shoving the product down the customers’ throat won’t make them pay for it. Put them at ease and let them be comfortable so that they can make that decision for themselves.

  • To differentiate yourself from corporate players

One of the advantages that a small business holds over a goliath is that it has an option to personalize the customer experience. Customers like it when they’re treated in a special way. This is why even big players in the business field should try to mimic the small-business model of sales. As a salesman, you should be more personable. Take your time in easing the prospect into your business. Instead of rushing to pocket the money, let the sales process unfold. If you focus on attending to your client’s needs before anything else, the deal will close itself.

How to Make a Deal Without Sounding Like a Salesperson

Four Proven Ways to Sell Without Being Aggressive

Most salesmen are torn between hard selling and using alternative sales techniques that are subtler and less aggressive. On the one hand, hard selling makes a salesperson feel like s/he has done everything in his or her power to gain a new customer. On the other hand, it is usually a turn-off to customers, and therefore, a big no-no. Fortunately, there are easy and effective ways to sell without sounding like a salesperson. Here are some of them:

1. Be transparent about your business processes

Make your business processes open for the public to see. Share every thought and effort that went into creating your product or developing your service. Tell your prospects what went wrong and what worked out in the end. In other words, lay your brand bare before them.

By doing this, you’re essentially inviting people to trust you and see you not as a business without a face but as a familiar friend whose struggles and successes they had the privilege of knowing. By being vulnerable and letting them into your business’s personal bubble, you’re giving them an invitation that they can’t turn down. The bottom line? Genuine stories sell.

2. Demonstrate what your product does

Merely talking about the product won’t cut it. To persuade a crowd of skeptic consumers, you need to let the product speak for itself. Show your prospects exactly how your product works so that they can judge for themselves whether it’s good enough to satisfy their needs. A product demonstration is a quick and effective way to tell someone just how great your offers are without actually telling them.

How to Make a Deal Without Sounding Like a Salesperson

3. Pitch at the right time and in the right place

Timing is key in every field, and it’s not surprising that it’s just as important in sales. A good salesperson can tell when it’s appropriate to approach a customer with a product offer or when it’s best to just drop it and focus on addressing the customer’s immediate concerns instead. Watch for external cues that will give you hints on whether or not a customer is open to a sales pitch. If you insist on troubling a prospect, you might end up losing a potential client for good.

4. Focus on addressing the consumer’s pain points

It only makes sense that if you let your prospects do the talking, you can’t possibly annoy or offend them. In fact, if you assume the role of a listener from the start, it’s likely for them to relax and feel comfortable around you. That said, before you make a pitch, make sure to hear out your customers’ side of the story first. Let them spill out their concerns so that you can thoroughly assess the situation. Only talk when you know that you have something useful to offer. Your proposed resolutions should revolve around their problems. Remember, the goal is to help the customers, not to take their money.

The approach to sales described here isn’t new or farfetched. In fact, it has been used by top marketers for many years now. However, until every salesperson learns how to use the methods of soft selling to better attract and gain customers, the reputation of the sales world will be stuck in the dead zone.

 

Resources:

Charles, Jeff. “5 Easy Ways to Sell Without Being Pushy or Obnoxious.” Small Biz Trends. August 31, 2015. smallbiztrends.com/2015/08/easy-ways-to-sell.html

Flynn, Pat. “How to Sell Without Selling: The Art of No-Pitch Promotion.” Smart Passive Income. May 20, 2014. www.smartpassiveincome.com/how-to-sell-without-selling-the-art-of-no-pitch-promotion

Gregory, Alyssa. “12 Tips for Using a Soft Approach to Make the Sale.” Sitepoint. June 22, 2010. www.sitepoint.com/using-a-soft-sales-approach

Iannarino, Anthony. “Don’t Mistake Selling for the Hard Sell.” The Sales Blog. May 28, 2010. thesalesblog.com/2010/05/28/don%E2%80%99t-mistake-selling-for-the-hard-sell

Nornberg, Vanessa M. “3 Ways to Tell When a Customer Is Ready to Be Sold.” Inc. August 8, 2014. www.inc.com/vanessa-merit-nornberg-nornberg/3-ways-to-tell-when-a-customer-is-ready-to-be-sold.html

Verrill, Ashley. “How to Sell Without Sounding Like a Salesman.” Scott’s Marketplace. July 17, 2013. blog.scottsmarketplace.com/how-to-sell

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Using Humor During a Pitch

“Laughter is the best medicine.” It’s one of the many mantras funny people live by. That and “Laugh with people, not at them” are some of the better ways of looking at the best side of humor. While it unfortunately may not be for everyone (there are some very serious people out there), the sound of laughter is still pleasant to hear.

That simple, lighthearted reason is why it’s a good idea to incorporate humor and make people laugh during your presentation. You’re fostering a more welcoming atmosphere and making sure any tension is laughed away. In addition, you’re giving your audience members a good time by ensuring they don’t get bored while you talk.

It doesn’t mean that you must be a comedian—although there are a few pointers from their trade you could take lessons from. Humor can be strategically inserted into your speech or be present in your slides, like a funny image or a reference to pop culture. There are just a few reminders you must be mindful of.

Pitch Consideration #1: Relevance

Relevance

Recall what public speaking greats do before they get to their main point. A common technique is sharing a story, personal or otherwise. Another is telling a quote they hold close to their hearts. There are others, too, who crack jokes. A shared trait of all three methods is that they serve as an introduction and give the audience an idea and/or a stance on the subject of your speech.

Determine the topic of your quip and make sure that it is relevant to what you’re going to talk about. You don’t want an off-hand punchline that steers away your audience’s focus or doesn’t add anything to your point. It’s just like picking a quote or a story to start your speech with: you always connect it to your topic. The same treatment should be accorded to your jokes as well.

Pitch Consideration #2: Timing

Timing

Jokes have two parts: the setup and the punchline. Veteran comedians have mastered the technique of making their audiences wait for a few moments after building up the former and before saying the latter. The dramatic pause in between evokes a heightened sense of suspense and highlights the punchline. In much the same concept, use that similar sense of timing when you belt out your jests.

Showering your speech with too many jokes dilutes your message with unnecessary asides, making it difficult for your audience to sort through the extra information and get to the meat of your message. Time your jokes with breaks in your piece, like when transitioning to your next point or when you know that you just gave your audience an information overload. Take a breather with a few laughs—just like in life.

Pitch Consideration #3: Sensitivity

Sensitivity

As much as humor is not for everybody (as healthy as that may be), there are also types of jokes that don’t sit well with everybody. For instance, a recent study correlates dark humor appreciation with high IQ, but a speech is not the proper platform, time, or place since the former doesn’t sit well with everyone. In short, choose which kinds of jokes to dish out.

A good type is where you can poke fun at yourself lightly. Don’t be afraid to make yourself the butt of your own jokes. If anything, it shows the level of confidence you have for and about yourself. Don’t let another person be a victim of your own humor; it might be interpreted as a sign of insecurity because you need to put someone down for you to come out on top. It helps that you don’t attack or isolate anyone or put someone in an embarrassing spot, especially if said individual is well-known and/or influential. The safest victim of your jokes is yourself.

Humor is a trait not many people are blessed with but is almost vital in socialization, so studying about being funny and making the conscious effort—although not trying too hard—can be seen as a good thing. When your intent is to use jokes as a tool for a light mood, then you’re grasping the concept of humor nicely; employing it on something as serious as a pitch is always a welcome thought. Make your audience livelier with hilarity and enjoyment since, after all, laughter is the best medicine.

 

Resources:

Anderson, Gail Zack. “How to Use Humor in Your Next Presentation.” Business Communications. September 26, 2011. www.managementhelp.org/blogs/communications/2011/09/26/how-to-use-humor-in-your-next-presentation

Asher, Joey. “How to Inject Humor in Your Presentations.” Speechworks. n.d. www.speechworks.net/how-to-inject-humor-in-your-presentations

Barancik, Steve. “How to Use Humor Effectively in Speeches.” Write-Out-Loud.com. n.d. www.write-out-loud.com/how-to-use-humor-effectively.html

Brounstein, Marty and Malcolm Kushner. “How to Use Humor in You Presentation.” Dummies. n.d. www.dummies.com/careers/business-communication/public-speaking/how-to-use-humor-in-your-presentation

Doward, Jamie. “Black Humour Is Sign of High Intelligence, Study Suggests.” The Guardian. January 29, 2017. www.theguardian.com/science/2017/jan/29/dark-humour-high-intelligence-study

Marshall, Lisa B. “How to Make People Laugh During Presentations.” Quick and Dirty Tips. January 1, 2010. www.quickanddirtytips.com/business-career/public-speaking/how-to-make-people-laugh-during-presentations

Pain, Elisabeth. “Slipping Humor into Scientific Presentations.” Science Magazine. April 1, 2011. www.sciencemag.org/careers/2011/04/slipping-humor-scientific-presentations

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How Stage Presence Can Boost Your Presentation

A speaker standing still throughout a presentation is dull to watch. The audience may not relate with your message if you don’t show enough interest in delivering it. In the same way, if you move excessively onstage, you may risk distracting your viewers from the content of your presentation. Exaggerated and unnecessary movements only make you look like you’re trying too hard. You should know how to carry yourself under the limelight. Smoothly transition from one point to another using fluid movements.

The Power of Body Language

Dynamic speakers maximize their stage presence by moving around and owning the stage. They also use appropriate body movements that help accentuate their point. Moving purposely and naturally will give you an opportunity to foster a bond with your audience. Being dynamic onstage will endear you to your audience and help you win their attention and favor.

How Stage Presence Can Boost Your Presentation: Captivate Interest

Captivate Interest

A compelling speech and a well-designed PowerPoint deck will only win you half the battle. Ultimately, the success of your presentation lies on how well you deliver it. What’s a good content if it can’t be understood by the audience? When stressing an idea, match your words with the proper gesture and non-verbal cue. Use appropriate body language so as to stress your message. Remember, content, design, and delivery work hand in hand. You need to put equal emphasis on all three for your presentation to be successful.

How Stage Presence Can Boost Your Presentation: Stimulate Emotions

Stimulate Emotions

Certain body movements are so engaging that you can use them to invite your listeners to join in the conversation. You can make your presentation feel like a dialogue rather than a monologue by simply putting a variation in your movements. The more you make your audience feel included, the more you can build rapport with them. Once you have that connection, your audience will be more likely to remember your message and share it to others. 

How Stage Presence Can Boost Your Presentation: Highlight Transitions

Highlight Transitions

When you’re relating a narrative that involves occurrences from the past and present and some hopes or predictions for the future, you can move around the stage to establish the transitions between them. For instance, you can start ambling to one side of the platform to communicate that you’re talking about the past. Then, you can walk to the other side to show a change of perspective. Your audience will get a hint that you’re now talking about the present. Finally, when you return to the center, your audience will know that you’re moving on to future events. Needless to say, you need to make these transitions look and feel natural. Draw a pattern in your movements, but make sure the audience won’t detect it. 

Move with Meaning

Now that you know how important body language is when delivering a presentation, you’re probably wondering how you can use it to your advantage. There’s only one sure way to master this skill: REHEARSE. As ironic as it sounds, rehearsing your movements onstage will help you carry and deliver them with grace. Practice until your non-verbal expressions look seamless and natural. Moving with purpose and meaning will make you look confident onstage. But more important than this, it can make your audience feel more engaged and included. Make sure not to forego an impactful body language.

 

Resources:

Galarza, Erin. “Public Speaking: Developing Stage Presence.” Percolate. February 25, 2015. blog.percolate.com/2015/02/public-speaking-developing-stage-presence

Gallo, Carmine. “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience.” Presensatie. 2010. www.presensatie.nl/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Presentation-Secrets-Of-Steve-Jobs.pdf

Genard, Gary. “The 5 Key Body Language Techniques of Public Speaking.” Genard Method. May 31, 2015. www.genardmethod.com/blog/bid/144247/The-5-Key-Body-Language-Techniques-of-Public-Speaking

Young, Graham. “To Move or Not to Move When Presenting.” Young Markets. October 10, 2012. youngmarkets.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/to-move-or-not-to-move-when-presenting

“Gestures: Your Body Speaks.” Toastmasters International. June 2011. web.mst.edu/~toast/docs/Gestures.pdf

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Why Listening Is the Most Important Communication Skill

When was the last time you had a decent conversation? While some say that communication is “talking to” people, others would argue that a simple change of preposition can mean a world of difference between one-sided ranting and healthy dialogue. Try “talking with.”

Hearing and listening, as is often said, are not the same. A common difference in definition is that the former means your ear takes in the information. Scientifically put, it’s the physical phenomenon of vibrations in the air reaching your eardrums; thus, you hear many things, like the whistle of the breeze, the roaring of engines, or footsteps and claps. Meanwhile, the latter is more than just hearing; you also heed and keep in mind what the other is saying, taking in the details and assessing and analyzing their thoughts. When you get the facts straight, you can answer with and/or add your own insights—and eventually, an exchange of ideas. This, then, is discourse, a conversation.

No matter the setting, be it a business meeting, negotiation, personal relationship, etc., listening precipitates proper understanding. While the act may seem simple, don’t underestimate the power of distractions. It could be the sound of a TV or a radio in the background or the whispering hum of a nearby motorcycle. It could be anything that takes your attention away from the one you’re listening to. Even your own thoughts can be a disturbance.

Communication is not a one-way street; you must do you own part too. Foster better conversations by listening because it…

Communication Skill 101: Encourages Open-Mindedness

Encourages Open-Mindedness

Sure, you’re an individual with your own thoughts, judgments, and biases (which, in perspective, isn’t inherently wrong or bad since it’s human nature). But shutting your mind to your own prejudices is a surefire way to close yourself off from the point and mindset of the person you’re talking with. Worse is that you will only spiral down to the mentality that you have a solution you can’t keep inside and interrupt them so that you could speak. This is a very rude gesture. Avoid it at all costs.

Instead, be openminded and receive with no preconceptions or assumptions. If it helps, try thinking of yourself as a blank slate, and everything you hear and listen to is carved onto you. It’s a different take on empathy, but it helps you be in the speaker’s shoes. It helps you connect and relate. And that’s when the magic begins.

Helps Understand

When you keep an open mind, you learn more about the situation and/or the person you’re talking with. You mentally process the information and analyze the details as they come. You don’t jump to conclusions; rather, you are guided by the information you received as you fit the pieces of the puzzle.

Seek to understand. By listening intently, you open yourself up to see what they see and feel what they feel. It’s more than empathy (but it does play an integral part). It’s also about creating a deeper connection and relationship with the person you’re talking with. Since there are no shortcuts to strengthening bonds, listening to understand is a good place to start.

Communication Skill 101: Allows for Better Responses

Allows for Better Responses

When everything has been said, you take things into consideration, be it the problem and its circumstances or the task at hand and its instructions. Knowing what the other party knows and feels about the whole matter makes responding easier and more natural, especially when it deeply affects them.

Because you listened, you have more insight on the stance of the person you’re talking with. You get to see deep into their minds and their thought processes. Then you come up with your responses and add to—or counter (but not argue about)—what they said.

There’s no more dancing around the issue, no more sugarcoating, and no more stepping on anyone’s toes. Listening makes you completely aware and sensitive of your partner and how they respond back to you, and that level of mindfulness goes a long way.

Deepens Bonds

Humans are social creatures. If you have no one to socialize with, you’ll most likely crave talking to anyone or anything—even a volleyball. People feel joy in being with others. Even the mere presence of someone satisfies the neocortex, the part of the human brain comprised of sections involved in social cognition.

This is the foundation of communication: the need to interact with others, be it casual storytelling, heavy rant sessions, or business meetings. Listening shows you’re not just there to talk and socialize; it gives people the comfort and security that what they say is heard, understood, and taken to mind and heart. That puts them at ease, and the trust slowly builds and/or strengthened. You know more about them, and they get to know more about you.

Of course, you’re not the only one who should listen. Ideally, communication is a two-way street. When you’re the one talking, the other should focus on you and on what you’re saying and vice versa. This is common courtesy. There are more rude gestures than interrupting one when speaking, like imposing your unsolicited solution.

A cornerstone of any great relationship is communication. The better the communication, the more lasting the bond. Don’t waste a good one just because you feel the need to talk over the person you’re speaking with. Instead, let it be a proper conversation. Listen, then talk. Talk, then listen. It’s about the giving and taking.

 

Resources:

Bush, Mirabai. “Why Listening Is the Most Radical Act.” Mindful. January 31, 2017. www.mindful.org/why-listening-is-the-most-radical-act

Feintuch, Stacey. “9 Things All Good Listeners Do During Daily Conversations.” Reader’s Digest. n.d. www.rd.com/advice/relationships/how-to-listen

Foster, Nancy. “Good Communication Starts with Listening.” Mediate.com. n.d. www.mediate.com/articles/foster2.cfm

Hellesvig-Gaskell, Karen. “The Difference Between Hearing & Listening Skills.” Livestrong.com. April 16, 2015. www.livestrong.com/article/83661-difference-between-hearing-listening

Roua, Dragos. “After I Read This, I Started to Speak Less and Listen More…” Lifehack. n.d. www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/6-benefits-speaking-less-and-listening-more.html

Schilling, Diane. “10 Steps to Effective Listening.” Forbes. November 9, 2012. www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2012/11/09/10-steps-to-effective-listening/#12e324f73891

Verstraete, Mary. “What Is the Most Important Communication Skill to Acquire?” Center for Coaching Excellence. n.d. www.centerforcoachingexcellence.com/blog/the-most-important-skill-to-building-trust

Vrticka, Pascal. “Evolution of the ‘Social Brain’ in Humans: What Are the Benefits and Costs of Belonging to a Social Species?” The Huffington Post. November 16, 2013. www.huffingtonpost.com/pascal-vrticka/human-social-development_b_3921942.html

“Listening Skills.” Skills You Need. n.d. www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/listening-skills.html

“The Importance of Listening.” Boundless.com. n.d. www.boundless.com/communications/textbooks/boundless-communications-textbook/learning-to-listen-and-helping-others-do-the-same-5/understanding-listening-29/the-importance-of-listening-132-8285

“The Importance of Listening, and Ways to Improve Your Own Skills.” Udemy Blog. December 13, 2013. blog.udemy.com/importance-of-listening

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