When we have sales pitches to deliver, we’re generally prepared. We probably write something out, practice it, get a bit of feedback, and then will feel more (or less!) ready on the day.
That’s all good, and important. However, the reality is that we are called much more frequently to have impromptu conversations than prepared ones about our products. These are challenging to prepare for: after all we don’t know when they will come about. We don’t know what the objections will be or how long we will have to speak.
Here are a few suggestions from verbally nimble salespeople. Follow these and we’ll be better communicators for those “in the moment” sales opportunities.
1. Practice timing. Develop an internal clock so that you know when you have spoken for 30, 60 or 90 seconds. Turn a stopwatch/timer on, then without looking at it, talk about anything. When you think that 60 seconds has passed, stop and check the stopwatch. You may be some way out! Keep practising until you can be near to 60 seconds. The benefits of this exercise is that you will be able to decide how long to talk for, and be able to regulate yourself
2. Be authentic about overcoming challenges. Create a list of all the possible questions and challenges that prospects may have. Then prepare some helpful responses: the key to this is to think about what your prospects would like to hear, rather than what you would like to say!
3. Have a structure for your impromptu input. Good salespeople think about the structure of their talks, as well as the content of them. Ideas for structures include:
- Point, reason, example, point
- Pros and cons of the issue, then recommendation
- Background, overview, next steps
4. Review your performance. Get a colleague to fire practice questions at you! Make an audio or video recording. Review the audio/video twice: once to see what you did well, and once looking for areas of improvement. Keep the notes in a journal. As you continue delivering impromptu talks you will build up a log of self-reflection. This means you’ll see your improvements clearly.
5. And when delivering… Top speakers recommend
- Be in charge of your nerves. Some deep breathing helps
- Don’t rush to answer. Compose yourself and think of what you want to say
- Buy some thinking time with a bit of preamble “Thanks for asking me to speak about this... “ This is a topic I have thought about ...” “That’s a helpful question...”
- Vary the pace of how you speak, to emphasise points. Sometimes quickly to convey enthusiasm. Sometimes slowly and deliberately to highlight a point
While your competitors are busy attending courses, looking for the latest sales technique or technology, why not make a smarter move and invest in your impromptu speaking skills?
It can be the difference between securing the sale or not, getting the tender or not, engaging the client long term, or not.
It will give you instant credibility. Giving you the edge. Securing the sale. Engaging the client long term.