Stop Showing Up and Throwing Up

Last week a neighbor called and asked if I’d sit down with her to discuss a business opportunity. I told her that I was not a good prospect and was extremely busy with Business Development University, but she persisted and told me that it would only take 20 minutes of my time. With great reluctance, I scheduled her to come over at 5:30 in the evening, figuring that she was going to be out by 6:00; this would give me plenty of time to make dinner for my husband before he had to leave for a meeting.

My neighbor walked in with another person and they proceeded to attempt to build rapport, commenting on how they loved my home and swimming pool. After ten minutes of small talk, we finally sat at my dining room table to discuss this opportunity. Before I knew it, this woman pulled out her laptop and began going through a PowerPoint presentation with around 15 slides in the deck. One by one she went through the slides, discussing the features, benefits and stories that coincided with what was on the screen. For the first few slides I was cordial, nodding and responding appropriately so as to not seem rude. As the presentation went on, I began to feel increasingly anxious as I realized that the meeting was going to far exceed the original commitment; my husband was likely going to end up with a peanut butter sandwich for dinner. I began to sigh but again didn’t want to be completely rude. By the last slide, I literally had my hands crossed in front of my chest, attempting to convey with body language that I was frustrated.

As she concluded her presentation, she turned to me and asked what I thought. And do you know what I said? I said that if she had bothered to set an agenda for the meeting, confirmed the amount of time, and asked me a few key questions at the beginning of the conversation she would have saved herself a whole lot of time and effort.

What did they do wrong? A lot! First and foremost, they went into presentation mode before they understood who I was, what I cared about and whether or not I had any interest in what they were proposing. Second, they never bothered to qualify whether or not I was a good prospect or fit within their organization. They did what they were comfortable with, showing me how great their business proposition was and all of the wonderful benefits of joining their organization.

I see this all of the time. Sales people love to present their products or services, assuming that what they talk about is important to the prospects. Often times, they walk away from the presentation believing it went well, and that they were able to hit all of the important features and benefits, only to find later that they can’t get back in front of the prospect for a follow-up meeting.

Lesson: if you find that you are presenting before you have uncovered your prospects’ needs as well as your own needs….stop. Take the appropriate first steps and do your research. Your close-ratio will increase exponentially!

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