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Verbal Dexterity: Talking the Talk » Sales Techniques

Archive for the ‘Sales Techniques’ Category

The Pliant Client: How To Properly Host A Client Event

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Everyone loves tickets to the “big event.” Think Super Bowl weekends, Broadway shows, the Circus, NASCAR, etc. It’s fun, exciting and a great milieu in which to build and enhance business relationships.

Unfortunately, some well-intentioned Hosts don’t think things through and end up alienating, rather than astounding, their guests.

I have been to dozens and dozens of these events and have noted what impressed and what annoyed the other invitees.

Hope that these tips help:

  • The little things matter: splurging for a big ticket but not taking care of incidental matters like transportation & parking can annoy your guests.
  • Don’t just give them a seat: if you want to really do it right, have a gift bag waiting for them and take care of their food & drink during the spectacle.
  • Family Affairs: don’t limit the guest-list to the big shots. Invite their families and you will be on the right path to winning them over (just ask any Executive parent that has heard their kid say “Mommy, that was soooooo much fun”).
  • Have name badges available so that your other clients can identify and talk to each other.
  • Never put a Host employee in better seats than a client. Never.
  • Make sure that all invitees clearly understand start times, locations and agenda…and remind them just before the event.
  • If you are going to provide food (e.g. in a corporate tent or Executive Suite) make sure that most dietary preferences are covered and that the food is consistent with the message that you are trying to convey. Also, make sure that you never run out of food. Nothing screams “cheapskate” like an empty sterno tray.
  • Every item served should reflect a consistent message. For example, don’t serve lobster and lamb chops and then cheap out on the wine.
  • The food should also mirror the event: items should be on the same level (hot dogs and soda are a fine match for a ball game but not for the Opera).
  • Have representatives in user-friendly locations to provide directions and assistance to your attendees.
  • Always provide a memento or “souvenir” that reflects their attendance and will remind them of you and your company (e.g., binoculars with the corporate logo).

  • Today’s Tip: The rule is simple. If you are going to spend the time. effort and money to host a client event—do it right. Make it fun, festive and with lots of good quality food and drink. Also spend lots of time thinking about every aspect of your guest’s experience (from initial arrival to final departure). It will make all the difference.

    Phoning It In: A Workers Guide To Telephone Effectiveness

    Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

    A modern and simple truth:
    More people conduct business by phone than by face-to-face meetings.

    It’s quicker, less expensive, less intrusive and it even comes with a “Mute Button.”
    Despite the frequency of these phone calls, most business persons do not properly recognize the dynamics of such communication and how to get the most out of each call.

    Here are some things to remember:

  • The person on the other end of the phone cannot see you. Therefore, your body language, gesticulating and pointing is meaningless.
  • A call’s success will be decided on only two things: 1) your voice and 2) your content.
  • Your voice: elocution basics like inflection, pentameter, volume, speed and enunciation are going to filter and influence your message. The better the conduit, the faster and cleaner the message.
  • Your content: no one wants to hear long-winded, circuitous meanderings. Get to the point and don’t step on everyone else’s words (let others comment and question).
  • Reflect an upbeat attitude in your voice. An animated receptionist that speaks clearly and listens well is a wonderful reflection of a professional organization. A telephone answerer that is short, curt, rude and who mumbles at 150 miles per hour is a mess.
  • Never eat anything while you are on the phone. We can hear every chew…and now I am hungry.
  • Pick up the phone after no more than 3 rings. Let’s face it, you are not that important. If you were, you would have a secretary screening your calls.
  • Don’t put your hand over the mouthpiece while you speak to the (apparently more important) person that just walked into your office. We really can hear every word…even the juicy ones. Better to politely put us on hold or to not stop the conversation.
  • Avoid profanity. There is no safe haven for the listener to escape to and it’s just not professional.
  • Always tell the other party when you are putting them on speakerphone. You never know when “Mr. Bad Comb-Over” or “Ms. Slut-face” will unexpectedly walk-in.
  • Don’t read the newspaper or finish your budget while on the phone with me. I can tell when you are distracted. Perhaps, one clue was when you didn’t respond to my first six questions.
  • It’s OK to pause or have a little dead air. Not every millisecond needs to be filled with noise. Just avoid extra long (more than 30 seconds) or frequent gaps.
  • Never (except a medical emergency) put your client on hold due to call-waiting.
  • As you conclude, re-confirm the follow-up and each participant’s assignment.
  • Make sure that the phone is off before you start mocking the participants.
  • Today’s Tip: “Call” it what you want, but good telephone skills = great business. If the listener can’t focus on anything but your voice…your hodgepodge of words, slurs, pauses, stumbles, stammers, and mumbles will become even more apparent. Impress the other party with well chosen and animated phrases. If you can be articulate, inviting and interesting, you will establish a great “connection” with your client and avoid many types of “disconnects.”

    “You May Love Me Tonight But Will You Give Me Carfare In The Morning”–The Art Of Following Up

    Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

    In the demanding world of business, it’s actually easier to make the call or have the meeting than it is to engage in that awkward, dreaded, painful, time-consuming process known as “The Follow-Up.”

    Unfortunately, most people fail to realize that it’s just as (or more) important than the initial contact.

    Very few people make a meaningful and lasting first impression (just ask your very first girlfriend what she remembers about you).

    To maximize your effectiveness and to remain “top of mind,” you really do need to remind the person that you spoke with that you still exist and what it is that you can specifically do for them.

    Here are some suggestions:

  • Send a prospective employer/client that you have interviewed with, a note, 24-36 hours after you have met with them. Sooner than that seems desperate; later than that and they won’t remember your face.
  • If, during your call/meeting, an inanimate object or theme was alluded to (e.g. a CD, going to the Bahamas, eating a quince, a sought after toy for their kids, etc.) –send something related thereto, ASAP, to the decision-maker. They will appreciate the attention and be impressed that you listened and acted so quickly.
  • As time goes by, send your “target” relevant newspaper/magazine/journal articles with a Post-it that says “saw this and thought of you.” Demonstrating that they are always on your mind is very flattering to them and will always be looked at in a positive light.
  • If any questions or issues developed during your initial meeting/pitch, send a timely follow-up memo specifically addressing their concerns. The quicker and the more precise, the better.
  • Do not call back on the same afternoon. No one likes a “stalker.”
  • If they mentioned that they were going to patronize a restaurant on a particular date, call and make arrangements to send over a bottle of wine. You will definitely get a call from them thanking you.
  • Send a note to all meeting participants (or at least the contributors) thanking them for their participation. Everyone loves to get confirmation that they were noticed and appreciated.
  • Never ask for business or make a call to action in the 1st follow-up…just focus on pleasantries and humility.
  • You can send a 2nd follow-up after, at least, 2 weeks have passed.
  • Today’s Tip: It’s great to meet, talk and make a “connection.” Everyone tries to do at least that. However, not many people spend the time or energy to “follow-up.” It is a very effective way to show your intended audience that you remember them, that you care about them and that you are there if they need you. Sometimes, doing something “after the fact” can make all the difference. Follow-up.

    Summary Of All Tips: The Best In Verbal Dexterity (So Far)…

    Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

    To get your full dose of Verbal Dexterity,
    please visit us at www.verbal-dexterity.com/blog or our website at www.verbal-dexterity.com

    The Art Of The Business Handshake: Yes. In business, you will have to “Shake” your moneymaker. Like a tie, pin or pair of shoes, how one shakes reinforces or reveals a little more about you or your counterpart. Use it as an opportunity to radiate confidence, control and deliberation. If done right, you will leave the other person in a state best described as a “James Bond Martini.”
    That’s right. “Shaken, not stirred.” (from Blog Article dated 9-2-08: “You Must Be Made Of Jelly Because Jam Don’t Shake That Way”)

    How To Get Rid Of An Annoying Caller: Telephone salespersons are people too. Treat them with respect and politeness. However, if they are not willing to stop when you say so, it’s time to be a little more aggressive. Turn the tables on them and watch how fast they run. Respect deserves respect, but abuse deserves your clever on-the-phone reaction. (from Blog Article dated 8-19-08: “Sorry Wrong Number”).

    How To Take Criticism From Your Boss: It’s hard to believe that there are others that might not recognize or appreciate the perfection that is you…but it can happen. If the Boss calls you in and criticizes you: listen, focus, react intelligently and deliberately and maintain a professional composure. How you react to criticism may leave more of an impression on your Supervisor than your screw-up. Exhale, react and move-on…and try not to let the air out of his tires tonight. (from Blog Article dated 8-12-08: “Sticks & Stones & My Performance Bonus”).

    The Small Stuff That Makes You Credible : Before you have even opened your mouth, we have all formed an impression of you. Make it a good one. Crappy, dirty and cheap accessories (as well as childish behavior) will persuade us that that’s who you really are. Dazzle us, impress us, wow us. We will pay that much more attention to you when you speak. (from Blog Article dated 8-5-08: “Matching Socks, Combed Hair & Pens that Don’t Leak”).

    Knowing How To Make A Good Mistake: NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT: The worst mistake that you can make is to make the “wrong” kind of mistake. Take a shot and go face this week’s challenge on your own: just be thoughtful, flexible and responsible. Remember, a baseball team can still win the game with a couple of errors.
    Just make the right kind of errors. (from Blog Article dated 7-29-08: “The Error Of Your Ways”).

    The Office Romance: Let’s be careful out there. At the end of the day, co-workers should share a vision, not a bed. Don’t dip your pen where the Company keeps its ink. It’s messy, unpredictable and really hard to get out the stains. (from Blog Article dated 7-20-08: “Love On The Photocopier”).

    How To Deal With The Pain-In-The-Ass Client: You can’t turn an Asshole into a Princess…but you can avoid making things worse. Understand your P-I-T-A’s personality, hobbies, preferences and never let them see you sweat. In the long run, preparation, stoicism and successful execution can tame and impress that difficult client. (from Blog Article dated 7-8-08: “If You Weren’t Paying Us I’d Kill You”).

    How To Pitch An Idea To Your Supervisor: Don’t just blurt out ideas to your Boss. Prepare and strategize. Treat it like a negotiation. Know their concerns and their next question…and be ready to persuade them. You have a great idea, so go for it and share it with your Supervisor. Clearly, you should Speak Up! (from Blog Article dated 7-1-08: “Speaking Upwards”).

    How To Change Your Speech in Mid-Stream: The shortest distance between a speaker and his audience may not be a straight line. Don’t leave home without a knapsack of options, alternatives and tap shoes…and always be prepared to make a sharp left turn! (from Blog Article dated 6-25-08: “Making A Sharp Left Turn”).

    Who Can Put The Point In Power Point : Slides should be a thoughtful supplement to an already stimulating presentation. Use them sparingly and don’t make them the center of your speech. You’re too good a speaker to share applause with a screen. (from Blog Article dated 6-18-08: “Hiding Behind The Slides”).

    Incentives & Discipline In The Workplace: Only the enlightened Employer can properly decide how to serve the “carrots” or throw the “sticks.” Just make sure that each is serving its purpose (it’s hard to throw a carrot and no one likes to eat a stick). (from Blog Article dated 6-11-08: “Don’t Like Carrots, Not Afraid Of Sticks”).

    Using Your Hands While You Speak: Your hands can help or hinder your oral effectiveness. Words and gestures should complement, not conflict with, one another. Clever use of your hands will get you the handshake that you are looking for. (from Blog Article dated 6-3-08: “These Hands Were Made For Talking”).

    Returning To Work After A Vacation: Vacation Get-Aways are for getting away. Make the most of your down time and relax. However, easing your transition back requires foresight, planning and a pink umbrella. (from Blog Article dated 5-27-08: “Where Did My Drink With The Pink Umbrella Go”).

    The Over-prioritization Of Work In Your Life: You need to be focused and driven to succeed in today’s business world. The pace is relentless…but can come at a real cost: to your spouse, your kids and your health. Just remember that if you actually win the “rat race,” you are nothing more than the best rat. (from Blog Article dated 5-14-08: “Praying To The Work Deity”).

    Humor In The Workplace: Everyone wants to make their colleagues laugh. The real question is: What is the cost of a workplace guffaw? People love when others are made fun of (it eases tension and keeps attention away from them) but always remember when they were the butt of the joke. So, be funny, respectful and make sure that your next “punch-line” doesn’t knock you out. (from Blog Article dated 5-6-08: “Your Boss Slips On A Banana, Crashes Into A Stack of Dishes and Gets His Tie Stuck in The Shredder”).

    Differentiation: Kermit the Frog was wrong. It IS fun being green! Recognize your competitive difference (size, location, volume, flair, service, uniqueness, background, language, etc.) and shout it to the marketplace. Differentiation is the spice of life and utilizing it is the key to success! (from Blog Article dated 4-28-08; “Viva La Difference!! -Differentiation In The Market Place”).

    Bargaining For Everything: Consider all purchases to be subject to negotiation. Sellers want to sell and buyers want a bargain. Try to find the secret middle ground (4-23-08: “Bargaining For Bread, CDs and Carpet”).

    Feeling Sick At Work: Getting sick on the Big Day is a prescription for disaster if not handled properly. Don’t let your ego get in the way of the correct remedy. Take two minutes to assess…and call me in the morning (4-18-08; “Getting Sick On The Big Day”).

    Being On Time: Lateness does not reflect well on you or your troops. “Watch” the clock, manage your calendar, take control of meetings and try to beat deadlines. Anything less is going to “tick” someone off (4-10-08; “Johnny Come Lately -Timely Advice To Beat The Clock”).

    How To Pitch A Prospective Client: If you want to throw the right business pitch: get a firm grip on the ball, measure your strike zone, size up the batter and always be prepared to throw the curve. Further, a client (or prospect) will always respect the high heat or an inside pitch (4-7-08; “How To Pitch Business Like A Pro”).

    Real Teamwork: A Team needs to be nurtured, trimmed, fed and cared for. Don’t just bring strangers together and hope. Help create the proper “chemistry” and watch the Team flourish (3-26-08; “There Is No Jerk In “T E A M” ).

    Trade Show Success: Trade shows can be wonderful opportunities to meet fellow specialists, network, to learn or to drive new business. Be polite, aware, aggressive, strategic and always be ready to put on your Spock ears (3-24-08; “Who Put The Swag in Swagger-Trade Show Strategies”).

    Good E-Mailing: Write your business e-mails in a pithy, spare manner and think about who really needs to be a (cc: or bcc:) recipient. Before sending out an enraged diatribe, take a couple of hours to cool down and assess. You can never delete a bad impression (3-17-08; “Mail Pattern Boldness -The Secrets to Good Business E-Mailing”).

    Attaining A Verbal Return-On-Investment: Businesses that truly invest in their associates’ verbal skills (speaking, presenting and persuading) will see a significant and dramatic ROI (3-11-08; “Does Your Business Have A Favorable Verbal ROI?”).

    Improved Sales: Sales don’t improve because they need to. They improve because the pitch, the execution and the follow-up are thoughtful, honest and energized. Clients (new and old) are magnetically drawn to superior fundamentals (3-4-08; “How To Triple Your Sales In 5 Minutes”).

    Tele-communications & You: Always keep all of your business contact info (telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, etc.) in at least two separate databases/locations. Otherwise, you will be only one computer meltdown away from a personal meltdown 2-28-08; “Giving Good Phone”).

    Summarizing You & Your Business: Don’t watch the elevator doors close. Always be ready to explain your business to others in a concise, clever and alluring manner (2-25-08; “Your Elevator Speech: Is The Elevator Going Up or Down?”).

    Corporate Jargon: Don’t fall into the corp-speak trap. Use clear, concise language to direct others or ask your leader to clarify. Nodding your head to phrases that are meaningless WILL come back to haunt you. You can bet your evolving paradigm on it! (2-21-08; “Drilling Down To The Synergies Of Leveraged Empowerment Opportunities…or Does Anyone Speak Plain English In Corporate America Anymore?”).

    Complaining: Before you go into a stream of consciousness rage, think before you complain. Use logic, past relationships and respect to score points with the listener.
    Your goal is to get what you expected, not a pound of flesh(2-14-08; “The Sweetest Whine Of All”).

    Networking: Your business card is a reflection of you.
    High quality, dependable and memorable individuals have cards of similar construction (2-11-08; “A Font Of Information”).

    Meetings: Schedule some unscheduled time into your workday to cover extended meetings and unexpected developments, emergencies and delays.
    It will help you finish the day “on time” (2-6-08; “Minutes To Go Before I Meet”).

    The Business Meal: A business meal is not a relaxing event. You need to be “on” from beginning to end and very aware of your manners.
    Others may judge your credibility and competence by your table behavior (2-4-08; “Some Things Are Hard To Swallow”).

    Conducting An Interview: An interview is like a first date. Your candidate will never look, sound or act better.
    Develop your interviewing X-ray vision and figure out exactly who the person across from you really is (1-31-08; “How To Interview Applicants With X-ray Vision”).

    Standing In Front Of A Room: Don’t let an upcoming speech stress you out. Forget the imaginary naked people in the audience
    Believe in yourself, ooze self-confidence and never let them see you sweat (1-28-08; “The Naked Truth”).

    Eye Contact: In any business context, eye contact can make or break you (1-25-08; “The Eyes Are The Window To The Goal”).

    Public Speaking: If you shake it up by changing your speaking location, voice and presentation, your audience will follow (from Article dated 1-23-08; “Is This Mike On”).

    To read the full content of our Blogs,
    please visit us at www.verbal-dexterity.com/blog.
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    Making A Sharp Left Turn (How To Change Your Speech In Mid-Stream)

    Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

    You did the prep.
    You wrote out your entire presentation.
    You have practiced in the shower.
    Your shampoo and conditioner were paying rapt attention.
    Even your dog seemed intrigued by your transitions.

    You are ready to go.
    The big day is here.
    The audience is primed and anticipating.

    As you finish your first 15 minutes, you notice something slightly different about your listeners.

    It’s a nuance.
    A subtlety.
    What is it?

    Oh yes.

    THEY ARE BORED OUT OF THEIR MINDS!!!!

    …and you still have 45 minutes to go.

    You have 3 choices:
    1) Punt immediately and run out of the room in shame. If they are really that bored, they may not notice that you have left until after you have driven away in a disguise.
    2) Be stubborn and naive and keep plodding ahead. Obviously, it’s their fault, not yours.
    3) Show some Verbal Dexterity and get this presentation kicking!

    Here are some things that you can do to re-invigorate that corpse of a speech:

  • Immediately stop talking. Let the silence be noticed. Then change your voice quality dramatically (volume, tone, inflection, pentameter)
  • Be self-deprecating: acknowledge that even you were bored by what you just said (and follow this with something exciting)
  • Change you location. For example, sit down in the middle of the audience and conduct your presentation from there
  • Shut off the projector and talk personally and candidly to your audience
  • Start talking about something personal that all will find interesting
  • Have an interactive “game” ready to go
  • Ask the audience to move around (change seats, clap their hands, repeat phrases after you (increased blood flow always helps)
  • Always have 2 back-up topics/points ready to go just in case
  • Ask the audience what is their top priority and address in a casual/free exchange manner
  • Today’s Tip: The shortest distance between a speaker and his audience may not be a straight line. Don’t leave home without a knapsack of options, alternatives and tap shoes…and always be prepared to make a sharp left turn!

    Hiding Behind The Slides: Who Can Put the Point In Powerpoint?

    Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

    I like Powerpoint. It’s intuitive, manageable and impressive.

    I don’t like how people use slides, and abuse them, during meetings and pitches.

    Honestly, have you ever sat through an elongated business slide show and felt your eyes go droopy as your senses were dulled into a near comatose state?

    Yes, we’ve all been there, done that.

    OK. So now you need to be the presenter and have some slides you want to use.
    What do you need to be aware of?

  • Try not to use more than 10 slides. The audience will usually not pay attention after that.
  • Obviously, get to the room early and do a quick run through.
  • Make sure that your computer’s “desktop” that gets projected onto the screen before the first slide does not depict anything embarrassing (e.g. photo of you in a compromising position or a folder marked “Porn Collection).
  • Look at and review each slide in advance-does the visual really support and enhance your message?
  • Animation and squiggles are cute–but are they distracting?
  • Avoid turning the lights all the way down during your presentation. It will allow people to close their eyes or focus on things other than you.
  • Don’t turn your back to the audience while you present-it’s rude and directs the audience to merely read the bare words on the screen.
  • Try to say something different than what’s written in the slide. Regurgitation is a big bore.
  • Have lengthier materials available after the presentation.
  • Be fully prepared to deliver your full presentation without slides (in the rare event that the equipment breaks down).
  • Recognize that giving all members of your audience copies of your slides, as a handout, in advance, is also a distractor (your listeners will be looking down, jumping ahead to your upcoming “surprise” slides and now have a nice canvass upon which to doodle).


  • Today’s Tip: Slides should be a thoughtful supplement to an already stimulating presentation. Use them sparingly and don’t make them the center of your speech. You’re too good a speaker to share applause with a screen.

    Viva La Difference!! (Differentiation In The Market Place)

    Monday, April 28th, 2008

    Most businesses and service providers spend far too much time trying to be alike, instead of embracing their differences. It’s your uniqueness that will land you the client (or the job), NOT your similarity. If every one of your competitiors offered the exact same service, in the exact same way, why would I pick you?

    Here are some differentiating factors to contemplate and highlight:

  • How is your end product or service different than your competitors? (have a set-up question/answer that only points to you)
  • Are you the best at what you do? (can you “prove” it?)
  • How does your price compare to others? (but what else do you or they upcharge or ala carte charge for?)
  • Can you think of 3 ways that your service is really better? (who does your client interfacing and how personalized do you/they get?)
  • How would I even find out about you? (that bi-annual ad in Aardvarks Adventure Magazine might not be drawing the sized audience you want)
  • What would make me want to be a return/repeat customer?
  • What is the biggest benefit, I will reap by using you?
  • Today’s Tip: Kermit the Frog was wrong. It IS fun being green! Recognize your competitive difference (size, location, volume, flair, service, uniqueness, background, language, etc.) and shout it to the marketplace. Differentiation is the spice of life and utilizing it is the key to success!

    How To Pitch (Business) Like A Pro

    Monday, April 7th, 2008

    In the business world everyone needs to pitch someone or something: it could be an idea, a product, a service or even a new direction. You walk into the room with an agenda, but what do you walk out with?

    The magical question is “how good is your pitching arm?”

    Are you throwing curves, fastballs or knuckeballs?
    Better yet, is your audience catching what you are throwing at them?

    Here’s how to become the Cy Young hurler of the corporate world.

    Secrets to a great pitch:

  • Know your audience
  • Get their attention with your opening (a bad start can be fatal)
  • Lead your audience to where you want them to go
  • Slides and supporting materials should enhance, not obliterate, your message
  • Acknowledge your competition respectfully, but differentiate what you bring to the table
  • Synchronize and practice what each member of your “pitch team” will present or say
  • Prepare for every possible question and have info ready
  • Admit to glaring weaknesses but overcome them with focus on your strengths
  • Understand the width and breadth of your target
  • Radiate confidence and sincerity
  • Own the room
  • Don’t reek of desperation
  • Have an unorthodox, off-the-beaten-track option in your back pocket…just in case
  • If you fumble, don’t dwell on or highlight the fumble…just move on
  • Follow-up in a poised manner (not 10 minutes after you have left the room).
  • Today’s Tip: If you want to throw the right business pitch: get a firm grip on the ball, measure your strike zone, size up the batter and always be prepared to throw the curve. Further, a client (or prospect) will always respect the high heat or an inside pitch.