Tips from Shakespeare, as discussed in “Say It Like Shakespeare: the Bard’s Timeless Tips for Communication Success” 2nd edition
by Tom Leech
Shakespeare wove many observations pertinent to communicating into his tales of high intrigue and low comedy. Today, his words can give any salesperson insights into human nature and the selling process. Apply these tips during your next sales opportunity to sharpen your communication skills and close more deals.
1. Bait the hook well; this fish will bite.
The first task is to convince prospects to spare a mere two minutes of phone time or five minutes in a face-to-face meeting. Valuable in achieving this is a “hook,” something that will immediately your prospect’s attention and suggest that this engagement will be worth their time. Your hook could be a story that vividly shows a problem in need of solution (yours, of course), a visual aid or demonstration, or a quote from their key customer about some deficiency in the system. First task: get them onboard.
2. Brevity is the soul of wit.
Once you obtain the opportunity to engage, you want to make good use of the time. That is why you must be able to convey your message concisely and clearly. When you present your information in a focused rather than roundabout way, your listeners can pick up what they need to know quickly and effortlessly. If you’re giving a sales presentation, for example, consider an up-front summary where you detail your essential themes right away. For busy, time-pressed executives, this approach alone can lead to their paying attention to your story, and more signed contracts. You may know this as the “elevator speech,” meaning the exec invites you to state your case as you ride down the elevator together as he or she heads for the airport.
3. Speak the speech, I pray you…trippingly on the tongue.
Your speaking style is a key factor to how well your prospect or customer will receive your message. If you mumble or speak too softly, you can lose your audience immediately. You see this demonstrated in many networking meetings, where each person has the opportunity to quickly introduce themselves and their company; surprisingly many of these are barely understandable. Another much-too-common problem is the unfathomable message on the answering machine, which comes across about as clearly as those rapid-fire cover-all-the-bases statements at the end of many radio commercials.
4. It was Greek to me.
In selling situations, mis-communication occurs frequently. As salespeople attempt to explain policies, features, and warranties, they often use techno or industry jargon that their customers may not understand. Others try diligently to impress their clients and use big words when simpler words will do. Is “fabricate” needed when “make” will do just fine? When talking with prospects or customers, speak at a level they can understand, perhaps taking it to the layperson level. If the other person can’t figure out what you’re saying, how likely are they to want to buy what you’re offering?
5. More matter, with less art.
Presenters sometimes go overboard in adding “flash” to their presentations. Savvy presenters use technology to their advantage and to the presentation’s benefit. They resist the urge to get too gimmicky, as it distract from the presentation’s message. So whether you’re presenting to a boardroom of high-powered CEOs or a retail customer, go easy on the graphic effects. Leave them impressed with your credibility and value, not your cutesy visual aids.
6. The readiness is all.
Ask any successful salesperson for one tip on success, and the answer is likely to be “preparation.” In principle, most of us subscribe to this. In practice, pressures and procrastination result in last-minute preparation, skipped rehearsals, and arrangements based on chance. While readiness may not be “all,” it is “a lot” when it comes to making the sale. Don’t show up for any presentation unless you’re well prepared – with material, operations, speaker and team mates. Are your flyers printed accurately? Will your laptop work? Is the projector operating? Then, despite your best efforts, something may go wrong: this is Murphy territory — the VCR may not work, the bulb will blow. So have a backup plan to save the meeting and impress the client with your own “readiness.”
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