Win the Audience Over by Using Reluctant Agreement

In a business presentation, you are often trying to persuade the audience to agree with your analysis, support your program or approve your budget request. Most presenters use a logically sound, but persuasively poor argument. They present the facts but don’t really know how to persuade.

For instance, they may say:

“Since our competitor dropped prices, you can see their sales have increased 4% while ours have remained flat. I suggest we match their price drop to avoid future market share losses.”

Okay, great analytic approach. But the audience is stuck in analytic mode, mulling things over and thinking of alternate explanations. Did the competitor have a promotion during this period, in addition to the price drop? Partner incentives? What is the margin of error on these numbers? And so on. Your purely analytic recommendation may get rejected.

One alternative approach is something called the “reluctant agreement”. In this approach, you state you used to hold the opposing viewpoint, but the evidence is so overwhelming that you have to reluctantly agree with the new conclusion – your recommendation. It might go like this:

“I’ve always believed we need to hold onto our premium price strategy. I’d like to think we can maintain our price premium and regain market share. But after viewing these numbers, showing our competitor’s 4% market share increase after they dropped their price, I have to say I’m beginning to change my views. I’m becoming convinced if we want to increase market share we have to reduce our price.”

 The audience may still have some of the same questions they had previously. But they also have a view of you as an objective presenter, a careful evaluator of both sides of the argument and someone who has already been persuaded – reluctantly, of course. It may give you an edge the next time you have to sway an audience.

The “reluctant agreement” is one of many rhetorical approaches discussed in the book Thank You for Arguing by Jay Heinrechs. It’s a recommended read.

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.

 

Use Red to Sway an Audience to Your Side

It’s Valentine’s Day and what better time to review the research on the color red to move an audience. Red has a lot of power to sway people over to your way of thinking, if you use it correctly.

Just ask Olympic athletes who compete in taekwondo matches. It turns out, when the fighters are evenly matched, the judges give the win to the red fighter over 60% of the time, even though the colors are assigned to the fighters randomly!

German researchers tested a theory – does red affect the judges’ votes? They showed expert judges video of two fighters, let’s call them Ron and Brad. Ron wore red and Brad wore blue. As expected, Ron won most of the matches.

Then the German researchers did something clever. They digitally re-colored the video so the colors were reversed: now Ron was wearing blue and Brad was wearing red. Would the judges still give more points to Ron? Or would Brad’s red uniform sway the judges over to his side?

 

The result: the judges now awarded more points to Brad, the fighter wearing red, who was deemed to have lost more matches when he wore blue. This effect has also been seen in American football, Olympic boxing and wrestling, as well as soccer.

So when you want to convey social dominance, use red on your slide.

In another study, men were shown pictures of women and asked to rate how attractive they were, how much they would spend on a date with them, and so on. When the woman was wearing a red blouse, or even when her picture had a red border around it, men rated her as more attractive and worthy of more of their date money.

 

So if you want to excite an audience, use red on your slide. Red is a great sales color because it makes people feel excited and they mistake that excitement for interest in your product.

Learn more about how to use color to influence your audience in my book Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business.

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.

3 Best Elevator Pitches

An elevator pitch is how you respond to the question “So, what do you do?” But most elevator pitches don’t work. Who wants to be answered with this 60 second infomercial:

“I’m Regional Vice President of Sales for Puffery Manufacturing. We manufacture office furnishings, electronic casings and belt buckles out of recycled asbestos, so you know your dollars are going toward making a greener planet. And we have manufacturing partners across the United States and Asia, which means we can ship finished product to your warehouses faster than the competition. Here’s my card. Maybe we can set up a time to meet and talk about your office furniture or belt buckle needs.”

Fortunately, I’ve found 3 elevator pitches that actually work. They are different than the boring 60 second “talking brochure” because they are:

1. CONVERSATIONS.  The goal is not to deliver your 60 second advertisement; it’s to have a two-way conversation.  A successful pitch is where the other person relaxes and says “Interesting. Tell me more.”

2. SHORT. 60 seconds is a long time to talk uninterrupted. An elevator pitch is NOT a sales pitch. Think 10 seconds, not 60!

3. EVERYDAY LANGUAGE. Avoid words like “synergy”, “optimize”, “efficiency”, “ROI” and so on. These words SCREAM “sales pitch” and will have your panicked prospect looking for the exit signs.

In fact, here’s a tip: write out your pitch, then take a red pen and cross out all the cliches and marketing-speak. Replace them with one-syllable words.

 The Three Best Elevator Pitches

#1 Brian Walter

www.extrememeetings.com

Brian Walter is one of my favorite speaker coaches. And his elevator pitch method — the WOW, HOW, NOW approach — is the simplest and most fun.

1. WOW. Say something intriguing (even puzzling) that will make the other person want to hear more. A creative summary of what you do that demands some clarification. Ideally, the prospect’s reaction will be to cock their head and ask “what does that mean?”

2. HOW. Answer the stated (or unspoken) question and explain exactly what you do.

3. NOW. Shift into storytelling mode, giving a concrete example of a current customer. The key phrase is “Now, for example…”

Example

Prospect: So, what do you do?

Me: I help build PowerPoint muscles.

Prospect: Huh?

Me: I teach people how to use PowerPoint more effectively in business. Now, for instance, I’m working with a global consulting firm to train all their senior consultants to give better sales presentations so they can close more business.

 

#2 Chris Westfall

Chris is author of The New Elevator Pitch.

1. Start with a story/humor/news/etc. Don’t launch into your company spiel. Instead, start with something you expect to hear in a conversation: humor, a story, referring to recent news. Choose something that highlights a problem you help customers solve.

2. Add an emotional benefit statement. Say “That’s what I do.” Then summarize the RESULTS you achieve for customers. It should be an emotional benefit, not a hard-headed business benefit.

3. Quantify your success. Now you add the proof of your benefit statement, using numbers if possible.

4. Use the “velvet rope close”. The velvet rope close suggests your offer is only accessible to certain types. For example, if you’re an investment advisor you might say “I normally only talk about investing in gold with my high net worth clients. But I think it might be right in your case.” Rather than closing like a hungry dog, inappropriate for a social meeting, let the prospect come to you. In your elevator pitch, the key phrase to use is “I’m not sure if I can help you, but…”

Example

Do you remember about 10 years ago when the space shuttle Columbia was destroyed on re-entry? It turns out the engineers tried to warn NASA about the danger. But the PowerPoint slides they used were  a complete mess and no-one understood the danger.

That’s what I do. I train people how to make sure their PowerPoint slides aren’t a complete disaster.

For instance, students who attend my workshop can create slides that are 50% more clear and 50% more convincing by the end of the training, based on scores students give each other before and after the workshop.

I’m not sure if my training could work at your company. It really depends how much you use PowerPoint and what’s at stake if your PowerPoint is unclear. But I’d be happy to talk to you about it.

 

#3 Richard Fouts

Fouts is a Gartner analyst who created the S.I.R. Framework based on storytelling principles: creating conflict, escalating the conflict and then resolving the conflict. It’s a bit too much of a monologue for my tastes, but it does feel more conversational than the “talking brochure” approach.

1. Situation (conflict). Illustrate the pain current customers face.

2. Impact (escalate conflict) – Explain the impact of that situation. How is this affecting profits, market share, customer loyalty, or anything else the prospect is concerned about losing.

3. Resolution – Explain how you solve the problem. Focus on benefits, not products and services.

Example

You know how most business people use PowerPoint but most use it pretty poorly? Well, bad PowerPoint has all kinds of consequences – sales that don’t close, good ideas that get ignored, time wasted building slides that could have been used developing or executing strategies. My company shows businesses how to use PowerPoint to capture those sales, bring attention to those great ideas and use those wasted hours on more important projects.

 

Those are my top 3 recommendations for building your own elevator pitch because they are conversational, short and use everyday language. Which methods would you add to this list?

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.

Add Punch to Your Sales Presentation with the Reverse Testimonial

We often use testimonials in sales presentations. But rather than enhance our credibility, they can feel fake and have no impact at all.

For instance, an overly positive testimonial is more likely to cause the audience’s lip to curl in contempt. They know you have cherry-picked this cheery and “canned” testimonial and so it has all the force of an infomercial.

One solution I recommend in my workshops is to try the reverse testimonial. Have your customer express a concern you know your audience has and you need to overcome to close the sale. Then add the testimonial.

For instance, if you know customers are concerned your company is a smaller firm, you might try a testimonial that acknowledges that concern but then offers a reassurance from a current customer. Like this.

Try the reverse testimonial to add more punch to your sales presentations.

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.