Surprising New Data on Salespeople Busts the Myths about Relationship Selling and Social Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jun 16, 2016 @ 13:06 PM

Image Copyright 123RF Stock Photo


If you are a regular reader, you might recall this great article on Selling to a CEO.  In that article, I also mentioned some of the expanded Sales Competencies that Objective Management Group (OMG) now measures.  Before April, Relationship Building and Mastery of Social Selling were findings in our evaluations, but now, they are full blown competencies with complete sets of attributes.

I had a theory about salespeople, but didn't have the data to prove it out.  I believed that social selling was a godsend to those in sales who were not great at relationship building - that by utilizing applications like LinkedIn and Twitter, they could reach out to new people, but with the benefit of hiding behind the glass screen. Do you think I was right?  Or wrong?

 Actually, I couldn't have been more wrong!

We took nearly 5,000 rows of data from the past 2 weeks and looked at those two competencies and compared the results.  In the 1st graph, you'll see that the overwhelming majority of salespeople are poor at both, or to put it in my vocabulary, they suck at both!  Just 5% were good at both, 11% excelled at social selling and 16% excelled at relationship building.  


So I wondered if the data might be skewed based on demographics.  For instance, would the data show that salespeople with more than 10 years in sales are less effective at social selling and better at relationship building?  We filtered the data and removed everyone who had fewer than 10 years of sales experience, leaving us with around 1,850 veteran salespeople.  The graph looked nearly identical to the first graph but the veteran group at 33% was much better at relationship building, 11% - the same as the entire population - had mastered social selling and 8% achieved high scores in both.


So I wondered what would happen if we looked at the people who were new to sales. This time, we filtered the data and removed everyone who had more than 5 years of sales experience, leaving us with around 2,000 newer salespeople.  This graph also looked quite similar, but there were a few small differences.  Just 2% of the newer salespeople were good at both competencies.  33% were good at relationship building, and surprisingly only 9% had mastered social selling - an even smaller percentage than the veteran group!



 My theory?  Out the window.  Not even close!  Instead we made two even better discoveries from this exercise:  

  1. The majority of salespeople, who aren't very good at relationship building, will be equally poor at social selling.
  2. Although you and I are selling socially, most salespeople - 89% are not effective at social selling! 

Are you surprised by any of these discoveries?  What are your thoughts?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, selling, twitter, Relationship Selling, linkedin, social selling, sales assessments

The Sales Success Secret Shared by Bill Walton and John Wooden

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, May 24, 2016 @ 08:05 AM


I’m reading Basketball legend Bill Walton’s autobiography, Back from the Dead.  There are great stories and lessons, but the one I want to discuss here is about legendary UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden.


Bill talked about the basketball team’s practices and how they were so well scripted, incredibly challenging and the most fun. He called them symphonies! The practices were so powerful that the games, even against the best competition, were always much easier than practice.  The games were so easy that the players did not need to remember plays or even think.  All they had to do was execute.  The team’s system of running the fast break was so well ingrained that executing was easy. This led to an 88-game winning streak!

Translating this story to selling, I need to point out that most salespeople not only hate to practice (read role-playing), but don’t believe it is necessary.  Remember, as much as the basketball team practiced, it was only their own part that they were practicing.  They didn’t have the other team’s playbook and didn’t even prepare for the other team.  They simply practiced every possible scenario that could come up so that they were completely prepared - for anything.  In sales, how many salespeople are so thoroughly prepared that it wouldn’t matter what their prospect said, did, or asked and even the competition would be irrelevant?

"The only difference between successful salespeople and the other 77% is that the successful salespeople actually do the
very things they don't like doing." 

Here is a great movie clip from Hitch that demonstrates how difficult it is to role-play.

Albert Gray, an insurance company executive in the 1950's, said something that is still as true today as it was nearly 70 years ago.  He said, “The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don't like to do. They don't like doing them either necessarily. But their disliking is subordinated to the strength of their purpose.”  If he said it today, it might have sounded like, "The only difference between successful salespeople and the other 77% is that the successful salespeople actually do the things they don't like doing." 

See Dan Caramanico's comment below about practice where he writes, "Lots of teams practice but the difference lies in the adage that it is not practice that makes perfect. It's perfect practice that makes perfect. Half hearted practice or practicing the wrong things is no help at all."

And I'm reminded of this message from when I participated in Dave Pelz' Short Game School.  "Practice makes permanent!"

Finally, Bill Talerico wrote an article about John Wooden and translated yet one more great basketball lesson here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, notre dame basketball, john wooden, ucla basketball, bill walton

Effective Selling is Less about the Words and More About How You Say Them

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 25, 2016 @ 18:04 PM


Two experiences this weekend support something I have been teaching for more than 30 years.  

Saturday, I walked up to the deli counter and asked the young woman for a quarter pound of imported provolone.  She responded, "We don't have impourded, but we have some from Italy."  I said that would be fine. Then she grumbled to a co-worker that this guy wanted "impourded" provolone and he explained that the Italian provolone was imported.  Then she held up the slices and said, "It's only 5 slices - that won't go very far!"  I explained that it was perfect for a sandwich.

I was able to laugh that one off - it was actually funny - but I didn't think the second one was very funny.

The AAU 13U baseball team was ahead 4-1 when the assistant coach approached us. Our son had just finished pitching his fourth strong inning so we expected to hear, "He's pitching a great game!", but instead he whined that our son needed to develop better command of his curve ball (that I wouldn't let him throw prior to this year because we were trying to protect his arm).  

I nicely reminded the coach that our son had tried out for the team as a catcher, not a pitcher, and that the coaches liked his arm so much they told him he would pitch - a lot.  

The assistant coach growled, "If he doesn't want to pitch, I'll take him off the mound right now!!!"  

Huh?  If he doesn't want to pitch? He loves to pitch! Where did that sarcastic comment come from?  And why was he so nasty about it?

Neither of these two individuals intended to be nasty, or even mean-spirited, but both of them communicated their replies in such a way that they came out quite nasty.

The deli lady could have said, "Will provolone from Italy be acceptable?"

And the coach could have said, "I'm going to help Michael with the command of the curveball he's been working on."

You can say almost anything, to anyone, at any time, without offending them, if you say it nicely, softly, kindly, and sincerely.  You can't get away with saying anything, ever, even when your intentions are good, if you sound arrogant, abrasive, offensive, snarly, defensive, loud or combative.

Whether you are trying to convince a prospect, customer or salesperson, make sure you emphasize the how over the what and your message has a much better chance of being accepted in the spirit you intended.

Read more about how you can stop worrying about the words you use.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, selling, tonality, communication skills

How You Can Increase Sales During the Summer

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 03, 2015 @ 07:06 AM


As I scrolled the list of concerts coming to Boston this year, two things struck me.  Most of the bands that are touring were popular when I was young (don't young pop artists tour too?) and the members of those bands are getting really old!  There's something depressing about seeing 70-year-olds on the stage recreating their hit songs from decades ago.  But it is concert season and salespeople tend to drag out their own old and inappropriate beliefs about selling in the summer.

For one, they work much less.  I understand the need for a summer vacation, but why is the summer any different from when they take their winter vacation?  They return from their winter vacation and work really hard, but for some reason, before and after the summer vacation, they hardly work.  That's lazy!

Two, they believe that their prospects aren't working during the summer and they either slack off on the prospecting, or give up way too early in their attempts to reach their prospects.  Why wouldn't their prospects be working?

Three, they believe that their prospects don't work on Fridays or Mondays.  Sure - if they are on vacations that week, but the rest of the time?  They're working!

The only businesses that shut down for summer are snow plowing companies and they don't really shut down - they simply return to their core business of landscaping and construction.  Salespeople can't shut it down either.  Bare down.  Work harder.  Get laser-focused.  Be more tenacious.  If you know that your competitors are letting up, it's your opportunity to differentiate, be there when they aren't, call when they can't, schedule more meetings and close more business.

I work harder in the summer.  With our son's baseball taking up so much time, I must get more done in fewer hours.  You can too.

I don't know whether I've gotten behind or my articles are having children, but here are some more of my new, fresh articles that have been posted on other sites:

This short interview with me about sales enablement has appeared on multiple sites this week.  One of my favorite clients, Tom See, Sr. VP of Sales at Universal Studios Hollywood, emailed me this morning to let me know that he was alerted to it from his Disruptive Leader feed.  I like being disruptive, but this interview hardly qualifies!

I was one of "70 Top Sales Pros Who Revealed Their Most Impactful Sales Advice."  This was a pretty cool piece!

The latest issue of Top Sales Magazine is available for download.  My article on page 18 was named Top Sales Article of the week.

The Selling Power Blog featured this article of mine on How to Stop Using Price as a Selling Crutch.

My best-selling book, Baseline Selling, was named a Best Summer Read for 2015.

The Sales Mastery Summit posted this video interview on Constructing a Predictive Sales Pipeline / Process and Sales Process

I'll be hosting my annual Sales Leadership Intensive - absolutely our top event of the year - on August 27-28 in the Boston area.  Check it out and join us for the finest training available on mastering the art of sales coaching.

Get busy - get more done - Succeed.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, sales management seminar, rolling stones, summer selling

Whiplash on the Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, May 26, 2015 @ 06:05 AM


I don't know too many people who saw the award-winning movie Whiplash.  This past winter, Tom Schaff, an OMG Partner in St. Louis, recommended it and thought that I would love it.  As luck would have it, we were living in an igloo this past February, when temperatures never rose above freezing (for 6 weeks), we had nearly 10 feet of snow on the ground, and our home was encased in ice.  That was a great time to be watching movies!  I did love Whiplash and there were so many great scenes that I could have written about. I never did get around to writing about it, but no problem.  Chris Collias, a friend, loyal reader, and longtime client going back to the 1980's, sent me an email with his suggestion for an article.  Here it is.  Chris said that the main character, the incredible drummer, Andrew, is a metaphor for a salesperson. Fletcher, the brutal and narcisistic music professor, could be viewed as an extremely difficult customer or prospect.   

In the movie, the more impossible that Fletcher made it for Andrew, the harder Andrew worked.  The louder Fletcher yelled, the quicker Andrew put his head down and tried harder.  The more manipulative Fletcher became, the more tireless Andrew was.  Andrew is the epitomy of commitment - doing whatever it takes to succeed.  It wasn't conditional commitment; it was unconditional commitment. No-matter-what.

Chris noted that many salespeople aren’t committed to their profession.  They don’t put in the 1,000 hours that it takes to achieve mastery so when they encounter a prospect similar to Fletcher (who actually threw a cymbal at Andrew's head), they don’t react by working harder or facing their weaknesses. Instead, they rationalize, make excuses, or move on to another company (or band). 

Chris said, "Andrew was able to overcome his nemesis by working hard, planting his feet, and calling his tormentor's bluff by delivering his best.  Some prospects, especially in purchasing, can be real bastards.  However, instead of becoming emotional, timid, defensive or sarcastic, you should view them as providing an opportunity for learning. Face them head on, remain calm, and consider that you might be the only salesperson who ever got this far with this particular difficult prospect."

Well stated, Chris!

In many cases, difficult prospects are actually easier to sell because there isn't a whole lot of competition.  Most salespeople give up or lose the prospect's respect before they get remotely close to doing any business with them.

It is important to be aware of potential weaknesses though.  For example, if you have need for approval - the need to be liked - it may be very difficult for you to navigate a situation like this without worrying about what the prospect will think or say or do.  Get over it.  

If you have difficulty recovering from rejection, you may be very uncomfortable putting yourself in a situation where a prospect like this could reject you.  You have nothing to lose!

If you lack self-confidence, it might be scary to jump in and deal with a prospect like this.  Push yourself and do it anyway.

As Chris says, difficult prospects will make you stronger and that will make it even easier for you to deal with prospects who are normal.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, sales weaknesses, objective management group, difficult customers,

Salespeople as Closers & 10 Other Sales Myths

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, May 14, 2015 @ 06:05 AM


It was a beautiful spring day and while I was walking to lunch yesterday, I was thinking about my slugglish metabolism.  When I was young, I never stopped walking, running and bicycling and I probably burned more calories than I consumed.  I was only 115 pounds when I graduated from high school!  I'll turn 60 later this year, and other than the baseball coaching I do, and using the golf cart the few times I play golf each year, I am as close to inactive as possible. The common belief is that the metabolism slows with age, but yesterday it hit me: we slow (Okay, I slow) with age, so it's no wonder our (my) metabolism slows down!   There are also some common beliefs in sales that aren't necessarily true, beliefs which, if we (it's only fair - if you) fix them, change everything.  Consider these:

  1. Belief: Demos are excellent milestones and lead to revenue. 
    Reality:  Demos make you feel good, add unqualified opportunities to the pipeline, which are the real reason for inaccurate forecasts.

  2. Belief: The faster you go, the shorter your sales cycle.
    Reality: The faster you go, the more likely it is that your sales cycle will take longer and lead to a lost sale.

  3. Belief: When a propsect doesn't return calls and emails, it's because they aren't interested.
    Reality: Today it takes 10-15 attempts to reach a prospect and when salespeople don't succeed in reaching their prospects, it's because they gave up too early.

  4. Belief: You need lower prices to take business away from an incumbent and win new business.
    Reality: You need to differentiate, solve problems, be the value, and become irreplaceable.

  5. Belief: You know your salespeople better than anyone.
    Reality: You know their results better than anyone.  Only a sales force evaluation can explain why they get the results they get, whether or not your underachievers can be saved, and what you can do to save them.

  6. Belief: The 80/20 Rule applies to the sales force because 80% of your sales come from 20% of your salespeople.
    Reality: You can write and/or follow any rule you want.  I suggest that you adhere to my 100/0 rule, where 100% of your salespeople are overachievers.

  7. Belief: There aren't any good sales candidates out there right now.
    Reality: The good sales candidates won't come to you right now, but if you know where to look, what to look for, how to get their attention and exercise patience, you will find good sales candidates.

  8. Belief: Salespeople must be good closers.
    Reality: If salespeople can find and add opportunities to their pipeline, follow a milestone-centric sales process, sell consultatively and thoroughly qualify, then closing is simply a milestone, rather than an event and, in the end, an unnecessary skill set.

  9. Belief: Sales Training is only necessary for new salespeople.
    Reality: Sales Training and coaching become more necessary as salespeople become more effective generating opportunities.  The top 6% - the elite salespeople - all have sales coaches, just like the top athletes do.  The bottom 74% of all salespeople?  They don't believe they need sales coaching!

  10. Belief: Beliefs are simply opinions.
    Reality: Beliefs drive and support behavior.  Salespeople will always act and behave in a manner that is consistent with their beliefs, even when those beliefs do not support ideal sales outcomes. Self-Limiting sales beliefs do not support elite sales performance.  

Just because you think it, does not make it normal, correct, supportive or useful.  Challenge everything you believe to be true in sales and ask whether or not it really needs to be that way.  Could you change your results if you changed your beliefs, expectations and thinking?  

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, common sales myths

The Importance of Resiliency in Sales and Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Apr 22, 2015 @ 06:04 AM


We saw Paul Blart - Mall Cop 2 and laughed a grand total of twice.  It was inept comedy, a horrible sequel and a terrible movie.  Despite that, it was a great example of resiliency as Blart is continually rejected, stopped, ridiculed and put-off, only to ignore those events, bear down and try even harder to accomplish his goals.  From that perspective, the movie, and Kevin James, succeed at demonstrating what it is like to be a salesperson.  Every other employee in a company is provided with a job description, a set of goals or expectations, training if necessary, and then left to do their job.  Nobody will stop them or make it difficult for them to complete their work, as long as they are capable.  Salespeople, on the other hand, must deal with prospects who won't answer their phones or emails, competitors who say bad things about them and their companies, as well as products and services that aren't always the best in quality, value, or the best choice.  Salespeople must demonstrate resiliency in order to succeed, yet one of the components of resiliency is sorely lacking in today's modern salespeople.

Only 34% of all salespeople have strong commitment for success in  sales - down considerably from 58% in 2007. Why?  One reason is that selling is more difficult than it was 10 years ago.  Another reason could be the rapid growth of inside sales teams where, unlike the traditional quota-carrying outside salesperson of years past, members of the inside sales team are often younger, less experienced, and not necessarily committed to a career of sales excellence.

Movies have been a great source of inspiration for me.  In addition to utilizing close to 100 different movie clips to demonstrate various selling and sales management lessons during training, a quick search revealed that I have relied on various movies to offer an analogy in more than a dozen Blog articles over the past 10 years.  Among them are lessons from:

We Bought a Zoo 
The Pursuit of Happyness 
The Lion King 
The Peaceful Warrior Movie 
The Secret 
First Knight 
The Blind Side 
Coach Carter 

There are lessons everywhere.  All you have to do is look for them.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, Sales DNA, sales commitment, movies and sales

Trust in Selling is Becoming More Important Than Ever

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Feb 26, 2014 @ 10:02 AM

trustI loved this short, but perfect post from Seth Godin's Blog last week.  It's about the importance of trust.  Please read it before proceeding.  It's also very consistent with the late Steven Covey's philosophy as related in his book, The Speed of Trust.

Trust is becoming more important than ever.  Companies are focusing more on integrity and values, and that's from both sides of the door.  They are looking for salespeople, vendors, suppliers, partners and trusted advisors who have strong integrity.  And they are also hiring the people (in this case, salespeople) who are deemed to be of a higher integrity.  Trustworthy is the operative word here.

There are certainly companies and people that don't measure up when it comes to the high integrity profile and that is what makes prospects so skeptical.  Bad experiences.  It only takes one shoplifter for a retailer to install a video surveillance system and/or detectors, lock their display cases, hide their merchandise and distrust all of its customers.  Just one bad apple is all it takes to ruin it for everyone.

Yesterday, we had an internal conversation about our website, collateral, videos, blog articles, white papers, emails and of course, phone calls and face-to-face visits.  The question of the day was, "Do potential clients trust us when they don't really know us that well?"  

We wondered aloud whether credibility and trust were really the same thing, related, or completely separate conclusions.  Personally, I believe they are separate.  I believe that someone could be credible as an expert, yet still not be completely trustworthy.  I also believe that we could meet someone who was completely worthy of our trust, but not be completely credible as an expert.  Separate issues.  The problem is that many companies lump these two issues together and assume that if they are credible, they have built trust.  Here's something for you to consider.  Let me know if you agree with my definitions.  I believe that credibility is an earned, time-tested, combination of experience, expertise and success in a specific field or subject matter.  I believe that trustworthiness is the ability to convey personal values and integrity through words, body language and actions.  Do you agree?

You can have all of the latest systems, processes, tools, and applications, along with the best products and services.  But if your prospects don't trust you, your intentions, your company, your promises or your eagerness, they won't buy from you.

I would like to remind you of a white paper on trust that I published a couple of years ago.  I conducted a study and we got some incredible, eye-popping data, that shows who trusts whom, by industry, and exactly when and why salespeople are distrusted.  It's a must-read.  You can download it right here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, trust, Seth Godin, integrity, steven covey, salespeople

Sales Execution - What Should You Pay Attention to?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 22, 2014 @ 05:01 AM

baseball executionThis is the 8th article in a January series on the Architecture of the Sales Force.  Here are the others:

If we refer to baseball, the best sport for sales analogies, there's a word that ball players and managers use quite often: Execute.

Pitcher:  "I felt strong out there, had good velocity, good stuff, but I didn't execute my pitches."

Manager: "We had a game plan as to how to approach [the opposing pitcher], but we just didn't execute very well today."

You could substitute most any sport and the dialog would be similar.  Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan even wrote a best-selling business book titled, Execution.  Yet in sales, we rarely hear anything as simple or basic.  We're far more likely to hear about competition, politics, relationships, price, marketing, or the product itself before we hear anyone utter execution as the reason for not winning an account or a deal.  Why is that?

There are some very large egos in sales and some of the largest can be found occupying sales leadership roles.  For a sales leader to say, "We failed to execute", is an admission that they weren't good enough.  While the admission of ineffectiveness is very difficult for most sales leaders, the reality is that without it, there can be no real change.

Watch this one-minute video on Excuse Making and you'll completely understand what I mean by "no real change."

Suppose you could put an end to excuse making.  Suppose you were to be held accountable for executing.  The first thing you would do is set clear expectations and then hold your salespeople accountable for executing.  What would you pay attention to in order to make sure they were executing?  

You could look at conversion ratios, but some opportunities move from one stage to another and it's unrelated to whether or not the salesperson was effective.

You could look at closing ratios, but unless you have a ratio that is definitive of success, all actual ratios are simply relative to the goal, to last month, to last year, or to other salespeople.

You could look at activity, but that tends to put all of the focus on the first stage of the sales process.  While that could be the most difficult stage of the process, it doesn't help us determine effectiveness in the latter stages of the sales process.

While we are reviewing our salespeople's performance on selling activities that have already occurred, it's also important that we consider forward-looking indicators, not lagging indicators.  

Let me propose several areas in which we could measure effectiveness to achieve an overall effectiveness score, while also serving as forward-looking indicators of likely business:

  • New - There are so many sales roles today, and each has a different level of responsibility for getting opportunities into the pipeline.  A broad term like "new" allows us to redefine what "new" represents for each role in the sales force.  Based on the definition, we should be able to rate the level of execution for each of those roles.
  • Conversations - Before demos, proposals, quotes, presentations, samples, references and even qualification, salespeople must, at minimum, get their prospects to engage in a conversation, discover their compelling reason to buy, and differentiate.  They should have developed a relationship during this conversation.  Based on what the salesperson is able to convey about their conversation, we should be able to rate the level of traction they achieved.
  • Thoroughness - Qualified opportunities don't necessarily measure a salesperson's effectiveness.  While getting to the decision maker is a measure of effectiveness, the spending ability, timeline, incumbent vendor and internal politics are not a measure of their effectiveness.  A better measure of effectiveness is a salesperson's ability to be thorough, uncovering information like this, even if that ultimately disqualifies an opportunity.
  • Qualified Win Rate - Most companies measure win rates, but it's often one of two formulas.  Either it represents the percentage of total opportunities that become sales, or it represents the percentage of quotes/proposals that convert to sales.  The problem with both of those formulas is that they don't take into account whether those opportunities were ever closable.  However, if our salespeople are only quoting and proposing to qualified opportunities where the Conversation and Thoroughness have both been rated, we will have a more quantifiable metric from which to work.
Suppose we were to rate the effectiveness of each of our salespeople, in all four categories, on a scale of 1 to 4, using 4 for Excellent, 3 for Good, 2 for Fair, and 1 for Poor.  They would be rated each month and, at the end of the month, be given a scorecard showing their average ratings in each of the four categories, and an overall effectiveness rating.
By defining, setting expectations, monitoring and grading salespeople in these four areas, you would have a much better way to determine and communicate a salesperson's overall effectiveness, and as a result, the effectiveness of your team.  But, that's just the beginning.  Given a grade of anything less than 4, what will you do about it?  What kind of coaching will you provide?  What will your salespeople do about it?  What kind of coaching will they need?  
Sales Execution is the key to improved performance and, in this case, the key unlocks a safe.  Inside, for safe keeping, is your ego along with the egos of your salespeople.  Will you be able to unlock the safe, liberate the egos, and allow humility and capability gaps to raise awareness and allow change to take place?

Join me and a panel of sales experts for a powerful one-hour Webinar that will address this subject on February 5 when we discuss, "Leading Your Ideal Sales Force - Part 1" at 11 AM Eastern Time. 

Image credit: vladyc / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, accountability, execution, architecture of the sales force, sales execution

10 Tips for Great Keynotes and Better Sales Presentations

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Dec 10, 2013 @ 09:12 AM

PresentationRecently I was searching Google for a Keynote Speaker for Objective Management Group's (OMG) upcoming International Conference in April.  In addition to the many speaker bureaus listed, I also read through a number of articles where the authors shared their secrets to great talks.  While a few were pretty good, most weren't, and the secrets were certainly not very well kept.  I thought I would share some tips that you could incorporate into your group sales presentations, lunch and learns, conference talks and appearances to make them more effective.

  1. Slice It Up - Every presentation should have three sections - an attention-grabbing opening, a memorable ending, and the middle, where you make the points you want to make.  Example of the middle.
  2. Bring the Database - When possible, back up your findings with data and science.  Example
  3. A Picture is Worth All Your Words - I rarely include bullet points on my slides.  Just pictures.  Warning: My approach is not very useful if you need others to present your slide deck, but the "pictures only" approach helps to hold people's attention.  Black/blank slides are good too, when you want them paying attention to only you.
  4. Bring the Popcorn - Before technology cooperated, I told stories for my opening and closings, but these days I show compelling and relevent short clips from popular movies and tv shows.
  5. It's All about Them - It's tempting to be the center of attention, but the reality is that if you want to be a top speaker or presenter, it's all about your audience and how well you connect with them.  Example
  6. Get it Backward - Most presenters end with Q & A, but I believe that makes for a momentum breaker.  I like to talk for 5-10 minutes about my topics and then get the audience involved to learn what's on their mind, what they would like to hear, and focus the rest of my talk to what's important to them.  Example
  7. Know Your Role - They need you to be humorous, especially at your own expense.  Your humility should be in direct disproportion to the success you've achieved.  They need you to be entertaining, dynamic and animated.  If that's not you, then get some coaching or you'll suck at being a great speaker/presenter.  Vintage example
  8. Expertise is a Subtlety - Don't tell your audience how much you know.  Demonstrate expertise through the questions that you ask of the questioning audience members.  Explain your answers in the context of their world, not yours.  Help them figure out what they should do, instead of telling them what you would do.
  9. Curious Challenges - If you don't challenge their thinking or get them to think about something in a different or new way, you've wasted their time and an opportunity for you to differentiate yourself from everyone else.  Do so with questions, more than with answers.  Example
  10. Timing - Be a closer and end on time!  There's nothing worse than a speaker or presenter who continues beyond the end time.
I invite speakers and presenters, with tips of their own, to add them in the comments section.  All concise tips are welcome!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, sales management, event speaker, motivational speaker, memorable event, keynote speaker, guest speaker

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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Vendor Neutral Certified 100 SalesTech Vendor Objective Management Group

Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame Inductee


Leaading Sales Consultants 2018

Top Sales Awards 2018 - Individual Blog -  Silver

Top Sales Awards 2018 - Article/Post -  Silver

Top Sales Awards 2018 - Assessment Tool -  Gold

 2016 Top Sales & Marketing Individual Blog - Bronze

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2015 -  Bronze - Thought Leader

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Podcast - Gold

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Webinar - Gold

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2015 - Bronze - eBook/White Paper

Top 50 Sales & Marketing Blog 2019

Dave Kurlan Top 50 Sales Influencer 2015

Sales Pro Insider Blog

Top 50 most innovative sales bloggers



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