Being a technologist, I love all things tech. I love what it can do and how it can simplify our lives, provided that we know how to use it and what we are going to use it for.
However, I’m standing in front of a group of sales people who don’t really care that much about tech, nor do they care about all of the great things that it can do. What they care about is making their lives easier, increasing sales, getting in front of new people and not having the CEO throw some new “footballs” at them to catch and run with.
How do I get their attention and establish credibility when the program is centered on technology?
The answer? Get rapport by finding a common ground.
I told them a brief story about how Lance, the CEO “tossed me the football of preparing this presentation at the 11th hour saying that he had complete trust and faith that I was up to the task.” Something I was sure that they were all familiar with.
They all smiled and rolled their eyes with a, “Yeah, I’ve been in that situation before because he’s done the same thing to me” look. Now I’m one of them. I just described a shared experience. It was a good lead in to the agenda slide for the rest of the presentation. But the point here is that we started together. Mind you, I had to keep us together by constantly tying in what technology could do for them and how it was going to make their lives easier. But right at the start of the presentation, everyone was in the boat rowing together.
As a speaker, you’ll have to constantly monitor your audience and know when you are synchronized with them.
The first step, however, is to get your audience’s attention and achieve rapport with them. The easiest way to do this is by stepping into their world, understanding their wants and the world that they live in. This applies not just for the people in an auditorium, but for the person on the other end of a sales call as well.
If you can’t see things through your audience’s eyes and understand where they are, then your chances of “getting them” will fall dramatically.
I was on a conference call with a friend called… “Bob”. We were discussing marketing challenges for a new business concept. I asked a rather silly question. I asked, “What are some of the things that interest your potential customers? What can you do to interest them?”
“Bob’s” response was, “Well, I suppose I could make some guesses, but in order to do that, I would have to see things from their perspective and I just can’t do that.”
I was shocked! After all, Bob had been involved in sales his entire career. He considered himself a sales expert. Yet, he found this simple sales exercise impossible to do. He wanted to do things his way, to sell and market what he wanted his way, and he wanted to do that to everybody that he met with little regard to the wants and desires of the other party.
You have to be able to stand outside of your own thoughts and desires, and see things from your audience’s point of view. It doesn’t matter if your audience is a room of 200 people or one person on the other end of a sales presentation.
When you are the presenter, you are selling your ideas, projects or information to your audience. Do your homework. Study your audience. Find how they define their world and discover what is of vital interest to them. See things from their point of view and step into their world. Then get their attention by talking about something that they can identify with.
When you can get into their world, you can achieve rapport. When you have rapport with your audience, you can lead them through the rest of your presentation.
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