As hard as it is to believe, every producer I have ever known practices his/her presentations. Unfortunately, instead of practicing with their teammates in the office, most don’t practice until they are in front of the prospect. That just boggles my mind. We all know how hard it is to get in front of prospects, and then, to not give yourself every opportunity for a successful meeting just doesn’t make sense.
When it gets right down to it, most producers don’t practice because they’re afraid of being embarrassed. They’re afraid of getting it wrong, fumbling over words, or making mistakes. Guess what?! You will and that is the very reason you want to make sure that happens in the office where nobody can get hurt, rather than in front of the prospect when you have everything to lose.
It starts with making the right commitments. You really need to commit to:
- Never losing to someone because they were better prepared
- Practicing regularly and before every significant opportunity
- Having someone in leadership take responsibility for making sure practicing actually happens. We assign responsibilities for everything else (including who is bringing donuts to the meeting); someone has to assume this responsibility.
You have to use practicing to build confidence, not tear it down.
- Make practicing safe – Being uncomfortable is fine, but nobody should be embarrassed.
- Play the part – Present as you would to a prospect, don’t just describe what you would do.
- Debrief – Analyze the practice session, talk about what worked, about what didn’t work, and about what could work even better.
You have to have variety in what you practice and the way you practice.
- Topics that need to be practiced
- The various elements of your sales system
- Handling objections
- 30 second commercial
- Asking for referrals/introductions
- Question asking skills
- Cold calling scripts
- Types of practice
- Ambushes – At the beginning of a meeting, without notice, ask to hear someone’s 30 second commercial.
- Small group practice
- Large group practice
- Video tape for self assessment
- Speed dating – Have someone be the producer, someone else the prospect, and an observer. Practice one of the topics and then rotate.
- Open gym – Set aside time for anyone interested to show up in the conference room to practice anything on which they want to improve.
The thought of practicing in front of your peers may make you uncomfortable, but that is a temporary feeling and one that passes surprisingly fast. What doesn’t pass is the feeling you get from opportunities lost as a result of not being as prepared as you could have been.
Photo by Homini:)