Don’t Let Your Brain Screw Up Your Sale

Hi readers,

I have often been asked by my mentees after a f_ck_d up sale on ….”where did we go wrong!!!???”

I did EVERYTHING that you taught me…EVERYTHING to the “T”, and yet the sale went to my competitor !!


When it comes to success in selling, your brain can be your own worst enemy.

If you’re like most sales stars, your brain has a tendency to chatter away about the future, when having a conversation with a customer.  Even though you’re trying to listen, your brain is sending out all sorts of subliminal messages to your subconscious like:

  • “If I don’t make my quota for the month, my boss is gonna kill me…( Really…ask yourself this…are your KRAs all about numbers??? tch tch numbers are only 50% of your KRA my sales pro!!)
  • “If I don’t make this sale, I won’t be able to buy that Versace dress from my girlfriend…” (Man, get your priorities right, and then understand that those who love you will love you whether you got them that dress or NOT!!)
  • “I hope this guy doesn’t tell a boring story, because I’ve got a flight in two hours…” (Patience is a virtue in Good salesmanship my friend!! didnt you know this..)
  • “What should say say next, in response to what he’s saying now…” (Being presumptuous are we …)
  • Etc. Etc. Etc.

This mental chatter frantically pulls your attention away from the customer and towards your own priorities and goals.  That can be fatal to actually making the sale because you’ll miss cues and clues about what the CUSTOMER wants.

In short, the CUSTOMER will cease to be king in your subconscious and you will inevitable wander AWAY from a sale that YOU THOUGHT was in your bag!!

The solution is to treat selling more as a process and less as an achievement.  Here’s how:

  • STEP #1: Open your posture. Body language and engaged listening are inter-related. When the customer is talking, you’ll be more interested, and seem more interested, if your expression and posture indicates that you are interested.  This is not trickery; it’s everyday human behavior.
  • STEP #2: Look AT the customer. When you’re thinking of the future, or something that you’re going to say, your eyes will lose focus or drift slightly upwards.  Keeping your eyes FOCUSED on the customer (without staring through the customer) forces your mind into the moment.
  • STEP #3: Be aware of your breathing. Because you’re human, it’s nearly impossible to keep all of your thoughts away from yourself.  Rather than listen to your internal chatter, become aware of the sound and flow of your breathing, which won’t distract from your focus on the customer.
  • STEP #4: Stop to take notes. When the customer says something that you’re sure is important, rather than breaking your focus by glancing down and making a note, ask for a moment’s pause, and then make a note.  Segmenting the two activities ensures that you’re present during the conversation.
  • STEP #5: Trust your instincts. You may believe you need to analyze everything that’s going on in the conversation in order to come up with the “right” response.  However, you’re more likely to say the “right” thing if you’re actively listening and then responding in a way that “feels” right.
  • STEP #6: Be patient with yourself. Selling is the study of a lifetime, so you can’t expect to grasp every concept or master every technique immediately.  Fortunately, what’s most important in sales is the combination of intention and attention.  Make the sale about the customer.  It’s really that simple.

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Effective Sales Questions that get results!

Hi readers,

This blog follows the other topics on which I have written about in the past weeks.

During the training programs that I attended and conducted over the last 18 years, I was often asked, and I myself asked of my trainers- which are the best questions to ask your clients/customers, so that the response meets your key objectives in the sales process?

By compiling elements that I learnt through class room training, numerous Rank Xerox PPS (Professional Selling Skills) programs and field sales experience I have come up with the following questions that I believe are effective , cutting across domains and verticals.

While these questions are primarily derived from my experience with B2B clients, I suspect that they will prove to be just as effective in the B2G  ( Business to Government) business eco-systems. ( Let me have your views as I have no understanding of this space)

Here are the fourteen absolutely indispensable questions ( power tools)  that should be in every sales rep’s bag of tricks:

  1. What can you tell me about your organization… and yourself?
  2. What do you like about what you’re currently doing?
  3. What don’t you like about your current situation?
  4. What would you like to be enhanced or improved?
  5. What can you tell me about your priorities?
  6. What prompted you to start this project now?
  7. What can you tell me about your decision-making process?
  8. How do you handle budget considerations?
  9. What other options are you looking at?
  10. What can you tell me about the people involved in the process?
  11. What obstacles are in the way of moving this forward?
  12. How will you be evaluating different options?
  13. How will the funding for the project be justified?
  14. How much support does this have at the executive level?

According to me –

Get the answers to these questions, and take action based on those answers, and you’ll get the sale. It’s that simple.

This is based on the KISS principle- Keep it simple and sweet!

10 Reasons Your Presentation Stinks ( and didn’t make the cut with the bosses!)

Hi readers,

this is another blog from my table on the theme of “top 10” this, and top 10 that…

This blog and the following blogs will all deal with TOP 10!


Here goes

REASON #10: It is all data, no story!

Guys …guys…guys….data is nice, BUT ALL DATA is downright boring! it will have NO TRACTION with your audience and very soon I guarantee you, folks in the audience would be suppressing yawns!!

Hot tip-Make your presentation tell a story, ideally with the audience as the heroes. Learn to story board, take the help of folks in marketing and advertising to help you develop a presentation around a story…and you will have your audience’s attention.

REASON #9: Your slides are too fancy!

Guys, remember who your audience is ( they are like your clients…if you take pains to understand your client before making a customized pitch to them, then your audience is not different…..understand this and learn). If these are folks from a different generation, who have never been comfortable using all the special effects in PPT, then please don’t jazz up your slides with special effects…it will boomerang on you. The audience may lose the key points in the presentation, and you will lose the plot !!

Hot tip– KISS ( Keep it simple and sweet) works most of the time, make the presentation contextual in terms of delivery, based on your understanding of your audience.

REASON #8: Your slide background is too busy!


Hot tip– KISS ( Keep it simple and sweet) works most of the time, Use a simple, single color background. Always.


REASON #7: Your fonts are unreadable!

Please ensure that you always take a run with the presentation on the projector/equipment that you will use for the final presentation. Believe me…what appears sexy on your laptop will look totally different on the projector!

Hot tip– Use large fonts in simple faces (like Ariel); avoid boldface, italics and UPPERCASE


REASON #6: Your graphics are too complex!

Learn the art of making maximum impact with minimal inputs- a few good graphs, which are logically able to build on a good story, with uncluttered numbers have better impact than numerous graphs on the same topic- please remember, your graphs DO NOT REPLACE YOU…YOU ARE THE MAIN STORY TELLER and will have to TELL YOUR STORY ( so guys, brush up your story telling, presentation skills and get rid of your stage fright!!)

Hot tip– Only include simple graphics; highlight the data point that’s important.


REASON #5: You are all opinion, no fact!

The presentation is NOT ABOUT YOUR OPINION ( Unless you are the CEO!!)..remember its all about NUMBERS/FACTS!!

Hot tip – Only state opinions that you can back up with quantifiable data.


REASON #4: You speak fluent biz-blab!

You may be the best thing to have happened to your team since Steve Jobs, You may have topped the MBA program at Harvard, BUT you gotta remember that folks who matter ( your boss, the CEO, Senior executives ) have been there , done that, and probably dont remember bizz flab which they did some 15 years back in B-School!! If you use too much of bizz jargon, you will come across as a pompous ass!! ( YOU DONT WANT THAT !! )

Hot tip– Just stop it. Cold turkey.  Please


REASON #3: You drifted off topic!

Tut tut tut…what were you thinking??!!! FOCUS on the basics- SCQ ( Situation, Complication, Key Question!!) thats it…

Hot tip– Only include material that’s relevant to your overall message. ( Key question!!)


REASON #2: It was too d**n long!

Yaaaaawn…did you see that or missed that completely!! Keep to the point, while keeping the story “flavor” got it ? Sounds contradictory, but balancing a story and keeping it to the point is an ART so learn through practice!! There is not short cuts here…

Hot tip – make your presentation less than half as long as you think it should be.


REASON #1: You read from your slides!

WHAT!! you were actually doing this…what are you, a kid in school??? There is something called…knowing your subject inside out…there is something called practice…there is a skill called communication and its not about reading in class!!

Seriously, go back to school to hone your public speaking skills…and please understand, you can always use cue cards…heard of them?

Hot tip – Use slides to reinforce your message rather than to outline your data points.


LAST COMMENT- Investing in your presentation skills not only will help you ace your relationship within the organization, but will help you close your sales with outside clients as well…so get cracking on this guys!!

This is very important to develop your executive presence.



10 Aspects of Executive Presence

Hi readers,

Over the last 18 years that I have essayed various roles in Sales and Marketing in B2B and B2C businesses, I have realized that soft skills and executive presence do make that comparative difference between a good performer and an excellent performer.

I have always maintained with my team that developing and acquiring ( improving) your soft skills, and creating executive presence was just as important as having selling skills.

Some of my ideas on what constitutes executive presence are shared here-

  1. Genuine. Open, straightforward, comfortable in your skin; no BS or sugarcoating.
  2. Passion. You love and feel strongly about what you do and how you do it.
  3. Clarity. Communicate thoughts, feelings, and insights in crystal clarity and simplicity.
  4. Intelligence. No way around this one, and yes, it shows through.
  5. Insight. Ability to boil complex factors and mounds of data down to rare conclusions.
  6. Determination. Driven and full of purpose, determined to achieve and succeed.
  7. Confidence. Not overconfident, but with enough self-doubt to be objective.
  8. Humility. Willing to admit mistakes, misjudgment, fear, and uncertainty is endearing.
  9. Courage. Willingness to take risks and take a position against considerable odds.
  10. Humor. Not over-the-top, but in the right measure, brings down other’s defenses.