Cooking up a great sales presentation

It's fun to draw comparisons between the art of selling and other disciplines such as cooking.

I recently read an article that offered tips for saving meals that don't pass the chef's early taste test. Here are three of the tips: 1) If the meal is too salty, add unseasoned liquid, mix in neutral vegetables such as lettuce, spinach or zucchini. You can also mask the saltiness with acid from lemon juice or white-wine vinegar. 2) Too spicy? Neutralize the zing with olive oil, butter, ghee or coconut oil. Milk, yogurt or sour cream do the trick, too. You can also use nondairy milk, such as cashew or coconut. Nut butters or avocado can also take the spiciness down a notch. 3) Is the dish too bitter? Add some salt. Sugar can work, too. Remember to add slowly and sample as you go.

Concocting a good talk

You can make similar real-time adjustments during your sales presentations. Is the presentation too dry? Drop in a fun story or add some humor. Not serious enough? Fold in a thoughtful quotation or a cautionary tale.

Is the meeting too one-sided? Ask thought-provoking questions and let the prospect talk for a while.


The trick is to be good enough at presenting that you can monitor the prospect's reaction as you are working your way toward the close. Salespeople are not able to accomplish these types of micro-adjustments for many reasons, including: 1. Lack of empathy for the audience. Sellers are often too self-absorbed to realize what's going on during their presentation. I know this from doing ride alongs with salespeople. In the car, afterward, the seller often remembers things differently than I do. The reason? They were busy presenting and I was merely observing.

2. Not familiar enough with presentation content or selling strategies. If you've got your hands full with the mechanics of the presentation, it's difficult to focus on the psychology of selling.

3. Too self-conscious. Selling is about taking chances. Leading someone through a conversation and trying to close are a challenge if one is insecure or not self-assured. A lack of confidence causes sellers to be overly cautious and slows the sales cycle, sometimes to a grinding halt.

4. In the habit of "cooking to the recipe."

Rigid sales scripts and a lack of improvisation skills keep sellers from being more creative during presentations.


Want help with this?

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