The Myth of the Sales Hero.

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The Myth of the Sales HeroCustomers ask me all the time whether Upstream Group offers presentation training: can we help their average seller be more effective in front of a large group and really “own the room?”   The answers are no and yes.

No, we don’t do presentation training as a service – though I’ll happily share five helpful free tips and then recommend other firms who specialize in “stand and deliver” work. I’ll just as quickly tell you that the apparent lack of presentation skills is a red herring. Your people aren’t missing their numbers because they can’t present. They’re losing sales because they’re not present.

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The story of the seller who strides into a roomful of strangers, tells an awesome story beautifully and then walks out with an order is part of what I call The Myth of the Sales Hero. One awesome performance…one killer presentation….a blow-away moment is all it takes! It’s an entertaining story, but it’s just not true.

The truth is that sales is not performance art. It’s a ruthlessly disciplined process laced with intelligence and empathy. It’s not about “telling your story:” it’s about telling the customer his own story and then writing your company into the narrative during the second reel. What’s called for is a high level of presence: focusing not on your next line or slide, but on the critical conversation that’s happening – or not happening — in the room.

So let’s talk about that room you want your people to own. It’s not the one filled with a dozen half-conscious buyers languidly checking their phones: you could probably drop Tony Robbins into that room and it wouldn’t make a difference. No, the room you want to own is quite small: just the seller and one or two senior customers – those connected to important business and marketing problems who also have the authority to help solve them. Small, intimate, collaborative….real. That’s the room we focus on.

Being a great public speaker certainly isn’t a bad thing. It’s just that very few of us ever get there. And a misguided focus on “presenting better” or “telling our story more effectively” can keep you from addressing the behaviors that could actually change your sales future.

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