To Sell or Not to Sell

By Cindy Waxer

Shakespeare might have achieved stardom as a playwright, but according to Thomas Leech the Bard of Avon can give any salesperson insight into the selling process. Author of Say It Like Shakespeare: How to Give a Speech Like Hamlet, Persuade Like Henry V, and Other Secrets from the World’s Greatest Communicator (McGraw-Hill, 2001), Leech demonstrates how Shakespeare’s wise words can help sales professionals sharpen their communication skills.

1. Bait the hook well; this fish will bite.
Convincing prospects to spare a mere two minutes of phone time often requires a hook – something that will immediately grab your prospect’s attention and suggest that your communication will be worth the time. A hook can be a juicy example, a snappy graphic or an impressive statistic.

2. Brevity is the soul of wit.
Convey your message concisely and clearly. When you present your information in a focused rather than a roundabout manner, your receivers can pick up what they need to know quickly and effortlessly.

3. Speak the speech, I pray you.
Your voice is a key factor as to how well your prospect or customer will receive your message. If you mumble, speak too softly or bellow loudly you can lose your audience immediately.

4. It was Greek to me.
Avoid using industry jargon. Speak at a level prospects can understand. If what you’re saying doesn’t make sense to them, they’ll have little desire to listen to you or buy from you.

5. More matter, with less art.
Use technology wisely – resist the urge to get too gimmicky – as it might alienate some potential customers and distract from the presentation’s message.

6. The readiness is all.
Don’t show up for any meeting or presentation unless you’re well prepared. Also realize that despite your best efforts, something may go wrong. Have a backup plan to save the meeting and your sale.

7. More of your conversation would infect my brain.
Don’t dominate the conversation. Smart salespeople know to ask one or two astute questions and then shut up. They let their customers do the talking so they can better determine what the customer thinks or needs.

8. Suit the action to the word, the word to the action.
Check your overall package when you communicate. If your body looks tight, your posture sags or you appear defensive your customer will pick up on these nonverbal messages and question your credibility.