Presentation Tips From a Judo Master

Years ago, Terry Brock, a professional speaker and CEO of Orlando, FL-based Achievement Systems, Inc., found himself face-to-face with a third-degree black belt in a Judo tournament. Brock had been studying the martial art, but his opponent was several skill levels higher. Still, Brock knew he was physically stronger than his opponent – perhaps he could use that superior strength and aggression to win. He was wrong. The third-degree black belt “watched what I did, studied me and when I made a false move, I would feel my feet very gently flying into the air,” he says.

What does all this have to do with presentations? Plenty, says Brock, who taught Judo for several years and still applies the principles he learned in that ancient Japanese art to his presentations. Judo, loosely translated, means the gentle way, and Brock advocates a gentle presentation approach for the best chance of closing the sale. Most sales reps, says Brock, go into a presentation figuring that with enough talk and enthusiasm, they’ll be able to push their audience into a sale. But by using a less aggressive approach – studying customers, finding their pain and then figuring out how you can ease that pain – reps will achieve much greater success, he says.

“Find out everything about your customer. Find out about the market, research the customer’s customers, find out who their major competitors are and then study them and what they’re doing or not doing. Find something unique about their competitor they didn’t know. That’s going to get their attention; that’s using the gentle way of winning them over,” says Brock. “Most salespeople won’t do that. They’re hoping that with enough lung power and aggression, the prospect will agree to buy.”

It’s all about working with customers rather than pushing against them. “You’re not forcing your product on them, you’re not trying to manipulate them, you’re winning them over through solid research,” he says. So whenever you feel yourself pushing during your presentation, take a mental step back and remember the third-degree black belt who watched, waited and used Brock’s weaknesses to achieve his goal.