When you are making a sales call, giving a speech, making a presentation, or even simply creating buy-in for an idea in the company conference room, what are the first words out of your mouth? Are they the most important thing(s) you have to say? Do they set the tone and lay a firm sales-forward foundation for what's to follow? If not, then you're wasting valuable time.
It is an incredibly cluttered, crowded, chaotic world we live in. If we want to cut through that, we only have a few seconds to try and capture someone's attention, so we can eventually earn their time, and finally their trust, because that's who we do business with.
In fact, about 93% of what someone thinks of us, our products, our company, our ideas, is determined within the first three seconds, so the clock is always ticking.
93% of what someone thinks of us, our products, our company, our ideas, is determined within the first three seconds.
You certainly wouldn't know that by the way most calls, meetings, speeches and even conversations are conducted.
Most begin with idle chit chat to merely break the silence, such as cross talk about the weather or sports, or simply thanking people for showing up.
How many speeches have you heard, even those given by so-called professional speakers, that begin with the sentence, "I appreciate that warm introduction and am thrilled to be here with you today," then are followed up by some lame attempt at topical humor?
I signed up for a webinar recently that piqued my curiosity. I hadn't heard of the company before I saw the promo piece for the event, so I went to their website, poked around a little, and decided they likely had some things to offer I might find interesting and/or valuable.
As the webinar was about to get under way, the presenters just talked among themselves kind of nervously while waiting for the official start time. Then they welcomed people, thanked everyone for taking time out of their busy day, and proceeded to give a commercial about their company under the guise of "telling everyone a little bit about us."
If the most important thing you have to say is to thank me for showing up, and the next most important thing is about what you do, then I'm out.
If the most important thing you have to say is to thank me for showing up, and the next most important thing is about what you do, especially when I already know that, then I'm out. And in fact I did hang up on the webinar and went on about my day.
Here's the thing, this company had already solved the most difficult marketing challenge of all; initially getting my attention. They piqued my curiosity and earned some of my time with their initial promotion, and then I spent some more time getting to know them and what they do on their website.
Now that they had my time and attention they were going to waste it selling me before they spent any time telling me anything of value. That is totally backwards.
People don't happen by a webinar by accident. I'm sure most everyone who signed up had done their own due diligence on the presenting company before deciding to invest 45 minutes of their time. We had already been pre-sold in a manner of speaking, so they didn't need to begin the selling process over again at square one.
I worked as a TV news reporter and anchor for 15 years, and was constantly rewriting copy that "buried the lede." These are stories where time is wasted with superfluous words, and the most important part of the story is buried somewhere in the body of the story.
Make sure the first words out of your mouth are the most important things you have to say.
Don't do that. Make sure the most important things you have to say to someone in an interaction are the first words out of your mouth.
When I do my 3 Second Selling speeches and training seminars, I don't even speak after my introduction. I go straight to a video montage of me (see a longer version below) interviewing the likes of Tom Hanks, Mel Gibson, Jim Carrey, Anthony Hopkins and John Travolta that demonstrate what I am going to talk about, i.e., the principles of 3 Second Selling in action.
Then I follow that with a "Hello, thanks for having me," after I have presumably piqued their curiosity, captured their attention, and at least entertained them, if not yet delivered anything of value.
The idea is to immediately lay a sales-forward foundation that you can later fill with details and factoids and substantive information.
And don't think just because you don't make your living tying to get someone to purchase something, you're not involved in the art of selling.
As he was writing his latest book, "To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others," Daniel Pink asked 10,000 people "What Do You Do at Work?" He found we devote roughly 24 minutes of every hour, or about 40% of our time, influencing, persuading and convincing others.
We devote roughly 24 minutes of every hour, or about 40% of our time, influencing, persuading and convincing others.
According to U.S. Government statistics, one in nine of us actually works in "sales." According to Pink, the rest of us do as well.
So the next time you are trying to move, persuade, convince, influence, or actually sell, make sure you are leading with your best stuff.