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Salespeople invest time developing their “pitch,” formulating questions, and preparing responses to expected questions and objections from the prospect. They rehearse, refine, and rehearse some more.

Unfortunately, for some salespeople, the preparation becomes a roadblock to their success. How? The salesperson meets with the prospect and delivers their well-crafted, well-rehearsed message. But, instead of paying attention to the prospect’s reactions, they are running through a mental checklist of important points to cover. They miss the look of puzzlement on the prospect’s face or fail to notice the prospect casually glancing at phone messages.

At a strategic point in the presentation, the salesperson asks one of the pre-planned “commitment” questions. Again, instead of focusing all their attention on the prospect’s answer, they’re thinking about their response to an anticipated stall or objection. The meeting ends with the prospect promising to give the presentation some thought.

The salesperson deems the meeting a waste of time and blames the prospect for not paying attention…and not recognising the obvious value presented. They were so concerned about delivering their message as they rehearsed it, they missed the expression of scepticism on the prospect’s face. They never recognised the point when the prospect lost interest. They never had a chance to recover.

It’s OK to plan and rehearse your meeting. Practice, practice, practice until you have internalised the message you want to get across and the information you need to obtain—then, let it go. Sales meetings rarely go as imagined. After all, the prospect isn’t working from a script…and neither should you. If you’ve thoroughly internalised your information, you won’t have to worry about delivering it in a structured manner. You can direct your attention to your prospect and let the information flow based on the prospect’s interest and reactions.


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