Executive Speaking Part 2: Connecting with Your Customers

You’re about to give a sales presentation to a customer. Something you’ve done countless times. But are you truly ready? Are you ready to take full advantage of this opportunity? Are you ready to share your passion and enthusiasm to create a stronger, more meaningful connection?

Executive Speaking: Connecting with Your Customers

Executive Speaking: Connecting with Your Customers

If you haven’t read Part 1 of this blog series, How to Motivate your Sales Team, be sure to check it out. In that article, I explain how sales executives and business leaders can motivate sales teams and unite them through a shared vision. Those principles also apply to you when you’re “in the field” for a sales pitch or customer focused speaking opportunity.

In this post, I share some key points to keep in mind whenever you speak to an audience of current or potential customers. Whether your speaking opportunity is a thought-leadership engagement or the chance to close a deal, the same principles apply.

Customer first

When conducting executive speech consulting sessions, I often hear about speakers who are still doing the old “show up and throw up.” You know the type of speech—the presenter stands at one end of the conference table and barrels through the presentation without any attempt to connect with their audience. They give greater importance to the presentation than to the customer. As you can imagine, it’s not very effective.

Remember, the presentation is not about you or the products or services you’re selling. It’s about you showing how you can make a difference in the customer’s business.

Know your purpose

In my role as a speech coach, I remind my clients that customers are not looking for you to deliver a presentation, they want you to deliver something of value. Your purpose is not to sell something, but to solve your customer’s problem and to change their business for the better. Great salespeople know this: a presentation is the opportunity to connect with the customer and build the foundation of a strong professional relationship. 

Change your perspective, change your results

The secret I share with all my executive speech consulting clients is to change your perspective from, “I need to get through this speech as quickly as possible and not make any mistakes…” to, “I am creating an opportunity to better serve my customers in ways that will make their business more successful and their lives easier.”

This leads to seeing your presentation as a means to engaging customers in a conversation. I often tell my executive speech consulting clients, “If you only make it halfway through your speech because your client is asking questions and opening up a dialogue with you, you’ve already won.”

Engage and empower your customers

Engage your customers by showing you understand them, their business needs and their pain points, then empower your customer with your solution. When your customers feel confident that you deeply understand what’s important to them, your solution will feel like the next logical step in solving their problem. You have just built the credibility that makes it easier for your clients to arrive at “yes.”

Some additional tips for presenting to customers:

  • Clarify your content and quickly get to the point. The solutions to your customers’ needs should always be your primary message.
  • Create engaging media. Your slides should support you and your message, not the other way around.
  • Establish a strong stage presence by maintaining eye contact with your customers, using pauses to pull him or her into your story, and especially avoid talking to the screen (because when has a screen ever written a PO?).
  • And, most importantly, create space for your customer to speak.

A sales presentation is an opportunity. Not just an opportunity to close a sale, but to make a meaningful connection and build a long-lasting, mutually beneficial customer relationship.

What other tips do you have for building stronger customer relationships?

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