I was looking at some research from Princeton University and Dr Janine Willis had found that it doesn’t take seconds to form an opinion; it takes one-tenth of a second for a human being to form an opinion of another.
So in a sales presentation you have much longer than a tenth of a second, because they have given you the appointment, there is a level of interest. So the question is, how do you get their attention right out of the gate? What I go for is, grabbing them by the throat. So they have got their entire attention focused on you immediately. So you can do this in several ways:
One way is to share a series of numbers with them. For example, this is what I use: Do you know what 73, 50 and 1 have in common?
And of course people would say, “I don’t know”, how could they? But their reptile brain says, are these numbers important for me to know? Should I know those? If I don’t know those, what kind of opinion will Umar make of me?
So that’s how you get their undivided attention. And then I start off with a, “It turns out that 75% of the employees are disengaged from their work which results in a loss of $350b a year and there is only way to transform that and you recover that massive loss. It goes to your bottom line, and you make more profits. So immediately, the numbers got you their attention, you give them some data and they are engaged in the presentation.
Another way to get their attention is to tell them a story. But don’t start from the beginning of the story because normally nothing very interesting is going on there. And at the end of the story nothing interesting is happening there either.
But somewhere in the middle of the story is that cliffhanger where we had this problem, and we’re about to die and it’s at that moment you get their attention. That is the point where you should start your story – somewhere in the middle. When you start your story at one of those cliffhanger moments, immediately the reptile brain once again pays attention to what you’re doing and anticipates what would happen next and be curious about why they need to pay attention to it.
So that is what we’re looking for: to get their attention right at the beginning, because once you have it, you can guide them on a path. But if you lose the opening minute or two of your presentation, then you have lost them for good.