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Why you need these four great sales tips from Jimmy Fallon

The pros don't just wing it, y'know


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I love Jimmy Fallon’s monologue on The Tonight Show. It’s clever and topical. It’s short and interactive. It’s everything a monologue in sales is not. To be fair, delivering a monologue is exceptionally difficult -- even for the pros. It’s always easier for a performer to do a scene with another actor or for a television host to interview a guest, than it is to stand up and talk directly to an audience solo.

Yet, that’s precisely what takes place in many sales conversations and presentations today. Too many salespeople approach their sales presentation as a series of long monologues to get through – without understanding what it takes to keep an audience’s attention during that time.

Consider this: How often in your personal life do you stop and allow someone to speak to you for five or ten minutes straight without some type of response or interaction? Unless you’re taking a class or attending a speech or religious service, probably not very often. Your prospect is no different and with today’s declining attention spans, monologues can be a real tune out factor.

Here are four tips from pros like Jimmy Fallon for turning those monologues into an engaging dialogue that keeps your audience tuned in.

  1. React to nonverbal cues

Make your audience feel like they are engaged in a dialogue by continually adjusting your delivery to respond to either the other person’s perceived thoughts or nonverbal reactions -- a smile, a frown, crossed arms, an aside glance to a peer. You don’t necessarily have to make a verbal comment on these reactions, but you can acknowledge it with your tone, facial expression or body language. 

2. Break it down into small chunks.

Research shows that the average person’s attention reaches its lowest point somewhere around the 10 minute mark. Unfortunately, at 10 minutes, many salespeople are just getting to their point. To avoid this, break a subject down into smaller 3-5 minute bite size pieces. This “chunking” of your material hits the reset button on attention when you switch gears and introduce a new subject.

  1. Interact. Often.

Even Jimmy Fallon has a sidekick. Don’t try to be a one-man or one-woman show. Ask your audience a question. Introduce a poll. Have someone from the group take notes or write responses down on a whiteboard. The more you get your prospects engaged, the more they will pay attention and the likelier they will remember your message.

  1. Practice.

Pros like Jimmy Fallon don’t just wing it. If you’re in New York you can buy a ticket to see Jimmy Fallon rehearse his monologue, trying out material for the night and different ways to deliver it. By the time the cameras go on, he is at his best. Your time in front of your prospect is your on-camera time.  Don’t waste it testing out new material.  Practice an important presentation or conversation by videotaping it or delivering it to peers so you can receive and apply valuable feedback. 

Take a close look at how much you are talking without interruption during your sales call or presentation.  Look for monologues -- those long, dry stretches of content -- and think about how you can break them up and turn them in to a more engaging -- and profitable customer dialogue. 

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Julie Hansen

Julie Hansen, author of Sales Presentations for Dummies, helps sales and business executives craft and deliver winning presentations and demos by applying today’s best practices from business, acting, improv, and storytelling. Julie’s techniques for leveraging proven performance skills in presentations have been adopted by Fortune 500 companies across the globe, including IBM and Oracle, as well as local Colorado companies. Learn more about sales workshops and keynotes at  PerformanceSalesandTraining.com, start a sales conversation at Julie@actingforsales.com  or connect with Julie on LinkedIn.

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