After seven minutes, I felt like I was gasping for breath. The emotional power of the story, the details, and more details, and more plot twists prompted what we call in the computer world, a “frozen” condition. I could not process any more information.
I gave her a little clue as I approached this condition, choking out, “Too long!” and then, when she kept rolling, I asked for a time out so I could process my thoughts and feelings.
She asked, “Why do you want a time out?”
Good question. Dare I tell her that her old man’s brain was not processing fast enough to keep up with the story. That my ability to discern patterns and make sense of the situation was overwhelmed with the details she was providing? That I was feeling so “full” that I couldn’t process another thought beyond “PLEASE STOP!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Have you ever had that feeling?
Imagine if I’d been a buyer asking her for the inside scoop on her new product. Would I have reached a similar “freeze” as I followed her drift of blab? [Correct answer: probably]
Now, it would be FAR too formal and far too much to expect of my daughter in our living room at late:30 to ask, “How would you like me to tell you about the movie?” and give me a choice of saying something like, “tell me about the main characters” or “tell me the main idea of the plot” or “tell me how it affected you,” or even, “tell me the whole story, just pause for a breath from time to time so I can catch up.” Or for her to say, then, “what would you like to hear next?”
In a sales presentation, ‘though, we have that opportunity. When a prospect says, “tell me about your company” or “tell me about your product,” we have the opportunity to ask, “What would you like me to focus on first?” or “What would you like to know at a summary level before I dive into the details?” or “Would you like the one minute version or the five minute version to start?” We can then be really client centered with our answers, giving them the gift of information well directed and “chunked” so that our listeners can process easily.
Question from the floor: So, what do we do if they say, “I want to know the price first?”
Well, first we feel grateful that we know that’s at the top of their minds rather than, say, the value of the solution or examples of other implementations.
Second, we say (at the risk of over-simplifying), “Great! Happy to share it with you. And there’s some ground work I need to do around what you GET for the price before blurting out a number.” And, then, we either ask some questions or share the appropriate information before providing the number.
One of the lessons we’ve all learned from using the Web is that we like to control the flow and depth of the information we see; we don’t like anybody pushing information at us. So, we need to adapt our small group and large group presentations to suit. We have to reduce our drift of blab.