Death to the data dump

The flight attendant served Joe an oriental chicken salad. Matt passed on the snack offered in first-class, since he would be home for dinner for a change.

“I’ve sold myself, and I’ve sold my company,” Matt said. “Iverson ought to be ready to consider his third buying decision. So now I open Act 6 and sell my product, right?”

He paused. Might as well bring this up before Joe does, he thought. “You saw my product presentation this morning when I delivered it to Bob Howell. I’ll bet Action Selling is going to tell me to do things a little differently.”

“You’d win that bet,” Joe said. “Matt, you obviously learned to sell the same way I was taught when I started out. We had a ‘pitch book.’ You use a PowerPoint presentation on your laptop, but it’s the same bad idea: ‘Indulge me, Mr. Prospect, while I walk you through these 6,000 screens of bulleted points that tell you everything you never wanted to know about my company and the 8 billion things we sell.’ You did notice Howell’s eyes starting to glaze over, didn’t you?”

“Yeah, I noticed,” Matt said sheepishly. “To tell you the truth, if you hadn’t been there, I’d have cut it off sooner than I did. For a long time I’ve felt there’s something fundamentally wrong with that whole PowerPoint routine. But the marketing people put a lot of work into it, and we’ve been told to use it. You were my new boss, straight from corporate headquarters…”

“I know what you’re saying,” Joe interrupted. “That policy changes, of course, starting now. But there’s another reason why you keep droning on with your product pitch until the customer wishes you’d go away and leave him alone, isn’t there? You’ve never known what to do instead.”

“Sad but true,” Matt admitted.

“It drives me nuts,” Joe said. “Salespeople are trained to think that two-thirds of their selling takes place in Act 6, when they describe their product features and benefits. That leads to a classic data dump like the one you dumped on Bob Howell. I call it ‘show up and throw up.’ You shotgun the poor guy with product information until his ears bleed, blabbing away in the hope that eventually something you say will strike a chord. Like I told you before, in Action Selling two-thirds of the selling you do occurs in Act 3, when you Ask the Best Questions and Back-Track Benefits to uncover high-yield needs—and when you listen a lot more than you talk…”

Duane Sparks

About Duane Sparks

Duane Sparks is founder and chairman of The Sales Board, the authoritative source of practical and leading-edge information about the art and science of selling. He has created Action Selling sales training products and learning systems that transform sales organizations. Duane is author of these best-selling books: Action Selling, Selling Your Price, Questions (the Answer to Sales), Masters of Loyalty (How to turn your sales force into a loyalty force), and Sales Strategy from the Inside Out (How complex selling really works).

Discover how the best sales training process can make spectacular improvements in sales skills. Action Selling: How to Sell Like a Professional (Even If You Think You are One).