Sandler Training: Stop With The Dog & Pony Shows Already!

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Sandler Training: Stop With The Dog & Pony Shows Already!

The table in the conference room at the prospect’s office was the biggest one Tim had ever seen. A highly-polished finish reflected evenly the muted lighting. Tim was prepared to present his solution to the ten people gathered there. Knowing it was going to be either his solution or the competitor’s, Tim had a presentation that would answer every last question. During the past week, Tim had done little else than prepare for this moment.

“Well,” started the committee head, “I think we should get going. Tim, could you make your presentation?” “Certainly,” responded Tim. For the next hour and a half, Tim provided a dazzling array of charts, slides, and even a demonstration of how his product was the most cost effective. At the end, he had left fifteen minutes to handle any possible questions. “Now, I would like to give the committee the chance to ask any questions that might not have been covered,” he offered. The committee head nodded and said, “Tim, I think everyone here is completely impressed. I, for one, have never seen such a thorough explanation of what your product does. It truly is impressive.” “Thank you,” responded Tim, thinking to himself that this sale was in the bag.

“But I have one question, Tim,” said the committee head looking around the table. “Do you always give such insightful presentations?” And before Tim could respond, the committee head went on, “Just kidding. Of course you do. Unless someone else has a question, I think we should move on to the next one.”

Tim left the conference room knowing this sale was done. As he walked by the competitor, he felt a twinge of sorrow knowing the fellow had no chance.

A week later, Tim found out that the competitor had made the sale. He called the committee head and asked what had happened. What Tim learned was disheartening. Everyone felt Tim’s product knowledge was unmatched, but the committee felt that the competitor really answered their questions.

Most sales presentations, whether they be involved and extensive in a conference room or short and informal while leaning over a washing machine, are educational. The mistaken assumption is that if you can educate the prospect about your product/service, he will buy it. This is not the case. Unless the prospect is hiring you to educate him, you are wasting your time, and his, using an educational presentation.

Before you make a presentation, you should know the prospect’s pains. Knowing what those pains are allows you to develop a solution that will take them away. This is precisely how you make the presentation.

The first step in the presentation is to go over the pains to make sure they are still there and still hurt. The second step is to present the solution for pain number one. Then ask, did this solution solve the pain? If it did, move on to pain two. Continue in this manner until you have presented your solutions for each pain. Now you ask the prospect what she would like to do next. Wait until you get an answer. That really is all there is to a presentation.

Tim was told that the committee felt his competitor really answered their questions. What the competitor did was tell them their pain and how his solution would make the pain go away.

Tim just educated. Tim didn’t make the sale. So, stop with all those dog & pony shows!

Sandler Training is a global training organization with over three decades of experience and proven results. Sandler provides sales and management training and consulting services for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as well as corporate training for Fortune 1000 companies.  For more information, please contact Karl Schaphorst at (402) 403-4334 or by email at  You can also follow his blog at

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