Are you a Paranoid Retriever?

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“I got a new dog, he’s a paranoid retriever…he brings back everything because he’s not sure what i want…”


Mind numbing data dump style sales presentations continue to march across the landscape more than ever, even though its clear this style of selling doesn’t work.

I often see those who hate long meandering presentations prepare their presentations the same way! Despite almost universal agreement this is a bad way to present, most presentations are too long, too boring, with way too many points. The procession of details audiences are expected to endure go on and on like a metronome.

You could call this a Paranoid Retriever style of communication. This style is characterized by throwing a wide net of topics and points at an audience hoping something…anything, will hit its mark. If you are not sure if your presentation is drifting into a data dump, look for the number one symptom of Paranoid Retriever communications, your audience glazing over like a Thanksgiving ham.

There are a few likely reasons driving the Paranoid Retriever style:

1) Fear: Fear focuses communication on “not missing something” more than a genuine desire to connect with the audience (think C.Y.A.).

2) You don’t know, and you didn’t find out what matters to this audience at this moment.

3) You are more interested in your performance than empathetic to the audience situation.

At best this style is a waste of time, at worst its a turn off. If the outcome of your communication is bafflement, I submit this can no longer qualify as communication.

Most of our prospects have plenty of information and little time. If they don’t have enough information then, they have GOOGLE at their fingertips to take care of that, right?. Nowadays we need to do better than GOOGLE if we wanted to connect with our customers.

How do we keep our Paranoid Retriever on a short leash and beat Google?

Here’s a start:

Shift your mindset from “what I want to say” to “how can I make this time the most valuable to my customer at this moment?”
Do more investigative homework and gain deeper understanding of your customer’s market, business, unique situation so you have valuable context to share.

Tailor your communication down to 1-3 points that are critical from your client’s perspective.

Understand how decisions are made inside your customers company. I am surprised how little most sales people know about the purchasing decision process inside their customer’s companies. In my experience, the bigger the sale the more people and process are involved. If you don’t know the process and players, how can you prioritize your discussion?

Great questions are as powerful as any statement you plan to make.

If it makes you nervous to trim your 50 slide sales deck down to 3 slides, do it anyway! To feel safe go ahead and put the pile of slides you were going to force your audience to endure in an appendix. If there is a need to go into more detail, you can always click through the appendix positioned after the end of your presentation. You might find you rarely need the appendix, but the peace of mind it gives you might help you move towards a more effective style of presenting and communicating.

Assume a more guiding and helping role in a sales presentations and your presence will become more valuable to those who make the decision to spend time with you. You will find instead of “dumping” information you will actually help your customer be more effective in their work and less overwhelmed. Yes, you are selling services, yes they know this, but who wants to sit through a sales presentation nowadays?

Extensive research with over 7000 buyers conducted by the Sales Executive Council revealed the most successful sales style is one that includes deep client understanding and meaningful insights.

Want to put your Paranoid Retriever a leash? Do your homework, learn about your customer’s situation and business, stop worrying about how you look or what you want to say and you’ll have little problem making the right connections.

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