10 MIN READ
A performer from an early age, BB Webb has studied the art of captivating and connecting with audiences through her decades-long performing arts career. As XYPN's Sales Coach, BB brings her experience and passion for the art of presentation when coaching fee-only advisors (advising artists). Like the push-and-pull movements of dance partners, BB guides advisors in creating intentional processes for communicating with prospective clients. Just like the defined steps of a dance, advisors can choreograph their presentations to guide their prospects to the ultimate finale: becoming a client. Here, BB shares 19 sales presentation tips to help you get there.
I’ve been a performer from the start—a premature baby eager to jump out of the womb, as there was a song to be sung. Yes, I was the kid who was dancing and making up skits with friends, cousins, casting the family cat or dog, imploring the grownups or older siblings to puleeeze watch our creations no matter how lengthy, uninteresting, or scattered our delivery was. We were on fire and just had to express what was in our hearts and on our young minds!
It was no big surprise that when my mother took me to my first ballet at around eight years old, something resonated deeply with me. I didn’t so much want to dance (solely), but I was captured by the ability of the performers to so tightly hold my attention—to create that alluring “suspension of disbelief.” I was sold. I was a believer. I could so clearly see how this magical ability could move millions.
I did go on to be a performer for a few decades—creating characters that I just had to bring to life and flesh out with a voice. Specific movements, dialogue, and humanity that I felt moved to embody. It was my purpose; I felt an innate calling to express and connect with my audience. My desire extended far beyond the applause—I longed to connect, get others to laugh, cry, feel, and have the proverbial ‘aha’ due to my experimenting and play.
Fast forward to my now coveted role as mentor and coach to some terrific fee-only financial professionals (AKA advising artists). My current work includes helping advisors to create a sales process flow, intent, and conversations that can convert interested leads into promising prospects. I work with them to guide those prospects through an efficient and intentional two-step (yes, like the dance) conversation process to—with skill and a pinch of good fortune—convert that prospect to client status! It’s a voilà unfolding similar to how putting movements together create a dance.
So, just as I guide my financial advisor audience through a training process that I continually refine myself, I ask that they engage in the same tweaking process with their own sales process delivery with their prospects. I ask that they engage in learning about their prospect and what they need while also sharing what makes them as an advisor a potential fit, valuable, and the right choice for their prospect. This, too, is not unlike a dance between two people.
Let’s fast forward to a post-sales training I conducted recently. I encourage feedback on what training resonates with the advisors I work with, and I received some from a very involved and astute member. He had asked if I could outline a sheet of quick presentation tips for financial advisors aspiring to hone their speaking, conversation, or presenting skills in that I coach on a variety of tips and strategies around a sales process. “Why yes!” I replied in an instant.
I wondered why I had not already compiled such a collection of reminders! It was a wonderful suggestion. (Like tuning a guitar, the artist and advisor are continuously refining.) And so, it is with that request that I bring you these 19 nifty tips with the aim of helping you to sharpen the intent of your communication with skills which will allow you to bridge the gap from being an “okay” communicator to one with heart, precision, and professionalism.
The tips outlined below are to help guide you in best speaking practices when engaging with your prospects and clients, in person or through a virtual on-camera format. With each interaction, focus on one tip at a time. At the end of your conversations with prospects or clients, be sure to take time to assess what you did well. Document it in a notebook. Similarly, after you’ve noted the attributes in your conversations or presentations, pick one or two things you might work on to improve as you move forward and focus on just those in your next conversation.
Most of all, be kind to yourself and know that in time, with attention to your focused conversational intent and the tips mentioned below, you will improve as a polished communicator and leader—someone others will feel confident to have as a financial mentor and to manage their hard-earned money!
19 Essential Sales Presentation Tips
1. Your Camera: When speaking through a virtual format (Zoom or the like) focus on the camera to make “eye contact” with your prospect or client as best as you can. Let your viewer know that you might be looking periodically at another screen but that you’re still listening and focused on them.
2. Background and Dress: Be mindful of your background. How does it speak to your brand and who you are? Be mindful that if you have books, accreditations, nick-knacks, or certain photos in your background. Do they help reinforce your firm niche and overall brand? You might consider a photo image background that better represents you and your firm.
How does your dress reflect your brand? Consider that employees at LuluLemon wear the company’s athletic gear, obviously appropriate for their brand. The Ritz Carlton has employees wearing their preferred formal, polished dress. Decide the look you want that represents your firm best.
3. Lighting: Invest in lighting to present your best self. Often just having additional simple light sources will improve the way you come off on camera. Be sure to do a test run and tape yourself before presenting to check how you come off on camera.
Similarly, assure your physical setting is well lit and comfortable to your prospect or client. Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes; when they enter your work area, what do they see, what do they smell, and are they welcomed with water or a hot drink (metaphorical if on camera)? Consider the experience they are having.
4. Screen Framing: Test your camera out ahead of time and make sure your head is centered in the frame of your screen. Bring yourself as close as you can to the camera so your viewer can read your expressions.
If too much ceiling shows in your shot, lift your laptop and camera higher (books can work here). Consider investing in a standing desk to higher and lower your desk to a preferred level and create better face and background framing for your viewer. Your overall purpose is to connect with your listener, and framing helps make that easier for them to do so.
5. Filler and Vernacular Words: Be mindful of using the words “um,” “like,” or “ya know.” I find that when I am less rehearsed in the main points I wish to communicate, I hear myself using fillers.
Be mindful of how you address your audience, being careful of vernacular expressions
such as “guys” or other verbiage that might exclude a demographic.6. Allow Silence: Be willing to have silence between thoughts or with transitions in your conversation. Allowing for silence or pausing for effect can be a powerful tool in helping others hear what you are saying.
7. Using Tone and Speed: Using tone helps you emphasize key aspects of what you are communicating. Softening your tone and leaning forward, in person or virtually, can make a particular emphasis. Similarly, slowing down or speeding up your speaking cadence can help clarify a point you are making or help show compassion. Play with the potential effects of your speaking tone and speed and see how your listener responds.
8. Physical Presence: Do your best not to fidget or move unnecessarily when speaking, but be encouraged to use gestures when appropriate. A good technique to help you stay centered is to sit up straight (as if there is a string pulling your head up high and grounding your feet or bum to the ground) and to place one hand on your desk (as possible) to ground and focus you on your prospect or client. Remember to breathe.
9. Gaining Clarification: If at some point your listener looks lost or unfocused, you can ask:
“Which parts of what I’m sharing resonate the most or might need greater clarifying?”
Allow time for your listener to answer or ask questions throughout your dialogue to assure they are in sync with what you’re communicating and that you are being heard as intended.
Similarly, if you are unclear what your prospect is sharing, you might say:
“Let me summarize what I heard you say to assure I’m hearing what you are communicating.”
This technique focuses not on what a prospect might communicate more clearly, but on what you need to hear more accurately, which helps the prospect feel valued and heard.
10. Jargon: Be aware of jargon or industry terms that others might not be familiar with. People often feel reticent to ask for clarification of a word or phrase they don’t know, as it makes them feel less savvy or smart. If you do use a term that someone might be unfamiliar with or an acronym, you might clarify what it stands for or give a definition. The challenge here is not to sound patronizing but to assure your communication is meaningful to the person you are speaking with.
11. Agenda: Prepare for your in-person or Zoom meeting by reviewing an agenda of points you’d like to cover with your prospect, such as:
“As I shared in my email, the intention of our meeting today is for me to better understand your desire for reaching out, to get a little history on your experience with financial advising, and to share a bit about my fee-only firm, the areas I typically serve, and how I price my services.”
“At the end of our 30 minutes together, we should know whether it makes sense to move into a deeper dive ‘discovery meeting’ where I learn more about you and share some high-level recommendations about how I might suggest working toward the goals you express. Does that work for you?”
Rehearse your sound bites within your key talking point. How can you make your dialogue clear, meaningful, and succinct?
12. Intention Framing: As shared in the dialogue above, at the start of a call or in-person conversation, be sure to frame the overall intent of your meeting and the result you hope for at the end of your time together. This could be deciding on a next step deeper dive discovery meeting, or after a discovery meeting, deciding to work together as client and advisor.
13. Sound Bites: Do your best to speak in small sound bites to allow your conversation to go back and forth with your prospect or client. Resist speaking in long monologues which tend to lose your audience.
14. Stay on Track: Showcase your leadership abilities by keeping your meeting on track with the key agenda points you outlined and alluding to your meeting’s intent and your desire to ensure you discuss main points of interest. Use your best judgment if you decide to allow the conversation to go off track in a way that will be mutually beneficial to your prospect and you as you work to engage your prospect as a client. If so, be sure to communicate with your prospect that you are shifting your proposed plan.
15. Facial Awareness: Be aware of your facial expressions and overall countenance as you listen and speak with your prospect or client. Often our “resting face” might look stern, or, as we’re listening to another, we might come off differently from how we desire. A small smile or nod assuring them that you are listening can help your listener open up and feel safe to talk about often vulnerable topics.
16. Match Behavior Style: Do your best to ascertain the communication style that your listener prefers when you engage.
- Are they direct and prefer you to get to the point, or do they prefer to hear descriptive stories on how you’ve helped others?
- Do they need you to quantify what you are sharing, or might speaking in broad generalities be helpful enough?
- Might they need to think and answer a question slowly? If so, give your listener that time.
- Do your best to match the behavior style that you observe your listener needs as you engage.
17. Rehearse: Review how you will frame the intention and key aspects of the meeting and your conclusion or “ask.” This could be seeing if after the introductory meeting you feel it’s a fit to move into a deeper discovery meeting, or at the end of your discovery meeting if you want to move forward and work together.
I hear again and again from the advisors I coach that engaging in role-play, though often uncomfortable, makes a discernible difference in honing their dialogue with a prospect or client. Rehearsing your key sound bites and dialogues aloud is as essential a step for you as it is for an actor. Doing so helps you to present yourself as both seasoned and professional.
18. Gain Feedback: Rehearse your proposed dialogue aloud and videotape (or review with a peer to gain feedback) your key talking points. As shared above, when coaching others and reviewing yourself, always start with what you did well. After you’ve exhausted your strengths, outline a few things you can do next time to improve your talking points.
19. Rinse and Repeat: The best way to improve at prospect and client conversations is to do it again, and again, and again with a mindful approach and honest assessment with each call as to what you are doing well and where you might improve. Envision your best self presenting to others and the results you’ll help others gain through your efforts! You will improve and, by doing so, both build your business and serve the people who dearly need what you do so well.
Just as the budding artist works through many canvasses as they hone their expression and endeavor to communicate with their audience, so too must you practice the dialogues and structures that will help the people you long to serve. Honing your message and presentation will establish you as both the leader and professional you are. With each intentional bit of dialogue and sound bite you practice, you’ll be closer to the listening and delivery that will set you apart from other advisors and assist you in winning the trust of your prospects and clients—get ready for your encore!
About BB Webb, XYPN Sales Coach
XYPN Sales Coach BB Webb has a background in both the arts and as an entrepreneur. She first learned about sales while touring her one-woman play across country and later through successfully growing her award-winning Atlanta based special event venue, selling it 14 years later to make a move to Bozeman, Montana.
As XYPN’s Sales Coach, BB’s primary goal is to assist XYPN members in building great relationships, plans and processes for selling their services as financial advisors. With a focus on consultative selling, BB’s programs and resources are developed to guide members in creating their own systems and conversations for selling their unique services, fearlessly and with joy.