How to Find Your Sales Presentation Persona

By Scott Schwertly 

I have been studying the public speaking styles of famous politicians and business leaders for over a decade. I have studied magnetic ones. I have studied terrible ones. But I have never seen someone as intriguing as the 16th President of the United States.

His mannerisms have been noted as awkward yet warm; his voice unpleasant yet profound; his thoughts clear yet argumentative; and his appearance as ungainly yet cool. Either way, he made a lasting impact on American politics and the world.

So how did he accomplish such an amazing feat? It all boils down to his presentation persona.

I’ll explain. For quite some time, my team and I have been working on a proprietary presentation assessment tool called Badge. Bottom line, one can take the Badge assessment and, within minutes, discover which one of 16 profiles fits them best. Without giving away all of our secret sauce, it examines every presenter in four major areas.

Here’s a breakdown of each those modules:

Module 1: Exploration – An Introduction
This quadrant captures everything about how one approaches the task of presentation preparation. It unpacks the level of seriousness with which an individual plans, researches, and organizes his or her thoughts.

Why It Matters
Exploration matters because it examines whether a speaker has researched and rehearsed, has the right message, and cares about the look and feel of his or her slides. In other words, it measures if the presenter is prepared to share a powerful narrative.

Module 2: Sharing – An Introduction
This quadrant measures one’s ability to share and deliver a compelling message. It covers charisma, confidence, humor, authenticity, and much more. It explores just how natural or awkward a person is in front of a room.

Why It Matters
It’s the presenter on stage. Is he or she confident? Conversational? Charismatic? Comfortable? All these elements matter when an individual is in front of a room.

Module 3: Response – An Introduction
Do people like or dislike the presenter once the presentation is over? This is what the Response quadrant attempts to discover. It unpacks just how well a person’s message is received and retained by the audience.

Why It Matters
Response is all about whether a speaker has a servant’s heart. Caring about the audience matters – and this quadrant will extract that reality.

Module 4: Durability – An Introduction
This quadrant is all about lifetime value. Does the content stand the test of time? Speeches that would score well here include Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” or Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Pearl Harbor address to the nation. Why? They continue to stand the test of time.

Why It Matters
Every great presentation or speech inspires, motivates, and even changes the world. Durability matters if a presenter wants to make a broad impact on the world and those around them.

How Does Lincoln Stack Up?

So how does Lincoln fit within these four main modules?

He was a Scholar – a presenter who is an always-curious learner informed by his own wisdom.

This implies that Lincoln scored high in Exploration and Durability and mid-low in Sharing and Response.

Exploration: Lincoln was known for the clearness of his logic.  Every word was always carefully chosen. If you revisit the Gettysburg Address, you will find that, in 273 words, he changed the world utilizing groundbreaking concepts like “A government of the people, by the people, for the people” or his mention of ideologies like “equality.”

Sharing: President Lincoln was a tall man, standing at six feet four inches, with long arms and legs. His feet and hands were also large. As an end result, he always looked a bit awkward in front of a room. He also was considered a sad man with an intellectual face; in turn, not giving him amazing scores in the Sharing category.

Response: When we look back to the 1860s, we look at a man who made a radical difference on America and the world. However, he was not adored by every single citizen. As the leader of the Union during the Civil War, his words didn’t always resonate with the masses –  including the Confederate south.

Durability: President Lincoln was a revolutionary. Plain and simple. His words and speeches changed our nation and the world forever. His speeches, letters, and proclamations challenged the status quo and pushed the American people past their comfort zones.

Abraham Lincoln was a powerful and thoughtful orator, which made him an incredible scholar. But what about you? You can find out your own presentation persona right now.

Here’s how:

  1. Go to
  2. Take the Badge assessment (it only takes 10-12 minutes)
  3. Pick up a copy of What’s Your Presentation Persona? to learn about your profile

It’s that easy. Once you discover your profile, come back here and let me know how you scored. I would love to discuss.

Scott Schwertly is the founder and CEO of Ethos3 and the creator of Badge, a proprietary presentation assessment tool that helps presenters discover and maximize their presentation style. He is also the author of two books: What’s Your Presentation Persona? and How to Be a Presentation God. If Scott is not working with his team building presentations or co-hosting his Presentation Scientists podcast, you will find him in the pool, on the bike, or on a long run since he is a 2x Ironman, 7x marathoner, and competitive triathlete.

A Selling Shortcut: A Tip from 7 Secrets of Persuasion


By James C. Crimmins

What if you could give people a reason to buy that is far more compelling than information or statistics? What if you could convey a wide range of positive attributes associated with your real estate property, car model, or investment opportunity, while actually saying very little? What if you could show buyers a shortcut that leads in the direction of your sale?

You can.

People are not good at objectively comparing options. It’s no wonder we all struggle with making major purchases. Even experts disagree on which property has the most potential, which automobile is the best value, or which investment opportunity offers the best return. No matter the category, prospective buyers often feel they are at a disadvantage. They are usually not equipped to carefully examine the choices and pick the best. Even in those rare cases when prospective buyers can accurately judge the options, they usually don’t have the time. Buyers are looking for a shortcut.

The best shortcut – the one thing prospective buyers find most compelling – is what other people are doing. Who else is interested? Who else is buying? People’s perception of who’s interested in what you have to offer can be your most valuable asset. No one is a skilled judge of every item they buy, but we all believe we are good judges of people. Your user image – or the perception of who’s purchasing your product – should be carefully crafted.

User image helps you make a sale in several ways.

First, though we are reluctant to admit it, we all feel the urge to imitate. When other people yawn, we yawn. When other people laugh, we want to laugh ourselves. When we see a long line outside a restaurant, we try to make a reservation there to discover what those people find so appealing. If many have bought a product and there are only a few left, we quickly grab one lest we lose the opportunity to imitate. Perceived popularity – especially perceived growing popularity – is hard to resist.

Second, we use the opinions of others to inform our own preferences. What we believe others think of a product informs our appraisal much more than the product’s objective qualities. We are social animals – and social judgment often trumps our own personal evaluation. Scientists have seen, around the world, that, if we are buyers of a product a lot of people buy, we generally buy it more often. If we are buyers of a product few people buy, we generally buy it less often. When we think a product has drawn the interest of a lot of people, we have a much higher opinion of that product.  

Third, if we have a positive stereotype of a product’s users, we want to participate in that stereotype by using the product ourselves. When we use the product, we feel like we are joining that attractive club of product users and, as a result, we believe others will see us as we would like to be seen.   

Even when we use a product in private, our perception of who else is using it makes the experience more pleasant – and this “positive user image” enables us to see ourselves as the type of person we would like to be. This works on something as mundane as oatmeal. If I think people who serve oatmeal to their kids are good parents, I will see myself as a good parent when I do likewise – even if no one else knows what’s on the menu.  

Finally, people draw narrow inferences from factual information, but they draw general inferences from user image. If we learn your hotel has soft beds, we draw no inference about the attentiveness of your hotel’s service, the quality of your hotel’s food, or the fun of your hotel’s bar. However, if we learn your hotel is the choice of sophisticated travelers, we assume your hotel has responsive service, great food, a cool bar, and also soft beds. If we learn your investment is the choice of smart, aggressive investors; or your auto is the choice of people who are on top of the latest trends; or your real estate property has drawn the interest of savvy buyers, we infer many more positive attributes about your offering than if we learned some additional product fact.

When you communicate something positive about the people who use your product, you say much more about your product than if you had described it directly. User image is, therefore, not only a shortcut for buyers, but also a shortcut for sellers.

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-1-29-19-pmJames C. Crimmins is the author of 7 Secrets of Persuasion: Leading-Edge Neuromarketing Techniques to Influence Anyone. He has been a professional persuader for 27 years, mainly as chief strategic officer for DDB Chicago and a worldwide brand planning director with clients such as Budweiser, McDonald’s, State Farm, and Betty Crocker. He has earned a PhD in sociology and a Master’s degree in statistics from the University of Chicago and has taught integrated marketing communications at Northwestern University’s Medill School.

You Cannot Separate Selling from Negotiation


By Steven Reilly

Why is it that one salesperson will sell at list price while another will sell the same product at a heavy discount? When I ask the discounting salespeople about the discrepancy, they are always quick to point to different market dynamics, tougher customers, or some other external reason for being so quick to cut price. But, when I work with them in the field, it is quite easy to see how they put themselves in this position.

The first step in understanding how they do this to themselves is to realize there are only two ways to close the gap between the low price a customer wants to pay and the higher price at which a salesperson wants to sell. Either the salesperson convinces the customer that the value the product or service brings is worth the difference (that’s called “selling”) or they trade offers until the customer buys (that’s called “negotiation.”) Salespeople need to be good at both.

Salespeople who heavily discount almost always begin negotiating before the selling process is complete – before a firm foundation of value is built within the customer organization. This puts the salesperson at a clear disadvantage as a negotiator.

Salespeople who sell on price are more likely to respond to a customer’s request for a cheaper price with the phrase, “Well, would you buy my product if I discounted it by…?” The salespeople who sell on value, on the other hand, use the phrase, “Our price is fair and reasonable, and let me tell you why…” before discounting their price. Communicating the value their products or services bring is the first step in holding your ground against price erosion.

Here is a very simple example of the difference between the two approaches.

Suppose you have a car you’d like to sell. Prior to listing it for sale, you determine the Kelley Blue Book (KBB) value for the car is $15,000. Having taken very good care of this particular automobile, you decide to list it for $17,000 – $2,000 more than the KBB value.

Next, let’s suppose you receive a call from an interested party who says, “I’m interested in your car, but the Kelley Blue Book is only $15,000 and there are other cars like yours on the Web for a lower price.”

A salesperson who sells on price will typically respond with, “Well, would you be willing to pay $16,500 for it?” Which, of course, is a less-than-optimal response. By conceding too early, he or she gave away a substantial amount of profit for no reason. It’s called “caving.”

The better response would be, “This car is worth $17,000 and let me tell you why.”

The stronger your value proposition, the better your argument, the better you are at holding your ground. How well you defend your price is the most important factor in holding your ground in any negotiation. Your best salespeople are often your best negotiators – and vice versa.

SteveReillySteve Reilly is a principal at SPJConsulting and author of the just-released Negotiating With Tough Customers, Career Press, 2016. Watch his video or visit his website at

Five Tips for High-Quality Meetings with Executive-Level Decision Makers


By Sharon Gillenwater

Dell has one. So do Citrix, CA Technologies, Cisco, Juniper Networks, AT&T, and Extreme Networks, among many others. It’s called an “executive briefing center” (EBC), and it can be one of the best tools in your arsenal for engaging executive decision makers.

For many technology companies, the EBC has evolved into a sophisticated physical space that facilitates both discussion and demonstration. For example, Marnie Merriam – DocuSign’s senior manager for the EBC – describes DocuSign’s EBC as “a space that’s designed to showcase the best of a company. It provides access to executives, helps build customer relationships, and showcases our products –what we can do and how we can help companies move business forward.”

But just as important as the physical space is the quality of the discussion with your customer. This is particularly important from the perspective of busy executive-level customers. They don’t have time to visit your EBC for a product pitch, so you’d better make sure it is a relevant and worthwhile use of their time. 

For example, Citrix describes how it takes a “collaborative approach” to EBC meetings, allowing for “productive conversations that address your company’s unique objectives. Our methods promote goal alignment, technical expertise, and accelerated business success.”

The need for extensive preparation for these meetings cannot be overstated. Lack of insight into the customer and what is relevant to them could not only damage your relationship with the customer, it could permanently tarnish your reputation with your own leadership. Case in point: A Fortune 100 firm senior executive, in support of a regional sales team, flew cross-country to attend a regional EBC – and emphatically swore never to return to support this team as he witnessed an embarrassingly unprepared, unfocused team stumble its way through the meeting. 

Don’t let this happen to you! Read on for five tips that will help you avoid a bad meeting – and be more successful with engaging customers at EBCs.

  1. Outline and rehearse all aspects of your meeting.
    Define your goals for the meeting and the information you want to convey. Articulate each participant’s role and review what they’ll be saying – and to whom, if more than one representative from the customer is at the briefing. Focusing on only the top player can backfire. According to Ned Daubney of Last Mile Research, one sales director lamented that, at a briefing with a CIO, every speaker was focused solely on (and speaking directly only to) the CIO, when it was each of the CIO’s direct reports making all the decisions. The fawning in front of the CIO, he said, was offensively obvious. Preparation would have revealed the importance of the CIO’s direct reports while giving the team the confidence to be flexible if the conversation revealed new insights.
  1. Do thorough research on the customer and the individuals with whom you’ll be meeting.
    You must know the company’s strategy and priorities, who their competition is, what their industry is doing, what their pain points are, with whom they’ve worked in the past (including your company’s own history with them, if there is one), and any hiccups they’ve previously encountered. For the individuals, the more you know, the better you can connect person to person. Insight on the key players uncovers ice breakers that can facilitate personal connections as well as help you better understand their project, department, and organizational goals. As CIGNA Corporation CIO Mark Boxer said, “The companies that do the best with our team are the ones that understand our business, know the competitive landscape, can articulate our strategy, and then orient around those solutions that best help us advance our technology strategy and, more importantly, our business strategy.”
  1. Ask questions but make sure they reveal that you have done homework.
    Don’t ask about things your comprehensive research should have told you. Daubney recalls a state government CIO who was frustrated with IT vendors’ lack of preparation. She now insists that vendors understand her strategy and initiatives before they even walk in her door. “This is public information,” she says. “Find it.” As Mark Hunter of The Sales Hunter has written, this also demonstrates to the customer that asking questions is a key part of your culture, something that cultivates the sharing and learning of ideas – which could set you apart from the competition. 
  1. Demonstrate what you do and provide ROI information.
    Prepare a clear, concise presentation of your offering and the benefits specific to the customer, as well as proof points around what you’ve done for other similar customers. Also, be sure to address how your offering is different from the competition and how it supports the company’s strategy.
  1. Be ready to offer next steps.
    Be attuned to how the conversation and presentation are going and have options prepared for how to move the conversation to the next level.

SharonGillenwaterSharon Gillenwater is the founder and editor in chief of Boardroom Insiders, which maintains an extensive database of the most in-depth executive profiles on the market from Fortune 500 companies to independent nonprofits to help sales and marketing professionals build deeper relationships and close more deals with clients. Gillenwater is a long-time marketing consultant with expertise in marketing strategy, account-based marketing, and CXO engagement programs.

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How to Master the Negotiation Process

By Kim Dean

Mastering the negotiation process is an ongoing challenge for sales professionals. Is the negotiation process different from the sales process? Yes, selling is the act of providing value through goods, services, and information/insights to address a customer’s challenges and/or opportunities. Negotiating is the interaction that determines the terms of the transaction.

Essentially, selling creates value; negotiating gets paid for that value.

What are the obstacles that impede negotiation?

Start with a Strong Platform

In an ideal world, negotiation terms are fair and fruitful – and all parties emerge satisfied with the terms

Too often, though, the sales professional assumes the customer’s concerns and positions without truly exploring what the customer is thinking and trying to accomplish. Salespeople must remain open and listen to the initial feedback regarding the opening offer.To end well, the negotiation must begin on a positive note….creating value. A salesperson must have established that value and have aligned it to the needs of the customer.  

How can both parties interests be served?

Avoid Playing Defense

A common tactical error is to begin the process in a responsive mode, waiting for a pricing challenge and then trying to justify value. This is playing defense. Instead, start strong with the opening terms and the rationale for those terms. Start from a position of strength.

If you open with a justified price and terms based on what you bring to the transaction, all changes should be a give and take. That is true trading. Concessions, on the other hand, are one-way gives and should be the path of last resort.

Andrea Moses put it well when she said, “When your customer says that your price is too high, he means that he does not appreciate the value of your product.” Make sure both sides are speaking the same language about the product before coming to any agreements.

Closing a deal for the sake of closing is not smart negotiating. It leads to difficulty in implementing the solution – as there is no meaningful basis for the terms. No deal is a legitimate close to a situation where the parties do not agree on value. Sometimes, the first step in achieving win-win negotiations is reaching a diplomatic – yet not consummated – close.

Build Trust

Some sales professionals choose to hedge their bets at the negotiating table, opting to keep something hidden as a form of insurance policy should negotiations go south. However, if your goal is to build trust and long-term business relationships, then the phrase “negotiating in good faith” must become a personal objective.

Professional credibility is earned, not purchased, and the easiest way to forfeit all hope of establishing credibility is to not play it straight. Negotiating can be done fairly and firmly without compromising one’s integrity, and will pay dividends with business partners who share a like-minded approach.

Prioritize Your Desired Outcomes

Not all terms are equal in value to both parties. The best trade is giving something of value to your customer that is not as costly as other options. Some trades are fixed costs to your organization and can be of great worth to the customer.  

A large portion of successful negotiating can be attributed to deftly prioritizing one’s desired outcomes. While not everything on a given priority list may be attained in a negotiating session, working toward achieving the most important results should be the goal. Similarly, it is important for one side to recognize the opposition’s priorities to maintain fluidity and balance in negotiations.

If you realize both parties enter a negotiation with different and sometimes competing interests, a potential win-win can be found. Figure out quickly – before starting to trade – what their top priorities are versus their opening positions. Discuss openly so negotiating partners know the order of importance and are willing to dispense with secondary requests to reach a mutually acceptable position.

Everyone wants to emerge victorious from a negotiating session. Know what would truly constitute victory for your company. Realistically, this does not mean getting everything you propose. Long-term victories require both parties to win what they really need.

At Richardson, we help sales professionals master win-win negotiations and achieve great results for both sides of the conversation. Learn more about Richardson’s negotiation training program or follow us on Twitter.

Kim Dean is senior training consultant at Richardson Sales Training. Kim facilitates highly interactive training workshops for sales and sales management professionals in a variety of industries.

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