I watched a news clip last night of President Obama’s conference in China and thought, “What’s wrong with him? Does he have the flu?” Beijing was a huge, international stage, and the President had an agenda (tougher sanctions on Iran, more flexibility with currency exchange rates), and there he was looking, well … flat. Where was his confidence, the crisp speech, the energy and excitement? He looked like a man who did not want to be there, plain and simple.
He didn’t sell me and he didn’t sell the Chinese.
I wonder what Obama’s staff said to him after the conference.
“Great job, Mr. President! Excellent speech!”
I hope not. I hope someone in his staff had the nerve to say, “With all due respect Mr. President, your energy was extremely low.”
In sales you get one opportunity to shine and position yourself to make the deal. The pitch. The pitch leads you to the post pitch. If you can’t deliver a crisp, energized, succinct pitch then you’ll never get to the post pitch.
There are a finite number of pitches or presentations to deliver each day, and every one of them must count. Unfortunately, I have blown a few of these key pitches in the past simply by forgetting their importance. I would have the final decision-maker on the phone and I would sound like … well, like Obama did yesterday.
As I’ve said before, a lot of acting goes into sales. It is humanly impossible to be excited about your job every second of every day—and that’s where acting comes in. You don’t always get to choose your spots—when and where to pitch—but you need to deliver when the time comes. It’s showtime. The prospect doesn’t care why you’re late, or if you have a cold, or why you’re unorganized. The prospect cares about himself and his company and his ROI. He’s not going to care when or if you have your “stuff” together.
In “The Verdict,” one of Paul Newman’s greatest screen performances, his character, an alcoholic Boston lawyer, repeats, “There are no other cases. This is the case.”
If you have that do-or-die mindset—“there are no other pitches—this is the pitch!”—then you’ll never find yourself unprepared, disinterested, or … flat.
President Obama would be wise to learn sales techniques from the world’s best business leaders. That way he’s not only Commander in Chief but Commander in Closing as well.