During ancient times, when Cicero spoke, the crowd said, "What an intelligent man is Cicero." When Demosthenes spoke, people said, "Let us march."
As sales professionals, when it comes to effective communication, majority are more like Cicero and less like Demosthenes. We strive to perfect our presentation and polish our script, but in doing so, neglect the essential purpose of the meeting - compelling our audience to act.
Is it possible to devise an ultimate sales pitch captivating enough to have clients "march with us"?
One of Aristotle's many contributions was in the art of communication which he categorized into three pillars: ethos(credibility), logos(intellect), and pathos(emotion).
Although there's no consensus as to which of the three pillars carries the most weight, in my opinion the prize goes to pathos.
Pathos enlivens and animates our message. Research by the UCLA psychology study and others have shown that only 7% of our influence comes from our words. However, the vast remainder, which is the essence of pathos, comes from body language and how we communicate. It falls in line with the adage: it's not what you say, but how you say it.
So then why do we put so much energy into the 7%?
Here's a couple of reasons to consider.
The first is that today's overworked and overstressed society means there's less time spent on self-awareness & creativity. Another is technology. Sure, improving our quality and speed provides many benefits: it helps us exchange information quicker, boosts productivity, and alerts us prior to in-laws coming to town.
The downside is it's shifted the central mode of communication. Texting has taken over talking, making us conversationally flabby. Hence pathos, the incubator of pure communication, suffers accordingly.
Rousing audience emotion doesn't come easy. But for those who have mastered pathos, the crowd marches. Nixon's "checkers speech, or Martin Luther King "Birmingham Jail" letter or Al Pacino in Scent of a woman, where he executes a piercing oratory near the end.
In a sales environment, quality presentations are a scarcity. One reason perhaps is because of the temptation to rely on a recycled pitch, or collection of pitches stitched together to form a presentation. Although it may appear to be a fast-track tool to success, I believe it stifles long term creativity, an invaluable tool for the professional salesperson.
Really when it comes down to it: there is no ultimate sales pitch.
Still, it doesn't stop many from trying. A number of sales organizations spend gazillions of dollars on manufactured pitches. In sugar coating these pitches, the team leader may stress the importance of showing teeth when smiling, saying something nice about the family dog, or mentioning how colorful the living room wallpaper looks. Then it comes time for the killer close, we've heard too often: "What if I could show you a way to..." or "What will it take for you to buy this today?".
Sales basics means getting to know the client on a personal level, setting aside the pitch and actually having fun. In one of the bestselling business books, Spin Selling, Neil Rackham conducted detailed research in which to his surprise (and to the surprise of others) that sales pitches don't work. Rackham found that top sales closing techniques backfired, and sales as a result plummeted.
We can resuscitate pathos back into our conversations. Although sales pitches may sound easier, quicker to grasp and perhaps even clever, a more impactful way would be to inject pathos into our conversations. Not as a sabre-rattler, but as a intuitive, calm, and strong voice of reason.
By focusing more on pathos, specifically on messages that resonate from within,you offer a higher quality message because it comes from a pure place. When it came to the art of communicating, the ancient Greeks were on to something.
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