Why Canned Presentations Fail

Is there any merit in salesmen making canned presentations? During a pre-training briefing, many clients insist that a standard script be taught, for use verbatim for their sales calls. Their justification for this is “it impresses the customer”.

The following are their reasons for still sticking to this outdated selling style.

  • Management pressure: It is assumed that the boss knows best. The sales team has been told that there is only one way of talking and so be it.
  • Low self-esteem of salesmen
  • Locus of control: The salesman feels that the customer is all too powerful, due to low self-esteem of the former. Under such a notion, he presumes that a canned speech may rescue him. This is termed as ‘premature cognitive commitment’ (PCC) by Ellen Langer, a renowned psychologist at Harvard Business School. A belief in PCC makes the salesman focus more on the outcome (I want to get this order) rather than the process (Can I understand the concerns he has about me , my organization and the products before selling?). This focus on the outcome leads to fatigue and exhaustion not only to the seller but also to the buyer because it is a mindless activity. To keep the customer engaged, he should move from mindlessness to mindfulness. It is assumed that practice makes perfect, but the truth is otherwise. It makes one mindless because whenever you perform an activity in a routine way, it moves out of your consciousness and becomes dull and boring.

Canned speeches fail for the following reasons:

  • The market has changed from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market. Today’s customers have more choices than earlier.
  • Customers anticipate what the salesman would say, thus making the conversation monotonous and boring.
  • Each customer is unique in terms of attitude, behaviour, culture, etc. Also, the same customer may display a different type of behaviour at different times. In the morning he may have the energy to listen to the salesperson, but in the subsequent post-lunch meeting he may not have the same energy level.
  • The attention span of customers has come down thanks to computers, mobiles, hand-helds, PDAs. A familiar script produces boredom and irritation in customers.

Excerpts taken from Contextual Selling® – A new sales paradigm for the 21st century (Author – Rajan Parulekar)

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