The less than helpful metaphor: The sales doctor and customer patient.

Pain points, a lot of salespeople (and sales training) use this metaphor. The metaphor assumes your potential customer is in pain, has some urgent problem that needs solving. And that you are the “doctor” who can help them.  The problem with this metaphor is that it is not true, it doesn’t really apply.

It’s pretty rare that a potential customer is in an urgent situation (is in “pain”).  I just worked on an emergency equipment replacement project that took a year to conclude.  They were not in pain, but they realized they were going to face some big problems in the future if they didn’t replace the piece of equipment as soon as they could.  It was an emergency because it wasn’t budgeted for and the budgeting process would have added a lot of time to the replacement process.

According to business consultant Andy Raskin, there is a better way to look at potential customers (Pitch stakes not pain).   You look at them from a What’s at stake? perspective.  What’s at stake if they do, or do not, purchase the new technology or service?  What’s at stake for them if they wait until next year’s budget?

As Andy Raskin advises, your presentations should be focused on two future outcomes “one that your audience wants, and one that your audiences fears”. What’s at stake for your audience?

My presentation planning begins with two questions: What’s my message and who’s my audience? I am now going to add a third question, what’s at stake for this audience?

So as a presenter, what’s at stake for you if your audience doesn’t remember your message?

Joe Pops

How can you be impossible to ignore?

The goal of every presenter is to have their message remembered. In her book, Impossible to Ignore, cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Carmen Simon explores this goal. She reminds us that people can forget 90% of our content within a few day is of our presentation. She describes this as the Point A to Point B Problem. Understanding this problem is especially important if your presentation is trying to influence a decision.

Point A is the point where a communication is delivered and Point B is the point in the future where a decision is made. To have a chance at influencing the decision, your key messages need to be remembered at Point B. Also, between Point A and Point B there is often a time gap. Depending on the type of project, the gap between Point A and Point B might be measured in weeks or months.

Dr. Simon recommends that way to be remembered is through the use of cues or triggers, sticky notes for the memory. These cues should be something your audience will come across in their world. Something that will remind them of your key messages.  She states that:

“This memory trigger method is certainly more powerful than the standard leave-behind. In fact, as the world is becoming increasingly more complex, you will only be as memorable as the items that are likely to trigger memories of you in your clients’ environment. Create a strong association between your content and sub-sequent triggers and you will be consistently and effortlessly on people’s minds.”

It’s a tough job designing and delivering an interesting and audience focused presentation. It is even tougher to create memory cues and get them into your presentation.  I have been experimenting with some ideas, I will let you know how the experiments turn out in a later blog post.

But for now, how can you make sure your messages are unforgettable?

Joe Pops



When 10 x 1 = 1. How do you rate experience?

Many years ago I worked with Dr Archie Yeo. He was the program director for our radiography (x-ray technologist) training school. One of the things we did together was interview people for entry into our program. Dr Yeo was an interesting guy. A moustached, pipe smoking, radiologist/ philosopher. At the end of one of our interview days, we chatted about what different interview criteria meant. He talked about his theory on experience. For example, he said if a person has 10 years of experience, do they have 10 years of experience or 10 x 1 year of experience? He said that some people didn’t seem to learn anything new after year one so they had 10 x 1 year of experience. Other people had what we would more traditionally think of 10 years of experience. They grew in knowledge and skills every year.

I was wondering if the Dunning Kruger effect is like this? ( The effect describes the contrast between confidence in doing something and competence in that same skill. Some people are very confident in certain skill areas. Is that confidence based on how long they have done something? When people are tested in some areas they are confident in, they can actually be quite incompetent. Driving is often used as an example. Are you a great driver just because you have driven for 30 years?

Which do you assume when you hear someone has 10 years of experience? The traditional concept or Dr Yeo’s 10 x 1 = 1 theory?

I wonder if this applies to giving presentations?

Joe Pops