Seriously, why do so few get it?

I attended a networking group the other day with a featured speaker. The lady was sharp, animated with lots of passion. She also had a Ph.D. After her presentation she did the right thing: She asked us to rate her presentation. I did not get an evaluation form so I approached her and said "it was a very interesting topic but since you are open to input, you overlooked some rules about PowerPoint presentations - the pages were filled with text and you read it out loud".

"I didn't realize that wasn't a good way to present".

I asked whether public presentations were a big part of her business development. She said it was.

"If I may, I would like to refer you to someone who specializes in presentation training. I think it will be very helpful for you".

"Oh, I hope it doesn't cost too much".

I visualized smacking myself on the forehead. Seriously?

We often talk about the uber obsession of "how much"? Volumes have been written about price versus investment, opportunity-cost and much more. A Ph.D is not required to understand a straightforward concept:  " what are you giving up and what are you getting in return"? (Seth Godin).

"I am giving up money". Duh, and the sun rises in the East.

Now seriously, think about what you are really giving up?

In the case of our presenter, she was giving up the opportunity to not:

  1. Come across boring
  2. Appear unprofessional
  3. Seem confident
  4. Know what you are talking about
  5. Be able to connect with your audience because you're too focused on reading
  6. Make a sale.

What she failed to realize is that too often not making the sale (as a result of a bad presentation) is the least of her problems. Having attendees tell their friends about the boring presentation they attended is much worse.

The instinctive tendency to immediately focus on money is prevalent and crosses the boundaries of education or intelligence. It is not a reptilian reaction to protecting our possession. I believe it goes deeper:

"How much does it cost" is frequently followed by "I can't afford it" or "I have to think about it". It is a simple defense mechanism that is designed to prevent us from admitting that we need help, we're not perfect - you get the point.

In the above case, the presenter acknowledges that feedback on her performance is essential; she correctly asked for it. But her reaction is a complete contradiction and she is giving up acknowledging that she needs to be trained (clearly uncomfortable). Had she been open to doing something about what she heard, what she would gain in return is more confidence, better engagement with the audience and a much higher probability of getting hired. No one goes out of their way to hire a boring presenter; why would anything be different later?

When you recognize that every transaction involves giving something up but getting something in return, your energy will be spent only on the benefits and real value side of the equation. It is not a zero-sum-game. The value must always outweigh the price you believe you're paying.

If you are selling, you must clearly articulate what you are offering in return. Remember, value is in the eye of the beholder. So focus first on understanding what your prospect is being asked to give up. Then, demonstrate that you understand that and offer lots of real value.