In the sales process or during a project, we often base our decisions and actions on our perceptions about the behavior of others. Because the meaning behind that behavior can be so hard to decipher, you might underestimate or discount the importance of figuring out what clients are thinking and why.
Of course, you always have to offer clients a fact-based case for action. But in doing so, the ability to accurately read the people around you will help you influence change, communicate more effectively, and save you a whole lot of time and trouble.
The audience of 20 client managers glared at me with icy indifference. I tried to appear at ease, but the voice in my head had already convinced me that my presentation was a disaster of titanic proportions.
I tried one last time to break through to the group by asking if anyone had any questions. Nope–just more vacant stares. Now my internal voice was screaming, "Cut your losses and get out of here!" I scooped up my notes, thanked the audience members for their time, and bolted to my car.
On the long drive home, I mentally dissected every part of the presentation, retracing my missteps. I came up with a list of things I'd do differently next time. I would do anything, I vowed, to avoid another stinker like that one.
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