Stop Doing Sales Presentations and Start Having Sales Conversations! – by Hugh Liddle

As almost everything in life, the art of selling changes on a regular basis.  In my 43 years in sales, I’ve seen massive changes occur in the way sales are conducted.  If a salesperson doesn’t keep pace with the changes, it almost certainly means that a reduction in sales and income will follow shortly.

One of the most important changes that has taken place is in the way we must approach the sale, if we want people buy from us today, versus 40 years ago.  I’ll never forget the very first big sales seminar I ever went to.  The year was 1973 and I was a young, wet-behind-the-ears insurance salesman.  It was at the arena in downtown San Jose, California and the place was packed with 5,000 or 6,000 people.  The speakers were luminaries in the sales-training and motivational-speaking world.

I’ve long forgotten the details of the seminar content, with the exception of a single statement that was made by one of the speakers.  He looked out at the assembled mass of salespeople and he said, “Your prospects have your money in their pockets, and your job is to do everything short of going to jail to get the money out of their pockets and into yours.”

Unfortunately that’s the way that sales was taught and practiced for many years.  It was all about getting the prospect to do what we wanted them to do, rather than discovering and evaluating the prospect’s needs and showing them how our product or service could meet those needs.  Even more unfortunate is the fact that some people are still in the 1973 sales mode of “doing presentations”, “closing” and “overcoming or handling objections”.

I would suggest to you that sales have evolved into the era of having sales conversations, asking for the sale and answering objections.

The fine art of conversation has, I fear, been eclipsed somewhat by posting on Facebook, tweeting, texting and emailing.  Those are all viable marketing tools, and I believe that selling effectively on an on-going basis requires more–having real conversations with our prospects.

That’s not the same thing as a formal presentation, where we have charts and graphs and tell the prospect everything we know about our product or service and then close them by browbeating or arguing or shaming them into buying.  Buyers are too sophisticated nowadays to put up with that.

It’s about having a conversation.  That implies that two people are taking turns speaking.  We become partners with our prospects in solving their problems and helping them get what they want and need.  We spend more time asking our prospects questions about how they feel and what they think and what they want and need than we do telling them about ourselves, our company our products and our services.  It means focusing on what’s best for our prospect and not on getting our prospect to do what we want them to do so we can make a sale and earn a commission.

Yes, things have changed in the sales world!  Have you changed with them?


Hugh Liddle, “The Man With The Red Cap” is an accomplished author, speaker, and radio talk show host.  He has over 40 years experience in selling, and his coaching has helped large numbers of business owners and salespeople achieve outstanding results. As a public speaker Hugh has motivated large business audiences right across North America.

When Hugh takes off his red cap you can find him residing in Sebring, Florida, with his wife, Priscilla, Mooch and Minnie the Cats and Snappy the Alligator.  He has six children and 12 grandchildren, one beautiful great-grandson and a large following of grateful business people (friends) who he has helped over the past 40 years. You can email Hugh at or call him at (863) 402-0661.


Get your free preview of Chapter 1 from Selling Fearlessly.

Check out the 68 reviews for Selling Fearlessly at