Have you ever attended a business meeting where everything went so well that, at the end, you all just sat around and yakked about common experiences you’ve had over the years? That happened to me recently.

Our conversation began when one of the participants remarked that it was interesting how often a simple and approachable presentation layer (the end-user facing part of the software) often indicated extremely complex and mature business rules underneath. The group — most with more than 20 years’ experience in the business — began discussing how this observation also applied to so many day-to-day and face-to-face prospecting and sales interactions as well.

Someone mentioned the old prospect opener: “During your life, you will only do three things — live, quit or die” and how direct, focused and successful a message it was. Another participant with depth in the individual disability market added that his favorite (and most lucrative) two-question conversation starter was always: “Is your income important to you? How long could you be without it?”

There are probably hundreds of these simple, yet direct and compelling, conversations that we all used to employ before we out-sophisticated ourselves. In my platform presentations, I am frequently blown away at the level of surprise the audience shows when I offer some of these simple, tried-and-true openers. These days, when asked, “Do you know what time it is?” all too many practitioners reply with a description of how their watch was built.

Terri Sjodin is an expert on advancing the persuasive presentation skills of professionals. In her new book “Small Message, Big Impact,” she says, “I often see people make the mistake of being overly informative rather than persuasive. The data-dump syndrome is one of the most common pitfalls.”

If you can’t make a compelling case for what you are selling in three minutes or less, it might be time to rethink your approach and get simple again. For most selling opportunities, less is more.

For more on simple selling techniques, see:

Sales Sizzlers: Go back to the basics

Know the answers to objections

Disability Insurance: Keeping It Simple

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