They say the average human attention span is shorter than a goldfish’s. Yet, a new study just came out saying that the average person watches 18 days worth of Netflix a year.
The math doesn’t exactly add up. But what’s the difference? How do you get your viewers to figuratively “hit full screen” and give you their complete attention, instead of Amazon Prime shopping in the background? Netflix inspires binge-watchers via visuals, a great story, and compelling dialogue. How can you apply this to your own sales pitches? There are more similarities than you think. The best salespeople are spellbinding storytellers, who have their audience on the edge of their seat— not glued to their smartphone. How do they do it?
The Neuroscience of a Compelling Sales Pitch
In order to create pitches that tap into the same areas of the brain that respond to the shows we love so much, we at Prezi did a little investigating and summarized our findings in our State of Attention 2018 Report. Based on a survey of 2,036 respondents across business departments and generations, we found that at least 40% of professionals feel presentations with lots of text or bullet points are responsible for their disengagement or making information difficult to remember.
More importantly, we found that elements like visuals, narrative, and interesting dialogue were cited as absolutely critical to engagement with presentations. This means there are three things you can do, starting today, to improve your next pitch.
1. Know what you have in your content arsenal — and use it
Many sales teams underutilize the amount of content their company has to offer. Case studies, videos, ebooks, blog articles — these can and should be used as supplementary content to spice up a sales pitch. Don’t be afraid to get creative and think outside the box office-a new Buyer Engagement study revealed that 21% of buyers are interested in being contacted through 1 to 1 video-a higher percentage than both Facebook and Twitter outreach.
Using them to break up your pitch is similar to what Hollywood calls a “cut” in a movie. And today, there are more cuts in scenes than ever before. Think about this when you’re building out your pitch. Our threshold for stimulation is changing in that we require more of it more frequently. Make sure your pitch reflects this by changing what’s seen every three minutes or so. If you’re presenting live, this can include a facial expression or a gesture. After all, in person, you should be the star of the show. If you’re presenting remotely, you should change the image, engage your audience by asking a question, or switch from your presentation to your desktop.
2. Have a moral of your story and return to it regularly
Good stories have a key theme or a message. While a variety of media is necessary for keeping people engaged with your pitch, so is a consistent message. When you have a key message sorted, make sure you’re repeatedly returning to it somehow. This can be through an image you show multiple times, or a phrase you repeat.
Using a visual metaphor that summarizes the key message in your pitch is also a great way to consistently reinforce what you’re trying to communicate.
3. Skip the sales pitch intro
Just like Netflix allows to bypass the same tired trailers, in a great sales pitch, you should also make sure to skip the intro. Everyone knows how to use Google, so you should expect that your prospect has looked up a substantial amount of information about you before your meeting. At least 70%, in fact. That means it’s absolutely critical that you skip what they already know and get straight to what they don’t, as soon as you can.
Since we’re not mind readers, we can achieve this by ditching to slides and presenting non-linearly. Without a slide order and a script to memorize, you can simply ask what your prospect cares about most and jump to that part of your pitch.
4. Present non-linearly to create cliffhangers
Encouraging discussion throughout, rather than saving Q&A for the end, simultaneously maintains relevancy, and keeps the brain from being able to predict what’s next. If it can’t predict what’s next — like in any addicting TV series — it can’t afford to disengage.
Adjusting processes in order to align with these changing behaviors is paramount. While efforts have certainly been made, our research proves that it’s more important now than ever before to adjust the way our sales pitches are being delivered. If you know this moment in time is a pivotal one, but haven’t yet figured out how best to improve it, check out our study to learn more about the ins and outs of what it takes to make an engaging pitch.