When I went through sales training a number of years ago there were two learning points that I never forgot. 1) Find the need behind the need and 2) Always be closing.

 Need Behind the Need: If a salesperson doesn’t get to the true need of a customer he or she could spend a lot of wasted time on a selling point that has nothing to do with the customers needs or wants. For example a person might enter a car dealership and express that she is looking for a vehicle that gets good gas mileage. The salesperson will spend all of his time focused on selling the best economy car on the lot, and then get to the close only to find out she really wants a comfortable ride because she travels with her job. Now the salesperson is at risk of losing the sale because he expended all of his time on something that wasn’t a priority or true need of the customer.

 Always be Closing. Salespeople must always focus on closing the deal. To do this he must know what the customer wants are, listen to indicators that they have been met and then wrap it up with a signed agreement. A rookie salesman can oversell or give too much information and loose closing a sale if he is not looking for the opportunity to wrap-it-up. Too many words is not a good thing in sales; people will go running out the door if you talk too much and can’t sense when you have sold the product.




Just like in sales, many people in the office environment need to learn these rules in order to be successful. Too many details in conversations and presentations are idea killers that most times result in great ideas not being approved by senior leadership. Not realizing that the boss is on board with the new idea and continuing to sell something that has already been approved opens the door for the approving boss to find something that will cause him to reverse the decision and deny the request.

Some feel they need to express every detail of how they got to the recommendation being presented to the leadership team; however most times they are not interested. Executives’ just want a high-level look at the journey to the idea, what the new plan is, it’s benefit and what you need them to do.

I have actually witnessed executive leadership leave a meeting where an idea was being presented but it took so long to get there that they ran out of time having to rush to the next meeting. The 35-slide presentation actually should have been five and the recommendation would have been approved on the spot.

The same is true even in casual conversations around the office. Don’t become “that guy” who everyone dreads seeing coming down the hall because they know you will tie them up far longer than they want. Coworkers may actually be interested in your project; however if you overload them with details or you say the same thing over and over, just in different ways, you soon become the person people avoid. Your project is kind of like children. While others appreciate your kids, they don’t want to spend hours looking at family pictures. Your project is your baby, but not everyone is interested enough to sacrifice large amounts of time hearing or seeing the project story.




ELEVATOR SPEECH: Have an elevator speech for your project that last no longer than 60 seconds. Whether you run into an interested coworker or the CEO, you will be prepared with the critical factors that need to be shared.

MASTER SLIDE DECK: Keep a Master Slide Deck with all the work you have completed to date. When you are asked to prepare a presentation all you have to do is pull from the inventory of slides as appropriate for the intended audience.

 BODY LANGUAGE: This is a learned art in my opinion. Watching people’s behaviors will tell if they are interested, bored or are hungry for more information. Eye’s looking around, squirming or looking at the time are all signs you might have overloaded someone’s ears. Learn to read people and you’ll be able to judge when it is time to close the deal, and the mouth.

 HIGH TO LOW: When presenting to senior executives always assume they only want the high-level information, but don’t go in ill prepared. In PowerPoint you can either hide slides or build an appendix that contains the detailed information just in case you are asked for more specifics.

 KNOW WHEN: There may be times that you need to get into the details of a project with a boss or coworker; knowing when is all important. Schedule time with the person you need to speak with and your information will be more readily received than if you try to dump your truckload of information on them at the water cooler.

How do you find balance in providing information in the workplace?


Robert Simmons is the President/Owner of Leading Life, Coaching and Leadership Services. Leading Life offers personal & group coaching, consulting as well as workshops that engage employees to take action both in the workplace and in their personal lives.

Personal coaching sessions are conducted remotely utilizing phone calls, Skype or Facetime to allow flexible scheduling and anonymity for clients.

To find out more contact Robert at


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