Great teachers know that kids engage more enthusiastically and retain much more information if a subject is introduced through an interactive exercise as opposed to a one way lecture. Learning by doing is a well-documented educational technique.
The same exact principle applies to sales. Most customers would much rather be “involved” in a sales meeting than simply sit back and be lectured. Not only will they enjoy the experience much more, but if done well they will become emotionally involved and take a personal stake in the outcome of the discussion.
The key then is figuring out how to convert a one way presentation into an interactive experience. Retail salespeople obviously get the point . . . that is why car salespeople are so anxious to get us to drive the car, and salespeople at the cosmetic counter want to apply their products so we can touch and smell them.
But what about in a pure B-to-B context?
Obviously converting a one way presentation to a two way discussion, including open ended questions (who, what, when, where, why) is the classic approach. I also like to add some calculations to the mix if I can. For example, “. . . how much do you think it costs the company when an employee turns over? How many turnovers per year?” I have also seen some nice interactive work conducted by financial planners in which they sit side-by-side with a client and run various investment scenarios together.
Whatever the case, try to find ways to get the customer involved in the discourse. Remember, no matter how good a salesperson you are, no one can sell a customer like he can sell himself, so give him a chance by inviting him to be part of the show.