TED talks can be a mixed bag. Some are insightful, useful, and thought-provoking. Others aren’t so helpful or just downright odd. We decided to separate the wheat from the chaff and find the best TED talks enterprise sellers can use to close more deals and engage with prospects more effectively. Best of all, none of the ones we selected include a man worth $700 million lecturing you about poverty.
Without further adieu, let’s look at the best TED talks you can use to up your game.
Listen Well— Even In Silence
In these two TED Talks, the focus is body language—and how to listen to what isn’t being said aloud. Learning how to deal with silence is one of the most valuable lessons for an experienced seller, since our instincts often make us uncomfortable during long silences. However, silence isn’t nearly as bad as people think.
To read the room more effectively, listen (and watch!) carefully to what Amy Cuddy and Lynne Franklin are discussing in their TED Talks. The key is body language and how your prospects or clients are responding throughout your conversation. Are they nodding along with you, engaged and understanding? Do they look antsy like they’re running late to another meeting? If this is the case, show them you value their time and end the meeting 10 minutes early—the gesture won’t go unnoticed. Picking up on these cues show your prospects and clients that you understand them and will continue to be thoughtful and perceptive throughout the sales and new client onboarding process.
The same can be said on your part, though. How do you come off to them? Just as you’re trying to read the room, they’re listening to what you say and how you say it. Are you confident in your messaging and the product you’re selling? Are you internalizing their challenges and showing them that you hear them—and adjusting your message accordingly? How you say what you say—and how you listen when you listen—can be all the difference in building trust and getting closer to closing the deal.
Choose Your Words Wisely
These two TED Talks are almost in conversation with each other. The first talks about the value of self-confidence, while the second discusses how to get people to listen while highlighting the guardrails of the “seven deadly sins of speaking.” Both are strong lessons to remember when giving a sales presentation, either by phone or in person, as they emphasize the ways to keep your audience engaged.
With self-confidence, you show everyone in the room that you know what you’re talking about. As a salesperson, you should be a subject matter expert, but you need to be able to convey that expertise to the room in order to build trust and progress the deal.
However, those seven deadly sins I mentioned earlier? Speaking ill of someone not in the room, being judgmental, negativity, complaining, excuses, exaggeration, and confusing facts with opinions will all lead you down the wrong path when speaking with prospects and clients. While not all of these may naturally present the opportunity to express them, it can happen more often than you think. Many products are focusing on a problem and providing a better solution to that problem—an inefficient process, a technology that can remove significant pieces of someone else’s workload, and so on. This is where you should be most cautious: the person who created that process you’re calling inefficient may be in the room.
Further, trying to differentiate your product from that of your competitors is an easy way to fall into the traps of negativity, exaggeration, or confusing facts with opinions. Find a positive and encouraging way to present the value of what you have to offer and steer the conversation toward collaboration rather than usurpation.
Think Like an Entrepreneur
Guy Kawasaki marketed the first Macintosh computer, and Kyle MacDonald embarked on the famous journey of trading a red paperclip for a house (with a few steps in between). While on the surface they seem to have nothing in common, they both share an important skill: they know how to create value.
For Apple, introducing Macintosh was a major innovation. Bringing a new product to the world requires a company to generate interest and show people why they should want to buy it. In B2B sales, the interactions are more intimate than creating major advertising campaigns, but the goal is the same: Show people what makes your product different and why it can help their business. Kawasaki explains 10 principles to help you get there, and while many of them are aimed at an entrepreneur, the lessons are easily transferable to the everyday actions of a salesperson.
For MacDonald, the goal began with “bigger and better”—as in, how do I take this one object and get something that’s both bigger (in size) and better (more valuable)? “Bigger” and “better” are value judgments that can vary for the person on each side of the table. It’s not about the items that you have, or the products and services you’re offering; it’s about the benefits that you will add to your prospect or client. When working through a deal, remember to focus on why you are helping them at this time and turning their liabilities (operational risks or deficiencies, for example) into opportunities.
Build a Relationship and Tell a Story
As you’ve probably seen already, what you say and how you say it are two of the most important aspects of selling. But your message, and the story you tell, is what underlies all of it. Jack Vincent compares sales to love and romance, and how you should use soft skills to court your customers until they fall in love with your product.
If you need some inspiration for how to tighten your pitch, turn to this last—and our favorite—video in which David Christian succeeds in telling the history of the entire world in less time than it takes to watch an episode of The Simpsons . All he needed was 18 minutes to bring you on an adventure spanning time since the beginning, and he does it in a way that keeps your attention and interest every step of the way. Take his example as inspiration and a model for how to tell an engaging and concise story.
We curated nine TED Talks with valuable lessons about finding your voice, connecting with your audience, and winning over your prospects. And, as a bonus, these thought leaders also demonstrate how to command a room. You can take tips from what they say—and how they say it.