The #1 Selling Disease: “Show up, Throw Up” Presentations

“Remember to not only say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”

—Benjamin Franklin

Prescription before diagnosis is malpractice in the medical industry. I suggest its malpractice in the sales industry as well.

Delivering premature presentations is the most pervasive disease in the selling profession. As an author and trainer, each year I instruct thousands of sales professionals all over the world. Predictably, less effective sales people pitch and present more than they question and inquire.

As a former sales executive, I witnessed hundreds of sales interactions and found an obvious and distinct difference between mediocre sales representatives and elite sales professionals. Without exception, elite sellers avoided the temptation to rush in with answers every time they heard a need or problem they could address. Average sellers, on the other hand, could not resist the temptation. Consistently, as soon as buyers communicated a need or problem, they engaged in “show up, throw up” behaviors.

Based on the adage “Always get a presentation before you give one,” PHH instructs sales people in a four-step, question-based methodology. Called The DNA Selling Method, it is an approach that helps sales people balance inquiry and advocacy—a dialogue model that helps sales people stop thinking in terms of exclamation points and start thinking in terms of question marks.


Focusing on meaningful, relevant questions and delaying premature presentations is common sense, but rarely common practice. Like the Biblical story of Sampson killing thousands of Philistines with the jawbone of an ass, thousands of sales are killed each day with the same weapon.