How to captivate your prospect's attention

How to captivate your prospect's attention

You've got a prospect on a sales call, or even in the room with you. How do you captivate and keep his attention? It's not enough that he hears you speak—you want him to really listen.

Some people possess the charisma and showmanship that naturally mesmerizes their listeners. If you don't, you'll need to master the mechanics of getting attention. Use this simple 3-step process to get your message across:

  • Highlight the highlights.
  • Mark what's memorable.
  • Ask for attention.

Once you start paying attention to how much attention prospects actually pay you, it's almost shocking to discover how much of the time they're absent-minded!

It's not about what you say—it's about what they hear!

Most sales reps just look for an opportunity to kidnap a prospect's time for a couple of minutes, and then throw up their sales pitch all over them.

But selling isn't about getting the words out of your mouth. It's about the thoughts you create in your prospect's mind.

Embrace the fact that they're not paying attention

captivate-not paying attention

Prospects can't give you 100% attention and that’s fine. We’ve been even trained out of it even more with today’s technology.

We’re always connected, always distracted, never paying full attention to anything. Why should they do that with you or change their lives with you? They won’t. You don’t need their full attention. You won’t get 100% attention every time. All you need is attention when it matters.

What are the three most important points of your pitch?

Before you go into a pitch, think about the three most important things you want your prospect to realize and remember about your offer. Think about what those core three things are.

This is the single most important takeaway from this whole article. If you could only do one thing, I'd want you to do this from now on: whenever you go into a pitch, take a couple of moments to prepare and be very clear about the three main points you want to make. These will be the highlights of your sales pitch. What are the three things that will make the biggest impact on them?

Use the power of 3

captivate-power of three

There's always that tendency to cram in more points. We're always tempted to add another benefit, hoping THAT will win the prospect over. But you should strictly limit yourself to no more than three main points in your pitch.

Even if it's a complex technical sale where details are critical, keep your pitch focused on three points. I recently told the story of how focusing on three big ideas helped us pass the Y Combinator interview with a previous startup.

Really limit yourself to no more than three main points. A recent study from UCLA showed that sales pitches with three positive claims are the most persuasive:

In settings where consumers know that the message source has a persuasion motive, the optimal number of positive claims is three. More claims are better until the fourth claim, at which time consumers’ persuasion knowledge causes them to see all the claims with skepticism.—Kurt A. Carlson and Suzanne B. Shu, When Three Charms But Four Alarms: Identifying the Optimal Number of Claims in Persuasion Settings

Highlight the highlights. Mark what's memorable. Ask for attention.

This is not rocket science. In fact, it's so simple, that many salespeople disregard it as trivial. Yet, it can make a huge difference in the way prospects perceive your pitch. Even if you don't change a single thing about your whole sales approach, you'll see a drastic difference in the effectiveness of your pitch just by making sure you do these simple things.

Say the person's name

During your pitch, just about when you're ready to share one of your highlights, say the person's name. This focuses their attention on you.

Wait for a few seconds

Give them those few moments they need to really mentally arrive from wherever their mind had just wandered.

Tell them how important this is

Just say: "Hey, this is crucial. The next thing is going to be crucial. If there’s only one thing you take away from this, it’s this."

Quiet down to be heard louder

Rather than shouting louder, you actually get more attention from a prospect if you suddenly quieten down. When the volume goes down, they turn up their attention to capture the message. Use that dynamic change to mark what's memorable.

You highlight the highlights. You mark what's memorable. And you ask for attention.

And then you tell them what it is.

Ensure your 3 most important points stick

captivate-three important points stick

At the end of your sales conversation, you will have talked about many different things. How can you make sure that your three most important points still stick in your prospects mind?

Just ask them one of these questions:

  • What were the highlights of this conversation for you?
  • I’m wondering, what was the most interesting thing that you’ve learned in this conversation?
  • I want to ask you, in the pitch today, what was the most impactful to you? What were the things that you’re taking away?
  • If somebody asks you tomorrow to describe what we discussed today, how would you summarize our conversation?

The point of asking this question is so that you close the feedback loop. If they don't talk about your highlights, if they missed something crucial in their answer, then that's an opportunity to highlight the highlights again.

You: "You're absolutely right. The two or three things that you just said are incredibly important. One more thing that I want you to take away is _____”.


You can make your sales pitch more powerful by highlighting the highlights, marking what's memorable and asking for attention.

Before going into a sales conversation, decide what the two or three most important points are you want to make. When you bring them up, use their name, pause for a second, tell them this is the most important thing you'll tell them today, quieten down to be heard louder, and then make your point.

At the end of your sales pitch, ask them what their main takeaways were, and reinforce your message if something crucial is missing.