Sales Lessons from the Oscars

lupita oscars

I watch the Oscars with a seller’s eye: Who is really connecting with the audience? Who is surprising us? Who seems like they just got the invitation that morning? True to form, this year’s Oscars provided many gems, some brilliant (three words: Neil Patrick Harris) some typical (really Patricia Arquette, you knew it was coming, you couldn’t have memorized your speech for us?) to “I’m here, but I’m not super happy about it (Eddie Murphy and Sean Penn). Because the Oscars is a collection of live mini-presentations and speeches given in front of an audience with a short attention span, it’s a great opportunity for salespeople to learn what works, what doesn’t and why. Below are some Oscar moments and the sales lessons I took away from them.  See if you agree: 1. Address the elephant in the room: There was much negative press this year about how little diversity Read More

Presentation Winners and Losers from The Academy Awards

Chris Pine at Academy Awards

If you think presenting comes naturally, all you need to do is watch the Academy Awards where some of our best actors struggle to deliver a live speech or accept an award.  As a salesperson there are many key takeaways from the Oscars and I’ll be taking note of them all.  In the mean time, have a  quick look back at some of the previous year’s winners and losers in the category of “Presentation Skills:” The Winners: Best Audience Interaction: Ellen DeGeneres, Host 2014 As host, DeGeneres took audience interaction to a whole new level by stepping into the audience to orchestrate the world’s largest selfie with the world’s biggest stars. Taking it a step further, later in the evening she had pizza delivered. Despite the fact that most of the crowd looked like they hadn’t indulged in pizza since the nineties, she put everyone at ease during what was Read More

So, there’s this presentation, and it starts like this…

Portrait of young businessman making the speak no evil gesture

In an informal survey from coaching 1000+ sales presentations, care to guess what the most common first word was?   I? We? The? Thank you? (Sorry, that’s two, you’re disqualified!)  Would you be surprised to learn that is in fact  (drum roll please)  “So?”  This tiny two letter word is wildly popular among presenters across the globe and unfortunately, a complete waste of breath.  Why? Take the test. Which is stronger? “So, today we’re going to show you how we can help you consolidate your front and back office… “Today we are going to show you how we can help you consolidate your front and back office… #1 sounds like the presenter was just picking up in the middle of a conversation they were in the middle of having.  Unfortunately, a conversation that the audience is not privy to.  While “So” may seem ever so (couldn’t resist) harmless, consider how big an impact it can Read More

Are You Losing Business to Your Invisible Competition?

invisible man standing with folded arms

Can you name your direct competition? Of course you can. In fact, you can probably tell me all about them. But what if I asked you to name your invisible competition?  What’s your invisible competition?  The scores of people who also want or need something from your prospect: vendors from other industries, employees, managers, colleagues, etc. One study shows that the average worker is interrupted 50 times during a day—and managers even more. As salespeople, we spend a lot of time asking ourselves,  How we can beat our direct competitors? when the better question may be, How do we beat out all the other demands for our customer’s time and attention? Since we rarely come face to face with our competition it’s easy not to think about them. As an actor, it’s impossible not to think about them. Going on “cattle call” auditions, thrust into a room with 50 or more Read More

Sneak Peek: Advanced Sales Presentation Tip: The Power of Intention

Sneak Peek

Sneak Peek:  Advanced Presentation Technique from my new e-Book:  “Take Your Sales Presentation to the Next Level” Get all 10 tips FREE here! A common concern I hear from sales manager’s centers around the ability of their sales team to passionately or enthusiastically present their solution: “I don’t know what it is. They know their material, they say all the right things, but they’re just not connecting with the audience.” “I know they’re passionate about our product, but it’s just not coming across in their presentation.” In my experience the cause of a dispassionate presentation is rarely due to the presenter’s lack of passion about their solution. It more often stems from the presenter’s intention, or lack of intention. What is an intention? Intentions are the driving force under all of our words and actions. They influence how we say things and therefore, how people respond to us. In the performance Read More

Free e-Book: Take your Sales Presentation to the Next Level!

my cover-page-small

Don’t chew gum when you present.  (Duh.) You already know that, right? In fact, you’ve probably learned some good sales presentation basics. But so has your competition! When the bar has been raised and the stakes are high (and when it’s YOUR presentation, the stakes are always high!) you need to find new ways to stand out and stand apart from your competition. Get 10 Advanced Tips & Techniques FREE in my new e-Book I’m excited to share with you my new e-book, Take Your Sales Presentation to the Next Level, which includes: 10 Advanced Tips & Techniques (and a few extra-advanced for you over-achievers) Real-world examples of “typical” sales presentations taken from coaching 1000’s of salespeople all over the world What your prospect really thinks when you make these rookie mistakes Easy-to-follow steps to make your presentation more compelling, persuasive and memorable Here’s a sample of one of my favorite Read More

Presentations and Presence: 7 Practical Tips – Part Deux


Many people think presence is something you’re born with, but as a performer I learned that presence can be developed. If you’re alive and taking up space, you have some presence. The question is, how much? Enough to engage one person? Ten? Twenty? And for how long? Five minutes? Fifteen minutes? Two hours? As a presenter, you need to have enough presence to connect with your entire audience for the full length of your presentation. And with the declining attention span of today’s decision-makers, you need even more presence to keep them engaged! Show personality: When it comes to presentations, it’s not uncommon for otherwise perfectly engaging salespeople to leave their personality at the door. The tendency is to go into “Presenter mode,” flattening or smoothing things out for an effect that sounds more like an NPR announcer than a real person. Telling a prospect they’re going to save a Read More

Presentations and Presence: 7 Practical Tips (Part 1 of 2)


A brilliant script delivered poorly by an actor is unlikely to break any box office records. Likewise, compelling value and benefit statements are critical components of your presentation, but you can’t rely on the content to do all the heavy lifting. Just like a great actor can make a mediocre movie watchable (like Sandra Bullock in The Lake House above.  You didn’t think I  meant Keanu Reeves, did you?!), great presenters can make average content good and good content exceptional. The most effective presentations are a marriage between presentation and presenter: as the presenter, you are the lightning rod that connects the message to the audience. Great presenters have what is often referred to as “presence,” that ability to light up any stage and draw an audience in. As a salesperson, whether your stage is a conference room or a computer screen, you need to establish presence with your audience if Read More

Dump the Corporate Selfie

Celeb Selfie-Oscars

The corporate selfie slide that kicks off your presentation is out. You know the slide I’m referring to. The one(s) that shows any or all of the following: a picture of your building (ho hum), the timeline of your company’s growth (blah, blah, blah) and/or the logos of your best customers (I’m sorry, are you still talking to me?) One thing I’ll say about the corporate overview is that it is an equal opportunity slide: it is as boring for the salesperson to deliver as it is for the customer to receive.   The truth is that these particular slides are better suited for a brochure than a live presentation. In this day and age your prospect likely already knows–or has access to–much of what you think you need to tell them about your company. Sure, there are key points you want to highlight for your audience, and there’s a place Read More

Want Better Results from Sales Role Play? Part 2: The Secret is in the Casting!

Gran Torino

Actors love to work with Clint Eastwood for good reason:  “He expects you to know what you’re doing. And he’s going to take two giant steps back and let you do it,” says Morgan Freeman.  But some Hollywood directors are notoriously difficult to work with.  Kate Winslet said that working with James Cameron on Titanic was “an ordeal” after nearly drowning and chipping a bone in her elbow.  Cameron scoffed at her claims, calling it nothing but “a little sputtering and coughing.” When you’re doing role play with your sales team – whether it’s a team of 3 or 300 – there needs to be a director in addition to the salesperson and customer.   In Part 1, we laid out how to Set the Stage for success to make it a  valuable sales tool by establishing clear expectations and selecting a specific customer and opportunity. Now you’re ready to cast your role-play.  Take Read More