Does your presentation close — or simply come to an end?

Courtroom Trial

Imagine being on trial – you’re not guilty of course − and after the final witness’ testimony your lawyer simply rests her case and leaves it up to the jury to make sense of all of the evidence and deliver whatever verdict they feel appropriate. Would you be happy? I don’t think so. Yet most sales presentations end something like this, “Well, I guess that’s it. Thank you for having us and we’ll open it up to questions.” While the presentation certainly came to an end, that doesn’t qualify as a closing. Closing is a process that either completes a sale or moves you one or two steps closer to it. If all you’ve accomplished is gotten to the end of your presentation but not asked for a verdict, you have  not really closed. Back to your trial… What would you want your lawyer to do at the end of Read More

8 sales presentation disaster recovery tips

Laptop with flame

During my presentation workshops we try to replicate a real presentation environment as much as possible. When it was Michael’s turn to present he hooked up his laptop and nothing happened. Michael checked the connections and still…nothing. Michael apologized and kept retrying it – much like when you’ve lost your keys and keep checking the same place you always put them in. Soon he was getting suggestions from everyone in the class. Two people jumped up to help. Another one went to find someone from IT. Eventually half the room was gone or busy checking emails or texts. It was just like a real presentation. Likely you’ve faced this nightmare in real life: You’re giving an important presentation and your slide deck disappears, your demo freezes or you’ve forgotten something important. It is how you handle these unforeseen circumstances that can make or break your presentation. Like Michael, without a Read More

Is anybody listening? 5 tips to a riveting web presentation

skeptical surprised woman reading news on smartphone holding lap

Ever found yourself texting, checking email or freshening your coffee during a web presentation or webinar? Temptations abound in a virtual world and that’s exactly what your prospects are doing if you’ve failed to keep them engaged and focused on your message. Maintaining your prospect’s attention is a challenge online. What works in live presentations – FASTER, BIGGER, LOUDER! – doesn’t translate to a virtual audience. Understanding where you’re at high risk for tune-out and making some strategic adjustments in those areas can take your presentation from “Is anybody out there?” to “Are we done already?!” Here are some tips that will keep your prospect riveted during your next web presentation:                      *  Have two openings. If you’ve been on time for a web presentation you know how frustrating it can be to wait for others to join the meeting. How you handle this will affect the first impression your Read More

5 things you must do in your discovery process

Businessman looks on the computer with a  lens

When the competition is stiff, preparation — and discovery in particular — plays a critical role in the ultimate success of your presentation. While much information about a company can be found on-line, the best source of information and greatest payoff potential comes from having a conversation with key people within your prospect’s company. Ask for a discovery conversation. So go ahead and ask. It’s a reasonable request to ask for input from those within your prospect’s company who can shed light on the situation. It benefits not only you, but also the prospect. After all, gaining a better understanding of their needs shortens your presentation time by allowing you to provide a more accurate and precise recommendation and get to the point quicker. In a competitive market it’s unlikely that you will be the only one asking your prospect questions to prepare for your presentation. How can you set Read More

Eliminate the silent treatment during your presentation: avoid these questions


  Today’s sales presentations aren’t the one-way monologues of old. Audience’s not only expect to be engaged, but your message will have greater impact and recall if they are actively participating in the presentation. Posing a question is a quick and easy way to engage your audience. People are naturally curious and a good question will stimulate their thinking right away.  So why do I hear so many post-presentation comments from sellers like these:   What a boring group! They just stared at me when I asked them a question!”   I asked a bunch of questions, but half of them were busy texting!” I get it. It’s uncomfortable to throw a question out there and see a bunch of blank faces staring back at you in silence.  And it’s tempting to want to blame lack of response to our questions on our audience, but the truth is that asking questions alone Read More

The Verdict is in: The Opening of Your Presentation Influences Your Sale

Stern judge speaking to the court

    You’ve finally got that hard-fought presentation time with your prospect. You’ve managed to get all the decision-makers together in one room at the same time. Quick reality check: Do you have their attention? I wouldn’t bet on it. Like you, prospects have other things on their minds. Perhaps they just got off a call with an unhappy customer or they’re worrying about how to handle an unresolved issue. Your first goal is to pull your listeners into the present.  Which means, you need a clear strategy for breaking through the mental clutter and physical distractions that plague today’s business audiences. After all, it won’t matter how exceptional your message is if your prospect isn’t listening! The opening of your presentation or conversation influences the outcome of a sale than you may realize. Consider this: First impressions – Last impressions.  First impressions, while not always accurate, do affect the Read More

Please Apple, Don’t Make Me Learn!

Child successfully ties shoes

Sales Managers:  Are you the Apple Genius Bar, or an Answer Bar? Like most people, I don’t go to the Apple store because I enjoy being steered around from one headset wearing hipster to another, but because I need help from…must I say it? The Genius Bar. One approaches the Genius Bar with a certain amount of humility and awe. After all, even the cleaning person at Apple could put my computer skills to shame. The Genius Bar is stocked with people so smart that I imagine they are operating large, multi-national companies or small countries on the side and doing this just for fun. The geniuses are always surrounded by no less than a dozen people at all times, each anxiously awaiting “the answer.” But the geniuses remain cool. They are completely unfazed by your self-imposed crisis. An incorrectly entered command is met with the same level of calm as Read More

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