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


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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


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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!


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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

3 Awesome (and Underused) PPT Presentation Tips


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While there is a wealth of information on how to put together a good PowerPoint deck for your sales presentation — right down to the number of words and size of font on each slide, little attention is given on how a presenter can interact with those PPT slides in order to ensure his or her  message resonates with the audience. As technology has gotten more sophisticated, it’s critical that salespeople learn to use PPT and supporting technology to enhance their message and not become their message.  The more bells and whistles and videos we start including, the more important it is to remember that at all times you are responsible for managing your audience’s attention. Following are three of my favorite PPT presentation tips for making sure the focus of your audience is always where you want it to be, when you want it to be there: 1. Use the black out key: Multi-tasking is Read More

Better Results from Sales Role Play. Part 1: Set the Stage


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I received a panicked call from a salesperson last week.  Carol’s annual sales meeting was fast approaching and she and her fellow sellers were asked to participate in a day of role-playing with management.  While promoted as a “learning experience,” Carol knew better; this was a test.  Carol and her team would be judged on their ability to successfully articulate the company’s value proposition, highlight benefits, handle objections and ask for the business—all within an artificial, high-pressure scenario. A learning experience?  Yes.  Learning to hate role-playing! Under these circumstances, Carol will likely summon up all of her acting experience (dating back to the 3rd grade class play), and put on a role that she thinks is expected of her.  A role of what she thinks the perfect salesperson might look and act like.  A role that has little or no resemblance to Carol on an actual sales call. Don’t get Read More

Make Your Presentation Memorable with Props


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According to Toastmasters, listeners only retain 10% of what they’ve heard one week later.  This percentage increases to 67% when visual aids are added to the equation. This is a strong message to sellers that if you want a prospect to remember your sales presentation, demo or conversation, adding a visual or sensory component can be extremely valuable in increasing your prospect’s retention of your message. Here are some quick tips on how you can use props effectively during sales presentations: A Prop should support your message:   Think of Wilson, the soccer ball in the movie Castaway.  The movie wasn’t about Wilson, but it furthered the story.  Similarly, your presentation should not be about the prop, but the prop should help add to the story. Choose a prop that’s relevant to your message. The first thing sellers think of when I say  visual support is PowerPoint.  Yes, it counts, but when Read More

Find Your Inner Zombie: Sales Advice from The Walking Dead


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It’s not easy to become a zombie.  Every year thousands of people audition for a chance to play a zombie on TV’s hit series, The Walking Dead.  Once they make it through the initial casting process they are enrolled in “zombie” school (yes, it’s a real thing) where they will learn what it takes to play the undead and make a chance at the final cut.  One of the director’s told the wannabe-zombies to avoid doing the same old arms out in front, stereotypical Frankenstein-type zombie.  In other words, don’t just copy what everyone else is doing, make something your own.  His final words of advice: “You have to find your inner zombie.” In a similar fashion, when you’re competing for a coveted piece of business from a variety of vendors, you can’t go in and do the same thing everyone else does or simply copy a brilliant presentation that Read More

An Actor’s Secret for Getting in a Selling State of Mind


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“I’ve always considered myself to be just average talent and what I have is a ridiculous insane obsessiveness for practice and preparation.” Will Smith It’s no secret that a focused and positive mindset in sales creates focused and positive results. Learning how to let go of negativity and get in an ideal state of mind greatly increases your potential for getting appointments, negotiating and closing business—and it feels a heck of a lot better!  But just how do you do it — especially when you’re having one of those days?  You know the days I’m talking about: you left your phone on the train, spilled coffee on your new shirt or banged up the car pulling out of the garage.  It happens to all of us.  Especially on those days, it’s critical that you take a few minutes to get your mind focused and clear. Here are some quick tips Read More

How to apply the Challenger Sale…when you’re not a challenger


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“I don’t accept the status quo. I do accept Visa, MasterCard, or American Express.” Stephen Colbert I’m a fan of The Challenger Sale – despite the fact that the book came out the same year as mine (2011) and promptly soared past me. If you’re not familiar with the book or the premise, authors Matt Dixon and Brent Adamson identified 5 types of sellers: The Relationship-Builder, The Hard Worker, The Lone Wolf, The Reactive Problem Solver and, of course, The Challenger. I’m not giving anything away when I tell you that they believe Challengers to be uniquely poised for success in today’s marketplace. Why? Because Challengers enter each business opportunity with a deep understanding of their client’s business, tailor messaging to each role and are not afraid to question, yes, even challenge a customer’s beliefs. All of which makes sense especially when many of us work with customers who are Read More

Screenwriting Tips for Sellers: 5 Elements you Must Have to Move a Prospect to Action


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Like a well-crafted movie or television show, a successful salesperson must grab a prospect’s attention, pique their interest and establish an emotional connection in order to move them to action.  Screenwriters know that there are 5 dramatic elements that must be present in order to engage and move audiences.  Make sure you can identify these 5 dramatic elements in your own sales conversations or presentations if you want to engage and move today’s busy prospects as well: 1. Interest We’ve all met the prospect who lets us get through our entire presentation, only to announce “I’m not really looking for anything right now,” or “My business is just fine as it is.” Have we met the one person in the world who has no needs or desires? I doubt it.  Even where nothing seems to be at stake, like Seinfeld (the “show about nothing”) the characters are obsessed with any Read More