Presentations and Presence: 7 Practical Tips – Part Deux


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)


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 Company Selfie… I Mean Overview


company selfie

The company overview is today’s business selfie.  It’s that slide (or series of slides) that seems to be in most salespeople’s decks 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 the awards your company has won (I’m sorry, are you still talking to me?) One thing I’ll say about the company 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 Read More

Get Real Results from Sales Role Play (psst..the secret is in the casting)


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

Actors love to work with director 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. As the director of your sales role-play, you control the experience and ultimately the results for your team. In Part 1  of this series on sales role-play, we laid out how to Set the Stage for success by setting clear expectations and selecting a specific customer and opportunity.  Now you’re ready to cast your sales role-play. Sales role-play: the secret is in the casting Take a lesson from acting and don’t thrust salespeople into the spotlight without giving them some tips Read More

3 Awesome (and Underused) PPT Presentation Tips


3 Awesome (and Underused) PPT Presentation Tips

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: Setting the Stage


Better results from Sales Role Play

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 sales role-play 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 Read More

Make Your Presentation Memorable with Props


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 to make your presentation memorable with props: 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, Read More

Find Your Inner Zombie: Sales Advice from The Walking Dead


Find your inner zombie

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


Will Smith - An actor's secret for getting in a selling state of mind

“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


Apply the challenger sale

“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

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Performance Sales and Training: Persuasive Presentation Skills to meet the challenges of today’s B2B Sales Environment