All posts by Julie Hansen

Start with Why – 3 “Why” Questions to Increase Your Presentation’s Success


If you’ve ever sat through a presentation and thought, “Why am I here?” you are not alone.  Most presentations fail to answer this most fundamental question until five, ten – even thirty minutes into the content. Presentations that do not quickly answer the question “Why?” are frustrating, confusing, and cause distraction-prone audiences to tune out.  In his popular TED Talk, Start with Why, Simon Sinek proposed that people won’t fully buy into a product, service or concept until they understand the “why.” Start with why is how all great presentations begin.  But… Starting with why is, well…just the start.  To really connect with today’s buyers and increase your presentation’s success, it’s important to know which “why” you are addressing in your presentation.  This isn’t as daunting as it seems.  The underlying “why” for most prospects typically boils down to one of the following: Start with Why : Why should I Read More

Think like a director: The secret to managing a conversational presentation


Director

A conversational presentation is a non-linear style of presenting in which you can move about in a more fluid way responding to prospect’s interests.  It’s a big – and often welcome – change from the old days of a sales person’s orderly and scripted descent through a slide deck. When done well, giving the customer a greater role in the presentation can create a more engaging, memorable event tailored to their interests.  So why do we need to think about managing the conversational presentation?  Because often the pendulum swings too far.  Giving the customer total control without exerting proper guidance leads to all kinds of problems:  The conversation veers off track leaving prospects confused.  You jump from topic to topic and never make a strong, cohesive point.  You run out of time and don’t accomplish what you set out to, which doesn’t benefit you or your prospect.  What’s the answer? Read More

All questions are not created equal. Winning strategies for handling questions in your presentation


Handling questions in your presentation

Questions are a sign of a healthy presentation. They typically indicate interest and create important opportunities to interact and gain insight into a prospect’s thinking.  Therefore, it’s not surprising that most salespeople have a knee-jerk reaction to answer every question on the spot. But does every question require – or deserve – an immediate or full blown answer?  What about questions that may take you deep into the weeds, eat up time, confuse or even alienate other audience members? Or questions from people with conflicting agendas or ulterior motives? These are the types of things that can quickly derail your presentation (and the deal!) Keeping an open dialogue with your audience is vital to a successful presentation today.  But you must balance that with the clock and your – and your prospect’s – objectives for the meeting. To be an effective salesperson, you must have a strategy for handling questions in Read More

How status effects your relationships with prospects


status in business

What comes to mind when you think of the word “status?”  Many people (myself included) tend to think of Facebook labels:  single, married, none of your business…  But status can also mean how we perceive ourselves in relation to others.  This often unconscious perception is proven to have a profound effect on the quality of our relationships, the way people respond to us and the amount of influence we are able to wield.  In other words, status effects your relationships with prospects and in turn,  whether you’re successful in sales. How status effects your relationships The way you feel about yourself in relation to a prospect is expressed both nonverbally and verbally.  Your posture, the way you move, the amount of eye contact you make – together these things convey status subconsciously to your prospect before you ever open your mouth. High status people stand up taller, their eye contact Read More

The 1-2-3 Rule for Mobile Presentations


Mobile presentations

Using  iPads, tablets, or even smartphones to engage customers in conversations and presentations is a smart move today. In addition to giving salespeople the flexibility to be more responsive to customer’s interests and access information in real time, mobile presentations set a less formal tone and create more opportunities for interaction and dialogue. But like any platform, it’s critical that salespeople know when and how to use their mobile devices for each unique customer facing event. Just as projecting your presentation on a giant screen for a single prospect is a poor use of platforms, asking five people to crowd around your iPhone is equally ineffective. As a salesperson, knowing the size and make-up of your audience is just the beginning. Even then, things don’t always go according to plan. You expect to meet with one person and when you arrive, there are three. You were ready for four and Read More

Traditional Sales Role-play is Dead (Meet its Replacement)


Sales role-play

Two words that can send the most confident sales rep racing for the door:  Role-play. While as children most of us happily engaged in some form of role-play, sales has turned this once valuable learning experience into an awkward, high-pressured test of a rep’s ability to correctly articulate product knowledge or follow a particular sales methodology. Traditional sales role-play embodies every actor’s nightmare of stepping into the spotlight without knowing their lines or even what the play is about.  High expectations and vague circumstances (Ok, Alice you’re the salesperson, Ken, you’re the customer…Go!) set reps up for failure – and it all takes place in front of the chief critic (manager) and their peers. Reps go into survival mode under these nerve-racking conditions, regurgitating back information that is expected of them. The result is a performance that rarely resembles the salesperson on an actual sales call. So what are reps Read More

Why Your Salespeople aren’t Making Discovery Calls (and What to Do About it!)


Picture this.   As a salesperson, you’ve been asked to give a presentation or demo to a qualified prospect. No easy feat in today’s competitive marketplace!  After high-fiving the rest of the team, what’s your plan? Start cutting and pasting from previous presentations. Review your prospect’s website and get the needed information. Plan discovery calls with key people within your prospect’s organization. If you do anything other than number three, you may very well be wasting your time. There’s a saying that applies to presentations in this regard: Garbage in – Garbage out Your presentation is only as good as the quality of the information you have, therefore discovery plays a critical role in your ultimate success. While much information about a company can be found on-line, the best, most insightful and valuable source of information comes directly from the mouths of key people within your prospect’s organization. This information Read More

Presentations Lack Energy? Let Your Bad Actor Out!


Stallone and Arnold

Many salespeople don’t speak with as much energy or personality in business as they do in their personal lives—we tend to flatten things out, pull them in, tone them down.  Why?  Because they’ve been conditioned to go into “business mode.”  What’s business mode, you ask?  Think of the soothing voice of an NPR host, a golf announcer or a flight attendant.  The very intent of business mode is not to rile, disrupt or stand out.  It’s background noise.  Our clients and prospects have dozens of people every day droning on to them in business mode.  When you’re in business mode you blend in with the crowd – no matter how exciting or innovative your offering.  In business mode you do not stand out.  And to not stand out as a presenter means you are relying on your product or service to make the sale. So how do you break out Read More

Say “Hello” to a More Effective Conversational Presentation


Conversational presenting

What comes to mind when you hear the word, presentation?  A salesperson holding court in front of a group with a slide deck while the audience silently listens.  This formal monologue is simply one type of presentation style in a broad spectrum of ways to communicate with potential customers.  In fact, it’s a style that is waning in popularity and effectiveness (for reasons you can read more about here.)  So what is in style?  Say “hello” to the conversational presentation. The majority of reps today are in front of customers in less formal circumstances, whether it’s a doctor’s office or waiting room, across the table from a prospect, or via webcam.  You may prefer to call these more informal customer facing events conversations.  And conversations are great.  They are typically a two-way exchange and more  fluid than a linear presentation.  However, you still must be prepared to talk about a Read More

The Oscars Best (and Worst) Presentations – and what you can learn from them


Oscars

The stars, the clothes, the mix-ups! But underneath it all, the Oscars are really a collection of short presentations delivered to an audience with short attention spans and high expectations. If that sounds like a business presentation to you, it should! Each year I like to highlight the Oscars best and worst presentations and glean what we can learn from them as business presenters. Here are my top awards from this year show. See if you agree. The Oscars Best and Worst  Presentations …and what you can learn from them Best Disaster Recovery: Jordan Horowitz, LaLa Land Calling out LaLa Land as the winner for Best Picture was clearly an unprecedented Oscar disaster. But let’s look at the bright side. After discovering that Moonlight was the actual winner, producer Jordan Horowitz had the soundness of mind to succinctly announce the mistake and graciously relinquish the stage to the cast and crew of Moonlight. “I’m going to be really Read More

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