How To Refresh Your Sales Presentation

Time to press the pause button

Recollect the day you joined your sales team.

You not only were eager to prove yourselves, but also were quite curious to find out as many selling points about your product or service as possible, to bag deals. You memorized all that was taught by your sales training team. You applied some of those ideas and got some success.

Later, with experience on the field, you developed thumb rules of your own and discovered some ‘selling points that work’ that were not taught in your training. Eventually those selling points became part of your standard sales presentation.

Now, it is time to press the pause button and take a day to ‘Hunt for fresh points to sell’.

Why should you do this?

As sales people, over time we get complacent with our working ways, and stop looking for new ideas. We may take the time to refresh our selling points based on the product changes, market changes or changes in customer preferences. The one day you spend to step back and objectively look at the points that will make a world of difference to the commissions you earn.

Planning the ‘selling points’ day

1. Talk to colleagues: Start by spending 15 minutes with each of your sales colleagues in an informal setting (like – over a cup of coffee), to ask about the specific selling points they use to close deals. You might be surprised to discover some nuggets that you never thought of. Realize that like you worked out your own set of ‘selling points that work’, your colleagues too have discovered their own set too. There is very little opportunity for them to share it with you, if not for this day.

2. Talk to customers: Next, pick up the phone and call up your existing customers. Ask them about their experience of your product. Ask them about the specific features of your product that benefit them the most.

Talk to no less than 15 customers to populate your list of points for pitching.

3. Create Value Statement: Once you finish compiling all the learning for the day, start creating a ‘value statement’ for each of those points. Now, take a print out of the value statements, and put it in your folder.

This is fresh arsenal that will work wonders to your conviction about the product. This reflects in your confidence and words when you make the next sales presentation.

Whenever you feel a little down, go through the list – and you will get a fresh sense of energy to meet your next customer.

Remember, to conduct this exercise at least once in 4 months to recharge yourself and your pitch. Happy selling!

Presentation Skills Training – A Case Study

In a recent article I asked the question, “Do business skills training courses work?” In order to help the reader fully appreciate the concepts and principles raised in that article I thought it would be useful to consider a case study of a staff member attending a presentation skills course. Let’s call her Paula and her manager, Jane, both working in the finance department of a medium sized manufacturing company.

Jane has identified that Paula needs to become a more effective presenter as her evolving role will necessitate presenting management accounts to senior managers. Having seen Paula present only once previously, Jane has identified that Paula is not a natural presenter. This is hardly surprising given that Paula was hired mainly for her excellent analytical skills rather than her communication and interpersonal skills.

So Paula arranges for Jane to attend a presentation skills training course and lets her know by booking this in her diary along with an accompanying note to the effect that it is part of her overall training and development plan. Prior to attending the training course, Paula is very nervous and she even considered avoiding the course by calling in sick on the day it was due to run.

In the event, Paula attended the training course, kept her head down and made an adequate presentation at the end, relieved that it was all over at last. On her return to work, Jane asked how the course went and told Paula that now she had been trained in presentation skills she would be required to present the management accounts at the next monthly board meeting.

This ranges some key questions. How effective will Paula be when she makes this presentation? How will this reflect on Jane? If the presentation does not go well, how will this affect Paula’s confidence? But the most important question is, what should Jane have done differently in order to aid Paula’s development in this key business skill?

My reflection on those questions would be as follows.

Firstly, it is highly unlikely that Paula will make an effective presentation. This will reflect badly on Jane and perhaps do irrevocable damage to Paula’s confidence.

As to how Jane could have handled this differently I would suggest a series of simple interventions. She should have explained to Paula why she was attending the presentation skills training course and the key aspects of making a presentation she should focus on. On returning from the course, Jane should have arranged a meeting with Paula to discuss the level of learning that had taken place and which aspects of making a presentation she felt confident about and which aspects she needed to work on further. Jane should then have arranged a series of low risk presentations for Paula such as within team meetings or cross departmental discussion groups. Jane should have attended these presentations and provided Paula with constructive feedback to aid her development and build her confidence.

Jane should then have invited Paula to co-present with her at a board meeting, maybe providing here with a small segment to deliver. Perhaps for the next board meeting she could then ask Paula to make an extended presentation with Jane being on hand in case she fell into any difficulty. Eventually, both Paula and Jane would become confident of Paula’s ability to make an effective presentation.

The lessons to derive from this short case study are that all too often managers send their staff on training courses expecting the learning to be completed upon their return to work. In fact, the real learning for any business skill tends to occur after the training course. The learning is likely to be more effective and more rapid if the manager takes an active role in supporting their staff throughout this process.  

Focused Persistence In A Negotiation Leads To More Success

In your negotiation, how focused and persistent are you on the variables that lead to a successful negotiation outcome? The right degree of persistence and focus will lead to more negotiation success.

A small boy is sent to bed by his father. Five minutes later… “Da-ad… ” “What? “I’m thirsty. Can you bring me a drink of water?” “No. You had your chance. Lights out.” Five minutes later: “Daaaaad..” “WHAT?” “I’m THIRSTY. Can I have a drink of water??” “I told you NO! If you ask again, I’ll have to spank you!!” Five minutes later..

“Daaaa-aaaad… ” “WHAT!” “When you come in to spank me, can you bring a drink of water?”

That story highlights the persistence the little boy had for reaching his goal of getting a glass of water. It also highlights the consequences he was willing to endure (spanking) to get the glass of water.

Consider the following factors as you engage in your negotiations.

  • Think about the questions you’ll ask and how they might lead to the outcome you seek. Questions determine the answers you get, which determines the path upon which the negotiation will follow.

  • Assess what you’re really willing to do to reach your goals and the words and actions you’re willing to commit to in order to do so. This is an important factor to consider for every negotiation you’re in. Don’t treat this thought haphazardly. As an example, if talking tough is required to get your message across, be prepared to do so. Also, understand that there’s a difference between talking tough and showing how tough you are via your actions. We send messages through our actions as well as our words. As such, if our actions are not aligned with our words, our words have less sway. They don’t convey our commitment to the outcome we seek. If our words and actions are aligned, their synchronization emits a subliminal conveyance that we’re more focused on what we seek and the degree to which it has importance to us. Thus, being persistent and conveying it via our words and actions can get you closer to your goal.

During any phase of a negotiation, one has the belief that he will or will not achieve a successful outcome. If you maintain the mindset that states there’s a winning solution to this negotiation and all you have to do is find it, your actions will move you along that continuum. If you think you’re in a hopeless situation and it’s time to pull out, you’ll be focused on an exit point.

Either scenario may be appropriate based on the negotiation situation you’re in. The point is, know where you are in the negotiation, make the right assessment as to your course of action, and execute that action after you’re sure you’ve existed all possible routes to the outcome you’re striving for. If after doing so, you still feel it’s time to pull out of the negotiation you will have displayed the due diligence to yourself indicating that you really gave it your all. In so doing you’ll also have input to tweak your level of persistence for future negotiations, which will serve to make you a better negotiator… and everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!