The Power of Leader Presence
In the last newsletter, we proposed a new perspective: that a presenter can be considered a leader, with the audience being his/her followers. Working this month with the sales team of a terrific, fast-growing organization, I was able to expand on the need to be customer-driven, and I'd like to share with you additional insights
Transcend the Transaction's Boundaries to Increase Sales
Every presentation has a concrete purpose. Speakers need to articulate the vision behind the current business proposition, focus the audience's attention on the goal and eliminate excess information that distracts people. Less really is more. When the current sales focus is only one segment of a larger set of sales propositions, it's important to plant the seeds for future growth.
For instance, our client sells products to retail store chains. Sales people are responsible for growing the client's use of their products and in each sales presentation focuses on how each store can sell more. A solid presentation focuses on how they can do so, with the superb support of the sales organization. Transcending the boundaries, we focused on (1) how their product compared to other products the stores were selling and (2) how different stores were doing with the products. One discovery was that their product (for which they were fighting to get floor and sign space) was more profitable than many other products the client/store sold. Clearly this fact increases client interest! Second, by comparing different approaches used by other stores, we discovered significantly higher success rates. This allowed the sales person to encourage the buyer to schedule another meeting about best practices in order for the client to adopt them.
In other words, by being succinct and powerful, and then transcending the boundaries of the sales situation, the sales people increase their customer-centric focus, create buying urgency (why leave money on the table!) and enable the buyer to increase order size by using best industry practices.
Use Structure so the Conclusion Flows Naturally
All too often, presenters create a slide presentation addressing a range of issues and then literally go from one slide to another to tell the story of the slide. The person doesn't necessarily lead up to the next slide or talk about it until the next slide actually appears. Often there's an "um" that accompanies the break between two slides because the presenter (almost) doesn't know what's next – because it isn't intuitively the next point that needs to be made. It's no wonder then that presentations have weak impact, because the audience perceives the presentation as a collection of facts that sometimes are and sometimes are not related.
Like any leader, your job is to structure the story so all the parts are connected. Logically they build to a crescendo. Emotionally they create awareness, interest and desire; then they resolve the emotional push-backs that come from the fear of taking risks – with the product/service, company and/or buyer, and not feeling certain that the risk is significantly outweighed by the reward. Just as a leader aligns all the people and subgroups so they are headed in the same direction, supporting one another and creating synergies that add untold extra value, each component of the presentation has to be aligned with the logical and emotional questions that the audience/customer is having at any given moment. Indeed, with a proper structure and balance, "at the end of the date the kiss flows naturally", rather than having objections and challenges to what's been presented.
Many years ago, a client lost a significant amount of their business when a big company entered their space and gave away their product (boxes – a commodity!). After no business for six months, the buyer called saying that they had been taken over by a giant company and now an RFP had to be issued for their product, and the client was invited to participate. Knowing that they could not win on price, they needed a powerful and persuasive presentation that could demonstrate that there were times when it made logical sense to pay for their special design expertise, as it would increase the sales of the products inside the boxes. We created a combination Flash and PowerPoint presentation and coached the two presenters so they would come across as a group of experts who really problem-solved together. The presentation was made to one group live, and two others saw it via web-conferencing technology. At the end of the presentation, they asked for questions. No-one had questions! The lead buyer commented that this was the first time she had ever seen a presentation where no-one had any questions "I guess you said it all!" The client called us to find out whether that was a good sign or not. Feeling that we had structured the presentation to flow to the obvious conclusion: when it absolutes counts, you need our design expertise rather than just lower-cost, commodity-type boxes. A week later, they were told they were awarded 50% of the contract!
I hope these two additional leader/presentation points will help you close more deals. E-mail me with your feedback and comments on other issues you'd like us to address! email@example.com.