The Courage of Sales People
As we end the 3rd Quarter, and begin focusing on the final quarter of the year, let’s take a moment to celebrate the courage of sales people whose livelihoods rest on their ability convince someone to buy their products, service or idea, often with inadequate tools and skills.
All too often, companies send them to battle with “poor presentations”. The goal is clear: deliver a succinct message, in an organized way, so that it gives the buyer a compelling reason to act. Instead, the presenters are given “3 hump” camels, presentations that of are too long; include irrelevant information to the current buying decision; have slides with too many words or numbers on it, so no one really reads the message; and includes no imagery or imagery that’s hard to follow.
Courageously, the sales people do what they have to do: find a way to connect with their audience, even though the presentation is both informative and a distraction. It’s hard to connect with people and convey a powerful enthusiastic message, when you know that they sales presentation is difficult to follow and encouraging people to NOT connect!
Once, the head of a hedge fund engaged Presentation Excellence to help its sales force present more effectively, In the initial conversation, the head of the company, who was the chief presenter was asked to deliver the presentation they currently had. He took the pitch book and pushed it aside as he began his sales pitch. Why? “I never use the book, it’s too detailed and boring and I can tell the story myself much better.” Surprise, surprise that his sales force who was told to use the booklet wasn’t closing even 40% of the opportunities. And those who were doing best, were relying on their own communication skills.
It takes a lot of courage to sail a boat when the wind, which is supposed to be behind the sail, actually is coming at you.
When we say that the goal is always to deliver an Audience Driven, Authentic Presentation, (ADAP), we’re taking both the sales person and the presentation into account. A presentation that can be followed easily by an audience, is pleasing on the eyes, addresses the buying decisions with a compelling case – consisting of rational and emotional reasons, is a winner. With such a presentation, the presenter can focus on the unique needs of the audience and connect by enthusiastically telling the story they need to hear with the information highlighted by the PowerPoint.
With a complex sale, there may be several sequential presentations that are given. For instance, the first might introduce the product/service and qualify the buyer; a second might demonstrate its unique value and superiority to competitors, from both a technical and business perspective; and a third might focus on driving home the excellence of the product and company to close the client. In each case, including material that doesn’t address the specific sales need, is a distraction, and weakens the power of the presenter. Good sales people instinctively know when they are losing the connection with the audience and need to adjust. The less adjustment needed to compensate for presentation design weaknesses, the more energy can be invested to truly connect with the audience and deliver buyer-targeted information.
In sum, audience-driven authentic presentations have the highest closing rates, because they free the sales presenters to use the best of their personal communication skills to connect and meet their audience’s needs. Such presentations deliver the content right content in a way which both the presenter and audience feels is interesting, succinct and flows. They know they have given the key information to the prospect:
- The right amount of technical and business information to demonstrate the value of their product/service
- Why it is superior to anything available on the market
- Why their company should be the preferred vendor.
The presenter needs to come across as competent and trustworthy so the prospect makes what is really a twin-set of decisions: to buy from your company and NOT from the competitor, especially one which is the incumbent. Courage should be focused on asking the right questions of the prospect and giving them the right answers – not in having to compensate for the negative side effects of presentations.
Presentation Excellence salutes your courage and will continue to help you channel it where it belongs – to meet the client’s full-set of needs so you can achieve closing rates similar to the company that helped launch Presentation Excellence – 92%!