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Sales Presentations that Don’t Suck [Share this with your team]

by Matt Bertuzzi on Tue, Sep 20, 2011


I've been a bit obsessed with sales presentations lately. Not so much on construction of attractive slides, but on the requirement to tell a compelling story via the world's most torturous medium: PowerPoint.

In the Inside Sales world, Reps work incredibly hard to earn 10, 20 or 30 minute discovery/needs analysis calls. At presentation time, we’ve got (at least in theory) guaranteed prospect attention.

But far too often, we squander all that preceding effort by confusing, boring or annoying prospects while generally failing to move the sales process forward.

I just came across this eBook from the folks over at SalesCrunch called "Designing Presentations That Sell." And let me tell you, it rocks. (Note: I wouldn't normally link to registration required content - but it is that good.)

In the eBook, presentation designer Jan Schultink goes through 3 acts: Images, Stories & Content. I thought I’d share the bits that most impacted me.

You are the presentation – not the slides

Schultink advises:

You can leave a page blank

In a presentation there are moments when you want to pull the attention of the audience back to you. And to do that you can either just use a blank,dark slide.

Doing this will break up your presentation and focus the energy of the room back on you again.

Here's why this resonated for me: You & your Reps need prospects to be listening and connecting - not daydreaming and staring at some eye chart, an endless series of bullet points or worse yet, logos of completely unrelated customers.

Build a story & think about flow

There is plenty of excellent advice that has become Sales canon: “Find the pain,” “Always be closing,” “Talk benefits not features.”

I think it is time to make a new entry Build stories, not decks.” Schultink offers this advice:

So many decks, so few stories

Many times presenters implement a process called “Frankensteining,” where you open all presentation decks that your company has possibly had in the last several months and mash them all together to get the ultimate deck.

As a result there is no flow, no story, and it is not interesting to listen to.

I can feel you nodding your head. How many times have your Reps pulled together 20 slides from 10 different decks? How did you feel about the monster that was created?

If you take away 1 thing - let it be this

Schultink’s idea on how to best use your final slide, really blew me away.

No “Q&A” on your Q&A slide

What is the slide that gets the most attention in the entire deck? It’s usually the questions and answer slide. It sits there burning into people’s minds for roughly 35 minutes while you take the questions - much longer than any other slide.

It is best to make a final slide with an image of something that you discussed in your presentation and something you want to billboard. You can simply put it up in the back while you take questions just to remind the audience about how great you are and how great your product is.

This is brilliant! Billboarding is such a great idea.

But, be careful. Pick the most critical point and try to communicate it in a simple & powerful fashion. The goal here is make the most of that single frame that will be "burning" into your prospects' minds.

What do you think? Should presenting be up there with prospecting, qualifying & closing as sales skills worthy of development?  I think so - but how about you?

I hope you will check out the ebook & perhaps organize a training for your team around the content. I'd love to hear the results if you do.

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Find Matt on Twitter and Google+ 

Topics: inside sales management, inside sales tips, best practices

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