CEOs of fast growth and Sales Leaders of large enterprises! 7 ways to make your sales presentations more persuasive.

If your salespeople use presentations to sell your product/solution/service, then please read this, because you’ll hit your number faster.

Rule of thumb 1: Your salesperson should only be using a presentation AFTER they’ve had a discovery conversation(s) that has led to the customer sharing their challenges/objectives and outcomes they want to achieve. And your salesperson should have asked what the $ difference will be between current and future state. Ideally, they should also determine the Personal Win of each stakeholder is.

The title of the presentation should be the summation of the discovery conversation(s). Examples;

  • $25M by 2020
  • 30% Growth: More @bats with Net New Clients
  • Competitively Distinct Business Conversations: Drive 1% to 2% Additional Revenue Growth

Rule of thumb 2: Begin with your presentation with your End in Mind. What action do you want your customer to commit to that is appropriate for where theyyou are in the sales cycle? Precondition the presentation for success by openly sharing your End in Mind at the beginning of the presentation. That way the customer will know what is being asked of them. Example:

  • End in Mind: For you to decide which region you’d like to rollout first.

Rule of thumb 3: STOP opening your slides with ‘About Us.’ Your customer is still deciding if they should do different (why change) and why they should do so now. Telling them about you up front is premature and should be left to the end of your presentation – or just talked to. Starting your presentation with “we have been in business X years,” “we have X locations,” “we have revenues of X,” “we have X customers” is “weewee.” Customers don’t like being “weewee’d” on. Trust me on that.

Rule of thumb 4: When was your presentation template updated? Many of the large enterprises I’ve worked with look like their presentations were made back in the 80’s. Update them to current look and feel. Otherwise your presentation will appear ‘tired’ and your clients will want to work with a company that has fresh, new ideas.

Rule of thumb 5: Your presentations are summaries – not a detailed script of your conversation. Learn to “chunk up and “chunk down” ideas into logical sequences – Main Idea + 3 to 5 supporting ideas on separate slides. Human beings can only take in up to 7 pieces of information at one time. Too many presentations have too much detail. Those are reports, not presentations.

Rule of thumb 6: Structure the presentation within a logical framework. The “why change,” “why now,” “why choose us” framework has been proven to be highly effective at building a brilliant sales/case for change story around.

Rule of thumb 7: Close out your presentation by re-visiting your end in mind: Ask for the decision to that you preframed earlier to be taken. Your customers, especially real decision makers, will love you for it as they hate sitting through presentations with no ending or decision. Take that to the bank.

Rule of thumb 8: There isn’t one. Human beings can only ingest up to 7 pieces of info at one time. See Rule of thumb 5.

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Sales leaders! What % of your 1st calls/meetings result in 2nd conversation?

If you don’t measure this, may I gently suggest that you should at least take a look at your metrics to see how your team is doing. At most, you could start checking this metric weekly as a lead indicator of pipeline health…

According to research 58% of buyers are disappointed by their meetings with sales people and only 7% agree to a follow up.

That means that most of the time, effort and hard work to get those meetings is wasted.

It also means that your sales people don’t know how to successfully guide a first call with a new customer.

What’s that costing you and your business?

What difference would it make if you could raise the 2nd meeting rate to 10%, 25%, 50% or higher? Even a 1% increase would make a tremendous difference if you have a large sales team.

Have you, as a leader, made a conscious effort to ensure that your sales people know what to do and how to do it in that critical first meeting and call?

Do you know what are the elements and behaviours (lead indicators) that sales people MUST execute to ensure they don’t become part of the sad statistic above?

In my experience, most sales organizations don’t know what these lead indicators are and they haven’t made a conscious effort to enable reps with the planning and conversational skills to execute that first meeting well and successfully…so that it results in another.

If you’d like some ideas on what these lead indicators are for others and what they might be for your sales organization, then get in contact.

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The three things keeping CEOs and Sales Leaders up at Night

I’m constantly speaking to CEOs and sales leaders from across the world about their growth challenges and objectives – sharing ideas and insights that dramatically accelerate their and their team’s success. I love it. Totally rewarding.

And, what’s really interesting is how often these conversations are repeated…whether they happen with potential clients in London, Toronto or San Francisco.

These CEOs and sales leaders are frustrated by three things.

1. There’s lots of prospecting without results
2. Sales cycles that take far too long
3. Even when they get to the proposal stage they aren’t getting enough wins.

If that sounds familiar to you I’m going to tell you why.

1. Your messaging is backwards
2. Your salespeople are prospecting to the wrong level
3. They don’t know how to write a proper prospecting letter, email or LinkedIn message that gets the people who can say “yes” excited to meet them.

If you want to improve how your sales teams perform, then maybe it’s time for a chat. Send me a quick email and let’s have the conversation or call me on +1 647 402 2096.

If you want to eliminate a lot of stress from your sales job try doing this…

It all starts with you. Everything.

There are some things you can control and some things you can’t.

One of the things you can control is how you use language to frame a situation. The right words can affect, not only how you feel, but also influence the way others see you as a professional.

Drowning? Slammed? Be Mindful of your language…it affects your wellbeing and productivity.

Here is a little story and tip for operating at peak performance, reducing stress and feeling good.

I recently received an email back from a former client of mine after I congratulated him on his new role and suggested we arrange a call to share our “what’s new” news together. Here is his reply.

“Hi Matt,

I am about 1.5 months into the role at the moment and a tad over indexed. Give me a month to get my feet under me and we can catch up then. Hope you are well man!”

“Over indexed.” What a wonderful use of emotionally de-escalating language!

Many people unconsciously use words that increase their anxiety and stress levels. They say things like they are “slammed,” “drowning” or “grinding away.” Phrases like this give off a negative vibe to anyone who hears them and also impacts productivity and happiness.

If you say something enough you actually internalize it until it  becomes your reality.

Be mindful of the words you habitually use to describe your state.

Are you “furious” or a bit “peeved”?

“Frustrated” or “fascinated”?

“Starving” or “peckish”?

Likewise, you can tweak positive emotions up.

Are you “happy” or “overjoyed”?

See what I mean?

The words you use, just as how you hold your body (for another day), can dramatically alter your emotional state and how you project yourself to others. In sales this is especially important!

So choose your words carefully.

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Chief Sales Officers! You want your salespeople to sell value – and yet…

The people designing your sales curriculum and approach have never had and can’t execute the business conversations you need.

EVERY sales leader I speak with wants his or her sales force to sell “value.”

It’s become one of those overused words that’s  meaning has been lost in time to corporate and sales guru buzzword bingo.

Ask a group of salespeople and sales leaders to define value and you’ll get a different definition each time. Even CEOs overuse the term without truly understanding what they mean when they say it.

Recently I’ve met with sales and enablement leaders at some leading and very successful enterprises who are retooling their sales approaches and heard some worrying information in my discovery conversations.

The common thread in these conversations is the sales leader’s desire for his/her sales force to be able to:

  1. Have “broader and deeper business conversations” with senior decision-making executives that tie back to the ‘value’ of their solutions
  2. Be proactive – share insight and ideas that help to position the salesperson as an expert
  3. Build a reputation for being competitively distinct as a sales organization in order to attract and retain the best talent

These desires aren’t new. I heard the same 10 years ago. So why isn’t the conversation changing?

I’d like to suggest that it’s for the following reasons.

  1. No common definition of what ‘value’ means internally (and more importantly how it relates to the customers definition).
  2. There is no plan to help guide the customer to articulate what they define as  value and guide them to make their own case for change
  3. The people who are tasked with designing sales onboarding and skills curriculum have never done the job of having a ‘broad, deep business conversation’ with a C level executive – they simply don’t know what good looks like or how to do it. So how can they build these elements into your internal programs?
  4. Hiring profiles need to change – less sales hustle and more curiosity and critical thinking skills that enable a business or transformational conversation
  5. Lack of clarity and definition of what the purpose of sales is

And, I’m only going to unpack the first few of these in this article..

The issue of value

The biggest challenge with value is that sales leaders believe that salespeople need to be able to show customers the value of their solution; the potential ROI, cost savings, revenue increases, efficiencies, productivity gains, results and impact of their offerings.

These are important…

And, the problem with showing/demonstrating value is a matter of sequencing in a conversation and social proof.

If your salesperson tells the customer what they can expect in terms of ROI, gains, reductions, results, impact before the customer has shared what their beliefs as to the potential outcomes are, then it’s a bit like me telling you how devilishly handsome I am.

I’m a salesperson, of course I’d say that, right? And, how believable are you finding that statement right now…?

If on the other hand, your salesperson can guide your customer to articulate the value of the difference that they, the customer believe would be achieved by addressing their challenges or achieving their objectives in $, then your customer is effectively telling your salesperson how handsome or beautiful your salesperson is…sorry, I mean how valuable your solution/product/service is.

See the difference?

Whose numbers and case for change is more believable for your customer – your salesperson’s or your customers own beliefs and business case? (Of course, your salesperson can advise if the customer is being over optimistic or overly pragmatic)

The customer is selling themselves using their own social proof, not that of your salesperson. Much, much more persuasive.

The issue of Sales Enablement

Gloves off time.

How can somebody in HR, Learning and Development, Sales Enablement who has never executed a broad, deep business conversation that has guided a C level executive to build their own case for change (based on the customers beliefs about value) possibly know how to build a sales onboarding approach that helps sales people to execute business conversations?

That’s why so many salespeople dread attending their internal sales programs and often don’t respect these functions. It’s because they know the trainer hasn’t walked a mile in the salesperson’s shoes.

In addition, there’s another reason why most sales people still struggle to have business conversations. Because, most internal training tends to be product/solution/service led. Picture this.

An internal product expert leads a conversation about the new product/solution, it’s features and function and why it’s better than competitive alternatives. They then share a few customer wins so sales have some reference brands to use. Then they tell sales to go and sell it.

What’s the problem here you may be asking?

Well, the whole focus of the internal training has been “why choose us” – and has failed to incorporate any or much of the customers priorities or needs which have to be captured in a “why change?” and “why now?” framework.

And because these critical elements of customer focus are missing, salespeople “show up and throw up” features and benefits, focused on “why choose us” without engaging in any sort of  value uncovering business conversation.

Sales leader and salesperson then wonder why they’re not invited back for a second meeting with the senior executive. (Research shows that 58% of executives are disappointed with their first meeting – and only 7% of first meetings result in a continuation)

The remedy for this is internal sales programs that:

  • follow the “Why change, why now, why choose us” framework
  • involve executives from customers (to share before and after stories and value created/difference)
  • show salespeople and their leaders how to guide the customer to articulate their value (business and personal win)

This is the way to build unshakeable confidence and competence in your salespeople to have business conversations.

Until that happens, expect the same feature/function conversations that don’t link back to the value of your offerings and salespeople who aren’t confident and proficient at speaking with senior decision makers…you know, the people who can say “yes.”

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Inconsistent prospecting and sales results

If your organization is getting insufficient sales results, it’s generally for one of two reasons.

The first is a lack of clarity. Many sales people just aren’t clear on the purpose of sales (why they do it).

Is it just to sell stuff? Meet an arbitrary quota? Crush their number? Make commissions?

All of those reasons are not very purposeful or inspiring over the long term.

The second reason also has to do with clarity. Specifically, there is no clear understanding of the value and outcomes of what’s being sold to clients.

My view is that sales is about making a dramatic and measurable improvement to your customer’s business and personal condition.

And being very clear on what that measurable impact is motivates sales people in a way that goes much deeper than just selling for the sake of selling.

If you’re a sales person ask your leadership for the numbers that prove TO YOU that what your selling is going to make a difference.

And, if you’re in leadership and you want to improve how your sales teams perform, then maybe it’s time for a chat. Send me a quick email and let’s have the conversation or call me on +1 647 402 2096 or visit my website

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