Archives For power point

Photo by Hannah Stelzl

Continuing on with the topic of white boarding – this is something someone should probably write a book on.  It’s one of the most used tools in the sales process, but often misused by ill-equipped sales people.  A few practical pointers:

1.     Always carry our own markers.  I started doing this about twelve years ago.  Many of my prospects thought it was funny, yet they appreciated my preparedness and the quality of the colors that brought my pictures to life.  You can’t close the million-dollar deal with a dead marker.

2.     There is no reason to recreate the wheel on every new sales call.  You use the same brochure wear, why not use the same illustrations.  Back to my comments on chalk drawing, I can think of several speakers that use chalk drawings as part of their gig.  It’s highly effective and the pictures look great every time.  Why?  Simply because they have practiced.  Get your storyboard together, learn to draw your diagrams, and use them often.  You can adlib as needed.

3.     Learn to draw while you talk.  There is nothing worse than watching someone draw with their back to you.  Practice drawing without thinking about it so you can put your attention on the client.

4.     Learn to write neatly.  It always amazes me when, in an interview, I ask someone to whiteboard something.  While writing in a falling arch format, they turn to me to explain that, “They aren’t very good at white-boarding.”  My response is, “You must be an expert if you want this job.”

5.     Use the entire board – I don’t mean the entire wall of the war-room…but I do mean, don’t make your pictures so small that no one can see them.  Spread things out so that the room can see what you’re talking about.

6.     Don’t call your white-boarding process a presentation.  One big advantage of white-boarding is that it gets you away from the canned presentation.  So even if it is well rehearsed, you can do it in a casual, ad hoc way.  This invite collaboration and interaction.

7.     Always ask if they would like for you to leave your information, or if you should erase the board when finished.  It’s the courteous thing to do.

© 2011, David Stelzl


Illustrated by David Stelzl

When do you use Power Point? As far as sales calls go, I am not a Power Point Fan.  While PowerPoint is a powerful tool when used incorrectly it can put an audience to sleep, kill discussion, and alienate your audience.  On the positive side it gives a sales person the ability to display diagrams and process, as well as photographs of products with bright colorful images and flare.   As a speaker, I can communicate to a larger audience where dialogue is not expected, and imaged help people track through the points I am making.

That said, once the lights dim, the propensity to slip off into dreamland grows with each slide unless I can hold the audience’s attention.  On the other hand, slide shows  have a tendency to distance the smaller audience and come off as canned (such as in a board room) – one size fits all.   I remember an incident years ago while working as an IT manager in a large bank.  The local sales rep of a prominent networking company called on me.  His objective was to convince me to move from my current network operating system to his.  We had met before, but he was persistent and charged with breaking into this lucrative account.  As an IT person I was only an influencer, so his tact should have been to educate me on more technical things, helping me expand my own expertise.  When he arrived I even coached him on my need – to know more about network operating systems.  Instead he pulled out his projector.  I pleaded with him to put it away, hoping to use our meeting time to address particular questions.  While I wasn’t about to change operating systems, education would have been the key to my heart.  Instead, he proceeded with his own agenda.  He promised all of my questions would be addressed in his slide show.

Thirty minutes later I was out of time.  None of my questions had been answered because his slides addressed things outside of my core interests.  It was a total waste of time, except to be used as an example of what not to do.  He left that afternoon, having had his last sales call with my department.

© 2011, David Stelzl

The most frequent comment I get when talking about the need to memorize or practice sales calls is, “I’m not an actor”.  In fact I received a Tweet reply this morning stating, “Sales people who talk like robots irritate customers”.  Both statements are true, however these comments miss the mark.

The most irritating sales call experience is ill preparedness.  When the sales person shows up without doing their homework, and stuttering through the first several minutes of their meeting they are seen as wasting everyone’s time.  They are also competing with those currently providing the services;  those who already know the needs of the customer.  Only in the wake of a previous provider’s failure will this strategy work.   Even “open ended” questions such as, “What keeps you up at night” are irritating to executives who have heard these “lines” meeting after meeting.   Executives need input from people who bring experience, understanding, and can communicate effectively.

I would argue that great speakers never sound like robots or they would not be able to command such exorbitant fees.   Actors who we recognize as “Stars” take on the personality of their character so effectively that we forget who they really are for the duration of the picture.   And sales people who speak with confidence and illustrations that are inculcated into their process will deliver truth in a way that seems natural and spontaneous.  On the other hand, sales people who have simply memorized sound bites from their data sheets are bound to lose along with those who have failed to prepare.

© 2011, David Stelzl

The Movie-Star Experience

January 17, 2011 — 3 Comments

Growing up, I thought like many young boys, that being a movie star meant they actually experienced what we see in movies.  In case you still think that, it’s far from true.  On my recent trip to Australia, I had another opportunity to watch a motion picture in the making.  If you’ve never done this, it’s incredibly boring.  The same simple scenes are shot over and over.  I was on my way to the harbor area when I stopped to watch a scene depicting two businessmen greeting each other in front of an office building.  An entire crew of extras sat on the sidewalks waiting for the producer’s call to action.  Once called, the “stars” would walk toward each other and shake hands while dozens of extras crossed the brick patio in a seemly-unarranged pattern.  But everything was choreographed, and it had to be perfect.  I stood there well over forty-five minutes as they executed the same steps over and over.  It all looked the same to me, but somehow it just wasn’t right.  After moving on, I returned to that same area over an hour later and guess what?  You’ve got it…they were still working on the same scene.  I didn’t bother hanging around this time.

The director knew what he was looking for, and when the film hits the theatres it must be perfect.  They only have one shot at profitability.  Presentations are similar; you often get just one shot at the top players.  If it’s not great, you won’t see a profit either.  So why are so many presentations thrown together at the last minute, or prepared in a vacuum by a marketing department that has no selling experience?  Busy slides are delivered to the sales team, and then brought to stage without any real critic or practice.  This is not the way to reach predictable success.

© 2011, David Stelzl

At the end of yesterday’s Making Money with Security Online class I mentioned the upcoming “Principles of an Effective Value Proposition” online program scheduled in April.  There is nothing worse than sitting through a terrible presentation or being stuck in boring meeting for several hours.  So why would we subject our prospects to this kind of torture?  To get us started, here are ten things that will absolutely kill a Power Point presentation… 

1.     Opening with an agenda slide – your first task is to grab the audience’s attention; the agenda slide is a sure way to lose everyone.

2.     Using the standard bullet point format in Power Point – this makes for boring slides with too many words.

3.     Showing slide after slide of meaningless numbers, statistics, financials, with values that are too big to comprehend.  The human brain needs a comparison when dealing with large numbers – a point of reference.  A slide or 2 is okay, but don’t go overboard on statistics and sound bites.

4.     Talking about “Self”.  Especially true when presenting to new prospects – no one cares about your company before there is a reason to do business.

5.     Bad colors and no graphics.  Most people are visual.  They want to see pictures – this is why people watch movies rather than listen to stories on the radio.  If you want your information to be memorable, use grabbing graphics!  The best way to do this is by changing the slide background to an image.

6.     Reading your slides – no! Look at the audience.  This requires that you know your material.

7.     Too many words on the slide.  If your audience can’t read the whole slide in a few seconds (5 or 6 words) you’ve lost them.   They will either listen to you or read the slide…most will read the slide and ignore you.

8.     No climax. A presentation must build.  If it’s flat people will lose interest quickly.

9.     Obvious.  Most sales presentations look exactly the same.  They discuss company background, offerings, features, a few client names, etc.  This is predictable, boring, and obvious.

10. When he presenter is not a speaker.  This is the final presentation killer.  If you’re going to stand up in front of a crowd, you had better be good.  This is not a genetic trait.  It’s simply a matter of learning the skill and practicing until you’re great at it.

© 2011, David Stelzl

Presentations have the power to create business, proposals don’t.  Leads are great, but what do you say when you make the call, and if you get the meeting, do you have anything of value to present?

Company overviews and product data sheets are, in my opinion, a waste of time.  No one needs this stuff until they clearly see a need, and make the connection; you are possibly the person to meet that need.  Take a look at your presentation materials.  Look at what you present by phone, and then, what you bring to that first meeting.  Does it educate prospects on something they really need, but don’t really understand?  Does it interrupt their thinking, causing them to be alarmed by what they missed?  Does it create an urgency that reprioritizes their week?  This is the making of a great sales call.

P.S. I now have dates posted for the Virtual Program: Principles of an Effective Value Proposition – Don’t miss this!  (CLICK)

© 2011, David Stelzl

Another great Value Proposition workshop today in NYC – hot topic today was making corporate presentations stick!  Top issues I see with resellers all over the world:

1. Marketing departments pump out Power Points with no understanding of the client’s needs or wants.

2. One size fits all: Execs should not have to sit through the same presentation as IT.

3. Power Point and Word are two different applications.  With 50 words to a slide your client can either listen to you or read your slide – or you can read the entire slide to the client.  None are good options.

4. Presentations are all about you – prospects don’t care about your company until after you’ve given them something interesting to buy.  Save the stats for another time….(20 years in the business…so what?).

5. Overview of your company sounds like a technology Wal*mart, but not with Wal*Mart prices..bad marketing strategy.

6. Too many slides – will an executive tune into 20 or 30 slides?  Even IT is going to lose interest at some point.

7. No call to action. Is this an overview or are you there to move them to do business?

© 2010, Dave Stelzl