Archives For powerpoint

Content and Finesse

February 23, 2011 — Leave a comment

I’ve seen presentations given by less charismatic people, but with very strong content, and then from others with less content but very strong presentation skills.  Content is king!  But a poor presenter can destroy great content; on the other hand, a great presenter with a hollow message comes over as shallow, and full of hype. Both are a waste of time.

If you lack content, get some.  Educational content delivers value while product knowledge is free online.  Personal viewpoints and stories give listeners new perspective and move them to action, where sound bites by themselves, while establishing credibility, rarely lead to change.  Leave selling to commercials and become an educator.  Spend time understanding the needs out there, discover lasting answers, and then find ways to communicate truth around the mental roadblocks of your listeners.  Become a catalyst; an agent of change.  Develop a concern for those you call on and then spend your time finding ways to improve your clients’ position.

Then as you reach out to different prospects, focus on becoming an excellent communicator.  With an urgent message in hand, you may find people are still loath to take action – it’s your job to find out how to move people to action when the need is real.

© 2011, David Stelzl

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Is Webex a good tool for selling over the phone?

Some sales calls lend themselves to Webex or some other form of web collaboration software.  For the same reason I don’t really like PowerPoint for an initial sales call, when Webex is used to show PowerPoint on a long distance sales call, I find it takes away from the interactive experience I am looking for.  On the other hand, if you are at the point of demonstrating a software product (meaning you have a software product to sell), it may do the trick.

The secret to success is in knowing when and how to use it.  If you have a product you intend to demo, using Webex can be highly productive and cost effective.  Once again, shooting from the hip is bound to result in lost sales.  On the other hand, if your call is qualified, you have the right people on the call, and your product is attention grabbing in a demo, you have the foundation for success.  But you still need a well thought-out sales strategy.  Starting with success stories is the best way to go, then having already understood the company’s core needs, come prepared to demo just those attributes that matter.  Like radio, dead air time is dead.  It’s not like being there, so you can’t afford dead air while you navigate through countless software menus looking for something to show them.  In fact, in my opinion, sales teams that rely on these remote communication tools require more training and practice than those who sell in person.  Without the personal touch, your presentation must be executed flawlessly with a strong follow-up plan.

© 2011, David Stelzl

The Mighty Flip Chart

February 8, 2011 — 2 Comments

I was  speaking in Cancun last week and just before my session started, one of the hotel staff members ushered in a flip chart that I had not requested.  Then a familiar head popped in with a knowing smile.   I really like flip charts.   Sure enough, I did use it!

While white boarding is great for sales meetings, the mighty flip chart stands out as one of the best tools for facilitation.  It’s absent from most training centers and boardrooms these days, and when I do request one, it creates a sudden emergency like ordering a special meal at McDonalds (also something I am known for).

When the chart and stand arrives, I am not surprised if the tripod cross bar is missing – the one that holds the flipchart in place.  Most easels come with them, but they are quickly misplaced, leaving only the tripod, which is now only useful for supporting marketing posters.  Invariably the chart is presented with white board markets, not flip chart markers.  Most don’t know the difference.  Another possible attempt to differentiate results in permanent markers, which are not a great substitute for the mighty flip-chart market!

Why do I like these so much?  Here are several reasons:

1.  Strategy and training both require interaction.  The flip chart allows me to move the working space closer to the audience or meeting attendees, and to angle it in such a way as to allow the audience to view my illustrations or bullet points more easily.

2. Posting notes around the room.  White board space is usually limited and cannot be reorganized.  I especially like the Post-it charts.   Whether training or facilitating strategy, I find that posting key ideas in different colors, and then reorganizing information is extremely helpful.  This really matters when spending an entire day or several days together.  No white board can keep track of this much information.

3. Others may contribute.  When using a white board, things get messy when multiple people contribute.  The organizational abilities of flip chart paper make this much more manageable.

4. Flip chart markers!  I carry my own, so I always have good ones.  White board markers quickly become hard to read, smudged, etc.  Flip chart markers are bold, don’t smear, and look crisp even after a day of moving papers around the room.

5. Permanency.  At the end of the day someone has to keep this information.  When it’s on a white board, you have no choice but to erase or leave it for the next group.  Flip chart paper can be collected, organized and handed to someone to save.  I know there are white boards that print, but most are very small, generating one small sheet of paper for each print; this is useless to a group of 8 or 10 people.

© 2011, David Stelzl

I was somewhat embarrassed when one my long time friends and business associates contacted me last night to comment on yesterday’s white board post.  “I never use Power Point”, was his first comment…and I know he closes some very big deals.  But his second comment was a correction, and he’s absolutely right!  “Your competition will likely see your notes if you leave them there.”

I was reminded of one of my first big deals at the start of this business.  The meeting was set to be held in the decision maker’s office, and I had spent several hours deliberating over the scope, sales call plan, and of course, pricing.  The price was the hard part.  I didn’t want to lose the deal to price, I didn’t have a reputation that justified a big price, and I didn’t want to undersell this, leaving me with a great project for no money.  I finally settled on a price I thought would work, but when I entered the office my competitor’s notes were on the board.  Their price was far higher!  So when the time came to give a price, I confidently put forth a price 60% higher than my original estimate.  The deal was agreed to the next day, and I was the winner.  Bottom line…don’t leave anything on the board for your competition to see.  (Another strategy might be to put some wrong information up their in an effort to lead them astray…said with a chuckle).

© 2011, David Stelzl

Mastering the White Board

January 31, 2011 — 2 Comments

Photo by Hannah Stelzl

Last week I wrote several posts on Power Point.  Here are some thoughts on White boarding: I love the white board.  Unlike Power Point, white boards allow for collaborative thinking.  I remember one of my sales managers coming back from an appointment with great excitement, recounting how he and a perspective client had been up at the white board together, adding to a diagram, interactively creating the solution to a problem they were having.  They went from one-way broadcasting to collaborative brainstorming.

Earlier in my career I came up with a powerful story I now refer to as The House & the Cloud ( the Title of my first book).   Every time I was called upon to share my team’s progress with partners or management, I used the House & the Cloud.  It became a brand over time.  People in other regions who had never met me, began referring to me as The Guy with the House!  This is what you want; a personal brand or a signature story.  It won’t happen over night, but as you begin thinking about it, using illustrations on your sales calls, and reviewing the results, your story will evolve over time.  As it grows, don’t be surprised if people are wanting to meet with you just to hear about your “House”.

Start here. Learn the presentation you meant to give in Power Point, strip out the boring statistics, and recreate the message using a more informal white-boarding style.  Look for ways to make your sales story interesting and compelling.  There is something powerful about watching someone draw.  If you have ever seen a speaker use chalk drawings to illustrate their message, you know what I mean.  If not, check YouTube.

Creating knowledge gaps, interrupting ones thinking, and by filling in the blanks in an interactive drawing session, you can magnify the energy in the room, drawing people into your story as you unfold it.  This takes preparation, creativity, and practice.  But once again, it is not something people are just born with.  Anyone can do it.  It just takes some upfront planning and practice.  Start thinking through your presentation.  How can you make it great?  How can you create a story that can be told through pictures and colors, in fifteen minutes, using a white board diagram?

© 2011, David Stelzl

Where does PowerPoint Shine?  I use it when speaking to large audiences, educational marketing events, or going through the details of a project plan for a larger group.

In the first case, slides can be used as long as you don’t lean on them.  They provide a backdrop to you as a speaker.  This is especially effective in educational marketing efforts because people want something in the way of an outline to follow.  The problem comes when speakers start reading slides or putting more text on the slide than one might see in a memo.

Try this.  Use slides to show pictures.  Using the background formatting features, change the background from white to a picture.  Give each slide a unique picture that supports the message of that slide.  For instance, yesterday in an educational marketing event I used a slide of my two-year old son in front of a computer.  The slide was black, only his face was visible, with the light from the screen lighting up his face and keyboard.  This dark, secretive looking computer picture with a child at the helm underscores how easy cybercrime has become.  Three descriptive words to the left of the image serve to drive home my message.

This type of slide is both memorable and fun to watch.  The speaker doesn’t read the slide because it’s obvious.  The audience is drawn into the speaker’s story with the image reinforcing the message.  This is a good use of PowerPoint.

© 2011, David Stelzl

How Did we Call on 100 Prospects at One Time?

With the right presentation you can sell to hundreds of people at one time.  Just this morning I met with nearly a hundred CIOs and executives in Charlotte, North Carolina.   Most sales calls target one company, and most lunch-and-learns can hardly be considered sales calls.  But in this case we are combining the two to create a more efficient sales effort.  How does it work?

First, lunch and learns are generally done by inviting existing IT-level clients.  This is a great way to express appreciation to your clients while providing technology updates with the hopes of discovering new projects within the group.  In my experience, most of these efforts produce immeasurable success and rarely lead to anything you wouldn’t have found just be staying in contact with your customer base; still, not a bad thing to do for your best customers.

Educational marketing is different.  It targets a group of buyers using educational presentation material relevant to the executive audience; people who can buy.  It’s like casting a wide net to capture a large group of potential buyers.  We market the event much like you would a wedding, including professional looking invitations with an RSVP.  It’s “invite only” in order to limit lower level attendance, and generally done over a meal to encourage a networking sort of event.  Creating a place for executives to network within their circle makes this type of event work.

The keynote I gave this morning was designed using the marketing concepts I teach and continue to talk and blog about; mainly, knowledge gaps, commitments, interruptions in thinking, and other, to create an Aha! moment.  I want my audience sitting their asking themselves, “Are we addressing these issues?”  If the issues I bring up are urgent and credible, I can move my audience to the point of believing, it would be foolish not to at least check!  Educational content that leads to urgency – followed by an investigation.  This process is then used as the discovery aspect of the sales process, which then creates opportunity for remediation or other project efforts.  In the case of liability issues, these sales lead to recurring revenue or annuity.  In many cases we will motivate seventy-five percent of our audience to move to an assessment, and many of my clients experience up to ninety percent of these moving to projects and managed services.

This is the power of presentation.  Every sales person should be capable of delivering this type of program, or perhaps putting this type of event together with an outside speaker and following up.  The results far out perform traditional selling efforts.

© 2011, David Stelzl