Presentations – Telling your Story with Clarity!

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May 26, 2014
Presentations – Telling your Story with Clarity!

Hi and welcome back to my blog this week. I’ve been in Sydney for a few weeks now, working with IBM on their new Global Sales School program. It is a comprehensive and excellent program that delivers real value to their sellers. The material includes a major focus on “Story Telling”. I think it is very powerful and very important.

Last week we touched on presentations and how we can look and be more professional with our presentations. This week I would like to take that a step further and deal with content, We all know someone that has that magic air about them they can stand in a pub and tell stories and we engage, we love to hear what that person has to say. Sure, some people have the gift and it is easy for them to create a compelling engagement with an audience whether that is in the pub or in a presentation. Did Steve Jobs always have the flair or did he work at it? Did he ensure that every presentation he gave told the right story and take you on the journey?
It’s a fact that people don’t always purchase based on logic. They make buying decisions based on relationships and emotion and then defend their decisions with logic.

Storytelling is one of the most powerful techniques in selling. It is an exquisite art form, once you understand how to deliver your story with clarity you can capture your audience. Great sales presenters grab the attention of the audience and take them on a journey and, most importantly, keep them involved in the story.

Effective storytelling isn’t created on the fly; it takes time and careful planning to build the “perfect” sales presentation. In addition to storytelling, you need to provide your potential customers with value in the form of sharing insightful information about their business, their industry, and their competitors, which also takes time and preparation.

Lets have a look at a few ways you can take your customers on an emotional journey that help them clarify the solution that’s right for them:

  1. Understand your customer’s business and industry. There is no easy way to say this, if you do not understand you customers business then you will NEVER have a strategic relationship.

Just building a relationship with your customer doesn’t make your quota. You need to be the trusted advisor. These days the single most powerful factor that drives sales is the value that a potential partnership with you and your company brings to your customer.

It is important to build rapport and provide a solution that solves your customer’s problem. What will set you apart from your competition, is your ability to challenge your customer’s current way of thinking and shed new perspective on the status quo.

I know this sounds like, “Er… really doesn’t everyone do this”, strangely enough, no they don’t. Some salespeople, even good ones will occasionally wing it.

  1. Write out your sales presentation. Creating a great sales presentation isn’t something you do on the fly.

Start by researching about the prospect’s industry, their company, their employment history and their achievements. Then build your presentation outline based on the following five main elements of a basic sales presentation:

  • Build rapport with your prospect.
  • Introduce the business topic, share industry insights, your company story, and why you’re there.
  • Ask questions to better understand your prospect’s needs (Needs Analysis).
  • Summarise your key selling points and the benefits they provide to your prospect.
  • Lead into the close and finalise the specific next steps that each party is responsible for. Then agree on the next step, set a date for the next meeting before leaving.
  • Think about three major selling points of your product or service and the major benefits that each one will bring to your potential customer.

Rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse! I mentioned this last week and it is important, so, yes – I have included it again.

  1. Once you are in the presentation and before you start discussing business, build rapport with your prospect. Again, homework is important. Find out if you have a colleague in common. Has the prospect’s company been in the news lately? Is he or she interested in sports? Get a little insight into the company and the individual so you can make the rapport genuine.
  1. The introduction should set the agenda. It should share your insights on the industry. You should introduce your company and yourself. Share some of the key insights that you have learned about their industry and their company. Explain how you have helped other businesses in a similar predicament as them.
  1. Don’t Hog the Limelight:

This is the most important aspect of effective communication and is CRUCIAL to the success of ANY sales professional. The general rule is to listen 80% of the time and talk 20% of the time. Always let your customer finish speaking before responding or providing feedback to them. NEVER EVER interrupt! So many sales people finish the prospect’s sentences to show off their knowledge or interrupting the prospect mid-sentence to add a point they feel is vitally important.

Before speaking, count to 5 slowly in your head after the person you are speaking to finishes. Strangely enough it is not an uncomfortable silence and often, the prospect will pause for 2 to 3 seconds and continue speaking and giving you a deeper and more powerful insight into their business, industry and problems at hand.

Take notes. No one can remember everything that happens in a presentation it is irrelevant how good your memory is. You will never be able to remember everything. You need to and will eventually forget critical information that you could have used to help your prospect and help close the deal. Always ask if it’s all right for you to take notes during your sales presentation.

  1. Ask Probing Questions. 
Once you’ve finished your introduction, don’t jump right into a canned sales pitch or product demonstration. The most effective way to sell is to ask the right questions at the right time. This helps them stay more in tune with the rest of your presentation. It requires planning what questions to ask and what information you’re really trying to get from them. Of course some of the questions or the order of the questions will change based on your prospect’s answers, but having the main ones prepped and ready, is essential to getting the job done.

Til’ the next time…. Andrew

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