Start it Right: How To Build A Sales Presentation

Every sales message has the intent of being successful by driving your audience to action. However, not all sales messages achieve this goal. I have found that in order to be truly exceptional, it is critical that your sales message starts the right way, with the proper cornerstone in place. It’s about knowing how to build a sales presentation. To be exceptional, you must use a well-designed communication principle that builds upon a firm, audience-centric foundation. As an example, let me quote from an article by The Hartford that gives sales guidance to business owners. In the “Business Owner’s Playbook,” The Hartford communicates a familiar message for sales: Identify the problem. Appeal to your audience’s emotions, and get them thinking that they really need to find a solution to this problem. This builds trust, and shows that you “get it.” Present the solution. Introduce and describe your product or service and touch on why it solves the problem. Demonstrate value. Go into more detail on how your product or service solves the problem. Use research results, statistics, awards, testimonials, and specific examples to build your case. State a call to action. The call to action is probably the single most defining feature of direct response marketing. It clearly tells the customer what you expect them to do next. Give them the tools and contact points, such as a phone number, email address, shopping cart link, or website link depending on the action you want them to take. This sales message is good. It is not exceptional. We can identify an opportunity to take a good sales message and transform it into one that is clear, concise, and compelling. The transformation begins at the most basic, foundational level. It begins with laying the appropriate audience-centric cornerstone as mentioned above. This critical piece is missing in The Hartford example. Once in place, the cornerstone will be built provide support for a more cohesive and compelling message that makes a stronger impact on the audience. Understanding the Cornerstone Concept The cornerstone of your sales message must be intensely focused on your audience. It must hone in on his primary goal or objective. Many times, the goal is confused and out of order. Instead of being in-tune with the goal of the audience, the message is more in-tune with the goal of our own company — “to get the audience to buy our product.” That is the wrong order. The most effective sales message keeps the the goal of the audience first and the goal of our own company as a natural second. The goal and objective of your audience is specific to him, and it is almost always ultimately to increase revenue or reduce overhead. Key Point – In crafting the cornerstone of your sales message: Listen carefully to your audience. Learn what he desires. Refer to it often. Once the cornerstone is in place, the building blocks of your sales message will support and remind the audience that you understand his goal, recognize his problem, and have the best solution to reach his goal. The building blocks will look more like this: Cornerstone Goal – State your audience’s objective or desired outcome Pain Points – Acknowledge your understanding of his problem Solution – Demonstrate how and why your company provides the best solution to overcome his problem and achieve his goal (referring back to points one and two) Supporting Arguments – Present data and statistics to underscore the credibility of your company’s solution. Present facts in a simple, visual way that is easy for him to understand. Closing Arguments – Stay focused on the audience’s goal and clearly communicate what you want your audience to do after hearing your message. Resist the temptation to give him more information than he needs to make an informed decision. If you remember that your audience is king, they will respect you for it, and your sales message will be exceptional. Sales Message: Start Right with the Cornerstone ...

The Art And Science Of Selling (Part 3)

Welcome to the third part of our series, breaking down the lessons from The Ultimate Sales Messaging System. This system is designed to teach exceptional communication skills to improve selling technique. It encompasses both the art and science behind crafting the perfect sales pitch. Enjoy! In Part 1, we discussed the basics of effective sales messaging, including focusing on what your audience needs, fixing common communication issues, and understanding the adult learning process. In Part 2, we discussed the idea of filtering out excess information, not oversharing with your audience, and making your message “sticky.” And now, here are four things to keep in mind as you incorporate visual aids into your presentations. Read on, for Part 3 awaits… 1. Common Questions About Using Visuals (Sometimes Referred To As “Slides”) Question: Do I need to use visuals? Answer: It depends on what you’re presenting. Never assume that you must use visuals. They should only be used if they add real value, not decoration. Question: When should I use visuals? Answer: When you can easily replace one hundred words, or excessive facts or data, with an image or graphic, then you should use them. Question: What is the purpose of visuals? Answer: Visuals should reduce complexity, increase understanding, and decrease the audience’s short-term memory workload. If your visuals do that, you should use them. 2. A Few Wise Words “Communication is about getting others to adopt your point of view, to help them understand why you’re excited (or sad, or optimistic, or whatever else you are). If all you want to do is create a file of facts and figures, then cancel the meeting and send in a report!” -Seth Godin “True presentations focus on the presenter and the visionary ideas and concepts they want to communicate. The images (slides) reinforce the content visually rather than create distraction, allowing the audience to comfortably focus on both. It takes an investment of time on the part of the presenter to develop and rehearse this type of content, but the results are worth it.” -Nancy Duarte In summary, presentations should be about conveying the emotion behind an idea that a simple report cannot. It is this deeper connection, beyond mere facts, that makes presentations worth the time to design and deliver. 3. The Four Principles Of Visual Communication 1. Simplicity Your visuals should simplify what was formerly complex. If the visual itself needs explaining to be understood, then it does not have simplicity. 2. Elegance Effective visuals should be appealing to the eye, with color, contrast, and spatial balance. Remember, when you have too much going on in a visual, you can confuse the viewer. 3. Focus The purpose of the visual should be clear. Keep this in mind, and don’t forget about techniques such as highlighting the most important part or blurring out the less important parts. 4. Clarity The visual should be easy to comprehend in 5 seconds or less. Otherwise, it’s too complex. 4. Drop The Crutch! This is what visuals SHOULD NOT be: 1. A Guide. You should be the one to confidently guide your audience through your presentation; you are the expert, after all. Depending on a slideshow can bore an audience. Don’t undermine your message! 2. A Substitute For Good Content. Rich content should be your driving force. Visuals can be a supplement, but they do not replace the meat and potatoes that actually speak to the concerns and issues of your audience. 3. Loaded With Text. Keep it clear, concise, and compelling. Allow them to listen rather than forcing them to read. 4. Complex. Don’t distract or confuse your audience by over-communicating. Find the approach that simply cuts straight to the core of your message to make it as simple as possible for the audience to understand. Remember, confused prospects rarely buy.   Stay tuned to our blog, as we will continue to break down the lessons from The Ultimate Sales Messaging System in future installments. If you want the whole thing, and you just gotta have it now, please check out our online webinar. The Ultimate Sales Messaging System was created by Brian Williams, of Perspectivity Intl. Perspectivity is a sales growth agency, established in 2012, and is the product of more than 20 years of experience with global tech giants. ...

The Art And Science Of Selling (Part 2)

Welcome to the second part of our series, breaking down the lessons from The Ultimate Sales Messaging System business eBook. This system is designed to teach exceptional communication skills to improve selling technique. It encompasses both the art and science behind crafting the perfect sales pitch. Enjoy! For so many, communication skills can be a roadblock, when they really should be the thing that helps us clinch the deal. Developing exceptional communication skills takes practice, a deep understanding of your audience, and a commitment to using the latest scientific and artistic principles to deliver the message. Read on to find out how. Be clear, concise, and compelling. Stop confusing your prospects, because confused prospects rarely buy. When we can know our audience intimately, have a basic understanding of the adult learning process, and design our message and delivery to create a confident purchasing environment, we can remove the potential barrier of a confused prospect. When communicating the details and capabilities of your products to your customers, you must be able to answer when the prospect asks: “How can this product help me make more money or get rid of my problem?” Clearly, it helps when we can offer a solution our customers can believe in framed within the concept of Return on Investment (ROI). Now, on to Part 2. Follow these 6 Principles so your prospects can do two things… Believe and Buy. 1. The Process Of Filtration The less you talk, the more you’re listened to. -Abigail Van Buren We live in an age of media overload and “too much information” (TMI). As both consumers and presenters, we must learn to filter out excess information and focus on what’s really important. Excess quantity of information negatively impacts the quality of learning. In this case, less truly is more. We call it “filter failure” when we allow our message to be diluted by information that does not build directly upon our main idea. Don’t be guilty of aggravated assault with a wordy weapon! 2. A Little Self-Control Filter failure comes in many forms. Here are some of the most common ways that we allow our words to overwhelm our audience: Add-Ons (adding extra facts just because you want to) Stories (KISS – Keep It Short, Speaker!) Long Introductions (remember the value of a minute) Lack Of Preparation (flow-killers like run-ons, fill-ins, start-overs) Loving Your Own Information (help your audience, don’t be precious) We must get these common problems under control. Our access to technology makes it easy to create and disseminate information, which leads to information overload. It’s so easy to throw a ton of info into a Power Point that it actually tends to do both the speaker and audience a disservice. We need to be better than the technology, and not use it as a crutch. Technology is so much fun, but we can drown in our technology. The fog of information can drown out knowledge.” -Daniel J. Boorstin Don’t drown out information. If you know how to avoid that, you will build trust with your audience, who will then appreciate that you know how to speak their language and solve their problems without overwhelming them. 3. The Power of Clarity Simplicity leads to CLARITY and clarity unleashes the true POWER of effective communication.” It isn’t always easy to employ both clarity and simplicity, which means it’s all the more vital to make the effort. For starters, try to avoid these typical traps: Cultural Cliches (avoid catchphrases that people from other backgrounds might not understand) Meandering Message (ensure a logical flow of ideas in your messaging) Aggravating Acronyms (never use an acronym without defining it, even common ones like “AKA”) Cute Or Crazy (avoid undermining your own credibility; something you might think is cute may look crazy to your audience) 4. The Curse Of Knowledge The curse of knowledge is a problem that leads to “mutual mystification,” a force that derails sales conversations on a daily basis. The “curse” is that, when we know something, we often feel compelled to explain or share it with others in a way that they are not prepared for. This leads to confusion, and confused customers rarely buy. These two solutions can help to alleviate the burden of knowledge: Use quotes and imagery to underscore your point, while giving your audience a chance to digest what you’ve told them so far. Speak their language by using common, everyday examples that can more clearly explain an overly technical idea. Every new idea must build on ideas that the student already knows. -Daniel T. Willingham As tempting as it is to add new information, exceptional communicators who focus on simplicity have the advantage of building rapport with their audience. 5. Stickiness (according to the book, “Made To Stick”) Six key elements of creating a “sticky” message: 1. Simplicity We’ve been over this, but remember; the human brain is wired to retain a certain number of information chunks. This is why phone numbers have 7 digits (excluding the area code). If you are breaking your presentation into chunks, keep this in mind. People are pretty good about remembering 3 or fewer chunks, but when you inch closer to the magical number of 7, or even beyond that (Heaven forbid), you’re really playing with fire and run the risk of overwhelming the audience. 2. Unexpectedness To maintain the interest of your audience without overwhelming them, give your material a degree of mystery or suspense to “keep the butts in the seats.” Be deliberate in how you establish and then build on new ideas. 3. Concreteness Avoid ambiguities and stick to more concrete examples that are easier for everybody to understand. 4. Credibility An obstacle that just comes with the territory is that customers almost always see sales messages as having strings attached. They are right, which is why it is important to cite impartial sources and statistics whenever it makes sense to do so. The message means more when it’s coming from someone who isn’t trying to sell you something. 5. Emotion Make your audience feel something. Emotion will mean different things in different scenarios. Depending on your product or service, crafting a presentation that stokes a sense of compassion, energy, sadness, joy, fear, anger, elation, etc. will help your message to stick. 6. Stories The Harvard Business Review asserts that tossing out the Power Point in favor of a more convincing story is a better way of engaging on a deeper level. People connect better with stories than they do with data in a vacuum. Finding a way to underscore your message with a story, either personal or analogous, will ultimately help you to better capture your audience’s imagination. 6. The 4 C’s Of Telling A Good Story Causality – a logical sequence of events that the audience feels compelled to follow Conflict – the obstacles that pop up between the protagonist and his goals Complications – the challenges that arise just when the path to success looks clear Character – an interesting person with a skill set uniquely tailored to the situation Working all four C’s into your sales messaging will make your case more clear, concise, and compelling to your prospects. Your “story” will be more vivid in their minds, and what you’ve communicated will be more likely to “stick.” What’s The Point? The principles above will coincide with two things, how humans learn, and how they make buying decisions. If you’re ever unsure ow your message is landing, remember; you can always ask! Aside from the obvious result of making a sale, or convincing the prospect to take a specific action, see if you can get them to repeat the main idea of your presentation back to you. If they can, then you know you’ve done your job as a communicator. For more, stay tuned to our blog as we will continue to break down the lessons from The Ultimate Sales Messaging System in future installments. If you want the whole thing, and you just gotta have it now, please check out our online webinar. The Ultimate Sales Messaging System was created by Brian Williams, of Perspectivity Intl. Perspectivity is a “sales growth agency,” established in 2012, and is the product of more than 20 years of experience with global tech giants. ...

Perfecting Your Sales Message: Understanding the Basic Principles of Adult Learning

It’s tricky. How do you make your sales message stick? Why would people believe your pitch? After all, you’re just trying to sell them something, right? Let’s be honest. It’s easy for people to hesitate, doubt you, and go somewhere else. I call this the cycle of stagnation, and the best way to stop any cycle is to simply get off the merry-go-round. It’s time for something new. Instead of trying to get potential clients to understand you and your business, what if we first tried to understand them? With a basic understanding of neuroscience, you can adapt your sales message. Just like a recipe, different formulas yield different results. Science has shown that the recipe for success lies in understanding how people think and process information through the principles of adult learning. The Principles Of Adult Learning Breaking Them Down So what are the basic principles of learning for adults? The five principles are relevance and experience, self-direction, action, practice, and sensory inclusion. 1. Relevance and Experience The content of your message must be meaningful and relevant to your audience’s lives and their businesses. They need to know you understand their struggles and business pain points. This creates a positive emotional connection between you and your audience as they sense your understanding and compassion. It’s also important to remember that adults draw upon their past experiences to aid in the learning process. As such, it’s imperative to frame your message in a language and context that’s familiar to your audience. 2. Self-Direction Adults are autonomous and self-directing since they mostly live under a large degree of self-governance. In turn, adults have a greater response to learning tactics that employ self-directed methods. Ralph Brockett’s and Roger Hiemstra’s Self-Direction in Adult Learning summarizes it best: “…self-direction in learning refers to two distinct but related dimensions. The first of these dimensions is a process in which a learner assumes primary responsibility for planning, implementing, and evaluating the learning process. An education agent or resource often plays a facilitating role in this process. This is the notion of self-directed learning as it has generally been used and identified in professional literature. The second dimension, which we refer to as learner self-direction, centers on a learner’s desire or preference for assuming responsibility for learning.” 3. Action Adults learn by doing and through direct experience. To reach your audience, you must include active and practical participation that offers implementable techniques. 4. Practice Practicing skills in a controlled environment allows for self-efficacy in new tasks. The more one can practice new skills, the more transformational the learning process will be. 5. Sensory Inclusive Ensure that you have appropriately proportioned delivery techniques that meet the needs of audio, visual, reading/writing, kinaesthetic, dependent, and independent learning styles. The Problem If you don’t use the Adult Learning Principles in the design of your sales message or presentation, you may fail to engage the mind of your audience and not make an emotional connection; consequently, you will lose the attention of your audience. The largest problem with the majority of sales messages is that the audience is most often overlooked. It’s almost as if they are an afterthought. Typically, presenters may share everything they know about a product or service but fail miserably when it comes to intentionally addressing the issues or objectives of the audience. The Solution Commit to designing and delivering messaging that follows the adult learning principles. Everyone focuses on the presentation, but the main goal is communication. Stop presenting and begin effectively communicating your ideas to your audience. Why It Works Over the past few decades neuroscience has reached new levels of understanding about the brain and how humans best process information. And while you may think that sharing an abundance of facts will appropriately inform the audience, it is actually the antithesis. Unknowingly, you’re overwhelming them with too much information. Our short-term memories are designed to handle about seven small chunks of information at a time before getting overwhelmed – that’s why most phone numbers are only seven digits long. Simply put, our brains don’t like working too hard to remember large amounts of information all at once, so it’s very important that you understand how to use adult learning principles when designing your sales messages and presentations. These principles will allow you to successfully design messaging that appeals to the human brain and how it processes information. The Cone of Learning Edgar Dale’s Cone of Learning illustrates the importance of incorporating the learning styles into your sales message. Dale’s cone shows the different styles of learning and how much our brains tend to remember with each method. As you can see, the human brain prefers certain methods of learning to others. While you may spend most of your time lecturing, that is considered passive engagement and it is where the human brain processes the least amount of information. Instead, for maximum impact, you should try to spend most of your time engaging all of the senses and employ active learning in your audience. Abandon and Adapt: Putting it all together It’s time we abandon our old methods and adapt a new type of messaging designed to take advantage of the brain’s peak processing power. By creating sales messages and presentations that allow your audience to be active participants (rather than just reading or listening passively), you will be amazed at how often they believe, buy, and bite. So reel ‘em in. And make the catch. ...