Presenting Outside the Box

Bill Stinnett

To many sales professionals, the words "sales presentation" have become synonymous with "slide show." While some are able to use a laptop and a projector to deliver a message that words alone could never convey, to many others the slide show has become a crutch that serves little more purpose than electronic queue cards.If you think about it, it is a little strange that we would work our tails off to get a meeting in front of the key decision makers, and then - once we get in the meeting - we shut off the lights, ask everyone to turn their attention to a picture on the wall, and relegate ourselves to little more than a "voice over." This bizarre routine continues to happen despite all we know about the value of personal interaction, eye contact, body language, etc.

1000 words is not worth a picture

Perhaps you've had the misfortune of sitting through one of those presentations where the speaker simply reads to you the bullet points they have typed into their slide show. What could be more boring?The reason to use a visual aid is to help illustrate an idea or a concept that is difficult,  time consuming, or impossible to communicate with words alone. The old cliché, "A picture is worth a thousand words," does not work the same in reverse.Slide after slide containing lengthy sentences and numerous bullet points read aloud are typically met with one of two responses. Either your audience will be bored stiff hearing you read the slides word-for-word. Or, if you choose to be fancy and say the same thing in a slightly different way, they will wear themselves out reading and listening and trying to decide which one to pay attention to.

Presentation options

Rather than a slide show, try using hand outs or, if it's a one-on-one meeting, flipping through a "picture book" of sorts to provide visual support to what you are trying to convey. But here again, don't hand out a dozen sheets of bullet points. Use hand outs to show illustrations and graphics that support your message rather than deliver it for you.If you are worried about them not paying close enough attention to you in the meeting and needing a copy of your bulleted slides to review later, it might be because you are trying to deliver too much "stuff" in your presentation. You might be surprised what they retain if you turn on the lights, sit down, look them in the eye, and have a conversation.

The "chalk talk"

One of the most effective ways to conduct an sales presentation is to design your sales "story" so it can be delivered as a  "chalk talk." It works great for introductory or impromptu meetings, and best of all, it can be done on any white board, flip chart, or even with a sheet of paper and a pencil. It's informal, it's interactive, and it's very effective. This is one of the best ways to lead your prospect through a series of ideas and concepts that ultimately enables them to arrive at your conclusion.Remember, there are many great options for delivering an effective sales presentation. Don't feel as though you are locked in to any particular technology or format. In today's highly competitive marketplace, where the differences between products and services are very subtle or don't exist at all, we have to learn to differentiate ourselves not only by what we offer, but by the way we sell.About the authorsSales Excellence, Inc. is a consortium of world-class sales management consultants, sales trainers, and personal coaches who help business executives and sales professionals grow their client base, increase revenue, and keep more profit. They can be reached at 1-800-524-1994 or by email at staff@www.salesexcellence.com.

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