Demo and Presentation Tips

Anyone remember when Bill Gates had the dreaded BSOD during the Chicago Comdex keynote in 1998?  That crash made headlines around the geek world. That big snafu didn’t stop the adoption of Windows, now did it?  Learn how to take control of your presentation.

Here are some tips to ponder for your next engagement.

The typical demo is usually done with the lead demonstrator (or account manager) doing the introductions then handing off to the technical person, usually a sales engineer (SE). The first thing I see happen is the SE sits down or remains seated for the remainder of the presentation. WHY?meet

Do this instead: Plan your presentation with two people. Next, get up on your feet and stay there! Gain “control” of the audience and have your partner do white board or flip chart entries outlining the most important parts of the presentation.

I have sat through my share of demos and even given quite a few. What I gained from all this experience is what I want to pass on to you. It is a very simple three-step rule when it comes to presentations or demos.

  1. Tell the audience what you are going to show them
  2. Show them
  3. Tell them what you just showed them

Read it again just to make sure you understand. Sounds pretty simple, right? It is. By doing these three things, it reinforces what you want the audience to come away with. Here is where your presentation partner can write what your are going to show on the white board so it remains there during your demo.

Next, I think we have all seen a presentation or demo quickly start into the first two slides of the corporate background, which in reality no one cares about except you. If the point you need to get across is on slide 20 of 34, there really is little chance the audience is going to make it that far, even if you have the product they want.

Alter your strategy: Instead of making a presentation to a cross-section of corporate attendees, do your homework and meet with those that will attend and learn what issues are important to them. Tailor the presentation or demo to address the majority’s issues and concerns. Now you have a message that you can direct (by name) to their pain, even if that person at the last minute doesn’t attend.

If your presentation goes like others, new people will show up that you’ve never met.  By all means introduce yourself to them as a team and find out who they are. Chances are good some of these new people are the real decision makers. kickoutYou need to get their buy-in before you start the presentation. If not, you run a high risk of being stopped because you are not talking about the real key issues.

Do this instead: Ahead of the meeting, prepare a quick one-page handout just for these people. Handing them the agenda, say something like this: “Hi John, since we haven’t met, I wanted you to confirm that our presentation will address your most important issues. Is there anything we need to address that you don’t see here?” If these new people ARE the real decision makers, then throw your presentation away and address the issues they have confirmed and show only the capabilities and benefits that address what you have just been told.

Someone always asks, “Can your software can do X, Y or Z?” You want to avoid this if your solution is a complex solution. The audience is going to get very woozy quickly. This is because it is new to them. Showing the capability may mean moving through many screens.

Use this approach: If possible, draw it on the board or explain it will be shown later. It you must flip back to show it, have your partner redirect attention away from you.

Lastly, you will always have someone in the room that will be the competition’s best friend. You need to find who they are quickly. They usually are the ones raising the most questions and trying to take you down the “rat hole.” They will also try everything they can to throw your presentation off track.

Counter with this: Meet the opposition head-on. Embrace the question(s) and ask the entire audience how big an issue it is. Let the players face off, not you. Try to put the pressure back on the asking party. As you wind down the demo, ask the room, “Are any issues with what they have seen so far? No? are there any minor concerns?” This gives on last opportunity to face you and the opportunity to squash those concerns.

Just remember to keep your cool. Everyone makes mistakes and yes, everyone sometimes has crashes. Show the professional salesperson you are, pick yourself up, and move forward!

If you find this useful, Contact Me or please leave a comment. If you have a Twitter account and found this article useful, it would be much appreciated if you would retweet this at the beginning of the article!

Happy Selling!

Ed Warner

Do the Worst First

Ever hear the expression, Save the Best for Last? I have one better, Do the Worst First!

A common thread among top sales reps is a habit that everyone can benefit from. Human nature is responsible for the procrastination we have toward tasks we dread the most. Top performers do just the opposite; they get the hard tasks over with as quickly and efficiently as possible without any fear of the approaching event.

As a kid, I remember a meeting between my parents and my teacher because of some behavioral issues at school. image13Waiting for the outcome of the meeting was the worst part, not the meeting itself. Just waiting conjured up imaginary scenarios of dread and doom and permeated every activity until the meeting was over.

What I learned from this was to stop wasting time worrying about upcoming events or their outcomes, and concentrate on the positives experiences like these from the past. This over-worry leads to stress and stress is bad…for anyone. image14Stress can be sensed in a phone conversation and certainly can be seen in a face-to-face meeting. Moreover, stress is often misconstrued as fear, not something useful as a sales professional. Here are some suggestions for preparing for those undesirable tasks that have to be performed.

  1. Relax by what ever means helps you obtain the focus and allows you to remain sharp. Play the iPod or take a head-clearing walk.
  2. Exercise or do some physical exercise to raise the sweat level and drop the fret level.
  3. Lastly, I wrote an article about doing 5 daily tasks and one of those was to get out of your comfort zone. If you practice that, the next time becomes that much easier.

Strive to be the best you can be and strive to be on an even keel. I admire those that strive for the best, but don’t admonish them when they fail to achieve. None of use will be number #1 forever, and very few achieve #1 continuously.

If you find this article of value please comment. Have a Twitter account? I would be most appreciative if you would retweet this at the top of the article!

Happy Selling!

Ed Warner

Motivation and Sales Performance

Poor sales performance is often mistaken for a motivational issue.  A fine line exists between the two and unless you are an astute manager, you are going to miss the mark. image11

We first need to understand 5 myths of motivation. These are generally agreed upon as being the biggest culprits.

  1. Money as a motivator –if, as a manager, you believe this sits atop the list of motivators, seriously consider a refresher course in motivational management. Paying someone a hefty bonus will get the job done– but only short-term. This will be short-lived as the motivation wears off. Within itself, money has no sustaining power.
  2. Some people cannot be motivated –this unfortunately is a very common belief. Everyone, let me say it again, EVERYONE can be, and is motivated by something. What motivates one person does not necessarily motivate others. It is the manager’s job to know what motivates his team on an individual basis. As a manager, you need to match the motivators with the job responsibilities.
  3. People are happy and grateful to work here –not everyone is happy to work for your company and not everyone is grateful to be there. Assuming this attitude, as a manager, will just about guarantee you will lose your top [sales] talent. Non-engagement management usually accompanies this myth. You have to challenge, recognize and reward your team. The only way to be effective is by engaging your employees one-on-one.
  4. Believing you can motivate –no, no, no, you cannot and never will be able to motivate anyone, and neither can I. They must motivate themselves. Managers must find the factor(s) of motivation for each sales member as well as the environment that will enable employees to motivate themselves.
  5. Fear and intimidation motivate –for about 2 seconds! Beyond that, sales people begin to search for other positions. Unbelievably, some still manage by this course of action. Fear tears down any bridge of trust and cooperation between you and your team. It is a short-term compliance mechanism that breeds resentment. When you need to count on your sales team they will not be there for you!

Next are three perspectives (theories) on motivation directly related to employee performance. There are others, but I feel these to be most relevant. image12

  1. Expectancy theory suggests people are motivated to perform if they believe that their effort will result in high performance, that this performance will be highly rewarded.
  2. Equity theory is based on how fairly an employee perceives they are rewarded according to their contribution. If they are rewarded equally as compared to their fellow peers, then they judge they are being treated equally.
  3. Reinforcement perspective focuses on behavior that results in rewarding consequences, good and bad. There are several sub-categories that include positive, avoidance and punishment. It is simply a comparison between behavior and consequences.

There is no single solution to motivation, as no single theory should ever be used, but rather a combination of motivational techniques as appropriate.

So what does this all mean when it comes to the performance of your sales team? Your team must have four elements in order to have a positive performance.

  1. Motivation to do the job
  2. Ability to do the job
  3. The tools and information needed to do the job
  4. Reinforcement that their effort is wanted, needed and expected

Hope this message helps managers to increase sales. I also hope it enlightens members of your team as to what you deal with on a daily basis. Agree, disagree? Contact Me or leave a comment. If you have a Twitter account it would be much appreciated if you would retweet this at the top of the article!

Happy Selling!

Ed Warner

Sales-Transactional vs. Strategic

We all hear it, but for those that don’t really understand the difference, the nuances of strategic selling overshadow the transactional aspect, but not so much that one can’t be strategic in a transactional sales opportunity.

Transactional selling is really about treating the product or service as a commodity image7rather than a strategic investment. We participate in transactional engagements on almost every trip to the grocery store, and we for the most part, don’t give it a second thought. But what would happen if that item was now a major piece in your way of life that required a substantial cash outlay? Exactly! Now look who has to “kick the tires” and really do some investigating! In addition, for you (the male) that are married, you also have to get the VP of Household Finance to sign-off on the purchase. You have just stepped into the world of strategic selling.

Very little value add is afforded a transactional sale and what exists is mainly in the form of immediate need/price matching. You have a [need] for 100 roles of paper; I have them for 50 cents [price] a roll. The reason for little or no value add is there are no non-standard business inputs (needs) that would require much more than the exchange of goods and cash. A salesperson would only need to uncover the need, establish a quasi-relationship, and fill that need for product or service. image2The biggest challenge in this short sales cycle window is for the salesperson to uncover the maximum price the buyer would pay, all the while the buyer is determining your lowest selling  price. The main characters in this off-Broadway play are usually the salesperson and the  procurement department.

The image below is a chart from Neil Rackham, the author of “Spin Selling”, a course I took and can recommend. Neil does have a newer book, “Rethinking the Salesforce” that teaches the same principles from his previous book. Although aimed at bigger sales organizations, it is highly effective for smaller groups that wish to grow their business in a volatile market as it addresses the technological changes that have occurred.

Click on chart for bigger picture….

transactional-consultative

Strategic, consultative, solution, complex, relationship, and even enterprise selling are pretty much the same term, and for the sake of this article are going to be treated as such.
Strategic selling is a long-term sell that typically takes 6 months or more. In some extreme cases, I have witnessed a 18 month sales cycle. In today’s environment, these are taking even longer and transactional sales are beginning to mimic the cycle times of typical strategic sales. Strategic selling is a systematic sell in that a formal process is undertaken on both the buying and selling side. A strategic sale is one that demands a ROI because it is usually a capital investment project. The dollar amount will vary according to what you sell and to whom, but my experience in enterprise sales the typical deals are $500k-$1M. With this dollar amount there is a lot at stake on both sides.

The complexity of a strategic sale involves many decision makers from the buying side and many reviewers from the selling side. This is the reason I wrote in a previous article about having a game plan, hence your effectiveness to manage a sale of this nature is compromised unless you have a formal process because of the complexities in this type of sale. The following are additional points that are just as important to remember.

  • Relationships with the customer is of the utmost importance
  • Solution sell to a customer’s perceived need
  • Your skills as a listener and your ability to formulate a workable solution will play a major role
  • Substantial time will be invested once the deal is qualified
  • Your skills as it relates to dealing with C-level executives are paramount. Know how to talk their talk

I hope this gives a better feel to what’s involved in either type of sales. Regardless, appropriate selling techniques have to be used in order to maximize your effectiveness for not only what you sell, but to whom you are selling. This short article does not cover the complete scope of strategic selling, which in itself could be many chapters.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and as always, I do appreciate and welcome your comments. Feel free to contact me should you have additional questions.

Happy Selling!

Ed Warner

Let the Customer Sell

Ever wonder how you could decrease your sales cycle and at the same time increase the probability of closure? I have a tip that might allow you to accomplish just that.

Forget about writing proposals that are haphazardly read, instead, engage the customer, and let him do the selling. I used this method when I sold software to a hospital in South Carolina. Here’s how I did it.

image1First, I called the customer and set the appointment, but at the same time made sure I had a fairly good understanding of their IT infrastructure. On the day of the meeting, I cut right to the chase, went straight to their white board and began drawing their system in block diagram. If you have ever given a technical presentation to a group of IT professionals, then you know to expect interruptions; and that is exactly what I got.

I was immediately challenged for the board marker, which I happily relinquished. After all, this was my goal, Customer involvement. The customer then began to draw the infrastructure and all I did was to inject where our equipment would reside and how the benefits would be overwhelmingly positive for what they were seeking to accomplish. This allowed me to engage the customer, make him part of building “his own solution” which gives a greater sense of value in the end.

The greater good here is the ability to show and engage a wider audience for buy-off and at the same time it uncovers holes in what would have been a flat presentation if delivered in the typical paper form. If your design is off target it allows you to adjust, showing the client you do understand and care about their business processes. This way, you don’t mandate change, you solicit support for change.

image2If this is shot down in committee or by finance, I guarantee this group will fight tooth-n-nail to get it approved. I have actually seen the customer make a better case for ROI than I ever could.

This method can work if you sell over the phone too. You just have to ask the customer to describe their current situation and then ask if you could email or fax what you have to make sure you understood their requirements. Bottom line, Get the customer involved!

image3

Using this method in as many cases as possible will decrease the sales cycle time simply by taking the onus off the customer to read your proposal. Admit it, would you want to read it? Hope you are able to use this and if you are, let me and others know by posting your comments. Maybe you used something similar? Hey, we want to know that too!

Happy Selling!

Ed Warner