Selling Visually with PowerPoint

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Selling Visually with PowerPoint

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  2. 2. ii About the Author Robert Lane lives in sunny Tucson, Arizona, United States. He is an internationally recog- nized speaker, trainer and author, specializing in digital media techniques for interactive com- munication and teaching. Robert earned a Bachelor of Science in physics in 1987 and a Master of Science in educational technology in 2008 at the University of Arizona. He has devoted the past 10 years to developing, researching, and teaching a visually interactive style of presentation known as Relational Presen- tation, and is author of the book Relational Pre- sentation: A Visually Interactive Approach. Many of these same dynamic presentation techniques are vitally important to successful sales and persuasion activities, and, therefore, form the basis for flexible content delivery techniques featured throughout this book. Aspire Communications Robert’s company, Aspire Communications, provides training, consultation, and support to a wide variety of individuals and institu- tions implementing relational presentation and visual selling techniques. Team members in- clude trainers, researchers, executives, presen- tation professionals, graphic designers, media specialists and software developers. Aspire of- fers workshops and seminars, both onsite and online (live or self-paced), to promote learner success. They also provide full enterprise-level solutions and project management to organi- zations wishing to implement this book’s con- cepts on a large, multiuser scale.
  3. 3. iii About the AuthorAndre Vlcek is a sales consultant based in Mel-bourne, Victoria, Australia, where he servicesa global network of corporate clientele. Hespecializes in the design and implementationof advanced selling strategies for business-to-business sales organizations. Andre earnedpostgraduate qualifications in sales and mar-keting from Swinburne University in 2004 andadvanced sales management accreditation inthe United States with The Prime ResourceGroup and BSRP Inc. He is a frequent speakerand trainer, and has devoted the past 15 yearsto researching and documenting the time-honored selling approaches found in his salescourses. Throughout this book, Andre expandsupon traditional sales wisdom to incorporateand maximize the emerging potential of inter-active digital media. Sales Psychology AustraliaAndre’s company, Sales Psychology Australia,provides sales consultancy and sales trainingservices designed to help organizations findand win new customers, as well as maintainand grow their existing customer base. Thesecomplete, end-to-end solutions integrate salesstrategy, selling skills, and sales tools to deliverincreased profit margins and improved levelsof customer satisfaction. In recent years, SPAand Aspire have collaborated in designing anddelivering new selling concepts and tools thatleverage Aspire’s Relational Presentation tech-nologies. The fruits of this successful ventureappear on upcoming pages.
  4. 4. ivExecutive Editor: Judy McCabeMarketing Manager: Steve HardsProject Manager: Chantal BosséCOPYRIGHT © 2009 Aspire CommunicationsALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this book covered by the copyrightherein may be reproduced or used in any form or by any means—graphic,electronic, mechanical, including but not limited to photocopying, record-ing, taping, Web distribution, information networks, or information stor-age and retrieval systems—without written permission of the author.For more information about Aspire’s online or onsite workshops, contactus at:Aspire Communications902 N. 4th AvenueTucson, AZ 85705USAPhone: 520-629-0282Fax: 520-629-9573E-mail: support@aspirecommunications.comWeb: http://www.aspirecommunications.comAspire also offers a full range of consultation, customized training and sup-port options.To download the COURSE RESOURCES folder referenced in this book,visit the Web address below, enter the Selling Visually with PowerPoint areaand type the following password where directed: 23x1qjb85 http://www.aspirecommunications.com/CourseResources.htmlISBN(13): 978-0-9794156-4-7ISBN(10): 0-9794156-4-0Library of Congress Control Number: 2009904354PowerPoint is a registered trademark of the Microsoft Corporation
  5. 5. v ContentsSection 1A Different Look at Sales Presentations Chapter 1 The Quest for Flexibility High Stakes........................................................................................... 2 . Learning to Dance with the Moment................................................ 3 . This Book’s Purpose............................................................................. 9 What You’ll Learn................................................................................. 9 Chapter 2 Changing the Paradigm The Realities Salespeople Face......................................................... 14 Converting Sales Presentations to Sales Conversations....................................................................... 17 What You’re Getting Yourself Into................................................... 20 Chapter 3 What’s in It for You Expanded Vocabulary....................................................................... 26 Power and Simplicity......................................................................... 27 Professional Appearance................................................................... 27 Differentiation: Standing out from the Crowd.............................. 28 Tailored Solutions............................................................................... 29 Shorter Sales Cycles and Higher Sales Conversion Ratios........... 29 Multiuser Capabilities....................................................................... 30 Brand Management and Quality Control....................................... 30 Content Management........................................................................ 32 Sales Training Platform..................................................................... 32 Design Efficiency................................................................................ 33 Feature. ................................................................................................. 35 .
  6. 6. vi Contents Section 2 Making a Visually Interactive Platform Chapter 4 An Overview of Your Project Manage Your Project Well................................................................. 40 Your Project’s Principle Steps........................................................... 40 Chapter 5 Project Analysis The Importance of Planning............................................................. 46 How Project Planning Works........................................................... 47 Card Sorting........................................................................................ 47 Issues to Ponder.................................................................................. 50 Chapter 6 Content Planning Moving into Step 2............................................................................. 60 A Tour of Topical Navigation.......................................................... 60 . Determining the Platform’s Topics (Upper Link Categories).................................................................... 63 Recommended Platform Topics....................................................... 64 Company...................................................................................... 65 Capabilities. ................................................................................. 65 . Customers.................................................................................... 67 . Partnerships................................................................................. 68 Products........................................................................................ 69 Services......................................................................................... 70 Solutions....................................................................................... 71 Processes....................................................................................... 73 Pricing........................................................................................... 74 Change.......................................................................................... 75 Concepts....................................................................................... 76 Resources...................................................................................... 77 Feature. ................................................................................................. 79 .
  7. 7. vii ContentsChapter 7Content Analysis and Organization Got Content?....................................................................................... 82 Top-level Categories.......................................................................... 83 The Step 3 Process.............................................................................. 85 Other Important Considerations...................................................... 90Chapter 8Customizing the Template Moving into Step 4............................................................................. 94 Getting Started.................................................................................... 95 Examples of Interactive Platforms................................................... 96 About PowerPoint’s Slide Master.................................................. 100 Opening and Using the Slide Master............................................ 101 Changing Upper Navigation Shapes. ........................................... 104 . Changing Lower Navigation Shapes. ........................................... 106 . Changing the Slide Master’s Remaining Visible Elements........ 107Chapter 9Building the Platform Shell Moving into Step 5........................................................................... 112 Exploring Topical Navigation: Title Slides................................... 112 Exploring Topical Navigation: Slide Masters.............................. 115 The Platform Shell............................................................................ 117 Creating the Platform’s Regular Slides......................................... 118 Completing the Upper Topical Links............................................ 121 Tying Together the Masters............................................................ 122 Completing the Lower Content Links........................................... 124 Adding a Glow Effect...................................................................... 125 Assigning Slide Masters to Slides.................................................. 130 Testing the Links. ............................................................................. 137 . Making Changes............................................................................... 138 Final Thoughts on the Platform Shell............................................ 139
  8. 8. viii Contents Chapter 10 Adding Content Moving into Step 6........................................................................... 142 Content Prioritization...................................................................... 143 Creating a Folder Structure. ........................................................... 144 . The Logistics of Adding Content................................................... 146 Key Design Principles...................................................................... 149 Content Layout Strategies............................................................... 152 Picture Roles...................................................................................... 159 Incorporating Visual Cues.............................................................. 165 Seed Presentations. .......................................................................... 167 . Hanging Presentations.................................................................... 169 Linking Together Multiple Platforms............................................ 174 Finalizing the Navigation Elements.............................................. 175 What to Do Now. ............................................................................. 177 . Chapter 11 Platform Testing Moving into Step 7........................................................................... 180 The Testing Process.......................................................................... 181 What If You Play Both Testing Roles?........................................... 183 . Strategies for Managing Errors During a Performance.............. 185 Section 3 Using and Maintaining Your Sales Platform Chapter 12 Using Your Platform: Important Truths The Transition into Interactivity.................................................... 192 The Deceptive Seduction of Glitz................................................... 193 Old Habits Die Hard........................................................................ 194 Interactivity DOES NOT Imply a Lack of Control...................... 195 Interactivity DOES Equal Good Customer Service..................... 196
  9. 9. ix ContentsChapter 13Using the Platform: Preparations for Taking It Live Know Your Business and Competition......................................... 200 Understand Your Value and How to Communicate It............... 201 Create a Section for Customer-specific Information................... 202 Feel Comfortable Navigating......................................................... 203 Practice Handling Objections......................................................... 205 Condition Yourself to Deal with Nervousness............................ 208 . Feature. ............................................................................................... 211 .Chapter 14Using the Platform: Best Practices Sales-related Best Practices............................................................. 214 Presentation-related Best Practices................................................ 225Chapter 15Additional Resources
  10. 10. x ForewordI first heard about visually interactive sales presentation techniques through An-dre’s work with PerfomanceCentre on our sales performance improvement strate-gies. When he initially introduced the idea it sounded a little too good to be true. Itsure didn’t sound like the “death by PowerPoint” I had experienced and doubtlessbeen guilty of!Nonetheless, Andre and Robert were soon to be demonstrating the techniques atone of our local American Chamber of Commerce meetings. I signed up to attendto check it out and see if this new process was something we could use.Wow! Was that ever an eye opener. They seemed to have random access to whoknows how many hundreds of slides and could find exactly the ones they wantedwithin seconds. I was thinking to myself, “Wouldn’t that come in handy duringa sales presentation, when you never really know for sure who will ask the nextquestion and where that question will take you?”The idea of being able to dynamically adjust what I show to what I say really makesintuitive sense to me, and the concept really hit home that day. A few weeks laterI invited Andre to drop by and make a similar presentation to our staff. We sub-sequently decided to integrate the concepts across daily operations and commis-sioned Andre to help develop a visual selling presentation platform for our or-ganisation.The book you are about to read didn’t yet exist at the time, but I now see in itspages a mirror reflection of our experiences. It contains the same seven steps wewent through to plan, organise and build our interactive presentation materials.What a tremendous resource you have at your fingertips, all that practical advicepacked into an easy-to-read guide. I predict Selling Visually with PowerPoint willbecome a go-to handbook for every firm wishing to improve the personal touchof their sales procedures. And, hopefully, “death by PowerPoint” will become theexception, not the norm in sales presentations.Hold on for the ride. The pages ahead shatter old sales presentation paradigms. David Marshall Managing Director PerformanceCentre South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  11. 11. xi Getting StartedThis book is a delicate marriage of sales and persuasion psychology, media cre-ation skills, and highly flexible public speaking techniques. Yes, the combination isa bit exotic but—hold on—the synthesis may give you a whole new perspective onwhat the word influence really means. In days past, influence was mostly a matterof building relationships, fostering trust, understanding the other person’s per-spectives, and waxing eloquently with words. Now another factor cries out for at-tention: technology. Our world of touch screen mobile phones, high-speed Internet,and ever-present PowerPoint presentations requires a nimble mastery of visual,media-based communication—such that words alone no longer are enough. Wemust show people what we mean, demonstrate what they can gain, model whatis possible, and visually distinguish ourselves from competitors. Oh, and did wemention that such visual fluency must flow from your brain with the same elegantgrace as words rolling off the tongue?That’s what you are getting yourself into by reading this book. You will harnessthe power of visual media and use it to accentuate your natural persuasiveness.Those formerly linear, bullet-pointed talks you gave will flow with a new-foundgraphical liveliness while tailoring visual content to the needs, interests, and buy-ing inclinations of viewers.What does the process look like? It’s pretty simple, really. We’ll keep the use oftechnology as basic as possible. In fact, initially you will forsake technology alto-gether and work with low-tech index cards and markers instead. When softwareis needed, an old friend will come to your aid—namely PowerPoint. We’ll builda special kind of interactive slide show platform that maximizes PowerPoint’s po-tential and allows you to map out, and dynamically access, critically needed infor-mation while speaking.“I don’t know how to use PowerPoint,” you say? That’s OK, too. We’ll start withbasic principles and gradually add advanced material. Complete beginners maywish to supplement the instructions here with an appropriate starters book, Pow-erPoint Help files, or Aspire’s video workshops. Those of you using some otherform of presentation software, such as Apple Keynote or OpenOffice, still can joinin the fun as well. Simply adjust instructions given to the functionalities of thoseproducts. Instructions throughout this book appear in both PowerPoint 2003 andPowerPoint 2007 formats.
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  13. 13. xiii A DifferentLook at SalesPresentationsSection 1
  14. 14. A Different Look at Sales Presentations xivIn younger days, I was a sales engineer for an international valve and equip-ment manufacturer of steam heating and process systems. My leather casefull of sales materials—a 3-inch product binder, engineering guides, and amountain of other papers—seemed to weigh 80 pounds. Then the companygave me my first laptop. The thought of moving to PowerPoint was excit-ing. I quickly set out creating the most spectacular presentation mechanicalengineers had ever seen.Here’s what happened in the first sales call using the new approach. Out of40 slides, I made it through three before the customer threw a curve ball bywanting to discuss something not in my slide deck. I abandoned the showbefore even making it to slide four. Surely, I thought, the situation would im-prove in the next sales call, but it didn’t. I became aggravated enough withlinear slide decks that I eventually abandoned PowerPoint altogether and mycomputer collected dust back at the office. Then I discovered hyperlinking!I found a marketing pamphlet our company produced showing a completemechanical diagram of a steam system, along with where our products fit inthat system. I then scanned that pamphlet and hyperlinked every productto a technical data sheet. Later I hyperlinked to slides containing formulas,lists of questions to ask, and forms to fill out.It was a beautiful presentation strategy, and it worked. The visualnature of the diagram allowed me to invite participation from cli-ents. They could point to where they were having aproblem with their steam system, and I then wouldclick to display additional data or other sub-pre-sentations addressing the situation. My salescalls once again became multidirectional.I found the experience to be so effective, infact, that after 15 years with the companyI made a career change and now coachpeople in how to make powerfulpresentations with an approachcalled presentation-IMPACT. Be-lieve me, interactivity is an im-portant part of this process.M. J. Plebonmplebon@nhorizons.ca
  15. 15. Chapter 1: The Quest for Flexibility 1 Chapter 1 The Quest for Flexibility
  16. 16. A Different Look at Sales Presentations2 High StakesMark Devon sat at his desk, flipping though diagrams, pictures, tables ofdata, and progress reports. He wondered how he could organize this mess.How would his team present this mountain of information in a way thecustomer could easily understand. He had to figure that out; the upcomingfinancial stakes were huge and there were no prizes for second place.In about four months, Mark and his team would pitch a billion-dollarproposal to the U.S. Department of Defense, showcasing plans for a newweapons system. The DOD always expected lots of detail; they might wantto see anything and everything that sat on his desk at the moment.Mark also knew that times recently had changed. Past proposals requiredreams of paperwork, with every gory detail mapped out in physical formacross hundreds of bound pages—but not anymore. From now on, every-thing had to be in a digital format.Eventually, his entire proposal would culminate in a single, eight-hour-long, computer-based presentation designed to exhibit operations, capa-bilities, experience, supplier relations, costs, and a thousand other details.Presentation? he thought. No, that wasn’t the right word for it. This per-formance would be more like a brutal grilling requiring fast, flexible, on-demand answers to a daunting number of questions delivered by multiplepresenters to multiple buyers, in tandem.What kind of presentation platform could handle such a task. PowerPoint?Are you kidding? No doubt thousands of those ghastly things were float- ing around the company somewhere. Those wouldn’t help much, he thought. Surely nor- mal presentation software wouldn’t support a job like this. He needed a more powerful, more versatile, and much more compelling communication system.
  17. 17. Chapter 1: The Quest for Flexibility 3 Learning to Dance with the MomentMonths earlier, Paul Kinney had momentarily paused to glance aroundThe Home Depot floor area while setting up his demonstration materialsand presentation equipment. A few customers milled about, waiting forthe hands-on home improvement sessions to begin. Paul would be one ofseveral speakers today, showcasing his company’s products and explain-ing how they could be put to practical use—alongside several other ven-dors. As one of National Gypsum Company’s senior account managers, hehad participated in countless other such events, and never knew for surewhat questions to expect while interacting with a store’s customers. Todaysomething especially unusual was about to occur.Not long ago, Paul had been on the same quest as Mark, searching for anew approach to sales presentations, one that offered a potent combinationof content management and flexible access to individual topics. He nowhad a solution in hand, or at least the beginnings of one. Today his newlybuilt interactive presentation platform (his carefully designed baby, as heliked to call it) would go live, giving him unprecedented ability to movearound quickly and smoothly among many different visual presentationtopics, even while answering spontaneous questions from the audience.When his time slot arrived, Paul launched into an hour of demonstrationsand slide displays. His performance looked like a regular PowerPoint-enhanced talk in many respects, except that he wasn’t just scrolling fromslide to slide like everyone else. Rather, he navigated within what amount-ed to a visual database, with convenient access to just about anythingneeded from his 25 years of hard-earned experience. To Paul’s delight, hisinteractions with the audience went well. He finished perfectly on time,and then yielded to the next speaker, who had already begun setting upequipment. That’s when it happened.The next speaker encountered technical difficulties. Serious difficulties. Soserious, in fact, that within a few minutes he called Paul over and said,“Hey, I don’t think I’m going to be able to get this going. Do you want tocover the rest of my time slot?”Such a question a couple of months ago might have been met with a stut-tered, “Well, I … I … don’t know. I only prepared one presentation for
  18. 18. A Different Look at Sales Presentations 4 today.” But not this time. Paul jumped at the opportunity like a cat on a mouse. After all, his new navigation-laced presentation materials con- tained probably at least a hundred hours worth of valuable content, all available for any occasion, at any time. This would be a great opportunity to showcase more of his company’s products and services, and, besides, The Home Depot was one of his major accounts. Wouldn’t it be great to pull them out of this awkward situation? So, that’s precisely what he did during a spontaneous performance. The experience that day paid even higher dividends a short time later when Paul met with another important customer. By then, Paul had gained enough confidence with his new platform to use it during regular meetings with customers—even throughout unpleasant conversations.Figure 1.1: This aerial view shows one of Paul’s new products called e2XP. The purple-colored panels installed on the building’s exterior resist moisture, mold, and fire, andprovide a substrate underneath whatever siding eventually covers the building whenfinished. Photo courtesy of Paul Kinney, National Gypsum Company.
  19. 19. Chapter 1: The Quest for Flexibility 5On the day of the meeting, Paul walked into the president’s office notknowing for sure what surprise might be lurking. But he soon discoveredthat purchasing wished to radically alter an existing agreement with Paul’scompany, in favor of less expensive, alternative products made overseas.Paul was about to lose an account.He subsequently spent an entire afternoon with the executive and his buy-ing team, using interactive presentation materials to explore underlyingneeds and interests. Those understandings enabled dialogue that eventu-ally led to mutually beneficial solutions.Yes, in the end Paul saved the account. His ability to move effortlesslywithin a repository of visual content helped him access critical objection-handling slides at just the right moments and otherwise explore technicaldetails relevant to the customer.Truth be known, the company representatives probably never really want-ed to end the business relationship that day in the first place. They justneeded to see more flexibility and solutions to their problems. Paul smiles,thinking back on the president’s parting comments: “I called you in heretoday because I had made up my mind to cancel your account. I now seethat you really do care about and understand our business and can workwith us. That’s what I needed to know.”She phoned early in the morning, frustrated and disillusioned. We’ll callher Sharon. The golden world of opportunity recently had slapped Sharonin the face, and she needed a better solution. Preparing a well-thought-outsales pitch wasn’t her problem. Learning how to make that pitch dancecertainly was.Sharon had a brilliant idea for a new way of doing Internet-based fooddistribution and felt her plan was a sure bet to become the next online com-merce phenomenon. For months she had labored to gain the attention ofkey venture capital investors who could provide funding for her project.She even went so far as to have a presentation expert make up a specialslide show that mapped out all the minute details from beginning to end.Certainly, she surmised, someone risking millions of dollars on her inven-tion would want to see that all foreseeable issues and problems had been
  20. 20. A Different Look at Sales Presentations6comprehensively acknowledged and resolved. Not surprisingly, her salespresentation contained a lot of slides, with numerous facts, figures, anddetails packed on every one.Sure enough, one day it happened. She landed an appointment with a keyinvestor. Oh, did she ever prepare for that meeting, carefully contemplat-ing everything to be said, in the right order. She practiced her timing andmade sure the pitch could be delivered in about 40 minutes. “That will bea little rushed,” she thought, “but all these details are important and theyneed to be in there.”On the day of the appointment, she confidently fired up her computer,started the slide show, and put it into presentation mode. That’s when theinvestor responded with a sarcastic scowl, “Look … you know … I reallydon’t want to see all that nonsense! Just show me what this thing’s gonnado and how much it will cost.”What the investor really wanted at that point was a quick five-minute sum-mary of the concepts, a scenario Sharon failed to anticipate. He probablywas thinking, “Why should I sit through a 40-minute sales pitch? I mightnot even be interested in her invention. Besides, I have 20 other peoplewaiting. Honey, you’ve got five minutes to catch my interest and show mesomething that’s worth sinking money into. We can look at the details laterif I like your idea.”The jolting change of plans proved devastating for Sharon. Compacting 40minutes of carefully scripted content into what amounted to a five-minutecommercial just didn’t seem fair—or feasible. The only realistic solutionwas to abandon the slide show altogether and summarize the investmentverbally.She would leave the meeting that day having learned a valuable lessonabout business reality. Ultimately, a salesperson’s desired agenda meansvery little. We must be prepared at any moment to compact our valuepropositions into an elevator pitch (two or three minutes) as well as expandthem in exquisite detail. Sharon had done her homework and preparedwell for what she thought would happen, but she didn’t think of every-thing. None of us ever can. A more flexible message delivery platformmight have allowed her to make crucial adjustments on the spot and dealgracefully with unexpected circumstances.
  21. 21. Chapter 1: The Quest for Flexibility 7Contrast Sharon’s situation with one that happened to us recently.We had recently spoken to a group of 65 Australian business professionalsabout the ideas featured in this book—applying visually interactive pre-sentation techniques to sales situations. During the talk, attendees wereoffered follow-up consultation slots on a first-come, first-served basis.Now we were going to one of those consultation meetings, what basicallyamounted to a sales call.Walking in the door, we had no idea what to expect, other than possiblymeeting with senior personnel. It was a Friday afternoon.We were shuffled upstairs into a conference room and soon stood toe totoe with the managing director, the Australian equivalent of an AmericanCEO. Another person in the room identified himself as the managing di-rector’s boss, a regional director for the entire Asia/Pacific division. He justhappened to be in town and decided to attend. That was a surprise.While setting up equipment,we explained that a numberof topics could be coveredduring our meeting time (notelaborating that more than500 hours of content await-ed if they were so inclined).How much time had theyallotted for this meeting, weasked. “Oh, maybe a halfhour,” one of them respond-ed. That information was im-portant because it allowed usto quickly frame and priori-tize the number of topics that Figure 1.2: This screenshot represents a typicalcould be covered in the allot- slide we might use during training events and con-ted amount of time. “Sure,” cept demonstrations. The slide displays an interac-we responded. “That will be tive design strategy known as Topical Navigation that you will soon learn. Navigation elements onfine.” the left allow us to move dynamically among hun- dreds of available slides. During this slide selectionTwo and a half hours later, we process, the navigation components remain fixed infinally walked out the door. place, even while desired content choices fade into view at right.
  22. 22. A Different Look at Sales Presentations8They certainly were interested in the topics and wanted to see far more de-tail than we anticipated showing. As it turned out, they had just started re-structuring their regional sales presentation materials before meeting withus, a fact we didn’t know in advance. Those circumstances, along with therelaxed Friday afternoon time slot, facilitated an extended exploratory ses-sion that caught us by surprise. We anticipated a relatively short presen-tation initially, but fortunately were prepared for whatever the situationdemanded: a 5-minute overview, a 30-minute discussion, or a 2-hour freefor all.Those executives had also noticed the shift in plans. Never before had theyseen such a flexible use of presentation technology and decided they want-ed their sales team to be empowered with a similar competitive advantage.Those stories, and many others, inspired the book you are reading. Al-though these experiences likely differ from yours in specific details—notmany of us end up facing down a billion-dollar military proposal—chanc-es are you found yourself thinking, “Hmm. That sounds kind of familiar.I’ve been in circumstances like that.”We speakers who use digital presentation as a regular part of sales, consul-tation, and leadership activities find ourselves in complex, unpredictablepredicaments all the time. What we think will happen usually doesn’t goquite as planned, or we end up needing content that was never anticipated.Facts assumed to be true frequently evaporate before our very eyes.We long for agility in such moments. In a perfect world, our presentationtechnology would support rapid, nimble responses that allow us to dancewith the swirling dynamics of customer dialogues. If such presentationmaterials could morph into a fighter jet, we would be able to flick a controlstick to send all that informational power careening in new directions, ac-cording to viewer input.That would be nice. Unfortunately, most organizational presentations fallway short of a fighter jet metaphor. They are more like a bowling ball plow-ing straight down an alley, whacking the customer senseless with lists offixed assumptions and proposed solutions.
  23. 23. Chapter 1: The Quest for Flexibility 9 This Book’s PurposeThis book is designed to challenge existing presentation paradigms andempower presenters with a new way of approaching audiences. In par-ticular, we focus on changing sales presentations, and look at the variousways sales professionals use interactive presentation media to their benefit.However, that doesn’t mean you nonsales types are out of luck. If your jobdescription doesn’t involve direct selling and you are reading this book outof curiosity, that’s great. The same concepts can significantly enhance yourpersuasive potential, as well, if simply adapted appropriately. As the say-ing goes, we all sell something: leaders sell vision, trainers sell expertise,and motivators sell hope. There’s something here for everyone.Even so, you may want to check out Aspire’s more general presentationhandbook, Relational Presentation: A Visually Interactive Approach, for moreinteractive presentation concepts (see Chapter 15). What You’ll LearnThe journey from here can be summed up in a single word: adaptability. It’stime to begin transforming the way customers experience and interact withour computerized messages.What they see and hear must be highly relevant to their interests andneeds, and that only happens when we are able to adapt visual messagingstrategies on the fly. Molding value propositions to the understandingsand contexts of the people we face is an important part of sales success.Oh sure, making that kind of adaptability possible takes some work andusually requires a pretty significant change of mindset. You’ll be tearingapart those static, linear sales presentations your organization providesand turning them into a highly versatile platform, with random access tohundreds, maybe even thousands, of individual ideas.
  24. 24. A Different Look at Sales Presentations10We guarantee, too, that you don’t have to be a computer geek to pull off atransition to visually interactive presentation. It’s easier than most peoplerealize. Plus, upcoming chapters walk you step by step through the processso that you’ll be a pro in no time!Best of all, you won’t need any additional software beyond PowerPoint. Italready contains an enormous amount of built-in functionality most speak-ers have never heard of and works well for everything you’ll need to do.We also chose PowerPoint because many people already have MicrosoftOffice (the software suite containing PowerPoint) installed on their com-puter. You probably already have it on yours.If preferred, you can use Keynote, Impress, or like software instead, al-though we’re not sure if every technique discussed here will work exactlythe same as it does in PowerPoint. Some experimentation with alternativestrategies might be necessary. All instructions and illustrations in this bookapply directly only to operations in PowerPoint 2003 and PowerPoint 2007.And getting back to that change of mindset, here’s what we mean: Soonyour performances—those sales calls, conference speeches, and organiza-tional updates—will feel a lot less like giving a presentation and transitioninto having a visual conversation with viewers. The distinction between thetwo phrases is subtle, yet important.Giving a presentation implies that you are the one controlling the agenda,basically delivering a one-way lecture that audience members are expectedto listen to in silence and passively absorb. Having a visual conversation,on the other hand, suggests active, two-way communication—a partner-ship between presenter and viewers that strives for participation and mu-tual understandings.The latter description is especially important to sales because sales encoun-ters usually are intimate affairs—you and a few other individuals convers-ing around a conference table or in a café. Such an atmosphere is naturallyconducive to conversation, not lecture. Those of us who charge into op-portunities with fixed agendas, fixed slide shows, and fixed assumptions(hell-bent to deliver our value propositions) invite failure from the verybeginning.
  25. 25. Chapter 1: The Quest for Flexibility 11Opening up exploratory dialogue sets an entirely different tone. You don’thave to give up control of an encounter entirely. Just relax it a little.Let the conversation flow but listen to your audience. They’ll help guidethe conversation, and your visual presentation, allowing you to identifytheir interests and needs and to give them only appropriate viable solu-tions—both verbally and visually. And you won’t waste anybody’s time.Don’t be surprised when you become a distinctive as well as a welcomesalesperson.
  26. 26. A Different Look at Sales Presentations 12Rock Aronheim is the quintessential salesman. He owns Doogies, a throw-back ‘50s eatery in Newington, Connecticut. In less than five minutes withhim you’ll hear mouthwatering descriptions of his world’s longest hotdog (16inches) and the best cheese steak outside of Philly.But Rock lives a dual life. Several months out of the year, he leaves behindhis beloved wife of 40 years, packs up a team of sales people, and travelsto other cities where he liquidates furniture. Have you ever been to one ofthose huge sales where a furniture company clears its entire inventory atrock-bottom prices? Probably Rock was there, coordinating the event. Infact, he has been in furniture sales most of his life.Rock doesn’t use digital presentation and probably wouldn’t know a Power-Point slide if it bit him on the ankle, but he sure knows sales. So we askedhim to share a sales story or two for this book. Two hours later we were stillwriting notes. Of the stories he told, you’ll find our favorite preceding thenext chapter. Rock said something particularly interesting during the inter-view that has profound implications for you as a reader. He emphasized thepoint several times, even without knowledge of what we would be writingabout on upcoming pages.He said, “When a customer comes in the door, the mistake most sales peoplemake is to start selling right away with a comment like ‘Can I helpyou find something?’ or ‘What are you folks looking for today?’  His ”approach is more subtle; he introduces himself andthen says, “Would you like to browse?”That freedom to browse and exert some con-trol over the sales encounter puts peopleat ease and helps Rock follow up later withsoft sell techniques such as stories and an-ecdotes when they begin showing inter-est in particular products.You can do the same thing—dig-itally! By the end of this book,you will be empowered withsimilar possibilities that warmup buyers as they essentiallybrowse through your interactivepresentation materials.
  27. 27. Chapter 2: Changing the Paradigm 13 Chapter 2 Changing the Paradigm
  28. 28. A Different Look at Sales Presentations14 The Realities Salespeople FaceWe’ve noticed over the years that a large number of salespeople (alongwith consultants and executives) hate PowerPoint with an almost religiouszeal. They use it but more as a necessary evil than a valued tool. If pressedfor an explanation of why, they complain about having to look at end-less bullet points, say that such performances are boring, or wince at thethought of nervous presenters flicking that ridiculous little red light allover the screen. No arguments from our side; we agree with their opinionswholeheartedly.It’s quite likely, though, that a far more destructive (and less-often men-tioned) factor lurks under the surface, stoking dislike into white-hot pas-sion. Let’s face it: The standard way of using PowerPoint—a strictly linearmovement from slide to slide from the beginning of a presentation to itsbitter end—forces people to be lecturers rather than conversationalists. Theysimply cannot interact with people in a normal human-to-human waywhile stuck inside fixed sequences of bullet lists, animations, and slides.That’s a HUGE problem for salespeople. As soon as their projector lighthits the screen, any pretense of casual dialogue pretty much goes out thewindow. Those informal chats around the conference table turn into “I’mpulling out my computer now. So all of you just sit there and shut up for thenext 30 minutes while I plow through my 25-slide canned spiel.” It destroysthe collaborative atmosphere we try so desperately to create with customers.Amazingly, organizations all around the world actually encourage, andsometimes mandate, such horrific sales presentation behavior. They givesales team members a master corporate presentation bulging with care-fully laid out and scripted company history, who we are, where we’re heading,products and services, value to the customer, success rates, and blah, blah, blah.These master shows usually contain somewhere between 25 to 35 slides,packed full of bullet points from top to bottom. They can be larger. We’veseen them come in with a whopping 100 or more slides!Company representatives are expected to cover all the topics in the show(or as many as they can before being thrown out on their heels) by advanc-ing through the materials from beginning to end, just like everyone else.
  29. 29. Chapter 2: Changing the Paradigm 15The only problem is … taking one of these exquisitely crafted masterpiecesinto a real-life sales situation usually doesn’t work.The prospect you are meeting with today probably couldn’t care less aboutyour company’s history, its accomplishments, the clients you’ve workedwith, or whatever situations you’ve identified as problems needing to befixed. He is struggling with a pressing issue you don’t even know exists yetand is wondering if you have the solution.How are you going to immediately address his interests when the slideneeded is somewhere around the middle of your show? Let’s see, was itslide 22, 25, or maybe 30? Even worse, often that slide is in another showentirely, either somewhere on your computer or, heaven forbid, back at theoffice.Usually, it’s right about at this point when most sales professionals think,“Oh, heck with this!” and abandon their presentation materials in favor ofverbal-only discussions. The prospect’s facial expression basically says itall: “Don’t waste my time lecturing through your spiel. Let me ask a couplequestions and determine if our time together is worth pursuing.”Wouldn’t it be nice if he really could ask those questions—any questions—followed by your answer of, “Sure. Let me show you something you mightfind interesting.”I [Robert] once had aninteresting conversa-tion with a sales man-ager between sessionsat a conference. Shehad just watched mydemonstrations on in-teractive delivery andstill wasn’t convinced.“Yeah,” she said, “butyou don’t understand.We don’t just give ourpeople stock presenta-tions and expect themto blindly use thosematerials. Our sales Figure 2.1
  30. 30. A Different Look at Sales Presentations16staff thoroughly researches leads to get a sense of how things are done,how much they are paying, the scope of their budgets, what their biggestneeds are, and so forth. Why do we need the kind of flexibility you are talk-ing about when we already know our market very well?”Her logic sounded good on the surface, but she had missed the essenceof just about everything presented during the talk. Sales success involvesmore than just plugging facts into equations and making sure everythingcomes out right at the other end. It’s a living, evolving relationship thatoften requires quick thinking and changes of plans.Good salespeople certainly do prepare, practice, and strive to understandthe unique variables affecting their territories. At the same time, they rarelycontrol those variables. Anything can change at any moment, or facts mayhave been misinterpreted.How do we know for sure whom we will face during any given meeting,how much time they will have for us that day, the extent of their knowl-edge about our key topics, or what kinds of internal politics may be raginginside their organization at the moment? Maybe last week you made anappointment with Suzy Q. Johnson in purchasing, but upon arrival dis-cover that Suzy Q. called in sick this morning and Bubba Rockford frommarketing is covering her appointments instead. Whatever planning youdid up to this point now faces a different set of variables, and the agendamay require fine-tuning or a complete makeover. Sometimes we just don’tknow in advance what’s going to happen.I [Andre] found myself in just such an awkward situation a few years ago,back before I began using interactive presentation strategies. I arrived for ascheduled one-hour meeting with the human resources manager at one ofAustralia’s major petroleum companies. This was my first meaningful con-tact with them, the proverbial foot in the door. The plan was to discuss thefirm’s sales recruitment process. Certainly I had my detailed linear Power-Point show in hand, for what was supposed to be an informal meeting withonly this person—and certainly I had thought a lot about what he neededto hear.As soon as I walked into his office, I sensed trouble brewing. The room con-tained five people, instead of just one. My HR manager contact proceeded
  31. 31. Chapter 2: Changing the Paradigm 17to enthusiastically introduce me to his unexpected guests, including thegeneral manager of sales, a psychologist HR consultant, the firm’s call cen-ter manager, and—of all people—the CEO! His guests happened to hearabout the meeting just that morning and were curious about individualissues related to their job responsibilities. All of a sudden my simple, ca-sual talk turned into a full-blown sales demonstration, addressing multiplecompeting interests and perspectives. Those careful, late-night prepara-tions for this meeting subsequently evaporated into thin air.Five minutes into the talk, the psychologist interjected that another meet-ing was coming up and he had “just a few quick questions” to ask. Ofcourse, my slide show didn’t contain appropriate answers to his issues, or,in some cases, slides sat somewhere 30 transitions away. Other attendeessoon asked questions, as well, and a discussion ensued. The GM of saleswanted to know to what extent previous projects had increased sales rev-enues. The HR manager hoped to explore the candidate testing process,and the call center lady was wondering how all this related to her call cen-ter environment. Over the next hour, most of my PowerPoint content satworthless and unused before me because I couldn’t properly adjust it tothe rapidly changing situation.That meeting, and others like it, set me on a mission to find better ways ofusing media in sales situations. Careful advance planning obviously wasimportant, but that didn’t mean I had to settle for feeling trapped withinthose preparations during sales calls.Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan once said of the former SovietUnion, “Trust, but verify.” In the same way, savvy sales professionals trusttheir experience and preparations—to an extent—and then go on to furtherprobe and analyze circumstances while meeting with customers. On-the-spot information can be highly valuable. Converting Sales Presentations to Sales ConversationsHere’s an analogy that explores traditional PowerPoint use (and problemsassociated therewith) from a different angle: Imagine you and a friendmeet regularly in a café for conversation. Discussion topics meander ran-domly through many subjects: politics, movies, relationships, vacations,and whatever else comes to mind in the moment.
  32. 32. A Different Look at Sales Presentations18Then one day you get a bright idea. Wouldn’t it be cool to add visual ele-ments to those spontaneous conversations—pictures, video clips, charts,statistics and the like? That would greatly enrich the café experience be-cause you could show snippets of favorite movies, pictures taken duringtrips, and many other details that go beyond verbal description. Naturally,PowerPoint comes to mind, considering that it’s easy to use and handlesvisual media well. So you and your friend decide to bring computers tothe next rendezvous, complete with long, comprehensive slide shows thatguide discussions and predict all the topics likely to be discussed, in theright order.You probably already can see the oncoming train wreck. When the two ofyou meet and pull out your machines, what will happen to the conversa-tion? You both planned your linear shows with great detail, and you prettymuch know how the other person thinks. So, theoretically, the conversa-tion should proceed smoothly.It doesn’t. Invariably, some of the topics you thought surely she wouldwant to address are not in her show at all. A few topics are the same but arenot in the same order or contain either more or less detail than you like. Inother words, it is utterly impossible for the two of you to go through your Figure 2.2: A lovely little café in southern Belize.
  33. 33. Chapter 2: Changing the Paradigm 19respective presentations simultaneously and have any kind of meaningfulencounter. The prepared agendas vary too much across several fronts.Two options are possible: Either you’ll agree to watch only one of the slideshows at a time and let that author control the “discussion” accordingly,or you’ll abandon the slide shows altogether and have a normal, spontane-ous, verbal conversation.Neither scenario is ideal. Isn’t that exactly what happens during interac-tions with prospects and customers? Either we dominate their time withour planned agenda, or we abandon our potentially helpful presentationmaterials in favor of real interactions with those folks, all of whom prob-ably have agendas different from ours.Fortunately, you don’t have to make a choice between the two extremesbecause a better option combines the best of both. You can have your con-versation and show it, too! Fixing the problem is quite straightforwardand doesn’t involve dumping PowerPoint. On the contrary, the only thingyou’ll be throwing away is that strictly linear attitude most people harbor.Pause for a moment to rethink our visual café conversation. What if were-engineered the two comprehensive, long slide shows by first dividingthem into little pieces, and then arranging those pieces into descriptive cat-egories? We could even go a step further by subsequently adding randomaccess to every single slide within all the categories. When finished, wewould be able to quickly find and access any slide in the show, from anyslide in the show.What would that do to our casual discussion? Well, for one thing, wewouldn’t necessarily need to start with the first slide in the show anymore.Either conversational partner could start a discussion with any slide, inany category, at any time. Furthermore, we wouldn’t have to show all theslides in the show just because they’re there. Maybe you planned an exten-sive diatribe on the latest United Nations scandal, but your friend quicklybores of the topic and wants to talk about her latest shopping experienceat the mall. No problem. Skip the rest of the slides in the politics category(or quickly sneak in one that’s further down the line, in hopes of renewinginterest).Actually, there’s no need to follow any fixed discussion at all on some oc-casions. If a topic arises that neither of you anticipated—that isn’t repre-
  34. 34. A Different Look at Sales Presentations20sented in either of your slide shows—temporarily set the visual compo-nents aside and come back to them later. After all, once slides are availablefor random selection as described, they are like visual words that can beadded to a discussion at any moment, or just as easily ignored. That’s thekind of adjustability salespeople crave and is exactly where you are head-ing in chapters ahead.Imagine having such flexibility during a sales call and being able to changemessage focus instantly, according to a prospect’s needs and interests. Fewwould argue with the fact that tailored interaction is the essence of goodsalesmanship and superior customer relations. There’s absolutely no rea-son why a computer should be allowed to steal that away from you. What You’re Getting Yourself IntoOn the other hand, we should mention one more tiny thing: Masteringsuch adjustability and flexibility has relatively little to do, ultimately, withyour computer skills. Other factors are more important.Certainly the techniques you will be learning revolve around digital pre-sentation—knowing how to get the most out of what you show to viewers.At the same time, this book is not merely a help manual for PowerPoint.Becoming visually interactive with customers and colleagues is a muchdeeper process that goes way beyond throwing pictures on slides and add-ing hyperlinks. In a sense, it’s a quest to digitize your brain and capturehow it responds to rapidly changing circumstances.Soon you’ll begin contemplating the complexities of your selling environ-ment at a level beyond what you’ve ever done before. We’ll provide guid-ance during that process, but only you can work through the specifics.Those contemplations then must be organized into efficient patterns. Ifyour café friend asks to see pictures from the rain forest part of your tripto Costa Rica, you better have organizational logic in place that helps youinstantly locate the relevant slides.Without a doubt, eventually you’ll need to get down to the nitty-gritty ofbuilding your PowerPoint platform, but that’s still not the end of the jour-ney. Learning how to use that presentation-based tool effectively is a fas-
  35. 35. Chapter 2: Changing the Paradigm 21cinating experience allon its own.The journey ahead islike striving to becomefluent in a new lan-guage—a visually dy-namic sales language.During discussions,you will navigatewithin collections ofreusable content as ifrolling words off yourtongue to match situa-tions faced. Your ver-bal words will be lacedwith visual examples, Figure 2.3: Hardy explorers get ready to cruise through theanalogies, metaphors, steamy treetops of a Costa Rican rain forest on a long zip line.comparison-contrasts,and picture stories.Your whole way ofthinking about digitaldelivery must morphinto a connection be-tween human andmachine. Rather thanmerely building a slideshow for a perfor-mance next week, thefirst question you’ll askyourself is, “How canthis upcoming perfor-mance make use of mypermanent reservoirof visual sales strate-gies that have evolvedgradually over thelast few months—oryears.?” Eventually,you’ll discover that any Figure 2.4: Oh my! Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!
  36. 36. A Different Look at Sales Presentations22given performance requires very little content creation because of all thereusable components from past performances.That’s when everything changes and you start exploring the secrets Pauldiscovered, the same secrets that eventually engulfed and hooked Markas well. Both realized that selling is not a simple process reduced to a fewabstract formulas, glib phrases, or proverbial sales pitches. Rather, it isa complex set of actions and reactions, a living, interconnected jungle ofever-changing value propositions, egos, human dynamics, technology fac-tors, coincidences and luck. In other words, the selling process is a messy,evolving system, just like weather patterns, ecosystems, our bodies, andthe birth of galaxies. Countless variables exert influences on (and are influ-enced by) countless other variables. Learning how to adjust to that chaos,with powerfully visual, on-demand sales materials, dramatically improvesyour chances of success. That’s what you are getting yourself into.Of course, some of you already are racing ahead with thoughts of an evenhigher-level application. If an individual can wield so much power usingan interactive presentation-based platform, why not build structures thatspan entire sales teams or departments? That way, multiple people mightbenefit from the same materials, either separately or in tandem. At thatpoint visually interactive presentation would become an organizationalnorm and usher in a new level of media efficiency.Such enterprise-level applications certainly are possible, with a few extravariables considered. In this book, however, we’ll pretty much stick withthe simpler route of getting an individual platform in place. The largerscope can happen later.
  37. 37. Chapter 2: Changing the Paradigm 23 Figure 2.5: During the building activities in Section 2, we’ll start with a template like this and build what is known as a platform shell—basically an intricately linked collection of slides within a single slide show. After completing the shell, we’ll add content to the individual slides, within cat- egories that match your presentation contexts.
  38. 38. A Different Look at Sales Presentations 24Thirty years ago, Rock Aronheim worked the showroom of an upscale fur-niture retail store. The items for sale were high quality, and their prices re-flected it. Only discriminating (and presumably wealthy) customers shoppedin this establishment.One day a couple walked in. They milled around the floor area for awhile,not focusing on any item in particular. They eventually, however, settled infront of two lamps.These were not your ordinary lamps. Each cost $400, and $400 back thenwas a heck of a lot more money than it is today. The couple milled around abit more, but the woman kept gravitating back toward those lamps.That gave Rock a clear buying signal, and he struck up a conversation in hisusual jovial manner. Yes, she really liked those lamps, but she just couldn’tmake up her mind which one to get. They both were one-of-a-kind anduniquely beautiful. What a tough choice. First she would decide to buy oneand then the other, and then back to the other again. Her indecision wenton and on.Of course, Rock was a commissioned sales representative back then, and heknew that spending so much time with this particular customer preventedhim from meeting others who might pay several thousand dollarsfor a new dining room set or sofa collection. He needed to push herto a decision point, but couldn’t think of a gracefulway of telling her, “Come on, lady. They’re both perfectfor you. Just pick one for crying out loud.” Rightabout then, the idea hit—more as a joke out offrustration than anything else.He said, “You know what you should do?Why don’t you take both of them? Youcan have one for spring and summerand the other for fall and win-ter.”Her face lit up, and she prompt-ly bought both lamps withoutanother thought!
  39. 39. Chapter 3: What’s in It for You 25 Chapter 3 What’s in It for You
  40. 40. A Different Look at Sales Presentations26We’re almost ready to jump into the hands-on building components of Sec-tion 2, an experience we think you’ll find rewarding on many fronts. Beforedoing so, though, let’s take a moment to explore the benefits that go withthese new presentation strategies—the what’s in it for me and my organiza-tion part of the process. That way you’ll have a clear sense of your well-deserved return on investment. Think of the benefits outlined here as yourcompetitive advantage. More than likely, the competition doesn’t yet knowwhat you will be learning. Expanded VocabularyEarlier we mentioned that breaking down large sales presentations intobite-sized chunks essentially adds to your vocabulary—your visual vocab-ulary. Here’s what that really means:What we show people tends to be far more impactful and memorable thanwhat we tell them. That’s because our ability to perceive, interpret, and re-member visual information goes way back to very ancient times.The brain is wired at the deepest levels to seek out such stimuli. We learnedhow to visually recognize food items, lurking danger, potential mates, andsources of power much, much earlier than the invention of spoken andwritten language.The implication is that if you want people to fully understand and betterremember what’s being sold, and its importance, your messages shouldbe as meaningfully visual as possible. Answering questions or handlingobjections through verbal information alone is not enough.The only way to reliably enable such visual expression during spontaneousinteractions is to have all your ideas separated onto individual slides, andthen provide instant access to every slide. In a sense, the platform beingbuilt is like a repository of visual words, allowing you to augment spokenvocabulary and typed text with another deeply meaningful form of com-munication. Once dynamic selection of graphical content mixes smoothlywith verbal expression, you reach an admirable state known as visual flu-ency.
  41. 41. Chapter 3: What’s in It for You 27 Power and SimplicityYour interactive sales platform will be created with PowerPoint, in partbecause so many people already have the software installed on their com-puter. But there’s also another reason: PowerPoint strikes an excellent bal-ance between potent functionality and simple, intuitive design. It has ev-erything needed to form the kind of robust, versatile tool you need, but atthe same time is extremely easy to use.That ease of use benefits you in countless ways. Once you’ve masteredthe core design techniques of upcoming chapters, making changes to yourmaterials, and adding new components later, will be practically effortless.Of course, in theory you potentially could build similar communicationstrategies using other software applications such as Adobe Acrobat or evenWeb authoring programs … but why? Nothing matches PowerPoint’s sleekcombination of power and simplicity. It does what it does very well, andthat allows you to spend less time wrestling with technical design issuesand more time doing what you do best—selling and persuading. Professional AppearanceMost presentation materials found in organizations today have two com-mon characteristics: They are boring to watch, and they are ugly.These quickly produced, low quality, bullet-point-filled, clip-art-infestedmonstrosities typically are made for single performances only, and thenthrown away afterwards. Little attention is given to aesthetic quality orvisual effect. After all, who would put a lot of time into building somethingthat soon will be discarded and forgotten anyway?Not surprisingly, most PowerPoint performances suffer from a lack of pro-fessionalism as a result. Sure, the backgrounds may look pretty, but every-one knows that overall presentation materials have little more value than aplastic bag soon to hit the rubbish bin.
  42. 42. A Different Look at Sales Presentations28What you are about to build is different. Your slides will be worthy of farmore quality, more time, and more resources because of their reusability.You are not creating a throwaway presentation.Most of the content added to your platform should be generic enough tospan numerous events and a wide variety of audiences. In other words,you’ll build your slides to represent core ideas that are communicated overand over again. You’ll build those slides well, using meaningful pictures,attractive graphics, descriptive video, and so forth.If you follow such guidelines and treat your presentation platform withthe same respect that would be given to a high-quality Web site, televisioncommercial, or computer-based training program, then you can approachcustomers with confidence, knowing that your ideas project a professionalappearance. Differentiation: Standing out from the CrowdAs sales professionals, we constantly search for ways of distinguishingourselves from competitors. We promise greater value, higher quality, bet-ter service or superior solutions—all in the interest of looking different andattracting notice.Being visually interactive with prospects and customers will certainly getyou noticed. Probably these individuals have never seen the kind of visualcustomer service you will be able to provide.The categorized nature of your new materials alone will distinguish youfrom your competitors. Plus, the less cluttered nature of your slides willcommunicate information in more effective, visually stimulating ways,even while everyone else continues with the same monotonous presenta-tion designs that have been around for the past 20 years.You alone will be able to coordinate what you show to what you say in themidst of answering random questions and probing customer motivations.Leave your viewers thinking, “Wow. That was different.”
  43. 43. Chapter 3: What’s in It for You 29 Tailored SolutionsBeing able to steer visual messages in various directions, according to cus-tomer interests and needs, benefits both buyer and seller. It helps the buyerbetter understand a seller’s value propositions because they see only whatis relevant to their situation, rather than being distracted or bored by irrel-evant material. It helps the seller by cutting down on guesswork and mindreading. There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying something to theeffect of, “Here are the three products or services we have available thatmight work well in your situation. I’ll give you a quick overview of each,and you can tell me which one seems most applicable. We’ll look at thatone in more detail.”In a tailored-presentation context, buyers become participants in the sell-ing process rather than simply targets. They get to explore the possibilitiesyou present, and then focus on the most interesting or promising options.Such exploration helps you discover interests and pain points you didn’teven know they had, along with appropriate upselling opportunities. Shorter Sales Cycles and Higher Sales Conversion RatiosFocusing attention on underlying customer needs during sales interactionshelps you build better long-term relationships, resulting in faster sales con-versions, increased sales revenues, and higher profit margins. Think aboutit. If you were on the receiving end of a sales pitch, would you prefer acanned spiel that rambles on about everything the salesperson considersimportant or a chance to get right to the point, looking at specific solutionsyou find intriguing?Most of us have a reasonably good idea of what might improve our organi-zation’s performance, especially after seeing a number of competing offers.We don’t need to hear a slick sales pitch. What we do want is a problemsolver, someone who takes the time to understand our situation and part-ner with us as a trusted business advisor. We crave a person who truly hasour best interests in mind, or at least is willing to adjust his or her prioritiesto better meet ours.
  44. 44. A Different Look at Sales Presentations30It’s that kind of individual who is likely to receive our confidence andinvestment, if for no other reason than we feel more comfortable duringthe decision-making process. We might even be willing to pay a premiumprice for his or her solutions, or offer more long-term buyer loyalty as areward for such customer-focused professionalism. Multiuser CapabilitiesIf your interactive presentation materials eventually expand to service mul-tiple people, a whole world of potential awaits. For example, you mightcreate several categories of information that are universally usable by ev-eryone on a sales team, and then allow each of those people to add theirown customized categories, addressing particular accounts or regions.Similarly, you might create little packets of interlinked slides that any pre-senter can add to his or her platform at any time. A hospital, for example,would give all their doctors a base platform that contains universal content,and then allow them to pick and choose additional information packetsthey want—perhaps various branches of anatomy, pathology, nutrition,exercise, or whatever. Adding one of these packets to anyone’s platformrequires only seconds, using a single hyperlink. Brand Management and Quality ControlAfter months of uncertainty, you’ve made up your mind … well, almost.Maybe you’re going to have that cosmetic surgery after all. You’ve seen theTV advertisement for a well-known surgeon portraying beautiful imagery,before and after shots highlighting the transformation you want. Drivingto the shopping mall, you see a glamorous billboard from the same doc-tor, offering an identical value proposition that promises to transform youovernight into a more beautiful person.You decide this cosmetic surgeon may be the one for you and contact herfor an exploratory consultation. Upon arrival you notice that the facilitiesare modern, very clean, and calming music is playing in the background—just as you would expect from a professional organization. Staff membersare attentive, smiling, and courteous, and they are wearing the same style
  45. 45. Chapter 3: What’s in It for You 31medical uniforms shown during the commercial and on the billboard. Thewaiting room colors are the same, too. The cosmetic surgeon appears, andyou are similarly impressed by her charm and professional demeanor. Fi-nally, you are hooked.The transition to a yes decision didn’t happen by accident. All along theway, your impressions were carefully scripted and managed, so that youfelt as comfortable and confident as possible going under the knife withthis particular surgeon.That is branding. Companies often spend millions to micromanage everydetail of such branding and customer experiences: colors, logos, mottos,imagery, atmosphere, staff behavior, procedures and more.With stunning frequency, however, they neglect applying the same brand-ing rigor and quality control to their sales presentations. Employees some-times receive a blank PowerPoint template featuring company colors andlogos, but that’s about it. Few go on to offer enterprise-wide communica-tions strategies accompanying the template, or otherwise guide the presen-tation activities of company representatives.Salespeople in such situations often end up designing their own sales pre-sentations, with minimal organizational input, coaching, or supervision.That’s a shame for several reasons. Many of us have mediocre or poor designskills (it’s not our specialty) and, therefore, have no business creating contentthat represents our firm’s brand. Also, most of us don’t even know about, orcare about, such branding strategies, nor do we have a clear sense of whatpresentation materials other people in the organization are making and pre-senting—how they express the company’s branding elements and values.This situation changes when an interactive sales platform evolves to theenterprise level and begins to guide an entire sales force. Then, customersexperience clear, consistent, high-quality branding elements, regardless ofwhom they interact with and irrespective of which day they see any givenpresentation.At the same time, individual speakers retain full freedom to leverage theirunique personality and industry knowledge, in a way that best satisfiesindividual customer requirements. They benefit from the wisdom of theentire force—and the graphic design skills of someone trained to be in thatposition—while sacrificing little individual decision-making.
  46. 46. A Different Look at Sales Presentations32 Content ManagementMost organizations have thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, ofPowerPoint slide shows scattered all over the place. Possibly, any of thoseshows, or slides within the shows, might be valuable to someone, some-where. A slide built in Singapore last month might be usable by a staffmember in Melbourne, Hong Kong, or New York next month, if only thosepeople knew of its existence.Finding, organizing, and leveraging those valuable far-flung resources (atleast the most important ones) is the holy grail of your future endeavors,especially if elevating the interactive platform to an enterprise level. Basi-cally, you will be creating a potentially stunning visual database full ofhundreds, possibly thousands, of randomly displayable topics that addressevery foreseeable company offering and probable customer need. Your ef-forts will produce a content management system full of vitally importantslides that are neatly categorized, arranged, and readied for action. Sales Training PlatformWe’ve noticed that people easily overlook a hugely useful benefit associat-ed with reusable presentation platforms. The same interactive componentsthat allow you to answer questions, handle objections, and craft solutionsin front of customers can have a secondary purpose as well. They make anideal training tool for new sales professionals and other company present-ers.Your organized content categories are like a blueprint of the firm’s corpo-rate culture and intellectual property. The platform can be a great trainingtool to induct and road-test new sales and marketing recruits, as well as avaluable coaching framework for developing effective speaking skills.By navigating around inside the platform’s categories, trainees learn thecompany’s brand values and practice critical methods of visual expression.The content they see stimulates learning in an organized way, while theylearn about the firm’s capabilities and selling strategies. Definitely considerusing your interactive sales platform in this alternative capacity—as a cost-effective learning and development tool.
  47. 47. Chapter 3: What’s in It for You 33 Design EfficiencyFinally, consider this: Constructing an interactive sales platform requiresa certain amount of upfront commitment and resources on your part, nodoubt about that. However, those efforts pay big dividends later. After thecore structure full of frequently used content slides is in place, prepara-tions for future performances become very efficient. Much needed content,in that case, already exists somewhere in the platform and is ready fordisplay at any time, with any audience. There’s no need to build a presen-tation for each new event.The process becomes exponentially more efficient at the enterprise levelbecause individuals aren’t wasting their own time developing separate setsof core presentation materials. The core is built once, and then distributedto all. Individuals then add on supplementary content they need for spe-cific contexts.To emphasize the point, consider this story a customer recently shared:“I hired Cliff to help develop high-dollar new business opportunities formy company,” Susan told us.“For the most part, he was reasonably competent and successful at histasks. I guess you could say he typified the normal business developmentprofessional found in most firms.”At one point Susan and Cliff began preparing a sales presentation for ahigh-stakes contract worth approximately $500,000 per annum.“For two solid weeks prior to the scheduled meeting day, Cliff sat at hisdesk, eyes glued to the screen of his laptop, designing our PowerPointsales presentation,” Susan continued. “On the last day before the meeting,he came to my office, holding his laptop up in the air with both hands andproudly proclaiming ‘The sales presentation is done!’“He gave me a dry run of the slide show. It was a decent effort and reason-ably attractive, although heavily bullet-pointed. At the show’s end, Clifflooked to me for approval and said ‘What do you think? Do you like it?’
  48. 48. A Different Look at Sales Presentations34“Yeah, I guess I liked it; it was kind of OK, except for the fact Cliff hadspent nearly two working weeks redesigning our stock corporate salespresentation that was available to everyone from the sales library on thecompany intranet. He proudly told me how he had customized it, to in-clude fancy animations, GIF images, slide transitions and a screenshot ofthe firm’s company logo on each slide. Well, overall, I’d have to say that itcame across rather amateurish, really.”Worse still, Cliff really believed it looked great; he resisted constructivefeedback Susan gave him and reacted defensively to every recommenda-tion she made. For some inexplicable reason, he was convinced that add-ing fancy PowerPoint functionality somehow made their proposal moreirresistible. Apparently Cliff’s ego wouldn’t take kindly to Sharon messingwith his carefully crafted little jewel.Says Sharon, “We did go on, in fact, to win the deal—our sales pitch wassuccessful. In reality, though, I doubt Cliff’s flying bullet points had muchto do with our success. Perhaps our competitors had a sales presentationthat looked and sounded worse than ours. Who knows. At any rate, I re-member thinking at the time, ‘what a waste of productivity, spending somuch time basically adding fluff.’ ”Every firm has tens, hundreds, or maybe even thousands of Cliffs. Theoverlooked loss of productivity associated with these individuals design-ing and producing their own PowerPoint presentations for every perfor-mance is enormous. The hidden costs must be frightening.Their talents could be put to better use, especially if spending more timein front of customers. Taking steps to establish a permanent, reusable plat-form that evolves over time is a far more cost-effective strategy.
  49. 49. Chapter 3: What’s in It for You 35 Feature Keeping a company’s sales force happy, healthy, and productive is not an easy task. In fact, it requires a certain level of insanity even to try. Fortunately, the world has people like Richard and Vicki Forrest around. They run Alterant Strate- gies Group, Inc., a sales consulting firm that helps the rest of us mere mortals make sense of our company’s complex sales dynamics. Richard called one day to discuss how visually interactive presentation techniques might augment their work with clients, where they teach everything from pros- pecting and proposal-writing skills to presentation techniques and team selling. It didn’t take long before he saw a perfect fit and dove into Aspire’s workshop ses- sions. Within a week, he and Vicki were busily building a whole new side of their sales-coaching activities. Richard explains, “What’s nice is that we now use the strengths of interactive presentation techniques in two ways. They help us teach sales principles and methods to clients, and likewise give us a convenient way of representing our own services to prospects. Before going the interactive route, we pretty much did the same thing as everyone else, delivering our value propositions while work- ing through 30 sequential slides. Not anymore. Now ideas bubble up naturally in the course of problem identification and solutions development. Our presentation materials act as a support system that we move around in as needed. “What we realized, too, is that having all our valuable content categorized in such a professional, flexible way differentiated us from the other suits-with-briefcases standing in the hall trying to get the business. We stood out. That fact further improved our credibility because people could see firsthand that we really did have the knowledge to help them look different with their sales activities as well. Presenting this way in any kind of sales con- text simply makes common sense to us.” Richard & Vicki Forrest Alterant Strategies Group, Inc. PH: 909-626-2453 www.alterantstrategies.com Figure 3.1: Slide courtesy of R. and V. Forrest
  50. 50. 36
  51. 51. 37 Making a Visually Interactive PlatformSection 2
  52. 52. Making a Visually Interactive Platform 38Alan has worked most of his career at one of Australia’s leading electricalretailers. During that time, he has consistently exceeded his retail salestargets and been awarded entry into their Number 1 Sales Club—an honorbestowed annually on only a handful of retail sales executives.Despite his enviable track record, Alan is an unassuming salesperson; somewould even describe his selling style as laid back and relaxed. What’s thesecret of Alan’s success? It certainly doesn’t come from the school of hardsell, where everyone is seen as a viable sales target. As Alan says himself,“People want to feel like they can trust you. They don’t like pressure orhaving the sense they have been oversold or upsold. Therefore, I try todownplay the hype and undersell rather than oversell, always acting in thebuyer’s best interests.”He continues, “Recently a customer came into our showroom looking for awall-mounted plasma television. The gentleman had done a lot of researchon the Internet prior to visiting and was pretty much settled on what hewanted and how much he was prepared to pay. I asked him about the sizeof his lounge area and realized right away that the model he was consideringwas way too big for that room, considering he lived in a small apartment. Itwould be like sitting in the front row of a movie theatre.“I pointed out this fact and eventually persuaded him to buy a morecompact, less expensive model that saved him $1,500. True, theadvice cost me a couple of hundred dollars in lostcommission, but I acquired a more satisfied and loyalcustomer in the end.“The payback came two months later whenthe same customer walked back into theshowroom, now wanting an HD video re-corder and an uncompromisingly superbsurround sound stereo system. Moneywas no object. Interestinglyenough, this time he hadn’tdone any research on the Inter-net and sought my direct adviceinstead. The sale took less than30 minutes and came in at twicethe price of the original plasmatelevision.”
  53. 53. Chapter 4: An Overview of Your Project 39 Chapter 4 An Overview of Your Project
  54. 54. Making a Visually Interactive Platform40 Manage Your Project WellLet’s get started creating your interactive sales platform. During the nextfew chapters, we’ll walk through a series of steps that help you map outyour ideal presentation structure—and then build it!Well, OK. We’ll start building it. In reality, building activities usually ex-tend over a period of time and never really end, actually. That’s becausethe structure you are bringing to life truly is a living creature in a way. Itcontinues expanding and changing over time as your marketplace evolvesand shifts.From now on, we’ll refer to your development activities as a project. Youare starting a project, you know, much like designing a Web site, writing abook, or bringing a new product to market. It’s a substantial endeavor andshould be given necessary respect.Those of you completing this project on behalf of your firm should con-sider setting up formal project management procedures, with someone as-signed to oversee planning, tracking, and implementation. Although wewill be working within the simplicity of PowerPoint, other aspects are notas simple. Visually organizing your brain, and understanding how to fullyleverage your firm’s assets in the process, is no small task.It requires a lot of thought. It takes time. Resources and talent are required—usually both internal and external. It demands commitment, patience, andnot a small amount of methodical persistence. Taking a lackadaisical ap-proach while moving forward is not an option. Your Project’s Principle StepsAssuming the last three paragraphs didn’t scare you off, here’s an over-view of where we’re heading—a time period that typically spans two tothree months for most people: Project Analysis. The first critical step looks at im- portant project logistics that must be considered
  55. 55. Chapter 4: An Overview of Your Project 41before actually building anything in PowerPoint. Such considerations notonly save substantial time down the road, they also provide a much bet-ter picture of your (or your organization’s) true communication and salespresentation objectives.During this first step, you’ll ponder key issues: what presentation situationsyou want the platform to address (its purposes), who will build the overallstructure and associated content, who the content experts and presentersare, how much money is available for the project’s budget, and what mile-stones and time frames should guide and confine its development.During this step you ask those BIG questions, exploring why and how theinteractive presentation content will come into being. It’s a careful analysisof all the people, resources, and project details needed for turning objec-tives into reality. Equally important, Step 1 also prioritizes those objectivesso that they occur in the proper order. Content Planning. When all those project parame- ters are in place and you have permission to move forward, attention shifts to determining whatkinds of content should fill the platform’s slides. Keep in mind that you’renot building anything yet. You’re just brainstorming.The platform eventually can contain whatever content sections you like, ofcourse, but we definitely are going to do our part to telling you what WEthink they should be. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be anything left to fill thepages of this book.Assertive guys that we are, we’ll outline 12 content categories that seem towork well for most firms, regardless of what you are selling. While readingthrough the descriptions of each, you can be thinking to yourself, “Yes, sir.I need that one” or “No thanks. I’ve got a better idea.” Content Analysis and Organization. Like most business professionals, you and your colleagues probably have a mountain of existing PowerPointslides lying dormant somewhere, along with more mountains of potentialcontent inside filing cabinets and spread across computers. Some of thoseslides might be usable right away in your new platform. Other slides canbe included after appropriately modified. Much valuable content probablydoesn’t yet exist in slide format at all and must be created. Sorting through

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