Digital Marketing

The Perfect Pitch – Key #9 for Successful Sales Presentations

Key #9 – You Came to Sell; Not to Present

We have seen and heard countless great presentations that did not result in sales. So, unless this is a meeting of the Toastmasters Club, the object is to get the business; to change a prospect into a client. If you spend all of the time at the meeting worrying about whether you and your team are making a good presentation, rather than whether you’re connecting with the prospect and his/her needs, then the prospect will shake your hand, tell you what a great job you did in explaining your service and that will be that.

So, move the meeting through the selling process—from acknowledging needs through a description of your relevant services, to a summary that shows how you can help achieve the objectives, to an expression of how passionately you want to work with the prospect, to asking for the next step in the process.

…which leads us to the summary of the Perfect Pitch

One. Three messages about your service that are distinct, compelling and powerful.

Two. Know the three key needs of your prospect that align with your product or service.

Three. You need to be sure that your Perfect Pitch gets you the business.

This is the final series of The Perfect Pitch.  Thank you for reading!

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The Perfect Pitch – Key #8 for Successful Sales Presentations

Key #8 – Active Listening

Most every business executive has taken a course or two in active listening. We’ve all read about it, but few of us do it. All we can suggest is re-read the books. Really engaging your mind with the prospect’s is critical to any successful presentation experience. Practice. Practice on your children or spouse. They’ll appreciate it. Practice on your colleagues. They’ll appreciate it. Hey, practice on yourself. Actively listen to yourself. You’ll appreciate it. Most people believe that great presenters are great talkers. Maybe. But, great presenters who close sales are great listeners.

And, that brings us to the last and most important “key” coming up next week!

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The Perfect Pitch – Key #6 for Successful Sales Presentation

Key #6 – Dress for Success

It’s harder than ever to know what’s appropriate. Business casual in Los Angeles is entirely different than in Atlanta. Business dress in London is different than in Houston and so on.

Some advice:

– Conservative is always the best choice, unless you’re selling creativity or wild eccentricity. The genius researcher or brilliant writer can wear pretty much what he or she wants.  Make sure the prospect knows beforehand that the genius is coming and won’t be put off by the appearance.

– Black is your friend.

– Dowdy is dowdy is dowdy. If it’s more than ten years old, use it for something other than a major presentation, even old Armani looks like old Armani.

– Never wear excessive jewelry.

– Shoes, briefcases, purses are important. There are people out there who judge you by your leather and often they are potential clients.

– Hair? That would be an essay in and of itself. Suffice to say, neat, well cut, reasonably in fashion and if you color, make sure the roots don’t show!

– If it’s golf-and-a-presentation or any other sport-and-a-presentation combo (and it happens), wear the proper clothes and most important, the right shoes. Parrot colors should be left at home.

Key #7 coming up next week.

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The Perfect Pitch – Key #5 to Successful Sales Presentations

Key #5 – Do a Q & A Rehearsal

You want to  make your presentation highly interactive with your prospects.  Your #1 objective is to gain as much understanding as possible about their business goals, what they are planning to do to achieve them and how your expertise fits into that process.  More questions from the prospects are better.  Someone should write out the handful of questions that the prospect is likely to ask and the answers to those questions. Pay particular attention to your weaknesses vis-a-vis the competition and make sure you have strong, confident answers.

Key #6 next week.

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The Perfect Pitch – Key #4 to Successful Sales Presentations

Key #4 – Support Materials

Advertising

A key factor in gaining recognition of your brand, your product or your service is advertising. Whether via TV, radio, print, the Web or other specialty advertising, the important factor, as far as your presentation is concerned, is the integration of your advertising messages and the messages you convey in the presentation. All messages must be aligned.

Letters, Calls and Invitations

Again, as with advertising, the messages should create a foundation that you can build upon during the in-person presentation. Messages are graphic, as well as written words. The look and feel of all these communication elements must support your core brand messages.

Final confirmation of presentation

We all have about a nanosecond’s worth of time to review an upcoming meeting. Your communication to the meeting participants should be concise and cover, at minimum, the purpose of the meeting, the agenda, the time frame, the logistics and any special information such as maps, dining arrangements, and most important, a list of attendees.

Presentation Materials

To PowerPoint or not to PowerPoint. Generally, if you are presenting to more than three people, the information is detailed, the presentation will be longer than 15 minutes and/or graphics are important, we recommend PPT support.

If you use PPT,

  • – Keep the deck as short as possible; roughly two slides per minute is a good rule of thumb.
  • – Bullet points—no paragraphs unless you are reviewing a final copy statement.
  • – Charts must be consistent, one format only and, for financial services companies, the format ought to be a generally accepted one.
  • – Look and feel of the slides must reflect your brand identity.
  • – Always, always customize the first and last slides to your prospect. If you use the corporate logo, make sure it is correct to their brand standards.
  • – Never read slides, always follow the order of the points on the slides.

Video

If you have it, use it. It is extremely memorable. Always keep it short—under five minutes. Be sure the equipment is in order before your presentation.

Print support materials

If you are doing a detailed presentation, it is valuable to leave the information behind in printed form, unless there are competitive issues. A presentation or proposal letter and accompanying brochures should be well packaged and several extra copies should be available.

Have business cards on table in front of prospect team. If presenting to an international audience, make sure that translated business cards are available.

Key #5 coming next week.

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The Perfect Pitch – Key #4 for Successful Sales Presentations

Key #4 – Support Materials

Advertising

A key factor in gaining recognition of your brand, your product or your service is advertising. Whether via TV, radio, print, the Web or other specialty advertising, the important factor, as far as your presentation is concerned, is the integration of your advertising messages and the messages you convey in the presentation. All messages must be aligned.

Letters, Calls and Invitations

Again, as with advertising, the messages should create a foundation that you can build upon during the in-person presentation. Messages are graphic, as well as written words. The look and feel of all these communication elements must support your core brand messages.

Final confirmation of presentation

We all have about a nanosecond’s worth of time to review an upcoming meeting. Your communication to the meeting participants should be concise and cover, at minimum, the purpose of the meeting, the agenda, the time frame, the logistics and any special information such as maps, dining arrangements, and most important, a list of attendees.

Presentation Materials

To PowerPoint or not to PowerPoint. Generally, if you are presenting to more than three people, the information is detailed, the presentation will be longer than 15 minutes and/or graphics are important, we recommend PPT support.

If you use PPT,

  • – Keep the deck as short as possible; roughly two slides per minute is a good rule of thumb.
  • – Bullet points—no paragraphs unless you are reviewing a final copy statement.
  • – Charts must be consistent, one format only and, for financial services companies, the format ought to be a generally accepted one.
  • – Look and feel of the slides must reflect your brand identity.
  • – Always, always customize the first and last slides to your prospect. If you use the corporate logo, make sure it is correct to their brand standards.
  • – Never read slides, always follow the order of the points on the slides.

Video

If you have it, use it. It is extremely memorable. Always keep it short—under five minutes. Be sure the equipment is in order before your presentation.

Print support materials

If you are doing a detailed presentation, it is valuable to leave the information behind in printed form, unless there are competitive issues. A presentation or proposal letter and accompanying brochures should be well packaged and several extra copies should be available.

Have business cards on table in front of prospect team. If presenting to an international audience, make sure that translated business cards are available.

Key #5 coming next week.

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The Perfect Pitch – Key #3 to Successful Sales Presentations

Key #3 – Teamwork Works

There are dozens of ways to create good team interaction at a presentation. Here are a few of the best techniques we know:

> Have a strategy meeting. Whether in person or by phone, talk about your Three Key Messages and the prospect’s Three Key Needs. Make sure there’s consensus amongst your group and, if there isn’t, fix it. By the way, a strategy meeting is not five minutes in the car before you walk into the prospect’s office.

> Assign roles. There should be someone who leads the presentation, someone who takes notes (anyone, except the leader) and someone who is assigned to watch for negative signals and has a way of communicating them to the leader. Everyone should have a specific piece of the presentation, no matter how small. People who just sit and take up space make prospects nervous and it appears disrespectful.

> Never, ever, ever disagree. If someone on the team has made a stupid or incorrect remark, find a way to fix it without appearing to contradict. Anything else, just glide over. The prospect will never remember an incidental less-than-elegant remark, but he/she will never forget a team dysfunction.

> Stick to the roles. Don’t allow anyone to throw off the timing, the message or the ambiance of the presentation. If you have a monopolizer who is not the leader, fix it beforehand or don’t invite him/her to the meeting. Link them in by phone.

> Make sure that everyone is committed to geniality. Again, if there’s a grouch on your team, just don’t invite him/her. If it’s imperative that he or she be there, do everything in your power to get that person in a great mood before the meeting. A prospect will remember tonality over and above everything else.

Key #4 coming up next week.

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The Perfect Pitch – Key #2 to Successful Sales Presentations

Key #2 – Know Your Prospect

Why is it that we spend so much time understanding who we are and what we offer and so little time learning about the prospect that we are planning to convert into an important client?

The Rule of Three applies here, too. Before you walk into that meeting, make sure you know three things that are key to getting that prospect’s business. And, again, memorize them, communicate them to your entire team and don’t come home if you haven’t addressed each of these key needs with your prospect.

Key #3 coming next week.

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The Perfect Pitch – Key #1 to Successful Sales Presentations

Key #1: Rule of Three

Frame up three key messages in your mind. Write them down. And, then ask:

  • Are these messages clear?
  • Are they as concise as possible?
  • From what I know about the prospect (presuming you know a great deal), are these messages tailored to the client’s real needs?
  • Are they the most compelling messages to sell your service?

Memorize the messages

Anyone can memorize three things. If you can’t memorize them, then something is wrong with the messages. Perhaps, they’re too long, or too complicated, or too equivocal. After all, if you can’t hold them in your mind, how can the client?

Don’t come home without it

No matter what happens during the meeting, get your three messages across.  Twice is enough, three times is probably boring.

Next week, we’ll bring you Key #2.

 

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Count to Ten Before You Send: Business Email in Digital Age

Okay, the email really ticked you off. It was curt, factually incorrect, filled with grammatical and other errors and you received it via your smart phone in the middle of a very intense meeting. It was sent by someone who works for your boss’ nemesis. Your first reaction is to forward it to your boss with some pithy remarks about the “quality of staff work in that department,” etc.

Count to ten before you send.

Or maybe you want to add a personal stab or two: “I was sure he said he received his MBA from Wharton.”

Count to ten before you send.

And then there’s always the kill with kindness approach, “He’s just stressed out b/c he missed the deadline on that marketing project.”

Count to ten before you send.

You’ve just received an email from a major customer complaining about some shoddy service on a delivery follow-up. He’s used the lethal combination of ALL CAPS, endless exclamation marks!!!!!!!!! and colored type in bold. You attach the email, forward to “All Department Heads” and add a cover note:

WHY CAN’T WE GET THIS STRAIGHTENED OUT????? WHAT’S WRONG WITH US????? ARE WE A BUNCH OF IDIOTS?????

Count to ten before you send.

You are carrying on an office love affair. He was supposed to call last night and he didn’t.

Count to ten before you send.

How many times have you awakened the next morning, sat down at the computer and stared with horror as you realized that you sent something you deeply regretted? Clients have been lost, careers derailed, whole companies have tumbled on the basis of emails that should never have been sent—let alone behavior that should never have occurred.

In the dark ages of snail mail, people actually proofed letters on paper, rethought words and phrases, edited and generally had a chance to give it our best shot. Today, we sit down, start to work on our 100+ emails and, in the equivalent of inebriated bar talk, we just shoot ourselves in the foot.

So, here are some things to think about while counting to 10—and even if you don’t think about these things, you’ll still pause and reflect. And that’s a very good idea.

1. Grammar, spelling and punctuation
Grammar, spelling and punctuation are like fashion; they speak volumes about who we are, our personalities, where we were educated and how seriously we take the business of business communication. Sure, a few au courant shortcuts like BTW, OMG or LOL are ok—after all, there was a time when ok wasn’t. A few misspellings won’t get you branded as an illiterate. And everyone’s tense disagrees now and then. But what would you think about the person who sent you this email:

AFAIK Sept KPI WEBEX canceled 2day. BTW MSRP 4 SKU2347 is $24K b4 S&H.

Translation:
As far as I know, the September key performance Index review via WebEx was canceled today. By the way, the manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the item stock keeping unit number 2347 is 24 thousand dollars before shipping and handling.

2. Out of control
Out of control email is like out of control talk. It’s scary. It’s too loud. UPPER CASE, ind red, and in bold with exclamation points all over the place, even curse words. Whoa, get out of my face. Screaming in email hurts.

3. Reply all
It’s way too easy to hit “Send All” or “Reply All”. At a time when most people deal with more than 100 emails a day (not counting spam, promotional emails or funny forwards), “Send All” is just plain inconsiderate. Unless the email is genuinely meant for that person, don’t give them yet another thing to do—read, think about, respond to—just because you don’t want to take a moment to figure out who really should receive it.

4. Personal business
Business is business, personal is personal, and we need to make a distinction between the two.

Yes, we do use our professional email to send personal messages, and that’s often accepted these days. However, a good rule to follow is, “Send it only if you’re comfortable having your boss read it.” Email is not private. It can be opened. You are using company property. Whatever you say in email can be considered “official.”

All email is retrievable long after it was sent and even deleted. Sarbanes-Oxley is real. Your organization’s Ethics Policy is real. Sometimes the most innocent activity, like the beloved office pool for The Big Dance, looks quite different in light of a policy against gambling on company property.

Your email love affair with the hottie on the next floor may not play too well in an organization that expressly prohibits those romances. And those very funny emails sprinkled with four-letter words set to music may not set the HR VP’s toes a tappin’.

5. Long-windedness
Long-windedness is self-defeating. Fact is, most people read the first two sentences and that’s that—unless it’s from someone really important talking about something really important. And, even then, people pretty much blur out after about 50 words. If you have a list of questions or a series of points to make, use bullet points. Are you still reading this? Thank you.

6. Attachments
It’s similar to “Send All”. Try not to send complex attachments unless that person really needs to deal with them. How many times have you sat next to someone on a plane who’s trying to download an attachment only to find that it’s in some obscure file extension, or three drafts of the same thing that no one bothered to number, or elaborate graphics, audio or video that require more peripherals than is reasonable on his tablet or smartphone? Perfectly civilized people turn ugly.

7. Subject and signature
It’s a title. It’s supposed to say what the email is about. It’s supposed to be simple, clear and in words—not numbers. Avoid changing the subjects of discussion in the middle of a long email chain. It only confuses people.

If it really is urgent, okay, mark it as such. Confirming a lunch appointment is not urgent. Canceling it may be.

It’s a courtesy to embed a signature that includes your business phone, mobile and fax number(s).

8. “Cute” stationery
Branded email is as important as good stationery—more so, when you think about the fact that you rarely use snail mail and you use email all day long. That said, simple, elegant and easy to use works best. Yes, some firewalls screen out graphics. You need to decide whether the look of all your emails is more important than the occasional lockout.

9. Cross-cultural communication
Yes, there are differences even as the world gets much smaller. Europeans and many Asians tend to think of email as another way of sending a business letter, whereas Americans tend to think of it as another way to have a quick phone call. Formal vs. informal; all business vs. bits and pieces of family info; slow response vs. immediate; British English vs. American; etcetera. It’s worth a quick re-read from the recipient’s point of view.

10. Great emails
Great emails are like great letters. They are courteous but to-the-point. They follow the laws of good journalism—who, what, when, where, how in the first paragraph. They avoid corporate speak, legal speak, medical speak, accountant speak or any other communications obscura. They reflect the “voice” of the sender. Casual, if you are. Formal, if you are. Funny, if you are. Like all business voices, the voice of email should most often be kind, pleasant and transparent.

We welcome you to share your opinions and experiences. Contact us at 312.944.4700 or email us at info@crestagroup.com.

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