Developing World Class Sales Teams
Feel free to call us: +44(0) 844 893 9474

By Richard White

There is a coaching model that is very effective for coaching others but can actually be used to coach yourself if you are stuck with a problem and looking for a way forward. It’s called the GROW model and within the corporate environment it is often used to teach managers the basics of coaching.

The GROW model was developed in the UK by Graham Alexander, Alan Fine, and Sir John Whitmore. I was actually trained by Sir John Whitmore in the GROW model back in 1993. He demonstrated by coaching someone to improve their golf swing even though he was not a golf player himself.

It’s actually a problem solving process that helps people think through their problems and come up with their own solutions. This article is about how to use the GROW process to help us think through our own problems.

If you have been trained then why not use it on yourself? It will make you a more effective sales coach if you do.

Each letter of GROW represents a stage in the process.

GOAL
What is your outcome? What do you want to achieve?

Use the SMART criteria to ensure your goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time bound.

You need to get to a position where you are very clear of what you want. Write it down and read it back to yourself. Tweak it until it is clear enough that if you were to tell someone else in one sentence they would understand your goal.

If your goal is qualitative – for example, “I want to feel more confident about public speaking” then consider a scale of 0 to 10 – Where do you want to be on a scale of 0 to 10 and how would you know? What evidence will you have that you have achieved it? What would you be doing differently?

If you were on a journey, this would be your destination. The one you program into your Sat Nav system.

REALITY
What is your current position in relation to your goal?

Articulate it with the same clarity as your goal. If your goal is qualitative with a scale of 1 to 10 then where are you now along that scale.

Example
Goal: By the end on September 2010 I want to be feeling 8 out of 10 in terms of confidence with public speaking so that I am able to stand up and give a presentation in front of the board of directors.

Reality: I am currently feeling 5 out of 10 in terms of confidence with public speaking and racked with nerves even thinking about it!

In terms of a journey, the reality is your current position in relation to your journey. Where are you going? And How far have you got left to travel?

OPTIONS
This is about finding your best course of action in achieving your goal and involves considering your options.

Simply ask yourself ‘What are my options?’

You are looking to list as many options as you can, no matter how silly they seem. Do not evaluate them at this stage. Just get them down on paper. I always start with ‘Do nothing’ to get me going.

Keep the ideas coming by asking yourself questions like ‘What else?’

For example, when considering improving your confidence in cold calling your options might include:

  • Join a local public speaking club
  • Go to the library and read books on public speaking
  • Speak to people who have overcome their nerves and get tips from them
  • Get some hypnotherapy
  • Get a public speaking coach
  • Attend a training course
  • Etc etc

In terms of a journey its equivalent to considering all the different ways of getting there on time.

WILL
The final part of the grow model drives out the actions. It’s decision time!

Out of all the options listed, which of them are you going to do?

In order to decide on your actions you need to first evaluate the options and begin to eliminate them. In some cases you may end up with more than one action from your list.

In terms of a journey this is about deciding on your specific travel plans to get to your destination. It is your road map.

You may want to build in some milestones or check points along the way to ensure you are on the right path.

If you are looking to improve your sales coaching skills then why not give it a go – you could see your sales begin to GROW very quickly!

This is a recording of an interview between Richard White and Chris Mather, a very successful regional sales manager of a company that sells door to door. The idea was that there is probably lots of insights to be gained from a style of selling where rejection happens on a major scale. We were not disappointed!

There  are some amazing insights to be gained from this recording, not just in relation to rejection but also keeping statistics and self-motivation. It appears that there is more in common with top performers in door-to-door selling and other types of selling than we might imagine!

The sound quality in the first 20 seconds of this recording is a bit crackly. Please bear with it as there is some very important learning and insights to be gained.

[powerpress:http://www.theaccidentalsalesman.com/traconsultants/tra-chrismather.mp3]

Posted by: In: Sales Effectiveness 09 Sep 2010 0 comments

By Richard White.

If you are having trouble justifying your prices then you need to REALLY understand Return on Investment (ROI) – it’s the key to achieving higher margins whilst your clients still think you are providing excellent value.

Here is an outline of key concepts and I will be writing more about how to approach your sales meetings from an ROI perspective. It’s simple and painless and actually makes selling easier! Why do I need to think about ROI?

Sales professionals take return on investment (ROI) very seriously, especially when selling business-to-business. They know from bitter experience that their prospects want to see a return on their expenditure, whether capital or operating expenditure.

Many, many years ago when I was an accountant I used to be the one in my company that ran the slide rule over projects and in those days my commercial awareness was not as finely honed as it is today. I was good with the numbers but I just calculated what I was given and if the manager had not got all the details right then that would affect the results.

As a business developer you cannot take the risk that some accountant sat in an office, with no clue about the finer points of your product or service, misses out on some more subtle benefits. The business developer needs to take charge of the numbers to ensure the accountant sitting in the back office has all the numbers and calculates the correct ROI.

Another reason to take an interest in ROI is to ensure you are not wasting your time trying to close a project with a poor ROI. You can use ROI as a way of qualifying a sale and not wasting time that could be spent finding prospects with a much better prospect for ROI.

ROI is all about cash flow

If you make an investment it implies shelling out some cash in the expectation of getting more cash back. It’s all about cash flow. In more complex projects, like investing in a new machine, you will have cash flows relating to the purchase of the machine and additional operating costs and then some form of cash benefits such as increased sales or reduced costs. Some ROI calculations can be calculated on the back of an envelope but most require an Excel spreadsheet to total up all the cash inflows and outflows. The important thing about the cash flows is that they are done over time as opposed to being lumped altogether.

Incremental Cash Flows

The only thing that matters in ROI calculations is how cash flows will change as a result of your decision. In simple isolated investments you might be able to calculate the incremental cash flows directly but in more complex investments you do a full cash flow of the affected parts of the business and compare that with an alternative cash flow as a result of the change. Calculating the difference between the two will give you the incremental cash flows.

Cumulative Incremental Cash Flow

Cumulative cash flow is simply the net of all cash flows up to one point in time. When looking at the cumulative incremental cash flow it is easy to see where “payback” occurs. This is when any initial outlay has been fully recovered. The payback period is the amount of time it takes to achieve payback.

Payback Period

One of the most simple and yet most effective indicators is the payback period. It tells you how long it takes to get your money back. It is normally expressed as a measure of time, for example 3 .5 weeks, 6 months, or 2 years. Projects that can show a fast payback are normally looked on favourably. It should be possible to look at the cumulative incremental cash flows and see the point at which the change from negative to positive occurs. There is also a way in Excel of calculating payback periods using cell formulae. [public_post]

Simple Example

Jason has a decision to make. He has the chance to save money on his monthly phone bills. He has found a new supplier that can save him about 50% on his monthly phone bills. There is, however, a large set up charge that he must pay for. His initial outlay is £300 but he saves £50 per month on his phone bills. What is the payback period?

The answer is 6 months.

Simple ROI Calculation

ROI % = 100* (Incremental benefits – incremental costs)/Incremental costs

The simplest ROI calculation is just a straight calculation of net benefits over project costs. It’s ok for short projects of a finite length but not much use for projects like the one above with ongoing benefits. Where do you draw the line? Including 3 years of benefits would give a different return to 2 years.

Net Present Value (NPV)

Would you rather have cash now or cash later? If I were to offer the choice of £100 now or £100 in 2 years time then most people will go for the £100 now. Its money in the bank – less risk and it can be earning interest or be used to finance other projects. What if the choice was £100 now or £800 in 2 years time? You might be inclined to wait for the larger payment although £800 in 2 years time will probably not be worth the same as £800 today. This is because inflation will eat away at the value. Net present value helps to translate future net cash flows into what it might be worth in today’s money terms. This helps in making investment decisions between projects of differing duration.

If you ever need to calculate NPV then I suggest you seek out an accountant who would get incredibly excited at the prospect! Believe me, it will make their day! If you are selling items of a capital nature then you may want to invest in an Excel template such as Financial Metrics Pro by Solution Matrix (www.solutionmatrix.com). You can download a free lite version if you are in least bit curious!! The process of calculating NPV is called discounting and an incremental cash flow that has gone through the discounting process is known as a discounted cash flow. A company will have their own internal rate they use for discounting projects which is based on the cost of raising finance.

Internal Rate of Return (IRR)

The prospect of calculating IRR gets accountants even more excited!! It’s a calculation that works out a rate of return of a future income stream. It effectively discounts the cash flow and comes up with a single rate of return at the same time. The calculation effectively works out the return from immediately reinvesting any cash flows arising from the project. A company assessing a proposal will expect the IRR to be higher than their own cost of raising finance or it’s not worth the bother (financially anyway). If the company has competing projects then they will compare the IRRs. There is an Excel formula (=IRR) for calculating the IRR and Financial Metics Pro also includes IRR as one of its metrics.

ROI and the sales process

If ROI is so important for prospect then it makes sense to seek prospects with a high likelihood of ROI and weed out those prospects that are unlikely to get the customers accountants excited! The initial fact find stage of the sales process is the time to get as much information as possible to be able to assess the early likelihood of a good ROI. The prospect will normally be pleased to help so that they are not wasting time. You can get an idea of the relevant cash flows by considering the implications to the specific business areas affected by your product or service.

Discovering the APR

The incremental cash flows necessary to determine ROI come from the difference between the future cash flows and the current status quo. It is as important in the sales process to uncover the cost of continuing with business as usual as it is to find out how the business will change following a decision to go ahead. APR is a simple aide memoire to make sure you uncover the main elements areas of cash flow impact.

A – Alternative P – Price R – Return

The business developer should be sure to use open questions and an open mind to discover the required detail.

Alternative

What would be the alternative to going ahead with the project? This is about discovering the cost of the status quo. What are the main areas of current or future pain that will occur if there is a decision to do nothing? Just finding this information alone is normally good enough to qualify a lead and overcome most price objections.

Price

What would be the costs associated with going ahead with the project? The business developer should be careful not to just consider the deal price but should also investigate the indirect costs that the prospect will incur as a result of going ahead with the decision. For example, the price of replacing a software system for a large organisation will normally be much more that the investment in the software. There will be costs associated with migration to the new software such as user acceptance testing, training, project management, even process re-engineering. The business develop should be thorough in this area as this is the area that the accountants focus on.

Return

What would be the returns arising from going ahead? This can be the increases in revenues or reduction in costs. Many of the cost reductions will become clear as a result of discovering the alternative.

‘No Brainer’ ROI

You can have hours of fun doing return on investment calculations! The best type of ROI is what I term a ‘No Brainer’. It’s a decision that can be made without much thought at all, let alone doing full ROI calculations. The payback period is less than a year and the cost of the alternative, the price and the returns are all clear. Business developers would make much more progress developing accounts if the first sale to a new prospect has a ‘No Brainer’ ROI to it. Once the account is established and a good relationship has developed then it will be much easier to get access to the information that would be required for a more complicated project.

ROI is a fact of life for business to business sales so its makes sense to make friends with the calculations and build it into your sales process. Have fun!

What is procrastination costing your sales team? Leads? Clients? Sales? Procrastinating on generating leads, following up or even closing can be a costly habit in sales. So it might be worth finding out what's behind procrastination and what can we do about it.

In this recording Richard White interviews the UKs leading expert in beating procrastination, Nicole Bachmann. Nicole gives us some tips on what we can do to stop procrastination getting in the way of winning business. Although the principles apply to all parts of the sales process, Nicole focuses on cold calling as this is normally a major problem area for sales people.

By Ivor Murray.

Managing stress is all about taking charge: taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems.
Since everyone has a unique response to stress, there is no “one size fits all” solution to managing it. No single method works for everyone or in every situation, so experiment with different techniques and strategies. Focus on what makes you feel calm and in control. Here are some useful techniques to try.

Just say no!

Always remember that you can say “no”. Many of us take on too much – and loading ourselves with more tasks when we are already stretched can only lead to stress. Accept that there is a limit to what you can do and stick to it.

Give your to-do list a makeover

Take a good look at your “to do” list. Prioritize the tasks that are really important, put the things that aren’t essential at the bottom of the list and see if you can remove any jobs entirely. A long “to do” list – often padded out with unnecessary items – can be stressful to deal with.

Say how you feel

Don’t be afraid to communicate your feelings. If someone is acting in a way that you find irritating, tell them in a calm, dignified and considerate way. If you bottle up your hostility, the situation is unlikely to change and you will end up feeling frustrated and angry.

Give and take

Accept the need for give-and-take. If you relentlessly stick to your ground, you will end up alienating people and find it hard to reach agreement. It’s better to try find a way of compromising so that each side feels that they have achieved something.

Look at how you spend your time

Good time-management is essential. When you’re not in control of how you manage your time, it can quickly lead to feelings of being overwhelmed. Planning ahead and deciding how you’re going to allocate your time can be an important factor in reducing stress.

Work on your attitude

Take note of the Serenity Prayer. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference”. In particular, there’s no point in getting stressed about the things you can’t change – instead change your attitude towards them.

Change how you view problems

Remember that “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” Everyone at some time in their life will have major problems to deal with. Think of them as challenges and an opportunity for personal growth.

Take regular exercise

It’s been clinically proven that exercising can reduce the amount of stress hormones released in the body. Make a contract with yourself to exercise for 30 minutes three or four times a week. Yoga, jogging, tennis, cycling – there are hundreds of ways to exercise. Find one you enjoy and do it !

Watch what you eat

Have a good diet. Start your day right with breakfast, and keep your energy up and your mind clear with balanced, nutritious meals throughout the day. Try to stick to healthy foods, but don’t become obsessive about what you eat.

Reduce caffeine and sugar

The temporary "highs" caffeine and sugar provide often end in with a crash in mood and energy. By reducing the amount of coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, and sugar snacks in your diet, you’ll feel more relaxed and you’ll sleep better.

Get out more!

Enjoy an active social life. A network of friends you can talk to and rely on for support can be a great way of enhancing your well-being. Connecting with people will make you feel happier, optimistic and more positive about life.

A little bit of what you fancy!

Do something you enjoy every day. Make time for leisure activities, whether it be walking in the park, playing the piano or reading.

Have a laugh!

Keep your sense of humour. This includes the ability to laugh at yourself. The act of laughing helps your body fight stress in a number of ways.

Practice meditation

One of the most effective things you can do to combat stress is to learn to meditate. Meditation is a technique which gives a unique quality of rest to mind and body. It allows stress and tiredness to be released in a natural way, resulting in greater energy and enjoyment of life. Many doctors now recommend meditation to patients suffering from stress and stress-related conditions.

Using traditional methods, however, it can take many years of difficult practice before you gain control of your mind and attain meditative states. Fortunately, there are now modern meditation techniques that enable you to shortcut the learning process and put you on a fast-track to meditation.

Meditation Machines are small, light, highly-portable machines that use light and sound to gently guide you into a deep state of relaxation or meditation. In fact, with only fifteen or twenty minutes use of a Meditation Machine, it is possible to experience the same peace and tranquility as an experienced practitioner of meditation.

As you can see from this article, there are a number of ways of managing stress and preventing it from inflicting long-term damage to your physical and mental well-being. Hopefully, you can take some of these ideas and use them to create a healthier and happier life.

Ivor Murray is the MD of MeditationsUK, an innovative company that sells Meditation Machines – small, portable machines that use natural light and sound to gently guide you into calm, relaxing states of mind and body.
For more information about managing stress using Meditation Machines visit www.MeditationsUK.com

Posted by: In: Sales Process 06 Sep 2010 0 comments

by Ellis Pratt, Cherryleaf.

There comes a point in most sales teams (and businesses) when they need to grow up, in order to grow.

In the initial stages of  a new business, people often work in an ad hoc, inconsistent and occasionally chaotic way. It’s an “Age of Heroes”, where success usually depends on individual talent and effort, as well as extraordinary deeds.

It works, for the short-term. However, after a while, you may find the same mistakes keep happening over and over again. The cutting of corners starts to come back to haunt you. As for those sales “heroes”, well they eventually move on to other organisations, taking their knowledge and experience with them.

There’s a need to find a way to repeat past successes on a consistent basis, pre-empt potential disasters and to stop relying on just one person to get something done. You may also need to minimise the learning curve for people moving to new teams and projects.

 In other words, it’s time to establish processes and procedures.

 Here are six tips for writing write effective policies and procedures

 People don't have too much time to waste these days. If you have something to communicate, it’s best to say it in a way that is complete, effective and to the point. As technical communicators – those people sometimes called procedures writers or technical authors – we're able to pass on some tips to help you write effective policies and procedures:

Tip 1:  Identify the central question/subject and desired outcome you want to communicate

It is important you know the key purpose of your document: What do you want to happen as a result of someone reading it? Try to understand the user and see through their eyes. You can do this by pre-empting questions the readers may have:

  •     What do you want to tell me?
  •     Why should I read this?
  •     What do I need to know?
  •     What do you want me to do?
  •     Are you requesting, proposing or seeking approval?

Tip 2: Plan the structure of the document using labels to describe each section.

The pyramid style of writing is a very useful way of arranging the structure of your document:

  • Start the document by writing "I want to tell you that…", finishing that sentence and then deleting the phrase "I want to tell you that…" This should help you communicate your key message in your first sentence.
  • Start every section with a summary overview statement. This will encourage people to read on.
  • Follow the summary statement with any supporting details that justify it.

Professional business writers, such as technical authors, typically break a document down into small, discrete units of information, organised around a skeleton of topic headings. If you use this "component" or "modular" approach, you can plan and structure the document using the heading "labels" that describe each section. These signposts help enormously when you start writing, and they can also help you be consistent and avoid missing out any important content.

As you write, keep refining your structure, by asking "is this section really relevant?","Is any important information missing?", "Is there a logical flow to the document?"

Your list of headings can be structured to form a storyboard, to guide the reader through your document. Meaningful titles for sections also help with the readability of your document, as they enable readers to scan down a document and find the sections that relate or are of interest to them.

Tip 3: Identify the best style of language.

Here is some advice regarding the words you use:

  • Keep your vocabulary simple. This will aid your reader's understanding. For example, "use" is better than "utilise".
  • Use the words and phrases your readers would normally use, where possible.
  • Be consistent with the terminology you use.
  • Check your document for any spelling mistakes.
  •  Use the active voice, as it will help make your writing seem much more definite and confident.
  • Be succinct.
  • Separate task (how) information from background (why) and support (what) information.
  • When writing instructions: identify who should do what, what you should do before you start and what should happen next.

Tip 4: Write drafts and get them reviewed by someone else.

For longer documents, expect to write three drafts and be refining the structure as you go along.

  • During the first draft stage, the author writes the content for all the topics. This is the longest stage and takes the longest to review. The review is to check for technical accuracy of all the content.
  • The second draft stage is for the author to make the necessary changes, reported from the first draft review. The review is to confirm that this has been done and to request any minor tweaks still outstanding
  • The final stage is to follow up on the minor changes picked up at second draft review. The result is the final deliverable.

You can look at a document a hundred times and still miss errors. Getting somebody to review your documents will benefit you by reducing errors and getting feedback on what your readers are likely to think about your information.

Tip 5: Identify the best delivery method.

It's not uncommon for 30% of a writer's time to be spent working on the "look and feel", once all the writing has been done.

  • Don't overload people with information. In other words, don't give them too much all at once.
  • Have a presentation format appropriate to the medium readers are using. What works well on paper doesn't always work well on screen.
  • Make your information approachable by: inserting plenty of white space between paragraphs,
    • using headings to separate different parts of the document,
    •  using only one or two fonts throughout the document,
    •  using an easy to read font.

 Tip 6: Have a manageable way to maintain the information.

A key aspect to managing any business information is for people to be able to:

  • Maintain, update and improve it efficiently after it's been created.
  • Re-use it in other situations, to create value elsewhere (and add value to it).
  • Set standard processes and guide staff on what to do.
  • Have staff work on it simultaneously and collaboratively.

it isn't always easy, with many organisations being in state of having lots of out-of date or missing documents, or more than one version of the same piece of information.

Having a writing or editing resource, such as that offered by Cherryleaf can help, but it's also important to look at the systems and tools you have in place for creating, maintaining and improving documents.

The more documents (and the content contained within them) are published in different places, the more important it will be for you to be able to create these without being faced with spending lots of time on reworking. Look at the tools you use, to see if you can control the "look and feel" independently of your content.

Be consistent, as this is a real time saver. If you are using a word processor, you can format the headings with the preformatted styles contained in the word processor templates (For example "Heading 1" and "Heading 2" styles in Microsoft Word). A style within Microsoft Word is a set of formatting characteristics that you can apply to text in your document to quickly change its appearance. When you apply a style, you apply a whole group of formats in one simple task. Using styles makes it easier to make changes to the look and feel across the whole of the document, and makes it easier to import the content into other software at any stage in the future.

One popular approach is to have one source for content, allowing you to reuse pieces (or components) of information. These pieces are managed and maintained in a database, and then published to different audiences, documents, and in a range of media formats, such as print and online. You can write information once and re-use it many times, and make changes to it in one place. It promises a reduction in errors and duplication, time needed to review content, translation costs (as you can re-use content translated in the past), as well as better consistency.

If you have more than one type of audience reading the document, don't be afraid to break information into separate documents. You could also provide a series of ways to navigate around the document (such as alternative tables of content, indexes and tags), suited to each particular audience.

Conclusion

Communicating policies and procedures is a sign you’re on the way to establishing a consistent and improving business as part of the organisation’s “DNA”. By following the advice covered in this article, you’ll find the documentation process less daunting.

 
About Cherryleaf

Cherryleaf is a company that helps people get the "document monkey" off their back. Our technical writing services enable you to provide knowledge your users will love – usually shared as clear and straightforward tasks, procedures and concepts, user guides, online Help, screencasts or training courseware. We're a flexible technical author and communications partner, offering project, recruitment and training services.

www.cherryleaf.com
[email protected]

In sales people buy from people they know, like and trust. Being able to quickly establish rapport with people you meet is an essential skill. But how do you establish rapport and trust with people that are totally different to us?

In this recording, top NLP trainers Julie French and Tony Burgess of the Acacemy of High Achievers shares with Richard White tips on how to quickly generate deeper levels of rapport. They cover how to build instant rapport both in person and on the telephone.

[powerpress]

Posted by: In: Communication 05 Sep 2010 0 comments

By Richard White.

Case studies produced by IT companies are normally dry enough to send a prospect to sleep! Sales presentations are little better. How is it that two key tools in the sales process lack the sparkle and charisma normally associated with sales people?. How do we make them more engaging and entertaining? The answer is actually child’s play! By taking lessons from story telling and using metaphor we can bring our case studies and presentations to life.

Good stories and metaphors engage our imaginations. They create pictures in our minds and also enable us to visualise complex concepts. We relate to the characters in a story and follow with interest how they overcome their struggles. Stories and metaphors can therefore be a very powerful way of helping our prospects to appreciate the value of our products and services, understand what we are like as a company and imagine what the future will be like when they are a customer.

Stories do not have to be brilliant works of fiction and we certainly do not need to kiss the Blarney stone!. Indeed, some of the best stories are based on real life. The beauty of real life stories is that they make it easy for the listener to relate to you and will often spark off memories from their own experience.

Adding spice to your case studies

Case studies are typically written in a very logical way, specifying the problem and the solution with a lot of techno-speak thrown in for good measure! They do little to help the prospect to create pictures in their mind of what actually happened. Instead of case studies, why not write customer stories instead? Tell the reader what actually happened like you would a true-life story. When describing the customer’s situation and the problems they were facing, make it personal. Include and refer to real characters from the client company and your company. Help the reader to imagine the situation the main characters were facing and how your company came to the rescue.

XYZ Systems are good medicine for ADVA

John ran the busy accounts department within the rapidly growing pharmaceutical company ADVA. The accounting system they used once worked well but after a string of mergers and acquisitions the system was now creaking at the seams. Every night after everyone else had gone home, John and his team was still there until dark, battling against the odds to get all their work done. The morale in the accounts department was at rock bottom. They were overloaded by the constant stream of requests for information from other parts of the business. John's previous boss had already been fired and John was worried that he was next. Luckily, the new finance director, James, had previously worked for several large pharmaceutical companies and was familiar with the types of systems needed. He had used the market leading system by XYZ Systems in his previous company and the first thing he did when he joined ADVA was to call in Sandra Keys from XYZ Systems for a meeting. John and his team breathed a huge sigh of relief when………

In this first paragraph the scene is being set and two characters from the client are established – John and James and Sandra Keys from XYZ Systems. The finance system is the ‘monster’ and Sandra Keys and her colleagues will develop into the heroes that slay the monster and save John and his team from a grisly fate. Notice the use of descriptive language like 'battling against the odds' and 'string of mergers'.

Making presentations memorable for the right reasons

Sales presentations are often referred to as ‘death by PowerPoint’: emotionless monologues about the company, the products and potential solutions. Such presentations do little to engage the prospects’ imagination and help them to ‘see’ what you mean and ‘see’ how working with your company will solve their problems. Great communicators weave stories and metaphors into their presentations. Add some relevant customer stories to your presentation. Add your company’s own story such as how it got where it is today.

Joe Cummings founded XYZ Systems ten years ago on three key values:

  1. To strive for the success of their clients;
  2. To deliver renowned products and services to their clients; and
  3. To maximise the potential of staff

Even during the bleakest times of the earlier years, when money was scarce, Joe held true to the values even when it seemed like financial suicide. “We’re not like other companies” Joe would say “We are going to stand for something”.

It is an approach that clients of XYZ found refreshingly different and has meant that XYZ retained a very loyal customer base. Some of the earliest clients like Sally Biggs from ABC corporation are still singing their praises. "They may not be the cheapest option on the market" Sally loves to tell prospective clients "but I know where I stand with them. If they say they will do something then it's as good as done! That counts for a lot in today's world. Quality is cheaper in the long run!"

Joe has taken care over the years to ensure that as the company has grown to its current size, the values have not been diluted. Every product and every service has the core values at it's heart like a stick of rock from Brighton…………

This short example includes two elements of human interest, Joe and Sally. It has some dialogue from Sally and Joe and they are both communicating important messages on behalf of the presenter. Stories with dialogue can be used as a powerful way to influence your prospects with selling messages indirectly.

Use Metaphor to simplify complex concepts

Where there is something complex or difficult to understand, such as abstract concepts, metaphors can help the listener to ‘see’ what you mean. It is almost impossible for the listener to make mental pictures of abstract concepts. Metaphors, however, will enable the listener to visualise the metaphor instead. For example, it may be difficult for a prospect to picture a multi-dimensional database but they could imagine a Rubix cube – you know, the toy puzzle with the coloured sides. You could liken a multi-dimensional database to a Rubix cube of data that you can rotate, allowing you to view the data from many different perspectives. Just like a Rubix cube, you can slice the data in different ways.

In the previous example, Brighton Rock is used as a metaphor to help create a mental image for the core values.

Stories and metaphor are great way to bring your case studies and presentations to life. You do not need to be a Steven Spielberg or JK Rowling to come up with simple, meaningful stories and metaphor that help your prospects and customers to ‘see’ what you mean and relate to you and your company more easily. By adding real human interest and drama to your presentations and case studies, you will differentiate yourselves from your competitors and ensure that the audience is deeply influenced by your delivery.

Story Telling Tips

  • Use real life stories
  • Include specific characters in the story
  • Include dialogue where possible, especially where you want to make a point
  • Be able to picture the story in your mind before you tell it
  • Describe as many senses as possible. Include colours, appearance, sounds, smells, tastes and feelings

How realistic are your goals? If you diligently follow the SMART formula for setting goals then your goals are just not big enough!! That is the conclusion  David Hyner of Stretch Development came to after interviewing over 100 top achievers who are all creating amazing levels of success.

In this recording Richard White interviews David on the 5 step model which he developed by boiling down all the wisdom generated from his research into an easy to follow process he calls 'The Massive Goal Principle'.