The 10 Keys to Effective Group Sales Presentations

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 09, 2014 @ 06:06 AM

keynote speakerWhen you speak at as many events as I have over the past 3 decades, you come to expect certain things.  As you consider each of the following scenarios, try to make a comparison as to how it might compare with the sales calls and presentations you make to groups:

Scenario 1: When I am the keynote speaker at an event, people have much higher expectations of me as a speaker, the entertainment factor, and the potential take-aways from my topic.  It's my job to exceed those expectations.  Compare this scenario to a customer or client whose business you already have, but it's yours to lose...

Scenario 2: When I am one of many speakers at a conference without breakout sessions, I know that people are not there to hear me per se, may have little interest in my topic, and might skip or, if they attend, tune out.  Compare this scenario to presentation day; you are one of many salespeople who will be paraded in and out of a conference room to present to a group of influencers and decision makers - some of whom couldn't care any less about you...

Scenario 3When I am leading a breakout session, the people in that audience are there specifically to hear me and/or learn more about my topic.  I must first listen to them, let them share what's on their mind, and assure that they get what they came for.  Compare this to a sales call where you have a champion who brought you in, talked highly of you to everyone in the meeting, and you are favored to get the business...


Scenario 4When I speak to a group who is old school (an industry that is slow to change or a demographic who missed the opportunities to change), I know I'll get a lot of pushback because it's not the way they do things in their world.  Compare this to the sales presentation where the group assembled is currently doing business with someone else and, despite your presence, is reluctant to change...

Do you know what the common denominator is in all four of these scenarios?

Hint: It's not you or me.

Answer: It's your ability to do the following 10 things effectively:

  1. Get their attention.
  2. Develop some rapport.
  3. Ask questions.
  4. Listen. 
  5. Connect.  Watch this 1-minute video that explains the listen-connect concept.

  6. Challenge their thinking.
  7. Help them believe in you and your ideas.
  8. Get them to agree with an idea, initiative or concept.
  9. Get them to agree on a next step.
  10. Get them to commit to something.

The only difference between speaking to dozens, hundreds or thousands, and presenting to groups on a sales call, are the number of believers.  It's our job to find a way to get as many people as possible to believe in us, our ideas, our capabilities, our value and the impact we can have on them and their business.

Image Copyright: flynt / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, speaking, conference speaker, sales presentations, keynote speaker

Is the Concept of Sales Process Really Antiquated?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 16, 2013 @ 13:12 PM

antiquatedWe read about yet more school shootings, abductions, madmen dictators' plans to rule the world, and any of the other recurring events that must be the work of pure evil.   Do you get to the point where you say to yourself, "The world is going crazy!"?  I do.  I also think the sales world is going a bit crazy too.  

For me, it began two months ago when I posted, Now That You Have a Sales Process, Never Mind, in rebuttal to a stupid article about sales process being the cause of long sales cycles and low closing ratios.

Then, in response to those who are proponents of demo-based selling, I posted, We're Back to AIDA and You Should be Scared.  The controversy continues to escalate, especially in some private LinkedIn groups, where comments are on the rise to Why Win Rates are at an All-Time Low and What is the Most Difficult Part of the Sales Process?.

To make a long story short, there are QUITE A FEW people in sales, sales management, sales leadership, and even sales consulting who believe sales process is the problem.  I would like to put a stop to that nonsense once and for all.

When I read claims that sales process is responsible for lost sales, many of the claims are actually examples of bad scripting rather than bad sales process.  Sales Process is milestone-centric, while manipulative tactics, negative outcomes and strong pressure tend to be script-centric.

There are some people who still fail to comprehend what a modern, effective, relevant, optimized sales process looks like.  Most people equate sales process with a bunch of scripted steps, and in companies where there is a sales process, it tends to fit that antiquated definition.  Continued...


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A properly designed, staged, optimized process is all about the customer-centric conversation.  This sales process also includes a sequence of milestones that build upon themselves.  Sales processes that fail to provide consistent, desirable results in these modern times are typically built around qualifying questions rather than a consultative, customer-centric conversation. 

Many proponents of anti-sales process movement use their own, personal results as support for their position.  However, one of two scenarios are usually in play:

  1. They are successful without a process, but they have intangibles that can't be duplicated, taught or transferred.  What's working for them, won't work for anyone else.
  2. Their concept of successful is flawed.  They are more successful than their peers (who are also working without a process) in that when compared to the general sales population and, more specifically, the elite 6% or top 26%, they compare very unfavorably.

You'll know whether or not you have an effective, optimized sales process if it consistently yields predictable results, is duplicable, repeatable and transferable, works in multiple industries and verticals, and variations of it prove effective even among different sales roles. 

It's really not sales process itself that is antiquated; it's most people's perception of sales process that is antiquated.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales cycle, lost sales, top sales award winner, keynote speaker

10 Tips for Great Keynotes and Better Sales Presentations

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Dec 10, 2013 @ 09:12 AM

PresentationRecently I was searching Google for a Keynote Speaker for Objective Management Group's (OMG) upcoming International Conference in April.  In addition to the many speaker bureaus listed, I also read through a number of articles where the authors shared their secrets to great talks.  While a few were pretty good, most weren't, and the secrets were certainly not very well kept.  I thought I would share some tips that you could incorporate into your group sales presentations, lunch and learns, conference talks and appearances to make them more effective.

  1. Slice It Up - Every presentation should have three sections - an attention-grabbing opening, a memorable ending, and the middle, where you make the points you want to make.  Example of the middle.
  2. Bring the Database - When possible, back up your findings with data and science.  Example
  3. A Picture is Worth All Your Words - I rarely include bullet points on my slides.  Just pictures.  Warning: My approach is not very useful if you need others to present your slide deck, but the "pictures only" approach helps to hold people's attention.  Black/blank slides are good too, when you want them paying attention to only you.
  4. Bring the Popcorn - Before technology cooperated, I told stories for my opening and closings, but these days I show compelling and relevent short clips from popular movies and tv shows.
  5. It's All about Them - It's tempting to be the center of attention, but the reality is that if you want to be a top speaker or presenter, it's all about your audience and how well you connect with them.  Example
  6. Get it Backward - Most presenters end with Q & A, but I believe that makes for a momentum breaker.  I like to talk for 5-10 minutes about my topics and then get the audience involved to learn what's on their mind, what they would like to hear, and focus the rest of my talk to what's important to them.  Example
  7. Know Your Role - They need you to be humorous, especially at your own expense.  Your humility should be in direct disproportion to the success you've achieved.  They need you to be entertaining, dynamic and animated.  If that's not you, then get some coaching or you'll suck at being a great speaker/presenter.  Vintage example
  8. Expertise is a Subtlety - Don't tell your audience how much you know.  Demonstrate expertise through the questions that you ask of the questioning audience members.  Explain your answers in the context of their world, not yours.  Help them figure out what they should do, instead of telling them what you would do.
  9. Curious Challenges - If you don't challenge their thinking or get them to think about something in a different or new way, you've wasted their time and an opportunity for you to differentiate yourself from everyone else.  Do so with questions, more than with answers.  Example
  10. Timing - Be a closer and end on time!  There's nothing worse than a speaker or presenter who continues beyond the end time.
I invite speakers and presenters, with tips of their own, to add them in the comments section.  All concise tips are welcome!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, sales management, event speaker, motivational speaker, memorable event, keynote speaker, guest speaker

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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