Ok, hot on the heels of my rant on “texting and selling” is this follow-up rant on another scourge of the selling professional. I refer to the never-ending dependence and reliance on visual aids and other such tools that are grossly overused in the course of selling and sales presentations! Have we forgotten how to just talk to our clients?
Now, before I get ahead of myself, I do use PowerPoint (and I even get the updates on my computer), but I use it sparingly and in a minimalist way. The vast majority of presentations using this wonder tool are poorly done. They have too many slides, too many bullet points, have music and way too much animation built in, and generally resemble a Las Vegas stage show. That’s great, if you are on stage in Vegas but not so hot in a roomful of executives who have limited time and don’t care about slides. They want to know HOW you will help them, and they want to know that you understand their issues. They don’t care how good your audiovisual skills are.
If and when you do use PowerPoint, you can make a really solid impression with these simple steps:
- Don’t lead with a PowerPoint presentation – try talking and creating rapport. I have written in my book that building a sales culture means involving your clients!
- If there is a whiteboard in the room, use it. It means everyone can get up and SHARE in the creative process of designing the solution you want to sell. Some of my best and biggest sales were done low tech – just a whiteboard, some markers, and conversation.
- Limit the number of slides and don’t exceed three bullets to a slide – or, better yet, find a graphic or a picture that will leave a strong visual image in your prospect’s mind.
- Use a white background on your slides. Don’t get fancy with black or dark color backgrounds that are intimidating to look at.
- Do not use music or animation.
- For goodness’ sake, remember this: PowerPoint or any other tool can never replace you as a sales professional. If you need to rely on any visual, musical, or other aid, you need to get your act together.
Finally, the acid test to know if you are really on your game: Can you simply have an in-depth discussion and create the visual in your client’s mind that truly illustrates your value proposition? If the answer is yes, then you are way ahead of your competition!
Go ahead – get crazy! Leave the PowerPoint at home and bring it out when you need it. Talk. Just do it.