Selling with PowerPoint: Taking Control of That Critical First Meeting
Applies to: PowerPoint 2007, PowerPoint 2003
Author: Robert Lane and Andre Vlcek
Date Created: June 16th 2009
Last Updated: June 14th 2012
(Andre) The three categories featured below see frequent use.
Company: As sales people, we often need access to information about our company—it’s credibility, resources, experience, history, capabilities, and personnel. The trap many salespeople fall into, however, is forcing all this data onto customers as a linear spiel during the first meeting. They plow through mountains of bullet points on slides, explaining the company’s many marvelous accolades, while viewers yawn and think, “Dude, just get to the point so we can go have lunch!” By organizing company information into sections, and providing random access to individual slides within those sections, we avoid boring prospects with irrelevant details, yet retain instant access to important facts. If someone asks a question about expertise or capabilities, the response might be, “Here, let me introduce you to James, our specialist in that area. He’s been working on situations just like you mentioned for more than 10 years now.” That little piece of company background, at that moment, may be all that’s needed to cement a deal emotionally.
Products: Imagine entering a department store to buy a pair of shoes, only to have a salesperson lead you through housewares instead—looking at pots, pans, coffee makers, and dishes. You ask for the shoe department but your guide says, “Sorry. That’s the next floor down. We’ll get there eventually.” That’s exactly how buyers feel sometimes when looking at presentations about your products and services. They may not care about all the specs, features, and advantages you think are important.
They want the shoe department, and they want it now. When a prospect squirms in his seat and says something like, “Look, I’ve got another meeting coming up in 10 minutes - can we just get to the bottom line?” he probably feels you are wasting his time with irrelevant trivia. Try an alternative approach. Rather than espousing all the virtues of your solution up front, start by asking questions about their situation. What problems are they having? What aspects of their current operations would they like to see improved? Why were they interested in meeting with you in the first place? Probing their motivations and interests can provide invaluable clues that help you dynamically shape proposed solutions. Arrange product and services displays for on-demand access, so that you can identify and target specific buying signals from prospects. In Figure 4, for example, notice that I have random access to my products, and therefore can focus on individual solutions quickly, as unexpected opportunities arise.
Price: Yes, undoubtedly you should have a section in your sales network discussing the prices of products and services, and you always should be prepared to discuss prices with confidence. In the end, that’s what everyone wants to know. However, keep a vital fact in mind. Slides discussing pricing are not (or should not be) especially significant for your success. Why not? Because if you use other sections of the network well—that is you tailor solutions effectively to the needs and interests of customers—pricing is a mere logistic. Customers will value what you have to offer more, and be less concerned about costs, if your solutions clearly are relevant to their immediate business problems and motivations.
Work with customers to explore customized outcomes BEFORE the issue of price ever comes up. Allow engineers to hover over technical issues, finance people to focus on commercial terms and payment conditions, and mangers to fret about day-to-day operational impacts—that’s where you sell. Address those issues in real time with personalized, PowerPoint-enhanced discussions because they represent your opportunity. Afterwards, pricing is a matter of working out the details.
The pricing section should enable flexible display of variations so that you can build unique solutions quickly, across everything you have to offer. Have low-priced, medium-priced, and premium-priced options available, along with possible add-ons and value-added propositions, all displayable at the click of a mouse. Probe selling situations to learn more about prospects’ decision-making processes. Then, adjust strategies accordingly.
Visit the Aspire site for more information about the visually interactive presentation style discussed above, where you will find free tutorials, video demonstrations, and PDF guides.
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