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Archive for July, 2011|Monthly archive page

Sales Presentation Skills: An Interview

In Business Networking Groups, Business Presentations, Increased sales, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, Social Media on July 20, 2011 at 11:46 PM

Quote on Sales Presentations


This interview was written for and published by Presentation-Process.com


Arte: Presentation skills are critical for a sales presenter. In your experience, what is the biggest mistake that sales presenters make?

Ethan: The biggest mistake sales presenters make is providing the wrong information – failing to bridge the gap between what the speaker is selling and the benefit to the audience. They provide information the audience does not care about.

Audiences generally care about one thing – themselves. To be effective, the presentation must be about the audience and not the product, service, or company. When I hear a presentation, I want to know how my life is better if I buy your product, service, or follow your advice.

Arte: Can you tell us a bit more about this issue?

Ethan: Sure…The presenter talks only about the details and features of the product or service and not the benefits. The prospects wants to know how their life will be better if they use this service or product before they will care about how it works.

Here is an example: one service I offer is helping businesses get quality video on their website.

I could talk about the HD cameras, boom mics, green screen, site SEO, and video embedding techniques. These are all important details. Another option is for me to explain how the finished video will drive traffic to the prospects website, viewers will like the business owner, and a high percentage of viewers will call the prospect wanting more information.

In second case we are discussing the benefits (how it makes their life better) and in the first case we are just giving details they are not yet ready for. So they lose the prospect.

Arte: What else makes a sales presenter lose a prospect?

Ethan: The second way to lose a prospect is to spend too much time giving background information before it is relevant. Once you have shown how your product or service will be of benefit to the prospect, then the background information on your company or your credentials is valuable and of interest.

As an example, one of my clients sells unemployment insurance to non-profits. When I began working with her sales presentation skills, she started her 45-minute pitch with the history of unemployment insurance law in the U.S. and then transitioned to the founding of the company. She was losing many of her prospects before she even had time to share the benefits of what she offers.

Knowing that every Executive Director she spoke with struggles to balance their budgets, we revised her talk to cover how the program would save money, while providing more services to the non-profit. We simply removed the details (history, tax rates, founding of company) and replaced it with benefits (more money to hire staff and do good in the world). Once we had sold the audience on our ideas, we then provided a brief overview of the company to demonstrate credibility. The revised talk took a mere 15 minutes.

Her sales rose dramatically.

Arte: But sharing company information is important, isn’t it? How can a sales presenter make boring company information ‘come alive’ for the audience?

Ethan: I find that if I adequately explain the benefits of my programs, my prospect will ask me about my qualifications and how long I have been in business. Since they are asking, it is no longer “boring company information”.

The audience does not start out caring about my company, yet many sales presenters start their presentation with the history of the business. Audiences care about how their life will be better if they buy my services. If I can address this issue first, they will later be interested in why I went into business.

It is up to the presenter to determine which details of your company will be of interest to the audience and which are just boring facts. This will vary business to business and even prospect to prospect.

If you have a good story, tell it. Did you know the inventor of Nike running shoes began by making custom shoes with a waffle iron? Apple built its first computer in a garage. I started my business based on my experience as a park ranger – these are real life stories that people can relate to and will remember.Weaving such stories into your speech is an essential part of developing sales presentation skills.

Arte: A lot of sales presentation skills training are about using slides. Tell us more about how to engage audiences without relying too much on on PowerPoint.

Ethan: To make sure a presentation does not rely solely on PowerPoint, sales presenters need to change the way they think about presentations. Are they giving a slide show or are they having a conversation? If all they want is to show slides, they really have no reason to be there in person. They should just email the file and follow up with a phone call. This is less expensive and will save everyone time. It will probably also result in fewer sales.

If, however, the presenter wants to engage the audience, learn about their needs, and try to build a relationship, then the sales presenter should show up. They should have a conversation which includes asking questions, listening, and conversing. Once the speaker and the audience have identified common areas of interest, then visual aid MAY be useful as the speaker suggests solutions to the problems the audience is trying to solve.

PowerPoint can be a very powerful visual aid. It is also a very powerful sleep aid. Sadly most uses of PowerPoint fall into the second category. Audiences want to be engaged with the speaker, not stare a screen.

Arte: It is true that sometimes the standard pitch books become a sleep aid. How do you suggest that sales people use them effectively?

Ethan: My sales presentation skills techniques are about targeting the message for a specific cause and audience. A good presentation includes the unique personality and passions of the speaker. The pitch book is designed to ensure each presenter provides information in the same manner. It is a formula that has been determined by the corporate office to work. Statistically, this may be true, but a good presentation is a conversation between the presenter and the audience. The pitch book is a standard approach to having a one-way monologue.

I do work with clients to help them use visual aids effectively, but the pitch book is the low-tech version of the canned PowerPoint. You might as well just buy TV, radio, print, or internet ads.

Arte: How does a successful sales pitch presentation work?

Ethan: A pitch tends to be a one-way flow of information with the speaker trying to lead the listener to a predetermined place (buy my product). A presentation is a conversation: a two-way flow of information with the speaker trying to help the audience achieve a specific objective.

In a sales situation, if the interests of the audience are in line with what the speaker offers, it may result in a sale. Regardless of whether a sale is made, both the speaker and audience share a conversation and leave with a better understanding of the other person and their needs as they relate to work. This is the formation of a relationship that may result in doing business together now or at a later date.

Arte: What advice do you have for people interested in improving the results they get from speaking?

Ethan: Begin by looking at your approach to a presentation: are you talking or are you having a conversation? Do you know your audience or do you only know your product? Is the presentation important enough that you make time to adequately prepare?

We have all heard the saying “no one likes to be sold to but we all like to buy”. In general, audiences care about themselves, not you. They are interested in what you can do for them, not what they can do for you.

If the speaker structures the talk to be audience-centric, they have a greater chance of being successful and achieving these measurable positive increases.

Keep in mind that a non-sale is not a failure. As the goal of a presentation is to have a conversation to see if there is a reason to do business together, a non-sale may be a successful presentation that demonstrated the prospect and company are both intelligent and good people, but not a match for business. Just like a first date – it can still be a positive experience even if you decide not to life partners.

Arte: I read about the measurable and impressive results from your sales presentation skills program. What do you think is the key change that made this kind of change in sales results happen?

Ethan: Participants in iSpeakEASY workshops learn to structure their talks to be audience-centric. This increases the relevance of the information to the audience, thus they are more likely to listen and to buy.

Arte:Any other thoughts you want to share with readers at Presentation-Process?

Ethan: It takes more than product knowledge, a few PowerPoint slides, and the willingness to open your mouth to be an effective speaker. To get better results from speaking, we need to re-think how we approach speaking and we need training. Some people are born as good speakers. Great speakers have all been trained.

Take the time to find a professional speech coach to help you learn how to set goals, organize your talk, create effective visual aids, and deliver like a professional.

I really emphasize the value of professional coaching to build skills as opposed to speaking clubs that focus on peer based coaching. While these groups can be helpful, the results are limited compared to what a professional can offer. Michael Jordan may have learned to play basketball on the streets, he learned to be star through professional coaching.


To know more about Ethan Rotman and the workshops he conducts, please visit iSpeakEASY website. iSpeakEASY is located at Novato, California.

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“How To Speak So Your Audience Will Listen” – A Mini Workshop

In Attracting New Clients, BNI or other Networking Groups, Business Networking Groups, Business Presentations, PowerPoint, Public Speaking on July 9, 2011 at 8:43 AM

Imagine how much easier it would be to design your next talk if you knew exactly what the audience wanted to hear. Imagine how much more confident you will feel and how credible you will appear to the audience. That is exactly what you will learn in this interactive presentation on public speaking.

 “How To Speak So Your Audience Will Listen” helps speakers improve their presentation skills whether they are making a formal presentation to large group or an informal presentation to a smaller group.

The talk identifies:

  • Three highly desired attributes of a good presentation
  • Five fatal flaw most speakers make
  • The process for designing an effective talk
  • Four tools effective speakers use

We all speak every day. This presentation will help you present information in an effective manner that inspires others to take new action or change a behavior. This presentation is a MUST for those interested in improving sales, closing more deals, or simply gaining support for their ideas.

Call iSpeakEASY today at (415) 342-7106 or email ethan@ispeakeasy.net to find out how easy it is to bring this mini-workshop to your office, club, or networking group.

Ethan Rotman has been making presentations for more than 30 years and training others in how to improve their speaking for more than 25 years.

Here is what others say about this presentation:                                           

“I want to thank for an excellent presentation on public speaking. Good programs are important for the club to keep members interested and attendance up!  We all appreciated the well-prepared and informative presentation.”

John Gardner, Rotary of Walnut Creek

“I had the pleasure of seeing Ethan do a presentation on public speaking and was VERY impressed not only by his knowledge of the subject, but by the fact that he is a great public speaker. I can’t think of a faster and more efficient way to improve communications in a business than to attend Ethan’s trainings.”

Anastasia Shuster, Access Speakers

“The session was exciting, well organized, and engaging. The materials were easy to understand we were given the tools to improve our speaking skills.”

San Francisco Estuary Institute

“You have been, in effect, a years worth of Toastmasters encapsulated into a couple of sessions.”

Clyde L. Schultz, DDS

Are You Leaving Money On The Table?

In Business Networking Groups, Business Presentations, Increased sales, Organization, Public Speaking, Social Media on July 6, 2011 at 8:10 AM

Speaking Tip 54

Imagine walking into a room where there is money on the table. You can’t see how much but you know it is there. All you have to do to get it is talk. The better your presentation, the more money you will get.

At the end of your talk, you walk out with $10 and you feel you must have done a good job. Later you find out there was an additional $190 on the table Now how good do you think your performance was?

We evaluate our speaking ability, to a degree, by our success. The problem is we rarely know how much better we could have done. Regardless of what we accomplish, we don’t know what was left on the table.

After a recent talk, the presenter boasted that five members of the audience approached him and asked him for a card. That is good but what about the other 95 people who quietly shuffled out the door without a word?

A business owner recently boasted to me that his company enjoys a 90% success rate when presenting to qualified prospects. That is phenomenal. He smiled as he enrolled his employees in a speaking skills workshop stating he wanted to bring that to 95%. He did not like leaving money on the table.

Some of us do not believe we are “selling” when we speak – but we are all trying to accomplish something. Sometimes we sell things, other times it is ideas or beliefs.

When a supervisor addresses employees, she is “selling” the idea of a new procedure or attitude. A parent “sells” the idea of a new behavior to their children while children “sell” the idea of new freedom to their parents. A scientist “sells” the need for further research. A politician “sells” the need for votes or support. The environmentalist “sells” the need for conservation, and so on.

Good presentation skills will help you get more of the money off the table and into you pocket. Whether your goal is to actually take the cash or change an attitude – proper training and coaching will help you improve your results.

ISpeakEASY will help you improve your speaking skills, allowing you to accomplish more with your words. Regardless of how good you are now, we can help you better. CLICK HERE for a list of upcoming workshops or call (415) 342-7106 and ask about individualized coaching or a workshop for your company.

We don’t see the money we leave on the table – but it is there every time we finish speaking.