Jerry Cahn

Think Like a BUYER to Design and Deliver Winning Sales Presentations

Do you want to sell your company (or an important product or service) for maximum value and quickly? Then, you need to think like the BUYER before you design the presentation.

This message has been reinforced recently, as several CEOs who are selling their companies share with me how they are struggling with sales presentations designed for them by investment banking and related firms. Why are they’re struggling? While the banker-types do a decent job collecting the information that needs to be presented, they turn the design job to junior analysts who “fit” the data into an evergreen sales template. This process generates several problems:

  • The templates often are not designed from the perspective of a BUYER but rather reflect the “data-dump” of the data collected to make the sake. A BUYER presentation focuses on:
  • What the BUYER needs to know (and what should be deleted),
  • How the facts and data should be presented to be compelling, 
  • How to structure the entire presentation to guide the BUYER to reach the conclusion: “I really want this!”
  • The potential BUYER is part of an extended team that has to pull the trigger on buying.  This includes people in the company, investors and advisors. Therefore, a key goal of the presentation is to enable the person to share the information with others!  Like the game of telephone, as it gets communicated from one person to another, pieces get lost and confused. Therefore, the presentation must make crystal clear at the end WHY this is an incredible deal and do it in a way that the BUYER can share it completely with others!
  • Most analysts shouldn’t be expected truly understand the BUYER context.  He/she only recently graduated a (often top) college which taught how to do financial modeling and make presentations. These are key technical skills. But, as Google’s research demonstrated, the soft-skills often count more today than the hard skills. That the template may not include the right facts in the right offer and therefore eliminate the right flow to persuade a BUYER is something not yet experienced. As a mentor once shared with me, don’t expect someone who drives used cars to be a powerful new luxury car sales person.
  • All too often the person who presents to potential buyers is given the mandate to present this less-than-ideal-templated presentation” to potential buyers by going from over-stuffed- slide-to-slide. Instead, the seller should be presenting his/her persuasive, memorable STORY, filled with passion, purpose and vision and supported by informative and engaging slides within a powerful, flowing presentation. Only then can a deal proceed at full value and at full value. (The gap between reading the slides and presenting a powerful story is the largest reason that potential deals don’t advance.)

For over thirty years, my teams at Presentation Excellence and its predecessor Brilliant Image, have been telling our over 5000 customers to follow a simple formula that almost always enable them to win: ADAP – Audience-Driven, Authentic Presentations. Understanding the buyer context is KEY. One of my clients once raised $100M Opportunity fund with a 20 minute stand-up presentation at tall tables in bars. Another CEO had trouble selling a company which sold at retail dressy dresses ; once we realized that the Buyer-Reps were all men – who often bought tuxedos that they wore over and over again, we realized changing the mindset immediately was key to revealing Company’s real value. Finally, I wrote this blog in response to a third CEO who told to present their hot-off-the-press presentation the next day (for the first time) while he was uncomfortable with the flow and style, but was willing to go along with the (expensive) experts.

So, if you’re one of the millions of owners and managers who have critical sales planned for 2022, THINK LIKE THE BUYER, before you design and deliver the presentation!  

(For more information, call JerryCahn@PresentationExcellence.com or 800 493 1334

that can only be worn once is not the same as selling Tuxedos which may be work countless times.

 Think Like the Buyer, BEFORE You Design the Presentation

What’s Your Purpose Statement?

One of the initial tasks of every company is to articulate the corporate identify so management, employees and investors are all on the same page, and then articulate the band that the company wants to project to its customers. Over time, things may change, and it’s important to revisit the corporate identify.  When was the last time your team revisited the accuracy and engagement-value of your company’s corporate identity?

Over the past few years, corporate leaders who previously may have declared that their company’s purpose was to “increase shareholder value” have expanded their purpose to include other stakeholders, including employees, communities and society in general. Concerns about climate change, sustainability, diversity and inclusion are all fueling this change.

Today, as a result of the pandemic, between 20 and 33% of adults, especially emerging and early stage adults, are beginning to rethink their lifestyle and career steps. Why continue to spent a lot of time commuting to work and away from raising a family and forging a wholesome lifestyle, when remote and hybrid work options let you integrate work and family into a lifestyle? “The great resignation”, as this trend has been called, reflects the re-evaluation of people’s values and prior life decisions. Many are taking GROWTHH sabbaticals to reflect and decide what they want to do and then seek out news skills, jobs, cities, etc.

Against this backdrop, an article by PwC, Why Corporate Purpose Statements Often Miss Their Mark, caught my attention. Are your company’s Corporate Identity components, which may have been developed years ago, still appropriate and accurate (1) for the current and future business and (2) for your stakeholders now and in the immediate future? 

The article focuses on the fact that many purpose statements lack and meaningful sense of purpose – which may explain why so many people no longer feel drawn to their former employers and the new ones desperate to find new employees.  For instance, when an environmental organization says its purpose is to “create daylight, fresh air and a better environment for people’s every day lives”, it tells you the reason the company exists, identifies the beneficiary and inspires people concerned with our climate challenges. Contrast that to another company’s  purpose to “produce goods of as high a quality as possible with as low as possible production costs”; practical, but not inspiring.

So it may be time for you to review your set of corporate identity statements:

  • Purpose: Why does the company exist? It should describe what the company does, who they do it for and how they do it.  The PwC study found that the overwhelming majority neglected to mention the core problem they intend to solve or refer to its history illustrate its actual purpose.
  • Vision:  What will you ultimate product as a result? Think of the headline you’d like to see in a major newspaper about the achievements accomplished in the distant future. (e.g., “ WHO announces that XYZ disease is now eliminated worldwide.”)
  • Mission: How are you contributing daily to the service that will solve the beneficiary’s problems?
  • Strategy. What resources will you mobilize and tradeoffs will you make to achieve the solution?
  • Culture: What values and behaviors should your team practice in order to actualize the purpose?

Once you’ve identified your corporate identify statements, then you can develop just descriptions for individuals and teams which incorporate them and build accountability systems and improvement systems to help people grow professionally and personally. (See Accountable4Success.com)

Most important, your statement of Corporate Identity is a living document. Over times, people and circumstances will change. What worked yesterday may not be appropriate for tomorrow. On an annual basis, at the least, your executive team should review and edit as needed. And the best time to evaluate your purpose and other statements is NOW!

Is An Outdated LinkedIn Profile Negatively Impacting Your Career?

By Point Road Group

Before and after you give a presentation, people look you up on LinkedIn. Does your profile make a great impression and present you optimally when they do? Can people see your unique value, expertise and experience in way that’s clear, informative and interesting? What your profile says about you supports your personal brand and credibility as a speaker, and if it’s outdated, that credibility can be damaged. Consider the following reactions to outdated profile content:

  • How can this person be an expert in XX when their profile doesn’t communicate it at all?
  • The speaker claims to have deep experience in YY, but when I look at their work history, it doesn’t add up.
  • The speaker comes across as junior level on their profile. Is this person really a leader in ZZ?

What you include on your profile should reflect who you are today. Outdated information doesn’t position you well for anything – future speaking engagements, network growth, internal opportunities, business referrals, potential jobs, board seats or media inquiries. Consider the missed opportunities if your profile doesn’t show what you bring to the table now.

Resonating with your audience is critical when giving a presentation. The same holds true with viewers of your LinkedIn profile. The content on your profile is a form of presentation, so make it mistake-free and relevant and relatable to your target audiences. 

If it’s been a while since you’ve reviewed your profile, here are 7 updates to improve impressions you make and instantly enhance your credibility.

1. Update Your Headshot

Your headshot is the first thing people see about you on LinkedIn. Use a good quality, professional-looking image that represents what you look like today, not 10 years ago. If you’ve changed hair color, switched to wearing glasses or grown a beard since your last photo, update your headshot. Use a picture that’s centered on your face, isn’t taken from 50 feet away and doesn’t include others. When your headshot and appearance as a presenter on video (or in person) don’t match, it can confuse audiences and potentially impact communication.

2. Go Beyond Title & Company In Your Headline

Your headline introduces you on LinkedIn and influences whether someone decides to read more about you. It also impacts your discoverability in search results. When writing a headline, include key areas of expertise and industry specialties. If you’re a keynote speaker, let people know! Use this high value real estate to establish relevancy and credibility, not just state a job title and company name.

3. Write About You, Not Your Company In About

Do you include a lot of detail about your company instead of who you are and what makes you unique in the About section? Your profile, and especially the About section, is the place to tell your professional story. While it’s okay to write about your company topline for context, don’t make it all about them. Even if your role is to develop new business or drive brand awareness, people still want to know about who you are and the expertise and value you bring. Include the most critical information in the first few lines to entice people to click, “see more.”

4. Grab Attention With Logos In Experience

Are there generic gray/blue square icons in your Experience section instead of company logos? Be sure to match employer names to the correct LinkedIn company pages so clickable company logos appear. Experience looks more credible and impactful with visual representation of the brands you’ve worked for. If a former employer was sold, list the acquiring company so the logo appears (and then under your title or description, be clear that you worked for the acquired company. If the company no longer exists or if you’re self-employed and don’t have a LinkedIn company page, it’s acceptable to leave the generic icon.

5. Unpack Your Experience

Do you over-summarize positions, so it looks like you had one title for 10 years instead of the three roles you really held? Not only does showing career progression demonstrate that you performed well (and the company valued your work and supported your growth), but it can also generate up to 29X more profile views. Include detail under recent positions to enhance your credibility. While it doesn’t need to read like a resume, providing some information under your current role can result in up to 5X more connection requests, 8X more profile views and 10X more messages according to LinkedIn.

6. Include 5+ Skills

List skills that relate to who you are today and how you want to position yourself moving forward. Include skills related to speaking and presenting, specific industry and functional strengths and other competencies that highlight your unique value and problems you solve. This improves searchability. According to LinkedIn, including at least 5 skills on your profile translates to up to 17X more profile views and 31X more messages.

7. Check Details & Settings

Do you know what email is listed on your profile? Do you link to a Twitter handle but haven’t tweeted in years? Do you know who can view your information and if your profile is publicly viewable? Be sure to go through all areas of Contact Information to ensure it’s current, as well as Settings & Privacy. People should be able to find you on LinkedIn and reach you in some way off-platform.

A current and complete LinkedIn profile strengthens impressions you make when someone looks you up before/after presentations, meetings or events; when making introductions that link to your profile; or when conducting a search on or off LinkedIn. Strong personal brands are important for speakers and presenters and an optimized LinkedIn profile reflects that. Don’t let an outdated profile negatively impact your credibility or business and career opportunities.

Is Your Company Feeding People’s Purpose at Work?

Several years ago, the CEOs with whom I work in NYC for Vistage Worldwide (there are 23,000 CEOs globally) began referring to the companies as CILOs- Continuous Improvement Learning Organizations. The focus of a CILO is to hire talented workers and dedicate time for continuous improvement learning as part of the standard job description. With professional and personal growth, many will outgrow their current positions and grow into new ones where they can make higher contributions.

Periodically, we share stories on some of our staff have grown thanks to the CILO culture. We find that people who live their purpose at work are more productive than those who don’t. They are also healthier, more resilient, and more likely to stay. Recently, we’ve noted that the CILO culture is especially effective at this post-pandemic time, because it’s encouraging people to pursue their longer-term purpose at their companies.

McKinsey’s recent report, Help Your Employees Find Purpose – or Watch Them Leave, demonstrates just how important this us for them now.  Their research found that 70% of employees said their sense of purpose is defined by their work. However, two-thirds reporting that the pandemic has caused them to reflect on their purpose in life. About half said they’re reconsidering the kind of work, with Millennials three times more likely to say so than older workers. It’s likely that those companies which foster continuous improvement have a better chance of meeting employees’ changing purpose needs by enabling them to adopt new, supportive positions. We will be monitoring this in the future. How are your workers doing? Are they engaged and focusing on taking on new challenges in the company to continue meeting their purpose needs? What challenges are you encountering? Share with us.

Clarity on Employee Coaching

A key practice that Stephen Covey told us to adopt in his classic book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is to start with the end in mind. As we return to work as a distributed workforce – working sometimes in the office and sometimes not, without knowing exactly how this will eventually settle (which is why we call this the “fluid” post-pandemic stage), we need to adopt the most effective practices to empower and develop our staff. This especially applies to training and coaching our staff.  Marshall Goldsmith, one of the leading executive coaches, recently noted a number of key leader-coaching strategies. As an executive coach, I found his recommendations valuable – and realized we can apply some of them to coaching our staff. Here they are:

  1. Involve the staff member being coached in determining the desired behaviors. People cannot be expected to change behavior if they don’t have a clear understanding of what desired behavior looks like.
  2. Involve the staff member being coached in determining key stakeholders. Without identifying the company stakeholders with whom they’ll be involved, you can’t help them get them to focus on the right issues nor accept the feedback from the right colleagues.  This ensures their “buy in” to the process, as they will be discussing it with these peers, subordinates and supervisors.
  3. Collect feedback. Marshall personally interviews all key stakeholder for a CEO or gets 360° feedback, because feedback is critical. It is impossible to get evaluated on changed behavior if there is not agreement on what behavior to change!
  4. Reach agreement on key behaviors for change. Don’t try to change everything; pick only one or two key areas for behavioral change with each coaching-client and agree upon the desired behavior for change.
  5. Have the coachee get other input from key stakeholders. As the person being coached speaks with stakeholders, she/he can collect “feedforward” suggestions on how to improve on the key areas targeted for improvement. The feedback provides greater depth, breadth and wisdom.
  6. Enable your coachee to develop the action plans that result from the principles discussed. These plans need to come from them, with constructive feedback provided by you, the coach. They often know what’s the right thing to do; they just need to execute it well and evaluate it for continuous improvement.

As we increasingly use automation and artificial intelligence to take over the “routine” activities with which we’re involved, being coached on how to handle human-interactions, especially effective collaboration when people are working in different offices at different times, becomes more critical.  Use the Presentation Excellence ADAP principles to make sure you’re effective. If you have questions, share them with us!

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