Top Ten PowerPoint Mistakes Salespeople Make

May 30th, 2012

bad sales powerpoint

PowerPoint is a terrific sales tool. But like any tool, it can be dangerous if misused. Used poorly, a PowerPoint presentation can damage your credibility, undermine prospects’ confidence in you and hurt your sales efforts.

To prevent death by PowerPoint, avoid these common mistakes:

1. Unreadable Slides
If your prospects can’t read your slides, they’re worthless. What’s even worse, they make you look incompetent. This mistake has three variations:

A. Too-small type—Do you think your prospects have telescopes? Use 28-point type at a minimum.

B. Low contrast—Bright colors against a light background or dark colors against a dark background. Don’t look like an art-school reject. Make sure there’s a high contrast between your type and your background.

C. Not color-blind-friendly—Between .5 and 1% of women, and between 7 and 10% of men have some form of color-blindness. If you’re relying on color differences to make your point, be sure they’re colors everyone can distinguish.

2. Spelling Errors
Errors in spelling and grammar make you look like an amateur. Don’t rely on the software’s spell checker. Have your presentation proofread. Twice.

3. Too Much Data on Slides
When there’s too much information on a slide—whether it’s text, graphics or both—it’s difficult for people to follow it and comprehend it, especially if there’s no clear order to it. And too much data usually means type that’s too small, which means it’s unreadable. (See number 1.)

4. Too Much Animation
A little animation—for example, having each line on a slide appearing when you’re ready to discuss it—is fine. Making words constantly fly in from all directions and making slides spin and swirl is overkill. It distracts from your message and annoys your prospects. (The same goes for sound effects.)

5. Just Reading Slides
Are you a salesperson or a narrator? If all you’re going to do is read what’s on the slide, what do I need you for?

And slides shouldn’t be long blocks of text. They should be bullet points, short sentences and graphics that provide the visual anchor to what you’re saying.

6. Facing the Projector Screen
What’s worse than robotically reading slides? Reading them with your back to your prospects!

Set your laptop between you and your audience. That way you can maintain eye contact with your prospects and quickly glance down at your computer screen as needed.

7. Not Knowing Presentation
If you look surprised or confused—even if only for a moment—your credibility is shot. Know your presentation backwards and forwards.

8. Skipping Slides
“Okay, we can skip over these…”

What? Wait! What was on those slides? Was it important? If it was important, why are you skipping over them? If it wasn’t important, what were they doing there in the first place???

9. Providing Slides on Handouts
If you give me a handout with all the slides printed on it, I’m going to read ahead while you’re talking. And so will most people. Which means you’ve lost their attention before you’ve even started, with virtually no hope of getting it back.

10. Too Long
It’s a sales presentation, not The Lord of the Rings. Your audience doesn’t find your presentation anywhere near as engrossing as you do. Edit it so it’s as short as possible. Then have someone else edit it further.

Used effectively, a PowerPoint presentation can help you make the sale. Used ineffectively, it can cost you the sale. Invest the time and energy to make your entire presentation—not just the PowerPoint—informative, engaging and persuasive.

Remember, PowerPoint doesn’t make the sale. You do.

Twelve Ways to Get People to Your Trade Show Booth

May 16th, 2012

Trade Show Sales 1I registered to attend an upcoming trade show, so naturally I’ve been deluged with postcards and letters from exhibitors beseeching me to visit their booth.

Most of the messages have been along the lines of “Come learn all about our super-cool, revolutionary, state-of-the-art, game-changing, mega-awesome product or service.”

News Flash: I don’t care about your product or service. I care about me.

A few exhibitors have tried to tempt me with offers of a free mouse pad, case studies, a sample of their product or a demo version of their product. While these items are perfectly fine to give away to booth visitors, they’re not enough of an incentive to get people to seek you out.

If you want to ensure that trade show visitors hunt you down, you need to offer them something they really want. Which typically has nothing to do with you.

So what would really excite your potential visitors? Here are twelve ideas:

1. Books
What books are on your target prospects’ reading lists? What’s the next hot book for their industry or their job title? Books have a high perceived value. You can buy books at a discount from the publisher, or sometimes, directly from the author.

2. CD’s
As popular as mp3’s are, people still listen to CD’s. Especially if they’re educational. Most professional speakers have CD’s with attention-grabbing titles that your prospects will want to hear. And you can often get them very inexpensively when you buy them in bulk. For an example, click here.

3. DVD’s
As with CD’s, there are a wide variety of DVD’s available on topics your target market wants to know more about. And DVD’s have an even higher perceived value than CD’s.

4. White Paper
The danger of using white papers is that they’re frequently perceived as being boring. So if you’re going to use one as an incentive, it’s got to have a really provocative or engaging title. And it can’t be about your product or service. It must focus on your prospect’s industry or job.

5. Planning Guide
People want to be able to do their jobs better, with less effort. So if you can offer them some type of tool—like a planning guide—that will enable them to do one or the other (preferably both), that’s an attractive incentive.

6. Tickets
Events can be powerful incentives because so many people value experiences over things. As long as the event is really cool: a private concert, a hot party, an exclusive tour, etc.

7. Subscription
If there is a magazine or newsletter your prospects would value, a free subscription can be attractive. Be advised, however, that due to the overwhelming amount of information available everywhere, subscriptions are less valued than they used to be. Which means the information source needs to be particularly focused or exclusive to be effective as a promotion.

8. Contest
If you’re going to use a contest to lure attendees to your booth, you need to give away a prize that people will get excited about. (Not a previous-generation iPad, as some of these exhibitors are doing.)

9. Meet a celebrity
The opportunity to meet—and possibly get an autograph from—a celebrity is an experience many people value highly. They’ll even wait in line, giving you an opportunity to expose them to your message.

10. One-half of a set
What’s a better incentive than a gift? Half a gift. Send your best prospects one sandal, one glove or one-half of any type of set. People will feel compelled to find you so they can complete their set.

11. Seminar
People won’t spend their time sitting through a seminar about how to use your product or service. They will, however, flock to a seminar that promises them solutions to their challenges or ways to gain an edge in their work, businesses or lives. And if you provide solid content, you can slip in a little information about your offering at the end of the program. As with white papers, the seminar must have an intriguing or provocative title. Consider hiring a professional speaker—they’ve got great content and know how to engage an audience for maximum impact. Want some ideas? Click here.

12. Food
If you work for a restaurant, hotel or caterer, your food can be a unique and powerful incentive to visit your booth. State specifically what you’ll be serving at the show. Make people’s mouths water in anticipation.

Keep in mind that these tactics will merely get attendees to your booth. What happens once they’re there is another story.

You need to make sure you’ve got enough people to staff your booth and that they’re trained effectively so they can engage visitors in conversation. You and your staff need a process for identifying actual prospects and quickly discovering their wants and needs. And you need a follow-up strategy for after the show.

A trade show is a big investment with a huge sales potential. Getting attendees to your exhibit is an important first step in making the most of it.

You Connected with Someone on LinkedIn—Now What?

May 8th, 2012

linkedin logoYou asked someone to connect with you on LinkedIn and they agreed. Great!

So…..what do you do next? How do you begin to build a relationship virtually?

Listen to my appearance on Breakthrough Business Strategies Radio with special guest host Stephanie Calahan. In this eight-minute segment, I share nine tactics you can use to turn LinkedIn connections into actual relationships, leading to a stronger network, more opportunities and higher sales!

To listen, just click on the link below. Or to download the segment to listen later, right-click the link and select “Save Target As…”

You Connected with Someone on LinkedIn—Now What? Don Cooper on Breakthrough Business Strategies Radio (mp3)

By the way, the rest of the show features Stephanie interviewing the usual host, Michele Price, about media and public relations strategies. It’s about an hour-and-a-half, and jammed with great insights and tactics. To listen to—or download—the full show, click this link: Media Interviews: Home Run or Fly Ball Out—Which Is Yours?

To learn more from Michele and Stephanie, check out their web sites and Twitter feeds:

Michele Price 

Stephanie Calahan

And feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter as well: