Stop Complicating Things

November 28th, 2017

Stop Complicating ThingsWe live in complicated times. Everything from our clothes, to our phones, to our investments is more advanced, sophisticated, and complex. We have access to more information than ever before and we have more choices than ever before. Which leads to a problem.

We’re overwhelmed. We’re uncertain. We’re confused.

And that creates a problem for salespeople. Because a confused mind shuts down. When people have too many choices, they often don’t make one.

So simplify things for your prospect.

• Instead of giving prospects more information (which they already have too much of), help them sort the most important information from the less important.

• Instead of dumping lots of data in their lap, tell them a story.

• Instead of providing them with a plethora of choices, narrow their choices down for them and explain why those choices are the most appropriate ones for them.

• Instead of including every last detail in your presentation, focus only on the key items that matter most to your prospect (that you learned from asking questions during your needs analysis).

• Instead of slides packed with tiny words and numbers, show a photo or a video.

Buying shouldn’t be complicated, but it often is. If you can simplify the buying process for your prospects, they’ll buy from you.

11 Ways to Close Your Next Presentation with Impact

November 14th, 2017

11 Ways to Close Your Next Presentation with ImpactIn my last post, I warned against using six weak approaches to closing a presentation. Whether you’re introducing a new product at a trade show, addressing your team at your annual sales meeting, or making the case for your company to your dream client, you want to end with a bang, not a whimper.

How can you do that? Here are eleven tactics for closing your presentation on a high note.

1. Share a quote
A great quotation can make people laugh, think, or feel. Sometimes all three at the same time. One caveat: avoid common quotations that everyone has heard dozens of times. Do some research and find a gem that isn’t as well-known.

2. Show a photo
A good photo can convey emotions in ways words simply can’t. What kind of visual would help you make your message memorable? A shot of a happy customer? An historical photo? A “before and after” comparison?

3. Play a video
Video has the capacity to pack even more emotional punch than a photo. Perhaps a testimonial from a grateful client. Or your product in action. Or a news report. Or a transformation of some kind.

4. Cite a startling statistic
Why is your message so important? Cite a statistic that hammers home why your audience needs to take action.

5. Tell a story
Stories are one of the most powerful tools in a presenter’s toolbox. Stories can communicate both data and emotion. They are also entertaining and engaging. They can make your audience laugh, cry, or hope. Advanced Tip: Open your presentation with the beginning of a story and close it by finishing the story.

6. Give a gift
If it works for Oprah, it can work for you. Give your audience a free sample of your new product. Or a gift card to use in your business. Or a book. Or anything else that will enable them to leave with a sense of appreciation.

7. Ask a question
Sometimes the best thing you can do at the end of a presentation is make your audience think. “So what will you do the next time you…?” “How much is it worth to you to…?” “Are you prepared for…?”

8. Offer a choice
The old way or the new way. Do nothing or take action. The short-term approach or the long-term approach. What choice could you leave them with?

9. Issue a challenge
People often respond well to a challenge. So what do you want your audience to do? Challenge them to do it and watch them rise to the occasion.

10. Make a call to action
Sometimes it’s best not to beat about the bush. Tell your audience what you want them to do. Tell them exactly how, when, and where to do it. And make it simple.

11. Combine two or more of the above
Amp up the power of your close by using several tactics together. Show a photo and tell the story behind it. Cite a statistic and challenge your audience to do something about it. Give them a gift and make a call to action.

As a professional speaker and sales trainer, I’ve used each of these approaches to closing my presentations. The specific one I choose depends on the audience, the message, the type of presentation it is, and how I want the audience to think, feel, and act when I’m finished. That’s what you want to consider as well when you’re planning your presentations.

Like me, you work hard to create a presentation that moves people. Heck, you work hard just to get in the position of being able to deliver a presentation. Make the most of it! Which of these techniques will you use to close your next presentation?

Six Ways NOT to Close a Presentation

November 1st, 2017

Six Ways NOT to Close a PresentationA while back I discussed six awful approaches to opening a presentation that you should avoid at all costs. However, the end of a presentation is just as important as the beginning. The last thing you say is the first thing your audience will remember. (That is, if they remember anything at all.)

The way you close your presentation impacts what people will think, how they’ll feel, and what they’ll do afterward. Yet too many salespeople and speakers end their presentations on a weak note, undermining their effectiveness.

Don’t make that mistake! Whether you’re speaking to prospects, industry colleagues, or schoolkids, avoid these six poor closes:

1. Summarizing
A summary of your main points can be helpful near the end of your presentation, but it’s a lousy ending. You want to finish on a high note. A summary is simply data. It lacks energy, punch, emotion.

2. Telling them what you hope they’ll do
At the end of their presentations, a lot of salespeople and speakers sound like Oliver Twist asking for more gruel. They say things like “I hope you’ll consider us…” or “I hope you’ll think about…” Such a plea conveys weakness and uncertainty, hurting your credibility.

3. Asking them to call you
A different—but no more effective—kind of plea is the request to call you at some unspecified point in the future. Maybe. Presenters will close with “Call us when you’re ready to…” or “Call me if you have any questions…” Such presenters think they’re employing a call to action. But they’re not. Because the audience isn’t going to call. They never do.

4. The “Forrest Gump”
In the movie Forrest Gump, the titular character ends each of his stories by stating, “That’s all I have to say about that.” It’s a clumsy way to end, reinforcing the idea that the character is mentally—and thus, verbally—below average. Many salespeople and speakers close their presentations in similarly abrupt fashion. They get to the end and simply say something like “Well that’s my time” or “Okay, that’s all I’ve got” or “Thank you for your time.” Again, you’re missing out on the opportunity to finish with a bang.

5. Q&A
This is undoubtedly the most common way people close presentations badly. Question and Answer sessions are both popular and important, but they don’t belong at the very end of a presentation. If there aren’t any questions, you’re left standing there awkwardly. And if there are questions, you can easily get bogged down in technical details, dragged into an argument with a know-it-all, or sidetracked onto a minor issue. You don’t want your audience’s last impression of you to be any of those things. By all means, ask for questions throughout your presentation, or schedule a Q&A session before you close, but don’t end on it.

6. Getting cut off
How often have you seen a presenter get cut off by someone in charge? It’s one of the most embarrassing things that can happen to a presenter. And it absolutely ruins your credibility and impact. Avoid this fate by planning for less time than you expect to have and rehearsing relentlessly. Know what you can cut if time runs short for reasons beyond your control. (Which happens all the time.) Pro Tip: Bring a small travel clock with you and place it in your line of sight in case there’s no clock in the room.

You work hard to craft an informative, persuasive, entertaining presentation. Don’t sabotage it with a weak ending.

Here’s my challenge to you: What could you do to end your presentation with maximum impact?