Archives for April 2011

5 Myth-Busting Insights for Successful Sales Presentations

By Nick Morgan

The sales world has accumulated many myths about what makes for success, especially in the tricks and techniques for communicating during the sale — a huge part of any sales process. Following are some myth-busting insights from the latest communications research. Follow these five steps and see your close rate skyrocket.

1. It’s not about your product, it’s about listening to your customer’s need.

Most salespeople know that they should listen to the client, but too few of them do, and usually not soon enough. And they don’t listen in the right way. You should be listening for the underlying messages more than the superficial ones. What emotion is the (potential) customer putting forward? Excitement about a new purchase? Fear about a new technology? Resistance to change? Resentment at the old product?

What’s memorable — and important to people — in communication is emotion; that’s what you should be listening for and responding to, not just the expressed content. If you acknowledge a client’s emotions, and figure out an appropriate way to respond to them, you’ll be his favorite salesperson in no time.

Begin by reflecting back the basic messages. “So what I hear you saying is that you’re in the market for a new flibbertigibbet, is that right?” Once you get the basics settled, then move on to the emotions. Ask questions to elicit them, like, “Were you sorry to see the old one go, or was it good riddance to bad rubbish?”

Keep it light; this is a sale, not therapy. But don’t duck from stronger emotions if they come up. Put on your therapist hat and go to work. Your goal in all this is to be able to complete the following sentence: “Customer X is in the market for a Y, and she’s Z about it.” X is the customer, Y is the product, and Z is the customer’s attitude.

You’ll have time to sell your customer on products, features, and upgrades later. For now, focus on establishing a connection. We want to feel that connection is real and strong enough to last through the after-sale (or repeat-sale) care, so don’t rush it or fake it. Connections between people get established at the surface first, but if they’re to be durable, then they must have emotional glue to hold them together.

2. It’s not about eye contact; it’s about personal space.

Of course we all know that eye contact is important to communicating — and selling. But it’s not as important as most people seem to think. The exquisite dance of eye contact between two people who are talking to one another is largely regulated by our unconscious minds. The point is to signal — along with a symphony of other gestures — when one person is done or almost done and the other person should start talking. It’s only noticed when one person indulges in too much — or too little — eye contact. Then it interferes with the regulation of the conversation.

It’s like catching the eye of a waiter. A good waiter makes it effortless; the harried or incompetent make it difficult.

More important to communication and to sales is the amount of space between the two people. We all have incredibly sensitive monitoring capabilities keeping constant track of where we — and everyone else — is in space. It’s for obvious safety reasons, it’s mostly unconscious, and it works very well.

We monitor four zones of space. Twelve feet or more is public space — and our unconscious brains don’t pay much attention to that, because that means that people are far enough away that we have time to react.

Twelve feet to four feet is social space. That’s warmer, and our brains are now paying attention, but it’s still a cool relationship. Things heat up in personal space — four feet to a foot and a half. And things get really hot in intimate space — a foot and a half to zero.

Here’s what’s important: The only significant things that happen between people happen in personal and intimate space. As a sales person, you can’t go into intimate space, usually, so here’s the takeaway — to close a sale you must get into the personal space of the client/customer. It’s why car salespeople spend so much time shaking your hand — they want to build your trust by getting into your personal space repeatedly. Good tactic, just a bit overdone.

For the rest of us, a successful sale involves the delicate art of creating trust without pushing it. Use personal space subtly and tactfully and you’ll accomplish this with style. Let the eye contact take care of itself.

3. To close a sale, you need to first establish two things with your customer: credibility and trust.

To succeed with an audience, or a customer, you need to establish credibility first and trust second. Credibility comes first, because that’s what happens when you show that you understand the customer’s problem. Trust comes second, because that’s what you establish when you solve that problem.

Failing either one, your relationship with the client or customer won’t be durable. Without credibility, you’ll find that your customer will be likely to go elsewhere in search of expertise, even if they trust you as a human being. Do you really understand my paint color issues? Without trust, a client will be tempted to mine you for expertise, and then go make the ultimate purchase from someone else. Will you really follow through on the after-sale?

How do you establish these two key aspects of a relationship? Begin by listening to the customer’s problem. Show that you understand it as well or better than the client does, and you’ll create credibility. She gets that I loathe chartreuse! Finally, someone who knows something about paint!

Then, show how you can solve that problem. You’ll forge a strong bond of trust with that client when you take away the point of pain that sent them to the marketplace in the first place. That shade of lavender will be perfect for the room.

Credibility and trust. The two key ingredients for a strong, enduring relationship with a customer.

4. Closing a sale is all about understanding the customer’s decision-making process.

Where are your clients or customers when they get in touch with you? Are they happy with the product they have, but want to be reassured that they made the right decision?

Or are they in the throes of the problem, uncertain of which way to go, looking for answers?

Or have they already decided on a course of action, and are basically looking for you to take the order?

Each of these states of mind requires very different handling; it’s axiomatic that you need to understand your customers’ state of mind clearly in order to be able to talk to them effectively.

Customers in the first stages of decision-making just need help with framing the problem. Less information is better. Just give them a statistic, or a very brief verbal portrait of what the future might look like. Do you realize that the 2011 version of the Fabulator uses half the energy of its predecessors?

Customers deep in the problem want information — comparisons, data, detail. This stage is where all that product or service knowledge you have is actually useful. Don’t go to the point of eyes glazing over, but do satisfy the urge for information. Both models will get the job done, but the Fabulator-B is smaller and quieter, not to mention faster operating.

And clients who have already made up their mind will appreciate some visualizing of the benefits, but very little else. They don’t want to be slowed down, so don’t make it hard for them to buy. You’ve made a great choice. The Fabulator Supreme will take care of all your issues and also make you a spectacular cup of morning coffee. Now let’s get that paperwork out of the way.

That’s why it’s so important to listen to your customers before you launch into any kind of explanation. If you don’t know where they are, you can’t point them to where they should be going.

5. Involve your customer with small steps to get them comfortable to take the bigger ones.

It’s imperative that you don’t do all the work in the sales process. If you keep your clients passive, don’t be surprised when it’s hard for them to suddenly get active and agree to close the sale. Too many salespeople think that it’s all up to them. But the real secret is to get the customer working on the deal too. Begin with little steps, steps that don’t involve big commitments, and then work up from there.

In the 1987 comedy Tin Men, 1960s-era aluminum siding salesman Richard Dreyfuss initiates a younger protégé into the magical world of sales. In one call on a housewife, Dreyfuss drops a dollar bill on the floor, and allows the housewife to pick it up for him. He explains to the initiate that he can tell whether or not he’s going to get a sale with this trick. If the housewife picks up the bill, she’s a nice person and can be talked into aluminum siding. If she doesn’t, she won’t be won over.

The psychology is right, but the execution is wrong. Dreyfuss should have been seeking to create a real relationship with his customers, rather than just exploiting them. And by getting them involved, not in sneaky tests of their malleability, but in genuine steps along the road to the sale, he would have increased the amount of aluminum siding gracing the houses of Baltimore.

Take your clients from passive to active. Involve them in the process. Don’t do all the work.

About the Author:

Dr. Nick Morgan is one of America’s top communication theorists and coaches. In his blog he covers modern communications from a variety of angles, including the latest developments in communication research, the basic principles and rules of good communication, and the good and bad speakers of the day. His passion is to connect the latest brain research with timeless insights into persuasive speaking and writing in order to further our understanding of how people connect with one another.  For more information on his company, visit

How to Draw Curved Lines in PowerPoint 2010

By Geetesh Bajaj

Last month in PresentationXpert you learned how simple it is to draw a straight, point to point line in PowerPoint.  Now we’ll move on to show you how you can draw a curved line in PowerPoint 2010.

Follow these steps to draw a curved line in PowerPoint 2010:

1. Launch PowerPoint 2010. Most of the time, PowerPoint will open with a new slide in a presentation — PowerPoint 2010 users can change the slide layout to Blank by selecting Home tab | Layout | Blank.

2. Within the Home or Insert tab of the Ribbon, click the Shapes button to view the Shapes gallery that you can see in Figure 1. Within the Lines section select Curve.

Figure 1: Curve selected

3. As soon as the curve shape is selected the cursor changes to a cross hair (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: Cross hair cursor

4. Click anywhere on the slide to establish the starting point of your curve. Thereafter, move the cursor bottom-right of the first point in an approximately 45-degree angle, as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Drawing a line


5. Click again. Now when you move the cursor leftward, you’ll see the curve bend (see Figure 4).

Figure 4: Drawing a curve


6. Click again after you move a little leftwards (like a triangular position) to establish a third point. Now move the cursor upwards to the first point, as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5: Drawing a shape with a curve


7. Now click over the first point to close the shape. The shape gets filled by a solid color to denote that it has indeed been closed. You’ll also see the shape is surrounded by eight selection handles, as shown in Figure 6.

Figure 6: A closed shape drawn with curve

Tip: If you want just a curved line rather than a closed shape, don’t click on the starting point othe curved line.

8. Click anywhere on the slide to deselect the curve.

About the Author:

Geetesh Bajaj has been designing and training with PowerPoint for 15 years and is a Microsoft PowerPoint MVP (Most Valuable Professional.) He heads Indezine (  a presentation design studio and content development organization based in Hyderabad, India. The site attracts more than a million page views each month and has thousands of free PowerPoint templates and other goodies for visitors to download. He also runs another PowerPoint- related site ( that provides designer PowerPoint templates.

Geetesh also is the author of the best-selling book Cutting Edge PowerPoint for Dummies and three subsequent books on PowerPoint 2007 for Windows and one on PowerPoint 2008 for Mac.

6 Tips to Deliver More Effective Webinars and Teleseminars

By Lisa B. Marshall

Virtual presentations are a quick, easy and cost-effective way to share your insights and expertise. And as an added bonus, you not only create new relationships, you also build stronger relationships with your existing customers. However, when attempting any new presentation style, there are always a few “technical difficulties” that are important to notice and address.

Here are my top tips to create a hassle-free digital seminar that will help you promote yourself and grow your business:

1) Teach, Don’t Sell

People don’t want a sales pitch. Instead, they’re interested in receiving valuable information. Don’t think of a virtual presentation as an online infomercial, think of it as a conference. It’s not a time to hard sell your product or service, but it is an opportunity to promote yourself and your business by demonstrating your experience and knowledge.

At the end of your webinar, your audience will be thoroughly impressed with you and the new insight you’ve provided.

2) KISS (Keep It Simple Silly)

It’s important to keep in mind that a teleseminar or webinar is an event, not a speech. So the organization is slightly different; you’ll need to deliver the information in much smaller chunks (think single question and single answer.) This is especially important if you’re giving training, since you could easily send your audience into “information overload.” By the way, that’s why “the expert interview” format works so well. The natural Q&A breaks up the content into manageable chunks and it keeps it interesting.

3) Sound Quality

Make sure your audience can hear you! Your sound quality needs to be excellent. It helps to also have good video, but good sound is most important. Turns out people will tolerate poor video, but if they can’t hear properly, they hang up.

Do not use the built-in microphone and speakers on your computer. Use an external mic and a headset to listen. (I recommend buying something from Hello Direct,, which has a huge selection.)

If you are delivering by phone, then be sure to use a landline phone. Cordless and cellular telephones run the risk of low batteries and poor reception. Be sure to do a test-run to check the sound quality.

You’ll also want to mute all listeners until verbal feedback is requested. You don’t want to hear their barking dog or crying baby in the background, right? Also, remember to turn off your own cell phone and lock your door to avoid unexpected interruptions.

4) Quality Sound

You’ll also want to make sure that YOU sound good. Do you speak with disfluencies? Ah, you know, filler words like, um, well, don’t add to the content, are just, like, annoying! When you do your test run, be sure to deliver real content because you’ll want to check for these nasty credibility killers.

Additionally, when it comes to voice the key is variety. Change of speed, change of volume, change of pitch, change of pacing, change of speaker (if possible). For example, when you speak at a faster rate than normal (faster is about 145-160 words per minutes), people will perceive enthusiasm for the topic. (By the way, this is a way to fake it if you really aren’t enthusiastic.) Then as you present, if you occasionally slow your verbal pace, people will assume the topic as dramatic and important.

However, if you are delivering to an audience that English is a second language, be sure to speak a bit more slowly (110-125 words per minute) than you normally do for the duration of the presentation.

5) Don’t Forget to Smile and Stand-up!

It sounds silly, but smiling does really help to put some spark in your voice. Some people like to use a small mirror to present to so they can see their own facial expressions. It helps to stay focused on the presentation and SEE how you are coming across.

6) The Soft Sale

Although I said you should provide information instead of a hard sell, you still need to keep in mind that you want your audience to follow-up with you. That means you’ll need to subtly incorporate selling during your seminar. Don’t wait until the end, because the longer the call, the more likely you will lose people as the event goes on.

So what exactly do I mean by subtly? For example, at the beginning of the call, you can mention that as a thank-you you’ve created some exclusive bonuses just for them. The idea is to direct them to a special landing page on your website that sells your stuff and includes the bonuses. During the seminar, you just need to mention the landing page a few times. For example, in a 60 minute presentation you can deliver the call to action 4 to 5 times – once at 20 minutes, again at 30,40,50, and at the very end.

And remember, always provide an incentive. Give them a free report, a recording, or perhaps a personal consultation. And make sure they can easily sign-up for your newsletter. Email marketing is still the most effective marketing tool.

About the Author:

Lisa B. Marshall has been sharing her enthusiasm for communication for over 12 years. Her company provides free and fun practical tips to improve your personal and professional success. Lisa is the author of Ace Your Interview [Macmillan Audio], and is currently working on her second book, coming to bookstores everywhere in 2011. You can find more tips to improve your digital and face-to-face presentations at

Finding Your Groove Thing

By Jim Endicott

No, this article is not about buying that little red convertible you’ve always wanted or learning to “bust a move.” It’s about finding an even more important groove that impacts nearly every day of your life.

Recently I spent a half-day with a very senior executive in a Fortune 50 company. This gentleman is one of the youngest rising stars in the organization and speaks around the world.  But like so many executives we coach, he was probably an average communicator, maybe even a little better.

But what made him so great to work with was he had a personal passion to be truly exceptional.  Average was just not going to cut it with him.  So we started as we always do with a baseline taping to see what things had become a comfortable and routine part of his personal communication style.  (Just like those slippers you have that feel so right, we all have a native communication style that has been broken in over hundreds of uses. What’s yours?)

He started into his standard delivery and did pretty good but there were a few things he seemed unaware of that were getting in his way. Although he was on a very large stage, he moved very slowly. What may have looked relaxed and comfortable at the end of a boardroom table, looked timid and tentative on the big stage.   He managed to put in some good gestures from time to time, but once again, because of the size of the venue, his hand movements seemed small and weak – certainly not scaled for the thousands in the conference center and the millions watching around the world.

One thing I’ve learned is one approach rarely fits all situations.  I used to mentor a 16 year-old kid from a local half-way house and on occasion we’d go to a small par 3 golf course for a quick round.  For him, every swing had to be huge – he knew nothing else.  And there was no such thing as club selection.  He used one club from the tee box to the green.  But for Mitch, it worked, he had a lot of fun and was always in the moment.  For me though, I try to work a little harder at the game of golf.   My club selection changes based on where I happen to find myself.  I don’t always take full swings.  And I have to adapt my mindset so I don’t get freaked out by my current lie!

Lest you miss the point, here it is. Those who communicate important messages must be adaptive communicators.  One size DOES NOT fit all situations and here are some key elements of adaptation to help you bring your A-game to every opportunity.

1) Have an ideal game plan – This will include location of screen, wireless microphone usage, where you want to place your laptop and how you will move to engage your audience.  If you plan ahead, hotels and even companies can/will adapt the room to your needs.  If you get there late or simply take the default set-up, don’t be surprised if you get stuck behind a podium in the corner of the room with a screen gobbling up that all important center-front real estate.

2) But be adaptive – Having addressed point #1, presentation settings are NOT always ideal and that’s life. Our space is limited or our presentation time might be cut short.  And this type of last minute obstacle can be devastating for analytical types who want to “get it right.”  What you can control, however, is how much time you have for plan B.  Get there early. Walk the space and work a plan. Come prepared with an abbreviated presentation.  Yes, everything you planned to say is ALL important, but stubbornly sticking to your plan and rushing through too many slides will only mean your impact is even more negated and you look frazzled as well.

3) Use your space wisely. For larger stage venues, don’t be a BB in a bowling alley by anchoring yourself in the middle of the stage.  Move more briskly and with confidence as you utilize the larger stage area.   But don’t forget to PLANT your feet for periods of time or your movement will appear nervous and random.  (See our podcast on Look-Lock-Move-Plant at

I’m not sure what your percentages are but here are mine and I do this for a living.

70% of the time I can make the space my own and deliver the presentation I planned to give. 20% of the time, I need to adapt my game plan but I am almost always able to get into the room ahead of time. 10% of the time… yea, it’s plan C yet I can still make the experience for those listening that day a great one by bringing even more emphasis to the things I can control. (Eye contact.  Pace of delivery.  Passion. Great opening and closing mechanisms.)

Maybe the point is there is no one groove you can get comfortable with.  Life is just not that predictable. But with the stakes as high as they are these days, we need to be better planners.  Planners of what we simply insist on (and most places will gladly accommodate) and planners who anticipate and flex when we have to and not let it get into our heads.

That’s the mark of a truly great communicator. 

About the Author:

Jim Endicott is president of Distinction Communication Inc, a Newberg, OR consulting firm specializing in message development, presentation design and delivery skills coaching.  For more information about his firm’s services, visit

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