Powerpoint Presentation: The Devaluation of Sales

It seems that almost every sales rep nowadays can’t do his job anymore without the ‘aid’ of some kind of presentation on his laptop, net-book or tablet PC  And I am not just talking about presentations for a group of decision makers. No, even in one-on-one meetings too many sales reps make use of some kind of presentation software.

It violates almost every ‘rule’ in the book:

  • Selling is not telling, selling is listening.
  • Every customer has unique needs, wishes and desires. Get those to the surface and act accordingly.
  • Specs don’t sell, tailor-made solutions do.
  • Build rapport by showing a genuine interest in the customer, not in yourself or your organization.

These ‘rules’ are as old as mankind. And they haven’t changed all of a sudden because of newly available technology.

Most of the presentations I have seen are precooked by the marketing department of the organization. And it proves again and again that marketing people in general have no clue when it comes to sales. It is beyond me that organizations let their marketing department interfere with their sales department in that way. Marketing and sales are two different disciplines; stay out of each other’s play ground!

We have all seen examples of the ‘Corporate Presentation’. Slide after slide about what a great company it is; the growth in annual turnover, the worldwide coverage, all the important customers they have already, their USP’s, the great line of products, etc.

Apparently, the customer is not important anymore. It is all about us; about how great we are, how big we are, how important we are…
In other words: this - new – customer is just there to add to our greatness.
Happy selling…

Every customer wants to feel important, not just one of many, not just a number in his supplier’s automated system. And here comes the sales rep with a presentation that he shows to everybody, regardless of the specific needs, interests and desires of the customer. In the presentation the supplier brags about the numerous offices and plants they have throughout the world and the gazillion customers they service. That will make the prospect with his one mid-sized plant in southern Alberta jump out of his chair of excitement, won’t it? Now he feels very special and important, all of a sudden!

Many sales reps don’t realize that certain pieces of information that are valuable to one customer can backfire when presented to another. One of the most important rules in sales is that you don’t start giving out information before you know if it is of interest for the customer and in what context. Most presentations blatantly violate that rule.

Is every PowerPoint presentation useless?

Certainly not. But there is a time and a place for everything. If you want to (or have to) use presentation software, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Know your customer’s needs, interests, wishes and desires before you show him your presentation.
  • Make sure that your presentation is tailor-made for his customer. At least, remove slides that might work against you.
  • Do the selling yourself. Presentations are there to confirm, explain or add information, they will not sell for you. Don’t make yourself obsolete.
  • Trim your presentation as much as possible. I have seen presentations with dozens of slides. I can guarantee you that no customer is interested anymore after about  dozen slides tops.

There is a lot to say about the quality of the material and – maybe even more importantly – the quality of the presenter. I will make another post about that subject shortly.


Sales people, marketing people and others spend a lot of time developing PowerPoint presentations. It is a shame that so many efforts are in vain or even counter productive. If you decide to create a presentation or review an existing one, answer for yourself at least these three questions:

  1. Does a Presentation indeed add value to the sales process?
  2. Is the presented information of value for the customer?
  3. Is there information in the Presentation that can jeopardize my relationship with the customer?

Have a good look at your presentation. Put yourself in the shoes of a customer and see if you really couldn’t do without.

Never forget: People do business with people!

Happy presenting!

To Succeed When Negotiating Use Questions Strategically To Go From Despondency To Euphoria

When you negotiate, do you use questions strategically, to go from despondency to euphoria? During negotiations, some negotiators become despondent, because they don’t know how to answer questions.

During a negotiation, your emotional perspective and the way you respond to questions determine the flow and outcome of the negotiation. If you wish to become more adept at negotiating, you must use questions to control the flow of the negotiation.

Become better positioned to achieve successful outcomes in your negotiations, by considering the following information.

1. How should you respond to questions and control the flow of the negotiation?

• To control the flow of a negotiation, only answer questions that are pertinent to your position. If a question is posed that could support your position, but you feel it might be the source of potential friction, consider acknowledging it with a gesture and ask that it be put aside until another phase of the negotiation. If the question is not appropriate to advance your position, don’t lend credence to it. Ignore it. You can use a shrug of the head, or some other nonverbal gesture, to dismiss it.

2. Use questions to answer questions, as a way of directing and controlling the flow of a negotiation.

• Another way to alleviate your despondency when confronted with questions is to respond by asking a question (e.g. Question asked of you – What’s the per unit cost? Your response – Is the per unit cost important to you?). If you have control of the negotiation, the other negotiator will be obligated to answer your question, while forgoing a response to his own. While he’s answering your question(s), you’re gathering more information and controlling the flow of the negotiation.

3. Use body language to convey your questions succinctly and with authority.

• In order to have your question(s) perceived with authority, be sure your body language is synchronized with the manner by which you pose questions (e.g. If a question is meant to put the other negotiator in a somber mood, consider presenting your question in a manner that represents such a demeanor. In essence, don’t smile if you’re trying to make the other negotiator experience dread, unless you’re attempting to be sinister.)

If you want to experience the euphoric feeling one has when reaching a successful negotiation outcome, enhance your abilities to use questions as a strategic negotiation tool. Once you acquire the skill to direct the negotiation with questions, you’ll increase the positive outcomes of your negotiations… and everything will be right with the world. Remember, you’re always negotiating.

The Negotiation Tips Are…

• The ranges of emotions experienced in a negotiation are tied directly to how you answer and ask questions. Answer questions with this thought in mind.

• Negotiators experience a wide range of emotions, promoted by the questions posed. In order to become a better negotiator, learn to use questions strategically.

• By posing and responding to questions strategically, you decrease the potential for despondency and improve your chances of reaching a successful outcome.

How To Negotiate Against Anyone

Having the ability to negotiate is a very valuable skill. Whether you’re negotiating for lower prices at the local supermarket or closing a business deal at favorable terms, possessing the ability to negotiate can bring you success in so many areas.

Here are some proven ways on how to negotiate against anyone.

1. What is Your Worst Case Scenario?

Before entering a negotiation, determine the worst offer or resolution that you would accept. This could be in terms of the lowest salary you would accept or the highest price you are willing to pay for a certain product. In other words, determine your BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement) before even going into a negotiation because let’s face it, a successful negotiation is a win-win negotiation where both parties compromise.

Thus, even if you do not achieve your initial aims, you would still be happy with the outcome. Determining your BATNA helps to strengthen your resolve when bargaining and this adds to your bargaining power.

2. Do Your Research

He who has the most knowledge wins. This is especially true in during negotiations. If you have done your research, you may even know the cost price of an item that you are planning to buy and hence, the seller’s bargaining position.

This way, you would be able to suggest an offer that is favorable to you and yet still reasonable. If you have some dirt on a competing firm, state it during negotiations and if possible, back it up with irrefutable statistics and facts. This will go a long way to securing that important business deal for your firm.

3. Look For Any Slips But Never Show Your Hand

As far as possible, never reveal your bargaining position. Once you’ve revealed that, the chances of a favorable outcome from the negotiation decreases dramatically. On the other hand, look for slips by the other person when they are talking and use it to your advantage.

For example, if a seller accidentally reveals that a product has been on the shelf for almost six months, you are in a much better position to bargain for a better price since it is unlikely that this product will be sold if you do not buy it.

4. Make An Aggressive First Offer

Be extra careful when you are the person making the first offer because this first offer will act as an anchor that will guide the entire negotiation from start to end. Further offers or compromises that result will depend heavily on this first offer. If you have done your research and can estimate your opponent’s bargaining position, start with an offer that is just beyond his or her bargaining position. For example, if a buyer knows that the best price a seller could get for a certain product is $900, the buyer should offer to buy the product for $700. (could be lower but not too exaggerated)

Take note though, if you were to make a mistake in this first offer, your entire negotiating position could be compromised and you could end up on the wrong side of the deal.

5. Practice

With these quick tips on how to negotiate against anyone, the key to incorporating these tips into your next negotiation is to practice. Practice these skills the next time you’re bargaining for a lower price at your local grocer or arguing with your spouse about who gets to do the housework. This practice will come in handy when you are negotiating for more serious issues like a salary raise or a big business deal.