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Who is the hero in your presentations?

· presenting,neurosales

Who is the hero in the stories you tell prospects?

My wife & I went to an event on Saturday evening. While mingling about, there was a guy who clearly was his own biggest fan. Everything out of his mouth was about...him. He was the hero of his own stories, and it was pretty irritating.

My wife quickly whispered the joke in my ear, “Can we get away from the me-monster?”

“Me-monster” is a term coined by our favorite comedian, Brian Regan.

It’s pretty off-putting, right?

Then why do we insist on presenting that way?

Think about it - in a typical presentation to a prospect, our slides look a lot like this:

Slide 1: Mission statement | “We strive to be the global leader in...(insert lingo-bingo self-serving jargon here).”

Slide 2: Awards | “We’ve won very impressive awards, including a best-in-class in 2018. (Please don’t ask us who won in 2019)”

Slide 3: “Analyst / Magic Quadrant Report | In case you haven’t realized yet how awesome we are, analysts think we’re awesome, too. Here’s a chart...and guess who’s in the top-right corner? Yes...that’s right. It’s us. (Otherwise, we wouldn’t have shown it.)”

Slide 4: Location Map | “Look at the pretty map with all of the places where we have offices! We know you don’t, but we think it’s cool. (Please don’t ask us to prove it...a couple of these are PO boxes.)”

Slide 5: NASCAR Slide | “Here’s our NASCAR slide - filled with the logos of our impressive customers. (They’re not all in your verticle, geography, or even company size, but as long as you’ve heard of these companies before, we think it makes us look legit!)” (here's the article explaining how polarizing these slides are)

And our typical case studies look exactly the same. We're the hero. If we had a slide about a case study, it might look like this:

Slide 6: Case study | “Can I tell you about one of the companies from our NASCAR slide? I’m glad you asked!. Because of our solution, their troubles disappeared, and the sponsor was soon able to purchase a beautiful swimming pool from the bonus they received and filled the pool entirely with their competitor’s tears.”

If you/your company are the hero of the stories you use to sell to your prospects, you’re doing it wrong.

What makes a great presentation?

This may sound crazy, but I’d start by watching a few reality makeover TV shows and see how they choreograph their stories. I wrote about this in the book, but on shows like Queer Eye (’s amazing), The Biggest Loser or even Restaurant Impossible, the story is never about the facilitators.

The “Fab Five” on Queer Eye don’t come in and spend the first fifteen minutes of each episode talking about how awesome they are, their credentials and how many people they’ve turned around, right?

Instead, they know why they’re there, align with the participant, disarm the participant, then quickly show the participant how they’re status quo may actually be worse than they thought it was. They quickly tug at the emotional elements of the reward that awaits once these problems are addressed (usually in the form of some amazing event at the end of the week), back up their approach with logic, then finally dig into the path forward together. In the end, everyone is sitting on a couch crying their eyes out because of the new path the participant is ready for.

That’s what you want, right? You know why you’re there. And the client has invited you in. Can you start by aligning? Then, disarm with a little transparency. Then, tell a story with the client as the hero...their status quo, the things that maybe they’re not seeing in it that must be addressed, backed up with emotion (potential reward for addressing...or what happens if the issues are not addressed), logic to help them with the justification, then the path forward.

It doesn’t take a new’s about reordering your approach - with a focus on the participant/prospect/audience, who must be able to picture themselves in your stories and presentations.

Your audience must not see you and your company as the hero. Your customers are the heroes. They just happened to be helped by you and your company.

It's obviously crunch time. Need a refresher on transparent negotiations to get you through? Here's the article I wrote for Sales & Marketing Management Magazine. Hope it helps!

Still looking for a great holiday gift for the sales professional in your life? All of these concepts and so much more are explained in much more detail in the book, The Transparency Sale, along with simple, easy to implement tactics. 😀

It's sales kickoff planning season. I'm booking up quickly - but would love to participate in yours. Check out my speaking & workshop pages for more info.

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