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Was Tommy Boy right? The purpose of your sales presentation.

· presenting

Tommy Callahan (from the movie Tommy Boy) may have been on to something!

What is the purpose of your sales presentation?

I would argue...

...the objective of a sales presentation is to bind the audience around a feeling.

It’s not to convince. It’s not to provide piles of data in support of the argument that you and your company are awesome. It's not to argue. It's not to close the deal.

I don’t believe organizations need a “pitch deck”. Instead, while sales organizations spend so much time optimizing processes...

...organizations need a “pitch process” that allows sellers to craft a story with the prospective customer in it.

Logic is polarizing.

Imagine you’re listening to a presentation from a vendor you’re not interested in. You're leaning towards an alternative, whether it be a competing solution, or simply the status quo.

The vendor presents their "awards" slide:
Your brain thinks, “Best in class in 2018, eh? Well, who won it in 2019? Maybe we should be talking to them.”

The vendor then presents their “magic quadrant” slide, showing where a prominent analyst ranks them:
Your brain thinks, “Hmmm, there’s a couple of up-and-comers on that I hadn’t even heard of. Maybe we should check them out.”

The vendor presents their “NASCAR” logo slide:
Your brain thinks, “We’re gonna be a small fish in a big pond with this vendor. And it looks like they’re generalists with all the different industries they work with. No thanks.”

Stories & emotion bind.

When listening to stories, neuroscientists have proven via the use of FMRI machines that brain waves across audiences flow together in almost perfect harmony. During emotional scenes, it's as though they're looking at a single brain on their monitors versus a group.

It’s part of the reason why reality makeover TV shows are so popular. The choreography they use not only tells a story, but puts the participant in the middle. It may sound crazy and counter-intuitive, but their choreography may just be worth exploring for your sales presentation process.

In each episode:

  • There’s a participant who recognizes they have an issue worth solving, otherwise they wouldn’t have volunteered to be on the show. (kind of like your prospects. They wouldn’t be spending the time listening to you if there wasn’t a reason)
  • The show’s lead comes in and aligns around the participant’s recognized issue. (kind of like what you should be doing - understanding why they’re investing time in listening to you)
  • The lead then engages in an activity or dialogue that shows the participant that their perception of reality may not be completely correct. The lead busts the participant out of their bubble, and identifies other issues which make the current state even less sustainable.
  • The lead backs it up with logic and reinforces it with emotion and feeling.
  • Then - and only then - does the lead lay out the path forward to the promise land - showing the participant that they can achieve their stated objectives, while also avoiding unrecognized problems and achieving more than they thought possible.

And every episode ends with a raving success, the participant and the lead hugging and celebrating the success they’ve just had together - now lifelong friends. Exactly what you want in your sales pursuits, right?

The lead didn’t have to start with an explanation of their background, accomplishments, awards, and a slide with pictures of all the people they’ve helped before. And if they did, it would be the most boring episode of all time - just like a typical sales presentation!

Instead - the entire process is about the participant, or in the selling environment, your prospect. They become the central character in the story, where you are the expert, bringing a different perspective, and leaving the part about how great you are to the end...instead of the beginning.

In the movie Tommy Boy, instead of a pitch about all of the characteristics, features and benefits of Callahan’s brake pads, he tells a story. It’s a ridiculous story that clearly went way too far, resulting in him getting kicked out of the office.

Tommy went crazy - but his premise was a good one.

Consensus selling is hard. Don't make it harder. Your slides full of data, ROI, features and benefits polarize - and in a consensus sale, if that's how you're presenting, you're making it considerably more difficult for buyers to come together and make a decision.

There's a better way - to reorder your slides in a way that not only tells a great story, but compels the audience to action. Flip the order...instead of starting with you, your products and services, END with you. Start with the client, putting them in the center of the story.

And don't light any toys on fire in the process.

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