January 2014

In This Issue

Make Your Message Stick and Have Impact!


Visit www.mykison.com

Visit www.kison.com


Make Your Message Stick and Have Impact!

"The ability to move a client from interest to commitment rests on the quality of the sales presentation."

One of the topics we consistently receive positive feedback to in our newsletters, blogs and coaching sessions is presentation skills. This is an area many people struggle with and seek help to improve their effectiveness. In a number of recent blogs I referred to achieving a three point bond with your clients by connecting with their "Head, Heart and Gut". I'd like to go deeper on this topic and explore how a stronger three point connection can be made by improving the quality of your presentations.

Many people ask me how they can win more business by engaging clients more effectively and improve the quality and content of their presentations. In this newsletter you will find some ideas to address these questions as well as guidelines and a framework for improving the quality of your next sales presentation. Although the focus is on making more effective sales presentations, the reader will realize the concepts and ideas can easily be adapted and applied to non-sales settings such as staff or board meetings, stakeholder or user group sessions or anywhere you have to address groups of people. We all have to "sell" our ideas so let’s learn how to do it more effectively.

The material is segmented into two parts: The framework of an effective presentation, and How to connect with your client.

I have taught this framework to thousands of people over the years in training and coaching sessions – it works! Those that learn to apply it skillfully achieve better results and build strong relationships with their clients and are more profitable.


Your presentation must engage and connect the client to your message and offering.

An effective sales presentation must do four things to motivate the client to take action:

  1. Inform
  2. Educate
  3. Inspire
  4. Motivate

A presentation involves more than just doing an information dump or stating the features and benefits of your product, service or proposed approach. It requires knowledge, energy, skill and enthusiasm on your part and a genuine desire to help the client arrive at a well-considered decision that will provide them with a beneficial outcome. A powerful presentation advances the discussions, negotiation or sale by demonstrating your unique solutions, value proposition and creates a positive perception of you and what you are offering. Remember the expression "perception is reality". You are the one responsible for shaping the client’s perception of your expertise, knowledge and ability based on the effectiveness of your presentation. Therefore, it is wise to invest the time to carefully prepare a presentation that will have maximum impact.


Your presentation must highlight your strengths and abilities, and motivate the client to act.

Move beyond PowerPoint, white board or handouts to connect with your client. It's all about establishing your credibility. Your goal is to be viewed as a trusted advisor by the client. This only happens when you engage them at a personal level and lead them to a decision in your favor because they perceive the value you alone can provide.

Follow these guidelines to improve your effectiveness and impact:

  • Be client centric, not self-focused
  • Create impact emotionally and logically with the client
  • Address buying motivators (facts, feelings, needs, wants, desires, motivations) identified during the qualifying process
  • Customize the solution specifically to the client
  • Be positive and professional in your conduct
  • Demonstrate the unique benefits and value for the client
  • Bridge the gap between the clients' stated requirements and your solution
  • Use your knowledge and experience to help the client arrive at a well-considered decision
  • Be passionate and enthusiastic

Your presentation acts as a bridge to connect you and your client.

A professional sales presentation should follow these four steps:

  1. Introduction – Lays the foundation for your presentation and provides a framework to build value.
  2. Body – Demonstrates the benefits of your solution relative to the client's requirements.
  3. Conclusion – Reveals your value proposition and unique abilities.
  4. Action – Secures client commitment and "closes the sale."

Each of the four steps is important to successfully deliver a compelling and motivating presentation. If you miss any of the steps, the process will not be successful. An incomplete process will jeopardize your opportunity to secure the client's business. Effective application of the four steps creates trust and lays the foundation for a successful project and relationship.

  1. Introduction
    Once the client's needs and wants have been identified, it's up to you to demonstrate how you can fulfill them by customizing a presentation specific to their situation. There must be a link between what your approach and strategy will provide, and the client's emotional and logical needs, wants and capabilities.
    • Open your presentation with a statement highlighting your confidence and belief in the solution you are about to present
    • Address the client's WIIFM statement (What's In It For Me?)
    • Make a powerful claim about what you will be presenting and its value to the client
    • Use the introduction to connect to previous meetings or discussions
    • Introduce a tag line or theme that will be carried forward throughout your presentation
  2. Body
    The body of the presentation should concentrate on building value by presenting the features, advantages and benefits of your solution in a manner that provides detailed information, creates interest and a desire to understand more relating to your solution. This information will help the client make a decision in your favor.
    • Build credibility and trust relative to research you've conducted and any related experience you have
    • Present in short sentences and high impact words
    • Utilize pauses and silence to let your message sink in
    • Use visual images to illustrate your ideas or the desired outcome
    • Provide data and information to supporting your position
    • Repeat your key ideas strategically throughout the presentation
    • Repeat the tag line or theme to connect the body to your opening comments and claims made in the introduction
  3. Conclusion
    Upon presenting a distinctive and unique solution, the benefits and value of your proposed approach should be clearly evident to the client. A well designed and executed conclusion stage is essential for preparing the client to commit. Peace of mind and a strong sense of value must be present in the client's mind in order to secure commitment and proceed to action.
    • Provide a high level summary of the objective and link your solution to close the loop
    • Restate your top 3 points by applying "The Rule of Three" http://www.presentationmagazine.com/rule-of-three-836.htm
    • Demonstrate conviction and passion for your recommendations
    • Focus on the value of your recommendations stated in body of the presentation
    • Demonstrate how your solution and the clients requirements are fulfilled
  4. Action
    Action by the client (in the form of approval or acceptance) should logically follow the request for commitment. If the value of the proposal or approach has been well defined during the introduction, body and conclusion of the presentation, the action stage will facilitate the transition to close and secure commitment. Demonstrating confidence by issuing a call to action will prompt the client to follow in order to realize the value of your recommendations.
    • Be bold but not arrogant
    • Close with a statement not questions
    • Issue a call to action
    • Demonstrate confidence in your solution and proposed recommendations
    • Use silence effectively (the person that speaks first often loses)


Your delivery should engage the client and reveal your humanity and passion.

In the "virtual" era in which we live, being real is more important than ever. Solid presentation skills create strong connection and differentiate you from the completion. Try to appeal to your client's "left brain" (logic) and "right brain" (emotion) by preparing a balanced presentation. (For more details on my Head/Heart/Gut model, please read our November blog series: http://www.kison.com/2013/11/).

Ensure that all your resources and material are organized in an efficient, professional and appealing manner and not overly embellished. Keep content simple and balanced. Use relevant and appealing slides, handouts or samples.

Apply these six techniques to help create a presentation that maximizes your credibility, creates high impact and connects you with your clients.

  1. Simplify. Everything cannot be important. Select the issues or topics that are critical and focus on them. You must think like an editor who is responsible with refining and distilling a story down to its essence and making it compelling in order to engage and retain the reader's interest. Be ruthless in your efforts to simplify but not dumb down the message to the point of being hollow.
  2. Be Credible. Connect with the client's "head" by using logic to increase your credibility and enhance the value of your presentation. Use numbers and data to support your point or proposition as long as they are relevant and add context and meaning to what you're saying. Don't overload on the data as this may actually intimidate or make the client feel inferior.
  3. Be contrarian. Secure the client's interest and attention by challenging their expectations in a professional and respectful manner. Present contrarian perspectives that introduce a unique or fresh perspective to the discussion. Create curiosity by posing questions or suggesting outcomes that may be less than favorable as a way to present your options or ideas. This technique, when used effectively, serves to raise your value and builds your brand's credibility in the client's eyes. You will be seen as someone having the confidence to challenge the status quo and introduce fresh thinking and new perspective.
  4. Show Emotion. People are emotional beings. Don't race through your information, slides or handouts, instead use them to connect with the client so they feel your passion and see the outcome you envision. Use metaphors and analogies to forge deeper connections. Use images and pictures support your story in ways that words, text, and data alone never could.
  5. Use Stories. Human beings love stories. In fact we tell them every day to our friends, family and colleagues. Society has advanced for millennia using oral tradition and storytelling. We reveal who we are and express ourselves through our stories. We can tell our clients what they can expect based on what we've done for others and the outcomes we have achieved using our stories. Make them relevant, compelling and engage the client.
  6. Get real. Authenticity, transparency and candor are attributes that can create strong connections between you and the client. The more significant the risk and the greater the desired outcome, the more important it is for you to be real. Demonstrate that you are fully engaged and committed to helping the client realize their goals and objectives. The adage of "people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care" still applies.

Over the years, I have read many books that support my framework regarding presentations. If your biggest struggle is how to present your solution with the help of a PowerPoint, I highly recommend the book Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds. You can also check-out his website and read his blog: http://www.presentationzen.com/

Closing thoughts

Your mother said it and she was right – be prepared! As with everything else in life, high quality, professional presentations require planning and preparation. Once you've drafted your outline or meeting agenda, practice it. Run it by a colleague to ensure that you know it so well that when you stand before the client you can focus on connecting with them to achieve maximum impact.

Like a meaningful conversation, your presentation requires your full presence and you should be completely in the moment without thoughts of the past or the future, or of "winning" and "losing." Mistakes may happen, if they do, don’t dwell on them – move on! Remain focused on the desired outcome. If your content is solid and approach is logical and structured, you will connect with the client. You must appeal to both their logic and emotion. If your content is worth talking about, then bring energy and passion to your delivery. Every situation is different, but there is never an excuse for being dull.

Lastly – don't hold back. If you have a passion for what you're proposing, let the client know. Passion is a powerful motivator and can often be the deciding factor for who the client selects or choses to work with.

© 2013 Ralph Kison


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