Jul 21, 2017

How do you create a compelling Sales Presentation?

I make presentations for a living and I have worked on sales presentations of lots of companies; from a technology startup to a large media house. Here are my thoughts on how to go about creating a compelling sales presentation which gets you the next meeting with the client.

  • Never start your sales presentation with ‘About Us’. Most sales presentations focus too much on the seller and not enough on the prospect. Start with a ‘consumer story’ or 'name a big change in your prospect's industry’ or start with a problem which affects your prospect and then share how you are going to solve it.

You face various challenges while delivering a sales presentation. Prepare well to overcome these four specific challenges.
  • You will not have 100% attention of your prospect throughout the meeting. You have to earn the interest by talking something they care about. Make your sales presentation interesting, insightful, and useful.
  • Your client will not understand everything you say in your presentation. Show your presentation to a layman and ensure that he/she understands it well. Enhance understanding by using analogies, examples, videos, and diagrams.
  • Your client will surely not believe everything you say in your presentation. You have to make your pitch credible. If you are quoting a number, mention its source. Providing client testimonials along with images add to your credibility.
  • Your client will definitely not remember everything you say in your sales presentation. Ensure he/she remembers at least three main things that matter.

How to earn and retain the attention of your prospect during your sales presentation?

  • Keep it short. Long presentations bore people. Your prospect will switch off.
  • Finish before time. Do you not love the feeling when a meeting gets over before time? Your client loves that feeling too. No one wants a long presentation :)
  • Ask yourself these two questions while building your content. 1) What does my client want to hear? and 2) How will my client decide on a seller/service provider? Does your existing sales presentation address these areas?
  • Answer client questions as and when they arise. Prepare for all kinds of questions beforehand. Open your sales presentation now and ask yourself this one question on each slide, "What can the prospect ask on this slide?"
  • Customize the deck to suit the prospect. Suppose you are a digital marketing agency and you are pitching to a laptop brand. Their digital marketing needs will be different from another laptop brand and different from a car brand. Customize as much as possible.
  • Spend a lot of time and prepare your content. You must interview the prospect before the meeting. Find out what are their expectations from the meeting and from you.

How to gain credibility in a sales presentation?

  • Do not boast too much about your credentials. It puts people off.
  • Show case studies of clients along with photos and videos. If you have worked for another client in the same industry, you must showcase that. Domain experience is always valuable.

How to ensure your audience remembers what you tell them?

  • If your audience will remember only three things from your sales presentation, what would those three things be? Take a good hard look at your existing sales presentation. How many things stand out? How many messages are sticking in the minds? Are those the messages you want the prospect to remember?

How do you generate impact?

  • A compelling sales pitch is crystal clear to the salesman and the prospect. What is your sales pitch? Write it down in three sentences. This is the gist. You will expand it during the presentation. You will end with this too. It answers what do you sell, why do you sell it, what are the benefits and why should the prospect buy from you?
  • Lots of new-age technology companies worry too much about the competition and about features/benefits. They forget that the prospect has never bought this solution before. If you are selling someone a new technology that they have never tried before, sell the need for the technology first. Suppose you are selling me coconut oil and I have never used coconut oil before. What should you sell first? Coconut oil or your brand of coconut oil? I need to realize that I need coconut oil. Only then will I worry about whose coconut oil should I buy. Read more on this: This is the BEST way to Pitch a NEW product to your Customer

Objective of your sales presentation

  • The only objective of your first sales presentation is to excite the audience and secure the next meeting. You cannot make the sale in your first sales pitch. Your client has options. They have called multiple service providers to pitch for their business. The chances are high that your client will not call you again. Deliver a compelling pitch. Your client needs to understand you, remember you, believe you and call you for the second meeting.

Jul 13, 2017

How do you explain something complex and convince a skeptic?

The year was 1999. I was an avid viewer of election results as a teenager. The constantly changing numbers, which candidate is leading where and who won which constituency excited me a lot.

The counting of votes used to start by 8 AM. I was already glued to TV even before the counting started. There was a panel discussion. These experts and the news anchor were discussing EXIT POLLS which were announced a day before.

The representative of the political party, which was predicted to lose as per exit polls, was also present. He was arguing that exit polls are based on small samples and are incorrect.

In the panel was one psephologist (an expert who analyses elections). His name was Yogendra Yadav. He was convinced that sampling works and the exit polls, though not 100% accurate, needed to be taken seriously.

Instead of arguing in abstract terms, he offered an example which silenced the political candidate completely.

Mr. Yadav asked the candidate, "Have you ever cooked rice, Mr. Ganguly. There are millions of individual grains inside. And how do you check if the rice is cooked properly? Do you press each grain with your hand? No, you don't. You take out 2-3 grains and press them against the spoon. If they have cooked well, you know that the entire bowl is ready to be eaten. Exit polls work like that. There are billions of people in India. We go and ask few thousands and from this, we deduce which way the mood is swinging."

It was a light-bulb moment for me. It made me believe in exit polls (and in sampling as a technique) and I have remembered this example two decades later. The next time you are answering a skeptic, use an example. It will work.

Feb 17, 2017

What makes some Visuals more Exciting than others?

Molly Bang's book Picture This is an interesting book which talks about how pictures work and how they affect our emotions. Molly says we do not see pictures as pictures, but we see them as reality. We feel what the picture wants to make us feel. In this post, I have listed down 8 lessons I have drawn from this interesting book.

1. Bigger shapes are more important than smaller shapes. If you make two shapes of the same size, they would be treated as equally important by your audience.

2. Colours play the biggest role in a picture. In the same example as #1 above, even if both the objects are of the same shape and size, the one in a brighter colour would be seen as more important.

3. If you want to create a feeling of depth (or space) in your image, do not place multiple shapes of the same size. Reduce the size gradually and place them higher and higher up on your slide (or image).

Notice how the image on the right creates the space... the triangles keep going farther. In real life, the mountain that is farther is also the smaller.

4. Two objects of the same colour implies that they are connected in some way. Use colours carefully in your pictures and presentations.

The image on the right does a better job than the one on the left. You can get the connect easily.

5. Every picture has two halves. People view pictures as if there is an imaginary line cutting it into two halves; top and bottom. The objects in the top half feel more important than the one in the bottom.

The top half is 'happier' and the bottom one is 'sadder'. If you want to evoke an impression of loneliness and depression, place your subject in the bottom half (and one one corner).

6. The center of the slide is also the center of attraction. Our eyes naturally go there. If you want to create a dynamic feel (a sense of movement), place your objects slightly away from the center.
The top image does the usual thing. Place the market size bang in the middle. The image on the right does a better job. Moreover the circle does not even fit the slide. This makes the user feel the market size is that big!

7. Our eyes look for repetitive patterns. We want to quickly make sense of the world around us. This is why presentations have a template. But there is a flip side to all this. Excess repetition is monotonous and cold. The balance is in between; repeat but break the monotony as well.

Here are 9 random slides taken from a premium template sold online. Observe the use of colours. The same four colours are used in most slides. This repetition with colours creates a sense of calm and assurance. The audience knows what is coming next.

8. We notice contrast. Contrast helps us see. This contrast can be created by colour, shape, size or placement of the object.

Look at the two slides. The simple use of the orange colour tells the audience that 29 is the most important number. The eyes start from the largest circle on the left but quickly move to the right. The gradually reducing size creates the sense of movement.

Recap of the 8 Lessons

  • Bigger shapes are more important than smaller shapes.
  • Colours play the biggest role in a picture.
  • If you want to create depth, place objects further away (and make them smaller).
  • Two objects of the same colour mean they are connected in some way.
  • The object in the top half of an image (or slide) is more important than the one in the bottom half.
  • If you want to create a dynamic feel, place your objects slightly away from the center.
  • Our eyes look for repetitive patterns but excess repetition is monotonous. Strike a balance.
  • Use contrast. Create contrast using colour, shape, size or placement of the object.
Liked this post? Then you will also like 7 Secrets of designing beautiful PowerPoint Presentations and 11 Creative ways to compare two numbers.

Feb 2, 2017

(Free E-book) How should your startup pitch to investors?

I have written a 100-page e-book on how an early stage startup should go about preparing a compelling investor pitch. This e-book will answer questions like:
  • What are the hurdles in your way of securing funding?
  • How do investors evaluate your pitch?
  • How to create content for your pitch?
  • How to design professional slides?
  • How to deliver your pitch with confidence?
This e-book is a step by step guide to create, design and deliver a compelling investor pitch. It is the outcome of my 2 years of working with numerous startups, mentoring them, evaluating and fine tuning their pitches, attending demo days and interviewing investors. This e-book is also based on what I have learnt from awesome articles by other startup mentors, entrepreneurs and investors.

To receive your free copy, send me an email: vivek @ jazz factory dot in or leave your email ID in the comment below. I will email the e-book to you. If you know a friend who is running a startup, share this post with them too.

Dec 22, 2016

11 Creative ways to compare two numbers

How do you compare two numbers in a presentation? You make a table or a simple bar graph? In this post, I will show you 11 creative ways to compare two numbers and present them in your slide. Let us assume we are comparing these two numbers.
  • 50 million people watched a Formula 1 race on their laptop
  • 150 million people watched the same race on a mobile phone
Our message is: 3 times more people watched the race on their mobile phones.

Visualization 1: Text

The simplest way to compare two numbers is to put them along side each other. You can read 50 million on your left and 150 million on your right. The font size is different. This amplifies your message that mobile is more than laptop.

Visualization 2: Bar Graph

The best chart to compare two or more numbers is the vertical bar chart. It is not the most 'creative' visualization, but it is very easy for your audience to understand. The vertical difference in height communicates the message very quickly.

Read more: 14 Charting Tips: Tip #2 Which type of chart should you use?

Visualization 3: Pictures

This is a very 'creative' way of communicating. The size of the mobile phone is bigger than the television. You can make this visualization mathematically accurate my measuring the area of the rectangle (screen size). If you wish to do that, then the area of the mobile screen would be 3 times the area of the laptop monitor.

Visualization 4: Circles

Very simple yet very elegant. Your audience will quickly understand the message. Label the circles and choose different colors. This will enhance understanding. The area of the blue circle is exactly 3 times more than the area of the black circle. You will need to do some maths here. You need to use this formula: Area of a circle = pi x radius x radius; where pi = 3.14159.

Visualization 5: Infographic

This style has become common in the last few years. The number of people (who watched the race) is 10 on the left. On the right, the number is 30. Hence it is 3 times more. This visualization is good because you can 'see' 3 times more people in front of you.

Visualization 6: Bar Graph 2

This is a variant of the simple bar graph. It is called '100% Stacked Column' in MS PowerPoint. In order to emphasize the height, we add the gray area as well. This bar graph puts more emphasis on how much more blue is over brown. The total of brown + gray = blue + gray = 200. To make this chart enter four numbers, 50 and 150 and 150 and 50. Each bar is 200 in total.

Visualization 7: Bar Graph 3

This bar graph sends the message across quickly. One does not need to read laptop and mobile. This is a simple bar graph with a more visual appeal. You can try making the color of the bar same as the color of the icons for more visual appeal.

Visualization 8: Bar Graph 4

This is the same '100% Stacked Column' as in point 6 above. But here we have compared both the numbers together. The brown bar = 50 and the blue bar = 100. Together the height = 150. This bar communicates that laptop is only 1/3rd of mobile. The focus is on comparison and less on absolute numbers. To create this chart, we enter only two numbers. 50 and 100. They total up to 150. Hence the total height of mobile is seen as 150. In point 6 above, we had to enter 4 values to make that graph. Here we enter only 2 values.

Visualization 9: Circle 2

This one is a variant of the circle we saw earlier. In this case, we place the smaller circle inside the larger circle. The point we are trying to drive home is... look how big the blue circle is versus the black one! The difference between the two circle is clearer in this example. In the circle above, the difference is not that easy to grasp.

Visualization 10: Infographic 2

In visualization 5 above, we had used faces. Here we use dots (circles) and we provide the entire universe as well. On our left, we have 100 small dots. 30 of those are brown. On our right, we again have 100 small dots. 90 of those are blue. The message is, blue is 3 times more than brown. The actual numbers are placed below the infographic. The audience is not expected to count the dots. It is a visual representation and it communicates that blue is a lot bigger than brown.

Visualization 11: Infographic 3

This one only differs from number 10 above in the way it has been labelled. Instead of putting the numbers below, you might want to place them in the middle. This will communicate the message quickly.

While comparing two numbers, stick to a visualization that solves your problem. You may use a simple bar chart or table. If it does not meet your need, try out these 11 creative ways to compare two numbers. It will add the much needed punch and kick to your slides.

Looking for more inspiration? I recommend these articles:
45 Ways to Communicate Two Quantities
How to Choose the Best Charts for Your Infographic