Friday, March 31, 2006

Sales Presentation Training Links

I am starting to add some sales presentation training resources to the site. One that I wanted to feature today is Presentation Zen. This blog is written by Garr Reynolds, the former Manager of Worlwide User Group Relations at Apple Computer-whew! That is a mouthful. Garr has traveled and presented extensively across the world and is very generous in sharing information about what works well in sales presentations. Have you ever been to a presentation and an audience member asks a question and the speaker replies: "I cover that in Chapter 7 of my book.?" Garr is not that way! He has presentation tips and great insights. If you think there are other sites or authors that should be included in the resource section please let me know. You can drop me an email at Have a fabulous week end!
Image courtesy of State of Colorado.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Memorable Sales Presentations

Excellent sales presentations have two things in common: they are memorable and repeatable. I have posted here on tips from David Hornick on how to make your presentation memorable. Hornick made two recommendations that can leave room for exceptions: those are Don't use a tagline and Don't sing. When I read that I immediately thought of one of my buddies from National Speakers Association, David Glickman. He's that good looking guy in the picture. I have seen David in front of audiences and he is an absolute master at taking a corporate message or tagline and incorporating it into a song. Clearly, this is a special gift to be able to put out a compelling message and be able to sing it! It's been three years since I saw David do this but I can still remember the corporate message being sung to the tune of "Knock Three Times" by Tony Orlando and Dawn. Don't act like you don't remember the song...Because now it will be playing in your head for the rest of the day :-) If I had a client that this would be appropriate for, I would not hesitate to recommend David and his magic. Otherwise, I agree with David Hornick, don't try it at your sales presentation.

Steve Mertz
I Can't Sing!

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Sales Presentations from a VC's Viewpoint

One of my favorite blogs is called Venture Blog, A Random Walk Down Sand Hill Road. The main contributor is David Hornick, a General Partner at August Capital. David is a Venture Capitalist and has seen thousands of presentations. I thought you might enjoy this post of his from February of 2005 entitled "The Dos and Dont's of Presenting at DEMO." DEMO is a yearly event where entrepreneurs are given 6 minutes to present a compelling argument for their product. For those who need a quick read I will give you a summary but do read his article in its entirety before you do your next sales presentation-you will thank David for his excellent advice!

The Dos
1. It's all about the demo-make your product or service the focus of the presentation.
2. Leave room for spontaneity (or at least appear that you have) Translated, Don't read your presentation.
3. Have FUN. Even though you may be sick to the stomach, hide it. Your audience will pick up on your insecurities.
4. Have a backup plan. This needs no explanation.


1. Don't praise your own product. If your product or service is that great others will sing its praise.
2. Don't use a tagline. It may look good on paper but it may not speak well. Don't risk it.
3. Don't say what you're looking for at DEMO. The VC's will find you if you have presented a compelling presentation. For our general purposes we will disregard this if you are in fact doing a sales presentation.
4. Don't list your partners unless they are great. Remember, it's about the product or service.
5. Don't try to be funny if you aren't funny. This can and will bite you if you don't heed this sage advice.
6. Don't sing. There is always the exception but most of us aren't clever enough to devise and sing a jingle, are we?

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Carnival of the Vanities at Blogger Idol

The longest running Carnival on the internet is the Carnival of the Vanities, this is the 183rd edition! The week, Daniel Harrison of Blogger Idol is the capable host.

This weeks Carnival of the Vanities features some of the best original thoughts on the internet. The topics at the Carnival of the Vanities includes topics on Culture, Advice, Religion, Humor, Economics and Personal-something for everyone!

I have an entry this week in the Carnival of the Vanities entitled The Art of the Handshake. The article recounts the time that Barbara Corcoran shook the hand of Donald Trump. Barbara built a multi-million dollar real estate business from the ground up and I have a lot of respect for her tenacity. When she met Trump at a business meeting, his handshake was like a dead fish-she immediately did not trust him going forward. Many businesses I work with spend so much time to get in front of decision makers. Don't let a poor handshake set the tone of the meeting!

If your business would like to participate in upcoming Carnival of the Vanities you may go over an submit an all inclusive Carnival form at The Conservative Cat. It is an excellent way for your business to gain exposure to new market opportunities.

Meanwhile, go over to Blogger Idol and enjoy reading this week's posts! Thanks for coming by!

Steve Mertz
Enjoy the Carnival

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Is This Your Sales Presentation?

Most financial advisors think they give a pretty good sales presentation. After all, they are knowledgeable, dynamic, a trusted advisor and have a genuine desire to help people. Now consider this fact: Several surveys have shown that something close to 70% of all licensed drivers consider themselves "above average"-a statistical impossibility! For all financial advisors who feel they are in the "above average" category, I applaud you and trust that your conversion ratio from prospects to clients reflect your skill.

Yesterday, a friend of mine told me about a recent financial sales presentation that she was invited to attend. The luncheon was at a very nice hotel here in Denver, Colorado. There were over 100 qualified prospects sitting in the audience in a school type setting. Most people were sitting by themselves and just waiting for the big show. The financial advisors and money manager were near the front of the room conferring about the program while the prospects ate lunch. Then...The lights dimmed and the Powerpoint started, for over 30 minutes. The advisors then asked the audience if they had any questions for the expert and informed them if they had additional questions they would be available after the program...And the audience bolted for the doors! Obviously, these financial advisors were not in the "above average" presentation skills level.

What would I do differently?

1. It starts when your prospects enter the room. Greet them and have something of interest to say. It's also a great idea to introduce them to other prospects who may have the same interest or career path.

2. The advisors as well as the money manager should be mingling at lunch not huddled at the front of the room. It appears that you are "plotting" against your prospects.

3. You know how I feel about Powerpoint, and this audience has proven once again, how ineffective it can make your sales presentation.

4. Engage your audience before and during the presentation. It does not work for the "expert" to talk and overwhelm your prospect with facts-and then ask if they have questions at the end.

These are the glaring problems that need to be addressed before the next presentation and further comments will follow.

Steve Mertz
Colorado Sales Presentation Expert

Monday, March 20, 2006

This Weeks Carnival of the Capitalists is being hosted this week at CaseySoftware.The Carnival of Capitalists is a weekly collection of articles covering a range of business topics. The topics this week include: Business Development, entrepreneurship, Financial, Legal, Micro ISV, Misc Management, Personal Development, Personnel and Planning.
I have an entry this week in The Carnival of the Capitalists as well. It is titled The Art of The Handshake. Imagine all of the work that a company goes through to get that opportunity to give a presentation for a multi million dollar contract. Now imagine, that you are being introduced to an important committee member and he remembers your handshake being like a dead fish! That will be his first and maybe lasting impression! Practice your handshake before your sales presentations!
I'm sure you will get a lot of great business ideas and read some new blogs at this weeks Carnival of Capitalists.

If your business would like to gain this kind of exposure you can submit your post using this all inclusive Carnival form over at The Cool Cat.

Tags: Carnival of the Capitalists

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Art of The Handshake

I read this book about Barbara Corcoran several years ago, before she changed the book title to be a little flashier! Barbara started a real estate company in New York with $1,000 dollars she borrowed from her boyfriend. Around 2003 she sold her company for a boat load of money-I really enjoyed her book and learning about her tenacity. But there is only one thing that really sticks out in my mind-the time she met Donald Trump. She went to his office to meet him and hopefully generate a big deal. According to her, when Trump shook her hand, it was like a dead fish! From that point forward she did not trust him. Before you take your team to a sales presentation practice shaking hands-seriously! It is one of the first impressions that "the committee" will remember and be sure to look them dead in the eye when you are shaking their hand. Men expect a decent handshake from other men. Firm, but not too firm and don't pump my arm off! Women get cut a little more slack in this area but a woman with a great handshake is an awesome differentiator so do practice. I know it's a small, picky item but in this day of intense competition at sales presentations-it could be the difference.
PS While I'm on the subject of first impressions-make absolutely, positively sure that your fingernails are spotless and well groomed. The same goes for your shoes. Have a great sales presentation!

Steve Mertz
First Impressions are Huge

Tags: Barbara Corcoran,Sales Presentations

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Before The Sales Presentation

There is a critical time before your sales presentation. Maybe you are picked up at the airport, taken out to dinner or just small talk in the hall. This time can really help you or leave you in a big hole to dig out of. That's why you might want to pick up a copy of The Fine Art of Small Talk by Debra Fine. Debra gives you proven tips for getting a conversation going and keeping it going. She also warns you about topics that you don't want to discuss...If only I had know this 10 years ago. I was picked up at LA International airport by a committee member who was taking me to their corporate office for a huge presentation. I had developed an ergonomic crutch handle and this company (the largest manufacturer of crutches in the US) was considering putting my handle on as OEM (original equipment manufacturing). I was very excited about this opportunity! My guest picks me up and as were driving along in rush hour traffic I ask how he was? He said, "not well". I said I was sorry to hear that:"what's wrong", I asked? "My wife left me" he said. Me, being a humorist and trying to add levity to the situation says : "It could have been worse, she could have left you for another woman." Bad idea...She had left him for another woman. The next hour and a half were the longest of my life. I was fortunate to ultimately get the contract-but as you can see it was not because of my small talk! Believe me, use humor sparingly and pick up some points about small talk-they will help you keep the conversation going before your sales presentation.


Steve Mertz
Master of Small Talk

Public Speaking Fears

Will your public speaking fears blow your next sales presentation? Recently, I had the pleasure of hearing an interview with the actor Peter Coyote. Peter believes that the biggest fear that your audience has is being embarrassed. Interesting thought isn't it? Many executives that we work with are of the mind frame that they don't want to be embarrassed at a major sales presentation. Let's look closer..Your audience will be embarrassed and uncomfortable if they sense you are ill at ease and not prepared. They sense this in a minute and they are particularly brutal if you and your team are not prepared-they are thinking aren't they "worth" your best effort? I find one of the best things you can do in a presentation is pick one person out in the crowd, make eye contact, direct a few comments their way and repeat this to another person. If the "person" is a six member committee deciding if you are going to get the multi-million dollar contract-I would encourage you to follow the same tact.
What about the one person who looks totally disengaged?
If you do enough presentations you will be subjected to the one committee person who is scowling, arms crossed, not buying anything you say. Maybe, maybe not. He could be sitting there wondering where he left that important document-he may not be judging you and your company's merits at all. Do not concentrate on this individual! Yes, it's unfortunate but stick to your game plan and continue to give your sales presentation with conviction. Best wishes and if you and your team need presentation training in the near future fire up the G5 Gulfstream, point it to Denver and help is on the way!

Tags: Public Speaking

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Sales Presentations Without Powerpoint

Seth Godin, the marketing guru and agent of change, had a recent comment about "the best presentation." Like me, Seth has been Powerpointed to death at countless presentations. His main thought and conclusion was this: The best presentation might be no presentation. "If you're going to bother to do something, you ought to do it very well indeed. Otherwise, don't. Don't show up. Don't waste your time (or mine.)"
Well, that obviously it not an option for those of you giving a sales presentation this upcoming Monday morning for a $50 million dollar contract! For those of you who are going to subject your audience to Powerpoint purgatory in your sales presentation-here are some points you may wish to consider:
1. Don't ever read from your slide-I've figured out how to read all by myself. The slide should be an emphasis of a key point. Summarize the point concisely.
2. Throw out 50% of the slides you were going to show in your sales presentation-most of them are fillers or a crutch.
3. Explain your main points in English and always try to humanize your presentation. Rather than tell me I should or the importance of...Tell me a compelling story that makes the point much more eloquently than Powerpoint.
4. Words are so powerful-if I say the word Hawaii, I'll bet you see the ocean,palm trees, beautiful flowers and plants, right? Your mind did not spell out the word H-a-w-a-i-i. Be sure you use powerful, emotional words in your sales presentation.
5. Write out your entire presentation so you can see if you are using compelling words and hitting key points,and who knows, maybe adding just the right touch of humor!
6. Practice and then practice some more-there is no substitute.
Here is a link to Seth's article and best wishes on your sales presentation!
Steve Mertz
Leave Your Powepoint At Home

Friday, March 10, 2006

Casual Friday's and Sales Presentations

It's casual Friday and you and your team have a big sales presentation to make. It's casual Friday for "the committee", not you and your team. May I suggest you stop and look in the mirror, and then go put on your suit and tie. Ladies don't seem to struggle with this as much as men. We men can make some awful fashion statements by trying to be spiffy for casual Friday's. Ladies, it goes without saying, that you too, should dress the part. If there is ever a doubt about what to wear, dress up not down. If you get to the sales presentation and you are invited to take off your tie and or sport coat to get more comfortable-that's great. Whether we like it or not people do judge us by first impressions. They don't know yet that your new product is going to increase their efficiency 50% and increase their profit margins three fold. They can't get past your unshined shoes, wrinkled pants and casual shirt that needs ironed! Don't put yourself in this position-go back to the room, make the change, and give them a stellar sales presentation! Have a great day.

Steve Mertz
Fashion Expert for the Day

Thursday, March 09, 2006

BLT With Your Sales Presentation Training?

Any great sales presentation is built around BLT. Does your audience Believe you? Do they Like you? Do they Trust you? Assuming you have a fabulous product or service, if you don't please don't hire me-I'm not a miracle worker! Seriously, we start with a great product or service and have about an hour to convince a committee that we are the one. Let's say there are two or three other companies that will also be presenting-what will be our little edge? Let's start with- does your audience believe you. Certainly, because you made the final cut, there is a good starting point. Now let's build on that. It starts with your body language-throw your shoulders back and make eye contact. No need to get in a staring match but have you ever had someone speaking to you while they were looking over or past you? It's very hard for someone to believe you. Don't make wild, unsubstantiated claims. Give examples of what others have experienced from your efforts. Acknowledge your competitors but eliminate them by giving a plethora of benefits that your company can offer. Force yourself to write out a features and benefit statement beforehand and be sure that you emphasize your benefits. This goes a long way in establishing your believability. Next, do they Like you? I don't know about you but I like a person a lot better when they use my name and have done some research on me and my company. Don't sound like a recording but be sure that you know their pain and address it. An excellent way to find the pain is to interview key figures before the presentation. Talk to others who may know their pain-you know who to contact because you have built an extensive network, haven't you? Don't be afraid to tell about pertinent mistakes you have made in the past and how you corrected them-it makes you human and it makes others like the fact that you have overcome adversity. Use self effacing humor when appropriate. If you have any doubts, don't use the humor! Finally, does the audience trust you. If you have done a fabulous job on the first two components then the trust factor becomes the final building block. Your audience will trust you a lot more when you are confident in your presentation, you aren't squirming, you are maintaining eye contact and you have addressed their objections before they get a chance to bring them up. Enjoy that BLT!
Steve Mertz Master Chef

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Welcome to Sales Presentation Training

Three months ago I was at a presentation given by a company to a group of potential investors. The company was not a start up but rather a company that has a fabulous product and were looking for $5 million dollars for expansion. If you have ever been in their position you know how hard it can be. You have 1 hour to give your best shot at that $5 or $50 million dollar contract. Maybe you have waited for a year or longer to get in front of the committee that will determine your fate-don't make these mistakes. The secretary started the power point presentation and she never stopped. They power pointed the audience to death. The principals of the company sat there and watched the power point presentation. They would throw in an occasional comment, making no eye contact with anyone in particular! Finally, the president of the company gave a very brief wrap up and the potential investors left-never to return and Never to invest. If you can relate to any of this pain-I can help you with your next presentation. I was an investment advisor for over 15 years and gave hundreds of presentations and was exposed to hundreds more. I am confident that I have seen more boring and ineffective presentations than most! Fortunately, I had the good sense to get professional presentation training and have been a member of National Speakers Association for the past 5 years. I have a special place in my heart for small businesses seeking that necessary contract and my team and I will bring our expertise and passion to your organization. Please contact me with any immediate needs or questions. My site address is

Tags: Sales+Presentation+Training