How to Deliver the Perfect Virtual Presentation – Part 1
Combined, over the last 30+ years, I’ve watched and made hundreds of sales presentations. Here’s the most important thing I’ve learned: the best presentation wins, not necessarily the best solution.
There’s just not enough time built into the decision-making process for the proper amount of due diligence. Plus, study after study has been proven that emotions, not facts, drive decision making. Winning often comes down to who delivers the best performance, not who can ultimately deliver the best value.
This in and of itself adds to the challenge and pressure of delivering a great presentation – and there is no stage more difficult than presenting virtually.
With virtual presentations, customers are more distracted, you lose the magic of eye contact, charisma is diminished to just a voice, and it’s much harder to see and experience the product or solution. But here’s the good news: if you can deliver well virtually, you can deliver anywhere.
When selling virtually, there is no room for error. It requires advanced skills – but those skills will serve you well in every aspect of selling and influence.
To help you win 90%+ of virtual presentations (yes it’s possible), I want to offer the most important secrets I’ve learned over the years on how the best of the best deliver a killer, drop the mic, presentation. It all starts with the right framework.
The Virtual Presentation Framework
There is a framework for all great stories, and all great stories start with a hero. If you’re the hero, you lead with who you are, followed by the most logical way to tell your story and the solutions you want to sell. That’s what most sellers do… it’s why the average seller wins 20% of their opportunities and most are missing quota.
Here is a better idea. Make the customer the hero of the story. (People like to be heroes).
Begin with one slide that articulates what the hero wants and how you can help them get what they want.
Part 1 – Your Recommendation
Everyone you present to wants something. They have a current state and a desired future state. This is why you were invited in, to help them achieve this new reality, to help them build a bridge to their desired destination. Therefore, lead with how you can help them get there – your recommendation.
Start by demonstrating that you understand what they want. Just one or two sentences that draw them and make them think, “They get it.” If you aren’t confident of their desired future state, then lead with your best guess, based on work with similar customers.
“When we work with companies like ____, they are focused on ____.”
The goal here is twofold: demonstrate the customer/prospect is the most important person in the story, and immediately capture their attention. There is no better way to grab the audience’s attention than by talking about what the audience is most interested in – themselves.
When developing your concise summary of their desired destination, work to phrase it in a way that inspires and stirs emotion. Communicating this with a only number can fall flat: “Increase profits by 15%…” It doesn’t illicit emotion or capture the greater purpose – the “why” behind the what.
For example, here’s what a savvy marketing firm delivered to our leadership team:
Objective: Double the number of MQLs, grow the channel, and appear on the front page of the top 5 key search words. And, more importantly, expand ASLAN’s reach to change the way people influence, sell, relate, and to become more Other-Centered.
Not only was this spot on, it also inspired us. It reminded us of our greater purpose – to leverage our platform to not only improve the performance of sellers and leaders, but to improve their lives, to change the way they relate to the people they love the most, to become Other-Centered. And by using our terms, (e.g., “Other-Centered), that firm instantly made us the hero of the story. A perfect start.
If you swing and miss, which happens, they will appreciate the effort and provide feedback. Your goal is to serve, and when you genuinely attempt to communicate your Other-Centered purpose, you naturally draw the audience in.
A word of caution: often, sellers believe articulating the prospect’s point of view is the most important part of the presentation. It isn’t. The opening line just sets the tone and ensures alignment, but identifying the problem does not convince the decision-maker that you can solve the problem. The next section, most likely, will determine if you will win or lose.
Give an Overview of The Bridge
Next, outline what is required to reach their desired destination – the bridge. This isn’t a comprehensive list of what you offer, or even everything that is required to reach their desired destination, but based on previous discovery, includes the 3 to 5, most important “best practices” or “disruptive truths” about how to make their dreams a reality.
Let me say that again, these “truths” are not a list of your solutions. This not only bores the audience and puts you back in the hero seat. Your “truths” set up the need for the solutions you offer (more on that later).
For example, a marketing firm was presenting me with a pitch to redesign our website; one of their opening truths was simple yet compelling: “People don’t read websites, they scan them.”
This works on so many levels. Because that was new information, it caught my attention – it was disruptive. It also built instant credibility. And because they didn’t lead with the solution – We offer website copy – but led with a truth, I saw them more as a trusted consultant than a seller of services.
Why narrow it down to 3 to 5? Because your biggest nemesis in presenting your solution is time. There just isn’t enough time to communicate all that you offer. If you try, it all becomes noise and the critical points will be missed. Remember all facts aren’t equal. Just like a chef offering samples from their menu, you have to leave some of your best stuff in the kitchen.
“Your Recommendation” should only be one slide, not slides. I’ve seen many sellers spend 15 to 30 minutes describing the customer’s problem, as if to prove, “I really understand you.” Yes, you want to demonstrate that you understand your customer, but that’s better done in the context of showing them how you solve their problem, instead of losing precious time telling them what they already know.
They will not choose you just because you listened well. They will choose you because you listened AND demonstrated that you have the best solution to their problem. And again, time is not your friend. Don’t waste it by spending more than a few minutes feeding them information they already know.
Here’s an example of what a Recommendation slide might look like:
Why so much focus on this one slide? By narrowing in on a handful of truths, this becomes your central position for the entire presentation. It determines what you present and it’s where you take a stand. If they buy these truths, they will buy your solution.
This is where you demonstrate you offer expertise they don’t have.
This is where you gain a competitive advantage.
This is where you’re no longer just a sales rep.
You nail this, you will nail the presentation.
You may be thinking, “Don’t I need to tell them who I am?” Yes, before you dive into your presentation, there will be introductions. This is where you offer a few short sentences about who you are, but the purpose here is to provide context, not sell yourself or your solution. The best strategy for selling your solution is to demonstrate you have a unique way of solving their problem, not with lengthy introductions of who you are, how long you’ve been in business, who you worked with, etc. That’s a yawner. You might as well bring in your family album and show them pictures of your last vacation.
Part 2 – The Proprietary Solution
This is the meat of your presentation and it has three sub sections:
- Restate the truth with a hero image
- Validate the truth with one or two slides
- Tease the customer with how you can solve the problem
Notice where your solution falls in this sequence: last. The majority of time is spent operating as a highly competent, but free, consultant who shares a better way to “bridge” the gap, instead of a commercial/ highlight reel about the solutions you offer.
Therefore, focus more on how to think differently about the problem, than on the bells and whistles of your solution. It starts with reminding them of the truth.
State the Truth
The goal here is to provide more context for “the truth” previously shared in “Your Recommendation” and also serves to orient the audience. Once you’ve crafted the disruptive truth, which is no easy task, the trick here is to find the right hero image. Here’s one from a company called Zuora. You can read more about how they present their solution. It’s impressive.
Here’s a ‘truth” that ASLAN shares to help prospective customers broaden their focus from just developing their sellers to focusing on the front-line leader to drive change.
You can see both examples share a definitive truth, no weak language, with very little copy. The goal here is to eliminate distractions and highlight the truth. Plus, you don’t want the audience to read your slide. You want them focused and listening to you.
Next, you need to show them why they should change their beliefs and embrace this new truth.
Validate the Truth
Now that you’ve proposed a new way to think about the problem, you need to back up your bold statement. All that is required is one or two slides to validate the truth. A few options include sharing research, best practices gleaned from existing clients, or findings from an assessment of their organization.
Assume they will believe you and don’t spend too much time “proving” your main point. If they have questions, they will ask for more clarity. Just offer a clean slide with a few numbers, or words, and a picture or infographic. Again, you are telling the story, not the slide.
Here’s another example from Zuora. Check out how they validate the truth that the world is moving to a subscription economy by sharing how a start-up crushed a giant. (We all love a Cinderella story).
Now you are ready to present your solution. Think of what comes next as your “therefore.” The customer has embraced the truth, [therefore] they need to do something different. Play the soundtrack, now it’s time to unveil your unique solution.
Tease with Your Recommended Solution
Key word here is “tease.” Your goal is for the listener to ask for more information, not to be bored with ten features and benefits when they only needed three to be convinced. Again, the best way to present your solution is with very little information, a clean slide with lots of space, that sets you up as the storyteller and not a story-reader.
Keep the audience engaged by creating mystery. The best way to illustrate this is by sharing a personal example. Let’s walk through how ASLAN’s presents our leadership development program called Catalyst.
This solution supports the truth that Change Happens 1:1. In other words, if your front-line leaders are the number one driver to sales force transformation, you need a solution that equips them to do just that. Therefore, you need our Catalyst program.
Here’s the setup.
As you look at the slide, do you know what story will be told? Can you figure out the mystery? What does 4D mean? Why are the three circles below blank? The brain wants to fill in the missing pieces. It instinctually wants to solve the mystery. And if you want to solve the puzzle, you must pay attention.
Remember, when presenting virtually, keeping the audience engaged is your number one challenge.
This is how we tell the story:
Performance is measured by results. Therefore, every leader is measured by one thing – results. This is the center dial on every leader’s dashboard. But if results aren’t achieved, something needs to change. What do your leaders focus on to drive change? (Pause to engage the listener, allow them to contemplate the question).
There are three simple dials that drive results. Only three. (Animate to reveal the three dials).
I’ll spare you the explanation of the three dials – Desire, Productivity & Competency, but the important thing to note is when unpacking the three dials, the focus is to share new truths about how managers drive results versus the features of our solution. The more expertise I reveal about how to solve their problem, the more they believe my solution will deliver the goods. Plus, anytime the customer is learning something that will help them in their career, they pay attention.
Now time to unpack the Catalyst solution.
First, we define the three roles of leaders who understand how to drive change – they lead, manage, and coach. Next, we share soundbites related to becoming an effective leader, manager & coach. As you can see, there is not much copy and it sets up the presenter with the ability to unpack each point.
This is a two-day program with dozens of concepts taught, tools provided, new theories explored, and dozens of benefits. Hundreds of companies that have benefited from implementing the Catalyst program. But I only mention a few… Again, the goal is to tease with THE most important, unique points you need to make about your solution. One slide tells the story.
If you missed something and you’re presenting to a qualified, legitimate prospect, they will ask. The alternative is a presentation death sentence: bore the audience.
For example, 99% of the time, someone will ask, “What do you mean by 4D?”
People are always interested in the answer to their question. The answer becomes the punchline to the presentation of our Catalyst solution.
“Most organizations only measure in 2 dimensions – Results and Productivity, because they are unaware that that desire and competency can easily be measured. High performing organizations measure performance in four dimensions – Results, Desire, Productivity & Competency.”
This tees up one of the key proprietary benefits of our leadership solution – the tools and abilities to equip managers to operate in 4D vs. 2D.
Part 3 – Prove It
Once you clearly communicate that you offer the best “bridge” to their desired destination, you need one slide to answer the question: “Does what you are recommending actually work?”
If you have not convinced them by now, this slide will not solve that problem. The goal here is to provide the ROI or whatever results needed to demonstrate your solution will and has worked. Remember, everyone has a case study. Therefore, this section does not differentiate you from the competition or change beliefs, it just validates what they have already, hopefully, come to believe. It’s the exclamation at the end of the sentence.
The goal of the first three sections is to demonstrate you offer the best solution, while part four, which makes up about 20% of your presentation, should be dedicated to answering a few, key questions.
Part 4 – The Q&A
This is where you answer questions such as:
What’s your process?
How much does it cost?
Who will we work with?
What’s the timeline?
The questions you prepare to answer are the top 3 to 5 most asked questions once a prospect moves from: “Should I buy your solution?” to “How will we work together?”
In other words, other than negotiating price, the hard part is over and now it’s time to provide more clarity on the details.
Does that mean you won’t cover some important information or key components of your solution? No, some of those important facts that were left on the cutting room floor, will be touched on here. As if to say,
“Yeah we have that too. It just didn’t make it into the main show because it wasn’t your primary driver in determining the best solution provider or solution.”
Again, the goal here is to keep the slides clean and offer a few words to tee up what you want to say. If more details are required by the client, they can either be verbally communicated or provided post-presentation. Remember, based on your previous discovery, you want them paying attention to the most important points.
Here’s my guarantee:
If you follow this approach, and your truths or insights change the way the customer thinks about the problem, you will never lose the interest of the audience. You will be viewed as a thought leader and not a seller, and truly distinguish yourself from the competition. I promise you that will put you in the top 1% of presenters – and just maybe the next TED Talk star.
Look out for Part 2 of “Delivering the Perfect Virtual Presentation” where I’ll explore another critical element – controlling the stage.
Visit www.aslantraining.com and check out our sALES with ASLAN podcast episode on the Top Things You Must Do to Prepare for the Big Presentation.
For more information on all the challenges of Virtual Selling, check out this brand new program built on ASLAN’s 25 years of Inside Sales experience.
The best way to get to know us is to know what we value. If we teach it we live it, because what we do speaks far more eloquently than what we say. We’ll always choose people over profits, and we’re most fulfilled and effective when we serve. It drives our culture, frames our training programs and transforms the lives of the clients we partner with.