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Is Anyone Listening to Your Online Sales Presentation?

Back when I founded Selling Power magazine, we used to write a lot about how salespeople could use nonverbal selling to communicate effectively and win more deals. In fact, in 1989 we published an article on one of the great masters of nonverbal communication, comic actor John Cleese. Although Cleese is best known for television shows and movies like Monty Python's Flying CircusFawlty Towers and A Fish Called Wanda, he earned equal success in the business world with his sales training company. He advised our readers on how to maintain composure in a stressful situation with a prospect or customer: 
"If you want to maintain composure under pressure, I recommend that you don't fiddle. Try to keep your hands still. Move as little as you possibly can because it looks better. If you're going to make a gesture, make it an easy, fairly big one. Try it in front of the mirror. Don't make short, small, jerky, restrictive movements." 

Today, online messaging has overtaken such traditional face-to-face contact by leaps and bounds. Many sellers today negotiate and close deals exclusively over conference calls and online interactions. Instead of body language, we use virtual presentation tools to communicate our message. Roger Courville is an author with a lot of great insights and tips about online versus offline presentations. Recently I went to his blog and found some very relevant and practical points about common presentation problems: Why use a chart if you have to explain it? Why ask your audience to be interactive and then spend the entire presentation pontificating? Why use speakerphone when it provides poor audio quality? 

Based on many of the presentations I've seen from salespeople over the years, this is advice the sales industry needs to hear. Why? Depending on the quality of the tools you use and your proficiency in using them, you have the ability to create a positive or negative presentation experience. Your slide decks and audio quality are today's equivalent of a strong handshake and good eye contact.

The bottom line is that a successful sales personality should be able to translate just as easily in an online world as the real world. Just ask John Cleese -- these days, you can find him on Twitter. 

John cleese

Full disclosure: OTuesday, June 14, Roger Courville will be providing insights and advice on how to execute successful presentations online during a live webinar that Selling Power is co-producing -- if you're interested in joining us, you can go here to register.


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Craig Preston

His comment about "why put a chart if you have to explain it?" instantly describes that the author who wrote that has no idea of how to effectively present in a sales environment. If your presentation can be understood without the presenter, you have rendered yourself irrelevant, as opposed to being the person sharing your knowledge and experience. Very remedial presentation techniques.

Part of presenting in today's fast paced and high tech sales environment requires the presenter to differentiate oneself, establish trust, become an adviser - none of which happens if the material being presented does not require explanation.

Sorry, I usually like your articles, but this one is WAY off base.

Jonathan London

Here are some things I do to keep it interactive:

- I will have my picture show up on slides
- I will have different quizzes and tests
- I might call on somebody
- I will use a sense of humor with pictures
- I follow Seth Godin's model as best I can with fewer words
- i chat to people

Of course, you cannot do some of these things if you are presenting to a HUGE audience, but you can do many of them.

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