September 19, 2013

Please Stop Showing Pictures of Your Building During Sales Calls and Presentations

I lost it during a client’s sales team meeting this week. Words I don’t normally use came spewing from deep within with great intensity. I was with a wonderful company for whom I did good deal of consulting and coaching earlier this year, and it was fun to join them for their late summer sales meeting on a lake. I was leading a session on “Preparing for, Structuring and Conducting Winning Sales Calls.” We were talking about the most powerful points in our “Sales Story” and how to use just a few of these client-issue-centered points to engage a prospect and build credibility before diving into probing questions.

Then “it” happened. A salesperson (I happen to really like) made the case that he felt it was important to describe the highlights of his company at this point in a sales call – how big it was, how long they’d been in business, and to show the picture of their beautiful facility from the company brochure. Because we’d been over this ground in the past, I felt the need to add a touch of color, volume, intensity and, I regret to say, a few expletives, to drive home this point:

No one gives a  _______   _______  how long you’ve been in business or what your building looks like. If you’re trying to get a prospect’s attention and build credibility, tell them the reasons your best clients come to you, the issues your solutions address, the problems you solve, and the results you help your customers achieve! Do not show them a picture of your facility!

In the name of all that’s good and right in this world, please stop showing pictures of your facility to prospects during sales calls or presentations. Unless you work for the Smithsonian, NASA, a luxury hotel or an architecture firm, it’s really hard to come up with a good reason that a picture of your building should show up in the first 17 slides of a PowerPoint or early pages in your brochure. If you love your building, feel like it adds credence to your story, and is an important piece of why a prospect may choose to do business with you, then I would grant that it might be okay to show a picture, but not until very late in the presentation. And you’d have to work hard to convince me that it’s really a differentiator.

Salesperson: your sales story is not about you; the sales call is not about you, your offerings, your company, or your facility. It’s about the potential customer, what’s on their mind, what they’re trying to achieve, the issues keeping them up at night, their corporate initiatives, pressures in their marketplace, etc.

If this post strikes a chord, I’d encourage you to read Chapter 13 in New Sales. Simplified. – The Essential Handbook for Prospecting and New Business Development. In that chapter I share why I hate the word “presentation,” tell the most painful and embarrassing story of my sales career, and also offer a prescription to redeem the PowerPoint presentation. You can link here to see reader reviews of the book or click here to buy the book on Amazon.