Enthralling Conversations, Meaningful Pictures: They’re Engaged!
The concept of “sales engagement” is all the rage. Experts are telling you to be more engaging with your prospects and customers. To some of you this sounds like a bunch of touchy-feely hogwash. It may even sound like a reason dating couples break up with each other: “He/she just wasn’t engaging enough for me…”
Before you get swept away in cynicism, stop for a moment. Think of all the PowerPoint-based presentations you’ve sat through during your career. What percentage of these dog and pony shows caused you to check out, or disengage from the presentation? Can you see how, if the presenter had created more engagement with you during those important moments, your interest might have held? That’s sales engagement.
What do you think runs through your buyer’s mind when they see you open the laptop and fire up the projector? It’s probably similar to that moment at the dentist when you hear the whirr of the drill and your stomach starts to churn and you develop a low nervous sweat that says, “I hope they get this over with quickly.”
In the case of sales presentations, the result is low levels of engagement and the failure to communicate with the buyer, which end in either no second meeting 75 percent of the time (CSO Insights), or a no-decision outcome in 6 out of 10 forecasted opportunities (Sales Benchmark Index). According to Forrester, 88 percent of executive buyers prefer conversations to presentations. Maybe not so coincidently, Forrester also found that executives believe only about 12 percent of the sales calls they have participated in added value. Clearly there is a failure to engage and it is costly.
Convey Value, not Slides
Breaking away from traditional canned PowerPoint presentation to better converse with buyers is not as simple as it sounds. The “naturals” in your sales team have already figured this out, but what about the core group?
In a recent Sirius Decisions poll of sales managers in B2B companies, the #1 inhibitor to achieving quota was an inability to communicate value messages. It was not a lack of leads, weak skills, product complexity or lack of industry knowledge.
What we have learned is that salespeople cannot make up these value stories themselves; they need to have their message developed and delivered in a way that makes it sticky in the mind of the salesperson and memorable in the mind of the buyer.
Stories and Images bring your Capabilities to Life
Features and benefits are dead and buyers don’t care about them. They do care about the capabilities you give them that can help them solve their business problems. Getting these decision makers to picture themselves doing something different and better requires, well, pictures.
Without a story and imagery to help prospects visualize their new capabilities, see the contrast with what they are doing today, and imagine the difference it will make in the future, your presentations will fall flat…like yesterday’s open can of Bud Light in the fridge.
Recent discoveries in brain science have uncovered the nature of cognition. While PowerPoint slides packed with data, photography, drawings and bullets appeal to the logical and analytical neo-cortex (new brain), the old brain or “lizard-brain,” as Seth Godin calls it, is where our survival instincts are triggered and new decisions to change get made.
Appealing to the old brain to wake it up — giving it concrete and simple reason to cause it do something different — requires visualization with simple, whole images with contrast, which give a clear picture as to why its unsafe to stick with the status quo, along with presenting a clear reason to move to the safety of the new.
Whiteboard imagery embodies the simplicity of ancient communications to convey powerful meaning to the old brain. That coupled with a great story with contrast is an order of magnitude more persuasive than PowerPoint using metaphorical or borrowed interest photography.
If you need help translating your old presentation deck into a whiteboard that brings your story to life, we should talk. With more than 500 whiteboards, under out belt, we’ve learned a thing or two about what it takes to create sales engagement.