As vice-president of sales for a national leasing company, Paul Turner made a couple of observations while attending the meetings his sales force was conducting.
First, the attention span of prospects was limited. Second, prospects became even more distracted when the sales force started delivering their PowerPoint presentations.
This led him to an important realization. ”I realized that if you can't keep the attention of prospects and customers, you're probably not going to be successful in sales," he says.
While there was no question that the audience was quickly tuning out, and that PowerPoint presentations were a significant cause of the problem, he didn't know what else to do. His organization, like many others, used the projector and the presentation deck as the primary resources available to salespeople, who were resistant to any suggestion that they change.
“The use of PowerPoint was embedded into our culture,” he says. “Like many other organizations, this began with the use of acetates. It evolved into a habit of slides and presentation decks, and it was difficult to get people to think about doing anything different." Intervention is Arranged
Through a series of events, he came in contact with presentation skills consultant Eric Bergman, and arranged a two-day retreat with his salespeople in Banff, Alberta. One of the primary goals of the retreat was to break the PowerPoint habit with his salespeople.
Using a series of unique exercises, and by applying a number of proprietary models for content development, Bergman helped the team structure a series of prospect and client conversations (presentations) for various stages of the sales process. Most importantly, the team managed to polish their delivery; each presentation was delivered a number of times by participants.
The two-way conversations were video recorded and Bergman provided feedback. However, during the process, group members also learned to mentor each other. They received a framework by which they could provide each other with feedback as a means of continuing to improve their skills.
There was an immediate return. "There was an uptick in sales by this group right away," Paul says. "And, to this day, the top salesperson relies on conducting structured conversations with prospects. Personally, I can't remember the last time I delivered a PowerPoint presentation."