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Canned Sales Presentation

I once worked for a company where we had to memorize a script or canned presentation. Do you think these types of presentations work? - by Gilbert
I believe prepared presentations are a necessity in selling. They do not have to be thought about as impersonal. Most of the critics of that methodology I found have a reluctance about memorizing simply because memorizing is work. Sure--memorization is work. But the worthwhile goal is assimilation and conditioning--in other words, creating a source within ourselves that others can rely on for information.

Regardless of what we sell, we are in the information business. A prepared presentation organizes that information and puts it into the best light for a prospect to respond to. It gives a language to communicate with. But, most of all, it keeps us on message.

But--there is another side to the coin. The presentation has to be a good one. It is a mistake to believe that just because a company gives you a presentation, it makes the presentation effective.

That is why it is so vitally important to be a life-long student of sales. You cannot assume that all companies will give you the support you need. However, if your company requires you to use a presentation of their choosing, it is your responsibility to learn it.

A well known financial planning (insurance) group requires their recruits to memorize a twenty minute script, word-for-word, which they call The Funnel Talk. I'm close to one of their very successful agents and he showed me the talk, knowing that I have written presentations for other companies. I studied the talk and told him I thought it was a weak script. I also told him that although it is almost impossible to avoid using a degree of manipulation in selling presentations, his script's reframing tactics bordered on misrepresenation. However, there was enough puffery attached, that most people would not be able to think fast enough to see the B.S.
He said he agreed with me, but the company continues to grow.

I pointed out that although the company was growing, the attrition rate was horrible, and very few people that came on board were growing with it. - by Gary A Boye

Regardless of what we sell, we are in the information business. A prepared presentation organizes that information and puts it into the best light for a prospect to respond to. It gives a language to communicate with. But, most of all, it keeps us on message.

But--there is another side to the coin. The presentation has to be a good one. It is a mistake to believe that just because a company gives you a presentation, it makes the presentation effective.

That is why it is so vitally important to be a life-long student of sales.
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Dear Gary,

I hope you'll understand that my reply is written not directly for you but for the benefit of others who will have read your ideas on this subject.

I know that you have learned these things for yourself as I have learned them for myself, in isolation, but I know that they'll strike accord with you too.

I'd like to share what we've learned for the benefit of all.

SO..... Sales people everywhere! Listen UP!

Really good presentations ask questions, questions that lead the prospect to his point of enlightenment/ realisation. That is to say that he reaches that point when he takes his horse blinkers off and says to him self.... "yeah, i understand the problem now".

secondly the presentation should show that there is a real reason or benefit why the prospect should solve that problem with your help and...

thirdly the presentation should make the solution tangible. It should get the prospect involved in someway. Physically interacting such as trying a product out or working out with pencil and paper the benefits of using your service.

In Brian Tracy's audio training series "the psychology of selling" (Nightingale-Conant) Tracy relates a tale which explains the power of a good presentation.

Excuse my poetic license but it goes something like this...

Way back in time there was a salesman selling panes of glass to the hardware stores of America.


His company had invented a type of very tough safety glass that would not shatter.


He went to the hardware stores and said... "tell me, do your customers buy glass from time to time to repair broken windows?"


"Why Yes they do" was always the reply


"do you make good profit on it?" he asked


"Not really, explained the store keeper, "you see, every one sells glass round here and the competion between one store and another drives the price of glass down until its hardly worth keeping in stock"


"whats your margin on it these days?" asked the salesman


"five (5) cents in the dollar" replied the store keeper


"Suppose your customers could buy a special, tough, shatterproof pane, available only from you - do you think that they'd pay a little more knowing that broken panes could be a thing of the past?"


" yeah, i guess that would interest them, but shatter proof glass? I'm not sure that stuff like that really exists" said the store keeper


At this the salesman pulled out a pane of glass, put it on the counter then hit it hard with a ball pein hammer!!!!.... "Guaranteed to earn you fifteen (15) cents in the dollar and no competion within your zip code! said the salesman... "how much would you like to stock?"


Well that approach was extremely successful!


BUT


Later that season the salesman changed his presentation so that this time round he put the pane of glass on the counter AND GAVE THE HAMMER TO THE STORE KEEPER.


The store keeper would strike the glass as hard as he might to prove that shatter proof glass was just a gimmick and that the sales man was being to soft when he hit it.


Now the store keepers would ASK... "How soon can you deliver?"


It may be fiction but that sounds like a great canned presentation to me.

When you have a framework like that, you can find ways to bring power to the things that you sell or should i say, to the solutions that you provide.

Think of Tracy's salesman when you are building your own canned presentation.

Look carefully at your product or service, understand what it does, trust it, believe in it and sell it from the bottom of your heart.

David Bowen
Birmingham (U.K) - by David Bowen
Interesting story, David. I will give this some mulling as I am the one in my company who has to put together the presentation to be used in the field. I have developed one that works fairly well for me, but this story has definitely got me thinking. Also to the extent that I have tested it (with one salesman using it), he does not seem to be getting the same result it brings me. - by RainMaker
Interesting story, David. I will give this some mulling as I am the one in my company who has to put together the presentation to be used in the field. I have developed one that works fairly well for me, but this story has definitely got me thinking. Also to the extent that I have tested it (with one salesman using it), he does not seem to be getting the same result it brings me.
RM. Mm You have given me an idea to try out for myself before I make it a definite suggestion for you to take up. Let me bounce this off your wall 1st.

Imagine that we are responsible for developing a canned presentation. Imagine we've trialed it and it works for us, but it doesn't work quite as well for others.

It could be that it works well for us because we developed it, we understand it, we've reheresed it, it repesents who we are, it's developed in our style and uses our predominant mode of communication ( visual, linguistic, sensory etc )
and above all we feel we have ownership of it. It's our baby!.

It could be that it doesn't work well for others because they don't understand the reason for doing it our way, it's out of synch with their natural mode of communication, they didn't develop it, it's not their way and above all no matter how often they are forced to reherse it they're never going to deliver it with a passion.

Can we change that?

Suppose we strip away the components of the presentation until we get down to the basic message. The What are we trying to say and why are we trying to say it?

Now suppose we say to the salesperson who's struggled with our original canned presentation...
  • This is the basic message xyz
  • Put it into your own words
  • Build me a simple presentation with no words (spoken or written) which will convey the same message.
  • Next, put the two together and find a way to get some form of partisipation from the listener.
  • Build in questions that will get the listener involved, thinking on your wave length about the common problems for which you have a solution.
Now ... giving a sales person a canned presentation is a bit like giving a hungry man a fish.

Teaching a sales person how to develop his own canned presentation is a bit like, teaching a hungry man how to fish.

Is it better to do his thinking for him or help him to develop his thinking for himself.

It's a similar thought to...
Is it better to tell the customer what to buy from you or is it better to develop his thinking so that he is willing to tell you what he wants to buy from you.

I'm beginning to think that a canned presenation should be a presentation that a salesperson has developed for themselves, that suits their style, that they have ownership of, that they can roll out in the blink of an eye anywhere at any time and still have it deliver the same message for the same reason as your own/ different style presentation.

The idea that it is canned should mean that it is always the same, or a least very similar, well rehersed, honed and polished every time that sales person uses it.

It's canned by them, not by others.

Like you said... making every word count and making the most of the short time that the listener is prepared to give you.

"Canned" should not mean one sales script dreampt up by one individual for unerring use by all.

Different strokes suit different folks but different strokes can also achieve the same results if not better!

So my new thoughts are that it doesn't matter how we communicate the message so long as we communicate the same message, professionally.

So now I'm going to encourage my sales people to develop their own canned presentation to deliver my basic selling message but in their own professional style.

It's just a guess but I'm starting to believe that the importance of my role is to get the fundamental message right, to make it clear and to get others to reinforce the message in their own unique style with added passion.

Mmm what do think rain maker? I am I getting warm?

dave bowen - by David Bowen
That's interesting. Unfortunately, I am trying to train this salesman remotely and do not have the benefit of face to face (which I am now realizing is CRITICAL).

Interestingly, I think what you are suggesting is similar to the course I chose. I told him it was ok to put the presentation into his own words. There are four basic questions on which my presentation is built. I told him to to answer those questions for the prospect during his presentation and he will have covered the most important points.

Sadly, I don't think this has really worked for him either. I realize now that not having the benefit of seeing his presentation is a BIG drawback. I am not really sure what is going awry. - by RainMaker
RM...


you don't have to follow this advice but I'd be real interested to know if it worked...

Have the sales person send you his presentation script, and materials with written instructions on how you should use it, what questions to field and how to deflect common objections. Then try it his way in your home area and then give him a little feed back and redirection on the points that will get him back on track.

If you get results from using his presentation the way he uses it then you'll know that it's not the presentation thats causing the hold up.
Dave bowen - by David Bowen
You guys are going to hate me for this but, having read your posts with great interest, something occurs to me.

You really can't convert a presentation into another presentation. A sales presentation is free standing and self-contained. It exists only in its exact and intended form and in its entirety. Change anything and it becomes a different presentation.

Think on that and agree with me that it is not the presentation that must be delivered by the people who you would train. It is the message.

Ask them what they think the message is? If, as trainers and managers, you can be in harmony with their answers, then ask them to put the message into conversation.

Not only will a new perception develop about what the goals really are, but you will witness skills or lack of skills, in these trainees than are much more critical towards evaluation than the single skill of having the ability to memorize. - by Gary A Boye

Think on that and agree with me that it is not the presentation that must be delivered by the people who you would train. It is the message.
Yes Gary, that's a really good point. it is the message that's important.

And in accord with your thought I'm even more convinced now that a canned presentaion should be "canned" by the person who is expected to use it and not by the sale manager... so long as the funamental message is the same and has the same effect no matter how it's delivered.

you've sparked this thought in my mind...

If the pain killer is a metaphor for the message then it should be able to kill pain whether it is injected, eaten or drunk. It does the same job no matter how you deliver it but different people like to take their pain killers in a way that feels comfortable to them. if you don't like injections you're not going to like a pain killer that can only be injected!

Sales managers... create your message!

Sales people .......create a presentation that you can really run with... which delivers the message in a way that's consistent with the company image!


on a separate note...

thanks Gary! you know I've learned something really quiet special over the last few weeks by joiniong in on these forums... it really doesn't matter what other people tell me or what I tell others will work or wont work the real magic is in what I learn from looking within. It is that which really has the greatest impact.

your email made me think more deeply about my understanding and perception of presentations. It's possible that my thoughts are neither right nor wrong but because they feel right for me and I'm more likely to give them a go than take outside advice even though some of those inner thought patterns have been shaped by outside influence such as the forum.

May be it's true... you can lead the horse to water but you can't make him drink...

Maybe it's also true that you can point the horse in the general direction of water, when he finds it for himself he may choose to drink it but even if he doesnt want to taste it there and then, he will know where to find find it again next time he's thirsty

see you at the well gary.

Dave Bowen - by David Bowen
Four years ago I as working with a distributor, training him, and he had the same information I had but he was stuck. I asked him to not worry about correctness but to just say how he felt about what he wanted to say which he did. "Just get it out," I told him.

From there we worked on the message which is a uniform message BUT Jerry's message has Jerry in it and mine has me in it YET it's the same message. - by MitchM
Four years ago I as working with a distributor, training him, and he had the same information I had but he was stuck. I asked him to not worry about correctness but to just say how he felt about what he wanted to say which he did. "Just get it out," I told him.

From there we worked on the message which is a uniform message BUT Jerry's message has Jerry in it and mine has me in it YET it's the same message.
Mitch,
Thank you for sharing that point with me, I was trying to explain to my colleagues here that sometimes you just have have to say the message in your own way. I do believe that they think different is wrong but your point does confirm that others have trusted that the message can be delivered in different ways and still get the same result.

warm regards mitch

Dave Bowen
Birmingham (U.K) - by David Bowen
I need to be clear - the information [message/script] is the same much like the script, a soliloquy for one of Shakespear's plays - but each person playing the part will deliver the script from their personal voice. - by MitchM
I need to be clear - the information [message/script] is the same much like the script, a soliloquy for one of Shakespear's plays - but each person playing the part will deliver the script from their personal voice.
Mitch, by "personal voice", do you mean personally chosen words, or, style of delivery for basically the "canned" words? I'm interpreting your post to mean that you advocate staying pretty much with the script?

When I introduced the term "message" to this thread, I was suggesting a trainer would be wise to inquire of the trainee just what he/she believes is the message behind the prepared presentation that they are being asked to learn or memorize. I felt that understanding the intent of the presentation would be an aid to learning it.

I get the impression you agree with that. - by Gary Boye
You clarified what I meant, Gary - exactly. Total agreement! - by MitchM
I'm not a sales trainer but if a company spends the resources required to generate an effective script it doesn't really makes sense, in my opinon, for a new agent to put the "script" into his or her own words. :( - by Calvin
I'm not a sales trainer but if a company spends the resources required to generate an effective script it doesn't really makes sense, in my opinon, for a new agent to put the "script" into his or her own words. :(
IMO, Companies that rely heavily on a script for their salespeople to use are playing the odds instead of actually taking the time and investing resources to develop good salespeople. Having people follow a script is basically using the theory that you can boil sales down to a math equation, if you present to enough people in the same way you will eventually get a sale. Those companies are trying to take the one variable out of the equation which is varying presentation styles. I say spend time and resources developing people not scripts. - by Doc MC
IMO, Companies that rely heavily on a script for their salespeople to use are playing the odds instead of actually taking the time and investing resources to develop good salespeople. Having people follow a script is basically using the theory that you can boil sales down to a math equation, if you present to enough people in the same way you will eventually get a sale. Those companies are trying to take the one variable out of the equation which is varying presentation styles. I say spend time and resources developing people not scripts.
Doc, I agree with you about the value of developing people over scripts. But consider this:

The four industries that rely the most on the use of scripts are, in no particular order:
  1. The financial services industry, i.e. life insurance companies
    • For the most part, these companies invest heavily in recruiting, training, and, personal development for their employees, while often sudsidizing the first few years income as state laws permit. Part of the aforementioned personal development includes the use of scripts as a learning tool. Those scripts also enable the new people to get a faster start in the business by giving them words to use when they talk to prospects.
  2. Companies who use telemarketing or teleselling as their primary venue for sales
    • Much of the work is faceless cold calling where a uniform message that is delivered in a few minutes or seconds is required to deliver the the company's offer. Not much room for "winging it" here.
  3. The direct selling companies, who are now dominated by the Network Marketing industry.
    • These companies use independent distributors and probably focus more on personal development than any other industry--at least in theory. For those distributors who use it, the best of the industry's training in that area is arguably three cuts above the quality of training in the main sectors of sales.
  4. Auto sales
    • Dealers recruit heavily from the inexperienced segment. Many use tract systems, often obtained from third party providers. They require that the scripts be followed as a lesser evil to putting the health of their companies into the hands of novices. In addition, they take advantage of the product knowledge training programs that the the auto manufacturers provide.
- by Gary A Boye
I once worked for a company where we had to memorize a script or canned presentation. Do you think these types of presentations work?
Hi Gilbert

I think canned presentations are inauthentic and do not take into account the individuals needs. If you go for a canned approach, expect a very low success rate. Expect also not to enjoy it.

What was your experience? - by tessa
I think canned presentations are inauthentic and do not take into account the individuals needs. If you go for a canned approach, expect a very low success rate. Expect also not to enjoy it.
It's tough to avoid them completely, but I'm wary of metaphors. I've been hearing the term "canned" presentation for years. Maybe for some, the word picture is similar to the way they pack sardines. Who wants that--after all we've "gotta be me" when we're in front of a customer.

Someone once said that the first step towards wisdom is calling things by their right name. I think the right names for what we're talking about are Message and Form--and if we want to dismiss those idea as "canned", we lose out.

It's a misconception by some that selling consists mostly of "thinking on our feet". It's also a cop out for those that don't want to do the work of learning. I wonder what a novice is supposed to think about. Selling consists partially of "responding on our feet" or in a chair, or on the phone--or what have you. We develop the ability to deliver our Message and to respond in a sales conversation by learning Form. Dancers, athletes, artists, musicians, martial artists, communicators, etc, take the time to learn form so that they can perform and respond without doing that much thinking. When we're not thinking about what we're going to say next, we can spend more time in creative listening which is paramount in selling.

If we go for a "canned" approach and we want to stay with that word picture, it's true we probably can expect a low success rate. And-- we probably will not enjoy what we're doing. But if we shift our thinking to Message and Form and the idea that we should develop both, then enjoyment and success in selling will follow. - by Gary A Boye
Presentations for delivering information. A great presentation it can be delivered perfectly, every time, with a video DVD and a light weight projector.

For top salespeople, selling is about developing mutual trust and respect, and negotiating mutual commitments. The questions for those processes can be outlined and/or scripted, the negotiations can not.

That's why salespeople will always be needed.

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If you think that selling is about identifying prospects' needs, you should be a paid consultant - it pays better than selling that way.

If you think that selling is about educating prospects, you should get a job as a teacher - it pays better than selling that way. - by JacquesWerth
For top salespeople, selling is about developing mutual trust and respect.
Jacques, by "developing" are you referring to identifying those conditions, uncovering them, exploring them, or creating them out of the prospect's experience with us? - by Gary Boye
Jacques, by "developing" are you referring to identifying those conditions, uncovering them, exploring them, or creating them out of the prospect's experience with us?
Gary - I should have known that you wouldn't let me get away with that inaccurate shorthand.

What I should have said is "determine whether a Relationship of Mutual Trust and Respect has been created after completing a Trust and Respect Inquiry." - by JacquesWerth
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