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There is life beyond the "corporate selfie"

Focus on delivering value in the beginning and build your credibility


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What do you want to see go out of style this year?  Kale?  Skrillex?  Kim Kardashian?  Here’s one I hope will go out of style in business: The Corporate Selfie. What’s that you ask?  It’s that slide businesses have that kicks off their client presentation.

You know the one: It shows any or all of the following:  a picture of your building (ho hum), the timeline of your company’s growth (blah, blah, blah) and/or the logos of your best customers (I’m sorry, are you still talking to me?)

One thing I’ll say about the corporate selfie/overview: It's an equal opportunity slide: it is as boring for the salesperson to deliver as it is for the customer to receive. These particular slides are better suited for a brochure than a live presentation. In this day and age, your prospect likely already knows--or has access to--much of what you think you need to tell them about your company. Sure, there are key points you want to highlight for your audience, and there’s a place for that -- but it's not in the first few minutes of your presentation.

I see hundreds of presentations from fairly experience salespeople each year, and what’s surprising is that while the rest of the deck may be perfectly zen-like, the corporate overview slide violates all the rules of good slide design: too many bullet points, small fonts and boring pictures.  And of course, since it is content-heavy, salespeople end up reading it, further disengaging from their audience. All in all, a very poor start to a presentation or demonstration where trying to win the audience’s attention is already a challenge!

Put yourself in the shoes of your prospect and imagine being read the following corporate overview:

Example of a Typical Overview Slide:

Salesperson:  “Before we get started I’d like to tell you a little bit about our company.  We started as a small data management company in Wisconsin with 10 employees.  By 2000, we had grown to 1,000 employees and moved to our current office in Stamford, which you can see here, to make room for everybody. 

"In 2001, we started with data management, and then you can see we added order management in 2002 and finally e-commerce in 2004.  And these are all the industry awards we’ve received for technology and design over the past ten years. On this next slide you can see some of the over 500 customers we’ve helped, including…”

Remember getting cornered by “that guy” at a networking event who went on and on about himself immediately after being introduced?  Bad news: You may be “that guy” if you’re still opening with a corporate overview like this. 

“But won’t my corporate accomplishments give me credibility?” I often get asked. Thumping on your chest too early doesn’t give you credibility. In fact, it probably creates more skepticism at that point. You need to earn the right to talk about how great you are to avoid losing your audience so early on in your presentation. 

Focus on delivering value in the beginning and your credibility will build quickly and naturally.  Then, and only then, have you earned the right to talk about how great you are.  And even then, limit it to small doses, please.

Here’s how to dump the corporate selfie and still look good:

  • Sprinkle in relevant facts or accomplishments throughout your presentation as opposed to dumping it all on a few slides. 
  • When delivering corporate overview information, remember to apply the same features/benefits test to it.  If it’s a feature (i.e., we have 1000 employees) pin it to a benefit (which makes us available 24/7 to address your needs.)
  • Place your overview at the end, have it available as a leave behind or drop it all together.  Trust me, it won’t be missed.
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Julie Hansen

Julie Hansen, author of Sales Presentations for Dummies, helps sales and business executives craft and deliver winning presentations and demos by applying today’s best practices from business, acting, improv, and storytelling. Julie’s techniques for leveraging proven performance skills in presentations have been adopted by Fortune 500 companies across the globe, including IBM and Oracle, as well as local Colorado companies. Learn more about sales workshops and keynotes at  PerformanceSalesandTraining.com, start a sales conversation at Julie@actingforsales.com  or connect with Julie on LinkedIn.

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