Extreme Makeover: PowerPoint Edition

By Heather Baldwin

Background: When Paul McIlroy, senior account representative at Overland Park, Kansas-based Omnidox (www.omnidox.com), joined the company in August 2004 he knew he needed to put together a sales presentation that, in his words, would “blow prospective clients out of the water.” But being new to Omnidox’s legal services business such as litigation copying, imaging, coding, electronic discovery and Web hosting, he knew he couldn’t start from scratch. So McIlroy did what many sales reps do – he pulled together what looked like the strongest slides from several different presentations and hoped for the best. Not sure whether his amalgamated presentation had accomplished his goal of wowing prospects, McIlroy turned to Selling Power‘s PowerPoint Makeover for feedback. We put McIlroy’s presentation in the hands of Jim Endicott, president of Portland, Oregon-based Distinction Communication, Inc., who shares his feedback here.

Presentation’s objective: To familiarize prospects with Omnidox and discover what their hot buttons are.

Audience: Law firms specializing in all types of litigation. Depending on the firm, audience members commonly include the office administrator, a senior paralegal/legal assistant, office services manager and, occasionally, a senior associate.

Challenges: Like many sales presentations, this one is presenter-centric, says Endicott. Presentations like these, he adds, tend to come across as a solution in search of a problem and thus inadvertently alienate the people they are intended to impress. So simply giving the presentation a new look would not fix the more systemic issues related to message design.

Changes: Endicott retuned the messaging to make Omnidox’s prospects the focal point of the presentation. “In the opening five minutes you either differentiate yourself because of your focus on your prospects and their issues or slip into the same benign mold that many sales presentations fall into today,” says Endicott. “Build moments into your presentation early that prompt you to validate, through interaction with your prospects, your assumptions about the issues they are experiencing that create an unmet need. Solutions are always best offered in the context of a consensus on the problem.” Endicott thus changed titles and copy that previously were all about Omnidox. For example, headings such as Our Philosophy and The ABCs of Omnidox were changed to customer-focused titles such as We Help You Walk into the Courtroom With Greater Confidence. He also added a more succinct closing slide and a next-steps slide, which are representative of a more consultative selling approach.

Distinction’s design team used a more professional-looking PowerPoint template that was in keeping with Omnidox’s existing marketing identity. They eliminated clipart and replaced it with custom illustrations and higher-end design approaches.

When McIlroy delivers the new presentation, Endicott recommends he integrate a “crisp and practiced story into the opening minute and the closing minute of the presentation. Prospects may forget your bullets,” he says, “but they will remember the stories you tell and the important value messages behind them.”

Results: The more professional look and enhanced messaging of the new presentation are designed to help audience members quickly understand they are dealing with a company that wants to understand their needs before they attempt to sell them a solution. Great sales presentations, says Endicott, are a persuasive blend of a compelling, audience-focused storyline, slides illustrated in a way that accelerates key messages and delivery skills that fully leverage critical relational dynamics.

About the Expert: Jim Endicott is the founder of Distinction Communication, Inc., a nationally recognized consulting, design and training organization specializing in the presentation medium. Distinction Communication helps business executives and sales professionals tell their important stories more effectively. From the underlying storyline to the illustrated story and the delivery, the company helps develop business storytellers who are more credible and believable in front of audiences. To reach Endicott, visit www.distinction-services.com.

Note to readers: Need help with a PowerPoint slide or maybe your entire presentation? Just email the slides you think you could use a makeover to powerpointhelp@sellingpower.com. If your slides are selected, we’ll turn them over to a presentation expert for an overhaul. You’ll receive new slides that will wow your prospects and then you can read here about how they were overhauled.