Sales and Marketing Performance Blog

Visual Storytelling and Presentations that Sell

Posted by Mark Gibson on Tue, Jul 12, 2011

Selling with Pictures and Emotion

What makes a great sales presentation and what's the difference between a good presenter and poor presenter?
Lets get crystal clear about the purpose of a sales presentation.

Here's my new definitiion, "the purpose of a sales presentation is to have the audience interact with both the presenter and the material to engage, transform and activate the audience to create change."

The best presenters successfully weave a story around the buyer's current condition... "what-is"; they engage emotions and lead the buyer to understand "what-could-be" as a result of using your products/services and conclude with a call to action or logical next steps.

Great presenters make the buyer the center of the story. Great presentations are delivered in a true dialogue with the audience....images and props serve as visual aids - where appropriate.  It's not about Powerpoint slideshow technique or bullets.

Steve Jobs' 2007 iPhone announcement is continually referenced as an exemplar presentation. Steve uses emotion, humor and props as well as dramatic music.... his images are simple and powerful and add clarity and weight to the point he is making. His timing is perfect and he knows the material and this comes from rehearsing the presentation more than 20 times.

The Hero's Journey Story Structure

In the development phase of a whiteboard story or visual storytelling structure we loosely follow the Hero's Journey structure to create contrast between "what is" and "what could be" and engages the buyer in conversation around the challenges of the "now".

The Hero's Journey from Nancy Duarte's Resonate

(click on the image to view an enlarged image)

visual storytelling

The above illustration is from Nancy Duarte's Resonate  and her book is highly recommended. Resonate presents numerous examples of the Hero's Journey structure and perhaps a moment of enlightenment for some, when you realise that you have seen this structure countless times as it is used in nearly all great books and movies involving personal triumph.

Using a Whiteboard to present your Visual Story

The current buyer condition, the "what-is", and the challenges confronting the  buyer in achieving their goals are captured in conversation and easliy illustrated on a whiteboard.

An effective whiteboard or visual story will then engage the buyer around the problems and impact of "what-is", will explore their challenges and the risks in changing and create tension prior to presenting a solution/product/service.

"Effective Visual Storytelling uses contrast and emotion to create tension and keeps the buyer focused and central to the story."

When we use Whiteboards to tell our story vs. PowerPoint bullets, we create simple hand drawn images (that are immediately meaningful in the context of the discussion), interwoven into a story around issues that the buyer is potentially struggling to overcome.

The hand-drawn images themselves are meaningful and tie in the context of the story, relevant facts and proof-points. As the Whiteboard story builds, the salesperson creates a visual confection that presents a complete picture of the buyers journey including the "what-is" and their specific challenges, your solution, proof points and calls to action.

The completed visual story can be captured as a digital image and embedded in a follow-up qualification confirmation letter and shared with stakeholders involved in the decision process.

Perhaps this is one reason why people remember well constructed visual stories months after experiencing them.

With practice, any salesperson can drastically change the ratio of presentations leading to a sale using the above structure.

Visual Confections that Sell

Topics: effective presentations, visual storytelling, whiteboarding

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