One of the situations we see quite frequently is one where a fast-growing company wants to bring in more sales people to start delivering their sales pitch.

A charismatic leader – often the CEO or founder – but sometimes the sales director – manages “just fine” to sell with a pretty awful sales tool, and doesn’t understand why others don’t get the same results. Because the charismatic leader is able to sell ‘using’ the awful sales tool – often text-heavy PowerPoint slides – they conclude that the sales tools are find but the new staff need training, or more. But:

Knowledge and credibility

Sales people will (typically) never have the same credibility as a founder, CEO, or director who has been at the company from the start. They don’t have access to the same stories, the perfect knowledge of the solution, or over-arching industry knowledge.

Can your sales tools be used by a range of people, or are they designed for use only by those with extensive experience and ‘war stories’?

Using sales tools vs. claiming to use sales tools

Charismatic leaders often don’t use sales tools as they were intended to be used, or as they expect others to use them. They don’t really refer to the slides. They skip around the deck. They stand and talk for ten minutes with a slide on screen, ignored, behind them. They give a speech, tell stories, ask questions – and essentially ignore the slides that they later expect others to use. They don’t even realise that they aren’t using their sales tools to sell, and that they themselves are able to sell without any sales tools.

Do you actually use the sales tools you want others to use, or do you sell with it in the background?

Additional material

Often when we ask leaders to show us how they deliver their sales pitch, they bring in other sales tools – ones that others don’t have. They sketch on a flipchart, show pictures on their laptop, show web pages on their tablet. I’ve seen a CEO stand up to show me how they use their sales presentation, draw on a whiteboard for 30 minutes, and never refer to the slides they expect others to use. But then he wonders why others aren’t getting the same results.

Are there other techniques you use to sell, that others aren’t asked – or able – to use?

Sales tools and users

For a sales tool to be effective, it needs to work for those expected to use it. This means that sales tools designed for a new sales team need to capture the sales pitch that the charismatic leader gives – but not to rely upon being a charismatic leader to work.

Creating an effective visual sales tool that reflects the sales pitch the CEO wants others in the company to give helps because it:

  • Delivers consistency by crystallising company sales messaging in a clear way for sales people to use
  • Makes sales people more compelling and ultimately persuasive by eliminating ‘Death by PowerPoint’
  • Captures the tacit knowledge of the charismatic leader by uncovering the stories, sketches, and pictures they use, and builds them for re-use by others
  • Enables growth – because now more people are able to deliver an effective sales pitch, using sales tools that work (instead of ones that need to be overcome).

The starting point for creating a sales tool that can be used by all comes from realising that just because a charismatic leader can sell with an awful slide deck, it doesn’t mean that anyone else will be able to. Particularly if those claiming that the awful sales presentation works fine actually just leave it in the background and use some other sales tools to sell instead.

The next step after creating a sales presentation that is actually effective is to make sure you get the buy-in of those presenting it. Read all about that here.

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Joby Blume


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