Sales Presentations: Present Like You Mean It Written

By: Julie Hansen Total Views: 1627

THANKS JULIE!

In order to strike a balance between no theme and full-on theme park, it’s important to understand how to choose a theme that’s right for your presentation and your audience.


A group of flight attendants in matching uniforms strolled through the boardroom handing out drinks and snack-sized peanuts to the executive audience in the boardroom. After some puzzled looks, one of the flight attendants announced: “Buckle your seat belts, you’re in for a ride!” Landlocked training program? Nope. Just an example of a sales presentation venturing into full theme park territory, thus defeating its primary purpose: anchoring their solution to the prospect’s goals or objectives.

A theme can be a powerful unifying tool – especially for longer or team presentations — but there’s a fine line that can be crossed that can spell disaster for your presentation (as it did for this sales team in the above example) when you don’t have a good understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish and some of the traps that you can stumble into.

What is a Presentation Theme?

A theme underscores the central message of your presentation in a way that is meaningful and memorable for your customer. The most effective presentation themes center around prospect’s objectives (growth, competitive advantage, innovation, etc.) and how you’re going to help them achieve it. A theme can typically be described with a few words or a strong image. Although used prominently in your opening and closing, a good theme often runs like a thread throughout your presentation, even influencing your slide design and messaging.

What a Presentation theme is not:

Your Brand.

Don’t make the mistake of confusing your product or service “theme” with your presentation theme. While materials provided by your marketing department may be good, most are focused on your product or company and not specific to your prospect’s unique goals or challenges. A generic theme will not resonate with your customer and provide very little in the way of value or “stickiness.”

Your Customer’s Brand.

I’m all for using a customer’s language and examples from their world, however using their product or branding as a theme is not as unique or effective as you might think. Case in point: An experienced sales team I was working with was pitching a six-figure solution to the Disney organization. Their initial idea was to use a Disney character theme with each section of the presentation focused on a particular character, complete with Disney character props, videos and pictures. At our first meeting I asked the team how many “Disney-themed” sales presentations they thought Disney executives had sat through. The first time was probably cute. The fifteenth? Not so much. We worked together to come up with a theme targeted to the unique goals Disney had in a specific area that their solution resolved. (They won the deal.)

How to choose a theme for your sales presentation:

In order to strike a balance between no theme and full-on theme park, it’s important to understand how to choose a theme that’s right for your presentation and your audience. Before picking out a theme, consider these three questions:

  1. What do you want to accomplish? Different themes convey different emotions. For example, a sports-related theme may be good for challenging or motivating a prospect, a space-related theme may serve to inspire them to greater heights.
  2. What is the tone? Serious? Light-hearted? Humorous? The tone of your presentation should be consistent with your theme. For example, if your message is about turning a company around from the brink of disaster, a theme about badminton may be a little lightweight to support such a substantial subject.
  3. What are the visual possibilities? A good theme lends itself to a clear visual. The more instantly recognizable the better. For example, a theme of “teamwork” might be easily identified by a celebrating sports team or two clasped hands, while a theme of “maximizing value” might be more difficult to quickly convey.

Finding your theme:

Coming up with a theme can be a challenge if you’re not a creative type. Here are some suggestions to help you get started finding the right theme:

  • Brainstorm: If you’re working as a team, plan a brainstorming session with one rule: There are no bad ideas! If you can’t all get together in one place, have everyone list off ten ideas and submit them via email by a certain date. You can then run a poll and vote on the top choice.
  • Review your core message. This is the 10,000-foot view of what you’re trying to say to your prospect or how you’re trying to make her feel. Your presentation itself can be a good source for this core message. Try looking in these sections:
    • Your customer’s objectives: In discovery you should have identified the challenges your customer faces and what desired outcome from your solution was most meaningful for them. Can you describe it in a word or two? Is it freedom, innovation, visibility?
    •  Your competitive advantage: If your presentation is focused on “why buy us” – in other words, they know they need your solution but the decision to buy from is not made — you may want to create a theme around a competitive advantage. For example, if mobility is important to your prospect and your competitors are lacking in this area, a theme like “The Power of Now” can highlight your strengths.
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Welcome to the Neighborhood: America’s Sports Stadiums Are Moving Downtown

 

SACRAMENTO — Hours before the Sacramento Kings played their N.B.A. home opener in October, Vivek Ranadivé stood on the balcony of the team’s new fourth-floor office at the $1 billion Downtown Commons. He watched hoops fans stream into the year-old Golden 1 Center. He smiled at guests swimming in the rooftop pool of the brand new, 250-room Kimpton Sawyer Hotel. Below him, the open-air plaza at street level bustled with life.

“Four years ago, this place was dead,” said Mr. Ranadivé, referring to downtown Sacramento, the capital city of the most-populous state in the union. Like many cities, Sacramento’s urban core needed some serious rethinking. “You could have thrown a bowling ball,” he said, “and it wouldn’t have hit a soul.”

No longer. Three years after Mr. Ranadivé, the owner of the Kings, partnered with the city to scrape away a nearly empty downtown mall, and a year after he opened the arena and the 1-million-square-foot commons, Sacramento is a city reborn.

The number of downtown jobs has increased 38 percent, according to the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, a city economic development group. In the last year, 27 new stores have opened and 23 others are scheduled to open this year. So much construction is happening that the city has decided to hire two dozen new employees to process applications and building permits.

And Sacramento is not alone. Across the country, in more than a dozen cities, downtowns are being remade as developers abandon the suburbs to combine new sports arenas with mixed-used residential, retail and office space back in the city. The new projects are altering the financial formula for building stadiums and arenas by surrounding them not with mostly idle parking lots in suburban expanses, but with revenue-producing stores, offices and residences capable of servicing the public debt used to help build these venues.

In Columbus, Ohio, Nationwide Realty Investors has constructed the 75-acre, $1 billion Arena District, with an N.H.L. arena (home to the Blue Jackets), surrounded by 1,030 apartments, 2 million square feet of commercial space for 80 businesses, a minor-league baseball stadium, restaurants and stores. In Cincinnati, the Banks, a new $1 billion mixed-used district, has emerged on the Ohio River shoreline between the city’s baseball and football stadiums. In Inglewood, Calif., a $3.8 billion, 298-acre mixed-use development currently under construction will include a privately financed N.F.L. stadium to be shared by the Los Angeles Rams and the newly located Los Angeles Chargers.

And in Detroit, the $863-million, 19,500-seat Little Caesar’s Arena, home to both the Pistons and the Red Wings, opened last summer in amid the 50-block District Detroit, a $1.2 billion mixed-use neighborhood.

The explosion in mixed-use developments like these is owed, in part, to the urban American economic renaissance. City populations grew faster from 2010 to 2016 than those in the suburbs, reversing a 60-year trend that started in 1950, according to census data. And cities — not suburbs — are the now primary generators of the nation’s economic growth, according to research compiled by the Federal Reserve.

“It’s the one-square-mile effect,” said Bruce Katz, an urban development specialist at the Brookings Institution. “Downtowns and midtowns possess an enormous amount of value in a relatively small geography.”

Strong-Arming Local Governments

For years, owners used their team’s popularity or perceived economic importance to strong-arm government officials. In many cases, owners threatened to move their teams if governments did not build them new stadiums along with the roads and public utilities needed to operate them.

A 2016 study by the Brookings Institution found that 45 stadiums and arenas for the four major professional sports — football, baseball, basketball, hockey — were constructed or renovated in the United States from 2000 to 2014 at a cost of nearly $28 billion. Of that, $13 billion was publicly financed with tax-exempt bonds.

But previous projects that foundered, particularly in the 1990s, point up the potential risk of these investments. “What was at work in those deals was the idea that a large public subsidy for a stand-alone facility would keep the team in place and would stimulate economic activity,” said Roger Noll, emeritus professor of economics at Stanford University. “The financial catastrophes that occurred convinced cities and residents that multimillion-dollar subsidies for stand-alone stadiums are a loser.”

Examples of that are legion, particularly for N.F.L. stadiums. In the early 1990s, St. Louis city and county, and the state of Missouri, spent $258 million to build a 70,000-seat domed stadium downtown to attract an NFL team. The city lured the Rams, who played in the stadium from 1995 to 2015 before moving back to Los Angeles. The city, county and state still have $140 million in debt, and millions more in annual maintenance costs to pay until the debt service is completed — on an empty stadium — at the end of 2021.

Urban design specialists also raised their voices in opposition to the old model. They noted that generous public-stadium financing ignored almost every facet of sound real estate development, like location. America was producing a generation of isolated arenas in the suburbs and countryside, ringed by giant parking lots, many of which sat empty much of the year.

That certainly characterized Detroit’s comparatively brief experience with suburban sports stadiums. In 1975, the NFL Lions moved from the nine-acre, 63-year-old Tigers Stadium in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood to the $55.7 million Silver Dome in Pontiac, which was surrounded by over 100 acres of surface parking near the center of the struggling Oakland County city. The team stayed until 2002, when it returned to Ford Field, a $500 million stadium alongside the two-year-old $300 million Comerica Park, the baseball Tiger’s new home on Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit. Both stadiums were partially financed with taxpayer dollars.

Last year, Little Caesars Arena opened across the avenue, completing a strategic development vision, developed by business and civic leaders in the 1990s, that focused on professional sports as a catalyst for Detroit’s revival. The NBA Pistons play in the new arena after spending the previous 29 seasons in The Palace of Auburn Hills, a 22,000-seat arena in a prosperous suburb 33 miles north of downtown Detroit that opened in 1988.

The Palace held its last event in September and is scheduled for demolition. Its 109-acre site, most of it surface parking, is being rezoned as a campus for high tech business and research.

A Role Model in Kansas City

If there is particularly good model for what’s happening in Sacramento, it can probably be found in Kansas City and the city’s Power and Light District. The $1 billion, 12-block district features a 150,000-square-foot covered plaza, more than 50 restaurants and taverns and hundreds of market-rate apartments. It opened in 2007 next to the city’s publicly financed $263 million, 18,500-seat Sprint Center, which, though it does not host a professional team, has been frequently used as a site for college basketball games, including regional rounds of the annual NCAA tournament.

A decade later, the Power and Light District, developed by the Cordish Companies — whose chief executive, David Cordish, is credited with being a leader in sports-focused mixed-use development — is cited by city officials as the primary reason that a 2.5-mile, $102 million downtown streetcar line in the city center started in 2016. Thousands of new apartments opened, the downtown population increased to 30,000 from 8,000, and city tax revenue soared.

Proposed State Budget Increases Fail to Address Critical Issues in Higher Education

by Taylor Myers

Policy and Research Analysis

On January 10, 2018, Governor Brown released his final budget proposal, a $131.7 billion spending plan for the next fiscal year. The proposal earmarks $18.5 billion in General Fund appropriations for higher education. Following its release, California Competes published an initial analysis of the new budget which highlighted an expansion of investments in full-time student success and innovations targeted at the millions of workers who lack a college credential. While there are many reasons to be optimistic about the proposal, as a policy blueprint, it fails to address several critical issues for improving student access and success across the state:

1. Investing in college completion is critical to promote degree attainment and close the degree gap.

California needs 2.4 million more credentials and degrees by 2025 to remain economically competitive and closing this gap requires every segment to significantly increase degree attainment. The state has historically been inconsistent with imposing enrollment goals on CSU and UC, and has never imposed a strict completion or attainment goal on the segments. This year is no different—the Governor’s budget does not include any enrollment growth or completion rate expectations for either the UC or CSU.

2. Strong policies to support on-time completion and transfer should support the cost of non-tuition expenses while students attend full-time.

Research suggests that full time students who work between five and ten hours per week are less likely to see their academic performance impaired by their jobs than students who work more than 20 hours per week. However, many students need to work longer hours to cover living expenses. Incentive programs that seek to increase full-time attendance, like the proposed consolidated grant for full-time Community College students, should consider the difficult decisions students face when deciding between academics and work. The California College Promise may address this challenge for students who are eligible for regional college promise programs; regions may use their local programs to support students for a second year of full-time attendance, or to cover non-tuition costs. For students who do not qualify for the California College Promise, or who are not additionally covered by a regional college promise program, a solution has yet to be offered.

3. California’s competitive economy depends on increasing degree attainment, which can’t happen without statewide cross-segmental coordination and aligned data practices.

This spending plan doesn’t address the need for statewide, cross-segmental coordination of higher education systems. Several legislative attempts to create one have been introduced, including the current measure AB 1936, authored by Assembly Members Low and Eggman. Over the last several months, policymakers have shown interest in revisiting the Master Plan for Higher Education and in considering more aligned goals for the state’s public higher education segments. But despite demonstrated enthusiasm from policymakers, the budget does not address the need for statewide coordination.

Nor does it include any impactful provisions for data collection and sharing – it leaves institutions to continue to serve as gatekeepers and stewards of information on student and programmatic outcomes. Currently, state policymakers and researchers have no way of efficiently and robustly evaluating the impacts of the state’s higher education investments. California desperately needs a statewide longitudinal data system to evaluate the impacts of the myriad of programs receiving funds from the state.

As they continue to refine the state’s 2018-2019 higher education budget, policymakers should consider the efficacy of the policy changes proposed in the current budget in the absence of the critical components discussed above. Addressing the needs of California’s diverse student population and ensuring equity in educational attainment and economic opportunities requires significant investment from the state in meaningful segmental or institutional goals, stronger higher education finance policies, intentional cross-segmental coordination, and a robust longitudinal student data system.