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Why presentations fail

BY Dan Mack

“The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand
 up to speak in public.” —George Jessel, actor, singer, songwriter and producer

“My team gets lost in the deck and can’t tell our story,” a VP of sales told me recently. “Our pitch puts others to sleep. And I struggle also.” 

Simply put, his team was used to giving presentations, rather than creating experiences. Like the old adage goes, “You can tell if a man is clever by his answers; you can tell if a man is wise by his questions,” the best discussions are rooted in thoughtful questions.

Sadly, most companies are failing in this area and don’t even know it. It’s hard, realizing that most of our customer interactions are on autopilot.  

“We bury the customer in needless slides,” the VP of sales said. “We bore them,” he laughed, and confessed, “I too am guilty.” He asked how a presentation could be both impactful and truthful, and I shared with him the following four pillars of an Impactful Presentation —

PILLAR 1: Share a Dangerous Blind Spot
Don’t begin sales meetings with boring facts; instead inform your customers of a sneaky, competitive threat or emerging risk that could disrupt their business. Uncover a true blind spot.

I recently shared this approach with a client I coach: 

“We now live in a world where customers don’t share their honest feelings. I guarantee they are not being honest with you. And I can help uncover the truth.”

My client agreed with me, because I have honestly shared very difficult feedback in the past. I have demonstrated that I am not afraid of sharing the truth.

PILLAR 2: Show Them What They Will Lose
Most people are inspired by possibility, but are moved to action by necessity or potential loss. If you care for a customer, show them what they will lose if they don’t act. Sharing the uncomfortable truth, even if it is unsettling, is a sign of a candid relationship. Here is something I recently shared with a client:

“Per my research, your largest competitor is loved by your customers — and they want to put you out of business. And if they continue at their pace, they may accomplish their goal.”

Sharing that difficult insight was disruptive, but my client understood I was sharing information that could right their ship. And they knew I was committed to help them reposition their sales story.  

PILLAR 3: The Boardroom Agenda of the Customer
Most companies waste their customers’ time, sharing information they already know. There is a listening deficit. Anxiety and lack of preparation create an urge to talk too much.

Quit spending all your time building a deck and spend your time diagnosing the high-level boardroom agenda of your customer. Also, uncover your most distinct assets that address the customer’s blind spot or competitive threat. 

You will only matter, if you discuss ideas that matter.

What do you possess, that only you possess? What unique hidden assets do you own that truly matter to the customer? How can you tie this asset to their higher-level boardroom agenda? 

PILLAR 4: Experiential Storytelling
A great story has mystery, emotion, and believability. It pulls you into the experience. So do great customer discussions. They are worth the time and cost of the ticket.  

When you discuss a new product, service or idea, have fun with it. As a rule of thumb, if you are having fun, so are your clients. Make it experiential.

If you are not thoughtful and experiential why should a client be engaged? Research shows that most folks are just being polite, waiting for the show to end.  

Sustainable, competitive advantage comes through a culture of humility, self-knowledge and impactful storytelling. Are you and your message one?

To echo the words of the great American storyteller Jack Kerouac, “One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” 


Dan Mack is the founder and managing director of Mack Elevation Forum, and author of the book “Dark Horse: How Challenger Companies Rise to Prominence.”

 

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Nice-Pak named Walmart Private Brand Supplier of the Year

BY Michael Johnsen

ORANGEBURG, N.Y. — Nice-Pak on Tuesday announced its recognition as the Private Brand Supplier of the Year by Walmart, one of the company's largest customers. Walmart's Private Brand Supplier of the Year Award is new for Walmart in FYE 2017 and was awarded to Nice-Pak as a result of their overall collaboration with product innovation, thought leadership and category insights.

"To participate in a conference with so many great suppliers, your industry peers and the leadership from the Walmart Consumables Team, and be awarded the Supplier of the Year for Private Brands is both an extraordinary and humbling experience," stated Scott Wedding, VP sales, Walmart Team Lead, Nice-Pak. "Our Walmart support team at Nice-Pak and the Nice-Pak cross-functional teams have an enormous amount of pride in being the best that we can with our business responsibilities, and I think this recognition is a culmination of our collective efforts."

Nice-Pak has been a Walmart supplier for more than 35 years, the company stated, supplying both branded and private brand products that are manufactured in the U.S. Nice-Pak has been the recipient of Walmart supplier awards in the past including the 2014 Corporate Responsibility Award from the consumables and health and wellness teams, as well as the 2013 Certification of Appreciation Award.

Nice-Pak was presented with the award at the Walmart Growth Forum Conference in Bentonville, Ark.

 

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Kroger captures spirit of company’s people and projects with new multimedia site

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI — Kroger on Tuesday launched its new website as a platform to share stories about Kroger's people, innovative projects and the ideas that shape the retailer and its offerings.

"We believe customers, associates and other stakeholders are increasingly making decisions about where to shop, where to work and who shares their values based on how well they understand the ways a company makes a difference for their people, communities and the planet," stated Jessica Adelman, Kroger's group VP corporate affairs. "And in this equation, we believe that stories – credible, authentic, human stories – matter more than perhaps anything else."

The new website features a variety of voices – produced by both freelancers and Kroger associates – that capture the changes in the way people eat, drink and think about food. The multi-media site will feature long and short-form written content as well as video and photographic storytelling.

For example, the company recently posted a video celebrating the retirement of the company's oldest employee — Larry Arnold's career with Kroger spanned 63 years.

"On any given day, nearly half a million Kroger associates are doing incredible work. We get a fresh chance to make personal connections, to lift people up and lighten their load," added Ann Reed, VP Customer 1st Promise. "Krogerstories.com is designed to elevate these unique stories and share the difference our wonderful associates make for our customers, communities and each other."
 

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