A company I worked with several years ago spent a lot of money pulling their small sales force (about 20-30 people) out of the field for a meeting at headquarters. The purpose of the meeting was to introduce the company’s new products in advance of a users’ conference. Busy as they were preparing for the customer event, the executives, including the VP of Sales and the VP of Marketing, hadn’t spent much time preparing to present to the sales force.

And, boy, did it show!

The presentations were unorganized, the PowerPoint slides were sloppy, and the executives often contradicted each other. The VP of Sales actually said, “If you don’t like the names of the new products, well, blame [VP of Marketing]; he came up with them.”

I was in the room when that happened. I watched the faces of the sales force. They were looking at each other as if to say, “What the hell kind of company do we work for??”

Instead of the strong and cohesive management team they thought they worked for, the sales force got a very different impression of their corporate overlords. Not only did that impression NOT fill them with confidence about the company’s longevity in the marketplace, it made them question their loyalty to their employer.

Three very simple rules of thumb can help your company avoid a similar scenario:
1. Carefully consider the messages you want deliver and the impression you want to leave, especially when you’re talking to your sales team and/or channel partners. If they’re not inspired, your sales will likely suffer.
2. Develop your presentation long before you plan to give it and rehearse it several times. Never, ever, EVER just wing it. The more organized and professional you look, the more inspired your team will be.
3. When it comes to multi-speaker events, coordinate the presentations to create a logical flow of information from one speaker to the next and to avoid any hint of contradiction among speakers. If you don’t have the time to coordinate your presentations, get help from someone who can.

Always respect the fact that your audience is giving you their time and attention. Return the favor by being well prepared!

About Your Columnist

Amy Brandais, M.A. is a featured columnist for Women Lead, the official blog of Connected Women of Influence, where she highlights the importance of strategic communications. Amy has been a communications consultant for over 20 years under the moniker “Amy the Writer,” helping companies develop strategic solutions to their communication challenges and strengthen their relationships with both internal and external audiences.

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