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Holiday Sales Reading Guide

Sunday, 11 December 2016 06:56
11 12, 2016

Holiday Sales Reading Guide



Like the wafting smell of a barbecue at your neighbour’s house, you can sense the holiday season is not far away.

Many people ask me ‘What’s a good book to read over the break on selling or negotiating or presenting?’

Usually, the response is ‘Give it a rest, go sit on a beach or read something else like the fascinating ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ or a dark Danish crime thriller’.

However, if you are keen to keep the business brain cells alive after they’ve been bashed by food, wine and New Year’s Eve, here is my holiday sales reading guide for you to check out.

Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini. His long awaited sequel to the seminal Influence is a great read on what to do before traditional persuasion takes place.

To Sell is Human by Dan Pink, This #1 New York Times Business Best Seller is still excellent reading for technical sales, pre-sales, project managers as well as sales managers that reinforces many of the key points of engaging people.

The Go-Giver (Expanded Edition) by Bob Burg and John David Mann is a lovely parable worth reading after a massage on the beach with an espresso martini. It might even re-frame your thoughts after a year of global division.

Negotiating the Impossible by Deepak Malhotra has some great stories if you anticipate coming back to work facing contract renewals or tough negotiation situations.

3-D Negotiation by Lax and Sebenius is also a significant tome on fresh ways to grow the pie so that both parties can get more than they might have imagined.

Slide-ology by Nancy Duarte has some clearly articulated ideas on how to make your presentations look and feel great for all audiences.

Storytelling with data by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic is even more focused on how pre-sales and technical sales people can present data without making the client feel that they’re listening to their drunk Uncle at Christmas re-telling the same boring stories about fly-fishing in the 1960’s.

Story Theater Method – Strategic Storytelling in Business by Doug Stevenson contains the seven stories we all need to tell in business and how to tell them.

Finally, click here for ‘Confessions of a Pitch Consultant’ which gets a favourable rating here because I wrote it.

Now a #1 International Best Seller these sales stories are perfect for a poolside beer or champagne, served with mini-burgers. Just a thought.

Also available in hard copy for $15 +P&H…just DM or email me.

Have a safe, happy, well rested and well read holiday season


Elliot Epstein is a leading Sales Expert, Pitch Consultant, Keynote Speaker, and Corporate Trainer who gets sales results rapidly. He has coached and trained high profile corporates globally in presenting, selling, negotiating and pitching. He has spoken at over 1500 conferences and workshops for leading companies such as HP, SEEK, EMC, Hitachi , Computershare, Lend Lease and Asciano.

More wins,  better deals at www.salesversusprocurement.com


Published in   Executive Level Selling, Negotiation, Presentations

Why Shark Tank Decisions Are Flakey

Saturday, 18 April 2015 14:40
18 04, 2015

Why Shark Tank Decisions Are Flakey


I love our Australian Sharks in Network Ten’s Shark Tank and you can learn a lot from their decision making.

Andrew Banks’s urbane style appears a second away from saying ‘Come, come, Mr Bond, you get as much pleasure out of making a killing as I do’

Queensland’s Steve Baxter’s warmth belies that he looks like the kindly, younger brother of Wolf Creek’s Mick Taylor.

Janine Allis’s smiling pitch assassinations are masterful and John McGrath quashes the idea that Real Estate people don’t have a heart.

Naomi Simson is the voice of Aussie common sense, even if it channels Julia Gillard when it’s time to say ‘Oim out’.

However, these seasoned, successful, single wardrobe wearing multi-millionaires would have you believe that their decisions come down to getting a serious return on their investment based  a lot on numbers together with the perceived passion of the business owner.

Perhaps not.

Here’s why and the significance for you in your pitches.

Numbers aren’t the magic solution.

 Putting aside the funsters who couldn’t count to 21 unless they were naked, there have been plenty of pitches for reasonable businesses where the requested investment wasn’t too high, the presentation was professional and the valuation modest enough to comfort the most anxiety ridden bean counter.

Yet they didn’t get a single Shark’s money.


The Sharks couldn’t be stuffed working with something not sexy enough.

Most people (except for Naomi) thought a business selling Pegs with a hook was about as exciting as visiting your ex-partner’s Nanna.

The Sharks have limited time and the cost of mentoring was greater than the raw numbers in the business.

Let’s face it, some people could suck the energy out of a room as soon as they walk in.

There have been nine times already when a Shark has said something like ‘It would help if you listened’

(Do your clients think you are coachable or a pain and difficult to deal with?)

The Sharks liked the presenter, but didn’t ‘loooove them’.

Not fickle. Practical, given the amount of time they’ll spend together.

So it isn’t just about the numbers.


It is or isn’t ‘Them’.

 Janine is drawn to food and beverage businesses like a half price Jimmy Choo sale.

Apart from a weird bottletop thingy, Andrew seems more interested in eating the food than investing in it.

Everyone blinked at a baby showering chair except John McGrath, the Real Estate guy who knows what really happens in rental and new properties.

Even the emotionally charged Disabilities Based Child Care Centre only received two offers out of five because certain Sharks felt they weren’t best fit.

If it’s not ‘them’ they won’t do it, no matter what the spreadsheet looks like.

So, what does all this mean for your pitches?

Your pitches can learn more from Shark Tank than passionate presentation skills and getting the numbers right.

Your clients are like Sharks.

Base camp is getting the numbers of the deal right, the ROI, the cost/benefit story.

Presenting persuasively and engagingly is important but only the next rung up.

The really great pitches tap deep in to the history, patterns, egos, personalities and emotional peccadillos of their clients.

Great pitches are steeped in emotionally connected strategies for individuals, not business to business strategy.

Great strategists know that if the client has never bought high end consulting services before, they need to come up with a tonne of proof and comfort to assuage ‘we don’t normally do this’

Great Pitch Leaders have learned how to sell Transition from their experience watching deals sour despite making ‘business sense’ because the client couldn’t be stuffed transitioning from one supplier to the other.

Next time you watch Shark Tank, note what you think really drove one person’s decision over another.

Then look at your own upcoming deals and ask yourself about your strategies.

After all, you don’t want your new, high potential client saying ‘I’m Out’

Elliot Epstein is a leading Pitch Consultant, Keynote Speaker, Corporate Trainer who gets sales results rapidly.

He has coached and trained high profile corporates globally in presenting, selling, negotiating and pitching.

He has spoken at over 1500 conferences and workshops for leading companies such as HP, SEEK, Avaya, Hitachi , Computershare and CUB.


If you would like to improve your win rate (our clients’ rate is 79% over 10 years) on highly contested, competitive bids,

Email directly elliote@salientcommunication.com.au

Please feel free to share/re-post/comment/tweet or print and use for your budgie cage as you see fit.

Published in   Presentations

Executive Presents or Executive Presence

Tuesday, 06 August 2013 12:33
6 08, 2013

Executive Presents or Executive Presence


You are a leader who communicates often and you know your own foibles and idiosyncrasies and I don’t mean that weird thing where you think a flat white is still a real coffee.

I’m talking about the way you present to staff, managers, clients, boards and industry conferences. You know, all the stuff that requires you to work till midnight re-working the presentation and debating whether Helvetica is a good font.

Each executive has his/her own gifts (presents) but to truly engage with all stakeholders you should be flexible enough to have different styles for different presentations.

Here are the four key styles that will give you flexibility and presence.

1.  Motivator

This exec loves the limelight, talks fast and excitedly about Vision, Values and Success. S/he is optimistic, energetic and is adept at describing the big picture. The motivator is also great at storytelling and innovative ideas too.

The downside is that some people don’t understand how all that Vision stuff relates to them in Finance, Logistics or Operations. They don’t necessarily buy in to the changes you are trying to implement across the company. Despite the shiny presentation and video, nothing changes.

2. Counsellor

The Executive Counsellor loves consensus, bringing people together, off site group strategy sessions with fine wine and 5 course working lunches (gluten free, of course). You consult widely, build your networks and rather than present, you facilitate group thinking really well and people feel heard and appreciated.

The key issue can be that nothing actually gets resolved and actioned amidst the GroupThink. Decisions are delayed and change management is deferred affecting longer term performance.

3. The General

In true military fashion, the General is demanding, rules with an iron fist and there are strict rules and reporting mechanisms to adhere to. When you present, everyone knows where they stand and the rules are very clear to all stakeholders.

The negative aspect of this is that people are often fearful and so rules driven that innovation, ideas and fun are often comprehensively quashed. The wag’s description of this would be ‘Come on, innovate….by COB Thursday’.

4. The Analyst

S/he loves their spreadsheets and project plans so much they would marry them if it was legal. You adore presenting slides filled with figures, projections, statistics and market share trends, then add some more spreadsheets at the end because the first 92 slides weren’t enough.

The unfortunate part of this presentation approach is that everyone outside of Finance is playing on their Smartphone or pondering whether they took the Porterhouse Steak out of the fridge that morning.

So, which style of presenter are you?

What do you do to become more adaptable?

Perhaps you could ask a trusted source about  the upside of your dominant behaviour and then use the language and behaviour of other styles to flex your presentations and give them the best possible chance to engage more people, more often in more ways.

Sometimes the Motivator needs to have a bit more of the Analyst. Other times, the Counsellor needs to stand up and present like a General.

You get the gist.

Your innate gifts may be well received by some, but flexibility is the key to executive presence.

Written by Elliot Epstein, CEO, Salient Communication

Elliot has trained and coached over 3000 people throughout the Asia Pacific Region including CEOs, Olympians and Leadership teams and is a sought after keynote speaker on Executive Presentations, Sales, Negotiation and Leadership.

Published in   Presentations

Top Ten Public Speaking Tips for Women

Thursday, 13 June 2013 14:48
13 06, 2013

Top Ten Public Speaking Tips for Women


In the past 15 years I’ve coached hundreds of male and female executives, CEOs, Olympians and BDMs to present powerfully and engagingly and quite simply there is a difference in the way women present, especially to male oriented audiences.

So,if you’re in  a boardroom, pitching for business or find yourself with a microphone, here are my Top 10 Professional Public Speaking Tips for Women.

1. Stop talking about yourself , your company, how passionate you are about your new widget and start talking about the audience. Passion is compelling, but it’s not hard to become the bore at the party if you focus your presentation on your world rather than the client’s ; Simple rule : if you’re still talking about yourself after 5 minutes, you have become the self indulgent talking to the self interested

2. Voice matters (1). If you have a high voice, it will only get higher at the exciting bits. The audience will then hear ‘shrill’ not passionate. Practice lowering your tone two thirds of a smidgen (very scientific) and you will have room to move.

3. Voice matters (2) Talking fast is natural with two of your best friends and a bottle of Mumm, but audiences (especially we slower listening men) can’t take it all in. The issue is if it’s too quick and we don’t get it , it’s as if you haven’t said it at all. Add three times the number of pauses as you think normal. Don’t slow your delivery –just add pauses.

4. Don’t Flirt. Yes, I know this is obvious in a professional setting, but it still happens. The hair flick, sexy voice and constantly calling the client by his first name may work for some but it is not perceived by the majority as necessary for professional business engagement.

5. Watch the Bling  – I’ve seen presentations where the presenter had 3 bracelets, 4 rings, 2 necklaces and a wrap that was constantly being re-arranged. It just becomes a total distraction – and sometimes a noisy one with a remote mouse being waved around as well.

6. Tell stories – It amazes me that so many women are great storytellers around the dinner table, yet become more formal in a business setting and leave all that natural storytelling ability behind. Tell a story about a client’s result, rather than putting up slides about functionality. Tell a story about your research into the client’s goals , rather than just boring facts about productivity, market share etc.

7. Talk outcomes, not process. It depends on your role, but men tend to be better at saying ‘right this is the bottom line – if you pay us $50K per month , we’re going to cut 15% off your total expenditure over 2 years. Many women enjoy discussing how you’ll get there with all the nuances and variables with the presumption that the outcome is obvious. Again, we of the Y chromosome need to hear it, plain and simple.

8. Don’t overcompensate. You don’t need to be blokier or dress down or change your language if it’s just not you. They can tell and you lose the power of authenticity.

9. Use visuals and creativity not boring slides. Use pictures, images, YouTube videos to make your case. It freshens up the whole presentation and makes you stand out.

10. Practise. Yes, I know it’s boring but there are presenters that will spend three hours checking the spreadsheets, preparing their choice of lipstick, hairstyle, skirt, heels and 20 minutes rehearsing their content, If you don’t rehearse, where do you find your mistakes?

Written by Elliot Epstein, CEO, Salient Communication

Elliot has trained and coached over 3000 people throughout the Asia Pacific Region and is a sought after keynote speaker on Sales, Negotiation, Leadership and Presentations.

E: elliote@salientcommunication.com.au

© Salient Communication 


Published in   Presentations

The Voice (of Sales Presentations)

Friday, 31 May 2013 06:00
31 05, 2013

The Voice (of Sales Presentations)


The Voice has captured huge audiences across Australia and globally unearthing talent and giving people their chance to shine and be coached by artists Seal, Joel, Delta and Ricky.

Here at Salient we thought you could have your own company version only instead of songs you give your sales team the chance to present a persuasive case without PowerPoint in 3 minutes.

Here’s how it would work.

You’re all in the board room, filled with half empty lattes. There are four chairs turned around for the blind auditions in which four managers sit. Ideally they would be from different parts of the business just as Joel is a tad different to Delta ie Finance, Sales, Operations, Marketing.

(You can add props eg toothpick, yellow nail polish, Spanish accent, but that’s optional)

Each member of the team has 3 minutes to walk in and present with no visual aids to persuade the audience why the company/product/service solution is best fit for a particular client or market.

Same rules as The Voice. If a manager likes it s/he turns around. They compete. If they don’t, they discuss why.

You can build this over a few weeks, select teams and then for the finals, invite other staff members to vote. You could even invite really good clients.

At the end, the sales team has had a lot of fun, learned from others, been coached by another manager and you’ve got a host of persuasive new messages that can be distilled into everyone’s real life presentations.

Go on, get that toothpick, red hair spray and ‘I WANT YOU’ sticker out now.

Written by Elliot Epstein, CEO, Salient Communication

Elliot has trained and coached over 3000 people throughout the Asia Pacific Region and is a sought after keynote speaker on Sales, Negotiation, Leadership and Presentations.

E: elliote@salientcommunication.com.au

© Salient Communication 

Published in   Presentations