Our new NSM (National Sales Manager) had sent an email to all front liner salesperson “please prepare your data in excel sheet and not in power point slides.” Those days I used to be among front liner. For almost every front liner, it was tough to make a presentation on excel sheet.
We were habitual of making a presentation in Power Point. Few pre-set slides for every review meeting, just fill the data and get ready for presentation. Usually, we had 30 mins to present the data and that was good enough to go through. Most of the slides were about past performance, reasons for happening, next month/quarter plan, challenges, competition analysis, marketing things and the commitment figures.
PPT Slides appears nice and allow you to plan time consumption on each slide. If you are allocated 30 min for the presentation then it will need roughly 6-8 slides. If the bosses want to discuss more on initial slides then they will be forced to discuss less on last slides, where committed figures are mentioned.
A typical sales person don’t want to talk much about the month/quarter commitment in the beginning of a month. Most of the time they know that there is a gap between the expectation and deliverables. They are partially dependent on the enquiries generated or stock requirements within the month, which is not part of their forecast plan. But they cannot show the gap, so they give a forecast with back –up of projects which will not be finalised or executed that month. Too much discussion reveals all their secrets and even though they are sure of achieving numbers, they are not able to prove it.
This is one of the many reasons, why a front liner loves Power Point presentation. Also, a pre-set and pre-formatted slides are easy to fill. Practically speaking, 90% of slides are being made on the just previous evening of the scheduled date.
In Excel Sheet, you don’t get this luxury. You need to be very precise with your data. You show last month/quarter performance, YTD (Year till date) performance and Forecast for the next month. The whole discussion is about achieving the committed number and filling the gap if any. Right from the beginning of the presentation, you are involved in an active discussion.
Major Difference between PPT Guy and EXCEL Guy
We divided the front liners it two types, PPT Guy who prefers to use Power Point presentation and EXCEL Guy, who prefers excel sheet discussion. As said earlier, while Power Point talks less about figures, Excel Sheet is figure oriented. It doesn’t mean that Excel Sheet presentation is better than Power Point presentation. It all depends on the purpose and the profile of a person.
The Power Point Presentation is good to explain STRATEGY and PROCESS. So a PPT Guy, is the one who believes in driving the process to achieve any result. For them, “Process” is more important than the end result. It is well suited for a marketing person or product managers. In the profile of marketing, your strategy and process are more important.
The Excel Sheet is good for result oriented talk. EXCEL guy first decides the end result and then set “Process” accordingly. The aim is very clear and non-deniable. A salesperson is having a pre-assigned target. They can’t change that. Also if there is any shortfall then that needs to be done in coming months. So they don’t have the luxury of deviation in the end result. They need to be an EXCEL guy, who need to set process to achieve a clear target.
What does Manager want to see?
The sad part of the industry is that Manager wants to see the achievement of the target with a well-built process by the salesperson. Yes, you read it right, this is the sad part. A salesperson is not responsible for setting the process and strategy. They are meant to achieve their target, of course with the set rules.
Every team used to have a mixture of resources. Few salespersons and few business development manager or key account manager. The Business Development Managers are expected to set the process for customer acquisition and market penetration. Key Account Managers are expected to develop a strategy to crack big accounts which maintains the top line of business. But Sales person need to carry sales activities to achieve the expected result.
More importantly, the Managers are there to establish the process and to make a strategy. The salesperson will be a follower of the defined strategy. It is the responsibility of the manager to make strategy in such a way, which will help sales person to achieve their goal. Here Managers are PPT guy and Salespersons are EXCEL Guy.
Migration from PPT to EXCEL is not easy. It requires basic thought process change. Salespersons need to know the expectations of them. It is not like that they need not make any strategy. They may need to make a strategy to crack certain project, but that is on an individual level act and if shared then a one-to-one discussion with the manager.
Being precise to the role demand will turn the front liner into a performer. And if a salesperson will get trapped in process making then it will consume a lot of time. Salespersons just need to be a salesperson only.
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