Sales tips, leadership communication skills insight and more from Steve Giglio, sales training professional for more than 25 years.

9 Fundamentals of a Group Presentation

A team presentation can be tricky. So many personalities, mindsets, trains of thought and opinions…it can get messy quickly. But as their leader, it’s up to you to direct the presentation so that it flows as well as if one person were delivering it. That says easy but does hard. To help, here is a list of what I’ve found to be invaluable fundamentals to follow when preparing a group presentation.


Oh man, does this one get put off to the last minute! Ever practice your team presentation on the way to the meeting or in your client’s parking lot? You must insist that your whole team rehearse the presentation at least twice. This will help you fine-tune the flow, make sure everyone is involved and give them confidence that they know the material well.

Assign Roles

A good rule of thumb…if someone is in the room but doesn’t have a speaking role in the presentation, they don’t need to be there (unless their role is to take notes!). When organizing your presentation, determine who will deliver each part of the presentation. Assign to their strengths so that they present information they can speak to easily and can answer questions on the fly if needed. Speaking of questions…

Review Possible Questions

Your audience will ask questions, most of which you can anticipate. In your dry runs, have your team consider what questions might get asked and when. You can then determine who will answer certain questions, again playing to the strength of each team member.

Make Each Other Look Good

“I disagree with my teammate.” No you don’t. Ok…maybe you do but not in front a client you don’t! Before the meeting begins, remind your team that you all look bad if anyone of them cannibalizes the others thoughts. Commit to making each other look good.

Establish an Agenda

I’ve written about the importance of a meeting agenda previously. A group presentation can get way off track quickly unless you have a timed agenda. During rehearsal, pay attention to who takes more time than allotted. Work with them to pare down their thoughts so that they don’t usurp the time, forcing others to rush.

Avoid Too Many Participants

While you want to include your whole team, having too many people in the room can a) be hard to control and b) overwhelm your audience. Find out in advance how many client representatives will be there. It’s alright to have more than them…just not too many more. As we stated above, everyone should have a critical role, so that will help you limit participants.

Who is Leading?

While you are the team leader, it doesn’t mean you have to lead the presentation. The meeting leader is responsible for introducing the agenda, keeping everyone on track and being mindful of the timing. If you assign that role to someone else, then you must step back and take on only the role you’ve rehearsed.

Say Only What’s Needed

Too many times, I see people having a need to speak that overshadows whether what they say is important to furthering the conversation. You don’t need to be a “color commentator” like during a football telecast. If what you are about to say doesn’t add more information to what your team just said, keep it to yourself. And that lesson goes for your whole team, too.

Perform a Post-mortem

Reserve time after the presentation to break down what went right, what went wrong and what the next steps will be. If you don’t pre-arrange that time, the freshness of your team’s reactions will be diluted and you will get a much different perspective a day or so later. Do it as soon as you can!

Utilized these fundamentals and you’ll put your team in a winning position for their next presentation. Let me know how it goes!  – sg

Two Sure-Fire Leadership Killers

I have been coaching and developing leaders for many years and during that time, I have found two behaviors that are “leadership killers.” They are acts that consistently, no matter who the leader is, weaken their position in the eyes of their reports and lessen their ability to lead. These leadership killers are: wanting to be a friend and orphaning instead of confronting.

Friendly But Not Friends

It’s important to realize/accept the responsibility you have as a leader that you must convey your observations, especially those that are focused on areas where employees can improve. But many times, I see the leader’s desire to be accepted by the direct report, to be considered a comrade and a friend, as something that stands in the way of delivering those observations. I counsel my clients that while it is perfectly fine to be friendly, you cannot act as their friend or they will not take your input seriously. You are the leader they are following into battle and as such, you must separate yourself so that they count on you for honest, direct input that isn’t mired in emotion.

Don’t Leave Them Orphaned

Providing the input described above can be difficult.  And so, some leaders will avoid the “tough” conversation with a direct report. Avoiding this conversation sets a precedent; it says it’s okay to keep doing what you are doing, it’s fine…when it’s really not. In a sense, you are orphaning your direct report by not interceding and letting them continue on a path towards failure without your guidance.

People you coach can be just as skeptical, jaded and fearful of being led as you are to lead them. takes courage to lead! But the big question is will you deliver frank, constructive input that will eventually help them achieve their goals, and those of your department, or will you simply set them to sea without a compass?  If you constantly choose the latter, you can expect to develop a team that will not take your orders/input to heart and will time and time again blaze their own trail.  That’s usually a recipe for disaster.

Keep interceding. Give them what they need, even if it’s not what they want. You will become a stronger leader and people with thank you for it.


The Courage to Close

People get funny about closing negotiations, deals, interviews, meetings, etc. Nerves take over, body language changes and confidence erodes. Why is this?  I’ll tell you…it’s because closing is inorganic for most people. It feels forced. And that should never be the case.

When it feels uncomfortable for you to close it’s likely because you have not banked enough comprehension of your client’s situation. And yet, you are about to make a recommendation and convince them that your advice is sound. If you are nervous about that, then guess what…it probably isn’t sound!

Gain the Momentum to Close

Closing represents the next step in the momentum you’ve built with your audience. Throughout the course of your interaction, if you’ve been listening well and asking the right, researched probing questions (which you’ve prepared in advance!), then momentum is on your side. But if you collapse the whole process into a mostly one-sided conversation in which you are doing most of the talking, there is no momentum. It’s like you are driving the car and your passenger (your audience) has no idea where you are going. So when you get there, they are confused instead of assured that they are in the right place.

Sell Into the Future…Their Future

You got the meeting because they have some modicum of interest in what you are presenting, right? So, knowing that, you have to find out what that interest is. And ALL of the time their interest is about the future. They have a problem and they need it solved so that their future doesn’t have that problem in it.  For example….

A client recently was having issues with one of her managers who, we discovered, the team felt was quite dour and needed to lighten up to relate to his directs and clients. He always needed to be an expert on everything, which was off-putting. That was the problem. What I had to see was how fixing this problem could create a much different future for my client. If her world didn’t include having to deal with the blowback from this manager’s behavior, what would that free her up to accomplish. Once we both were aligned with that future, we could move forward together solving the issue. This future-seeing isn’t the stuff of crystal balls…it takes listening, understanding and affirmation.

Closing is Helpful to Your Clients

At the point of close, here is what you are doing…you are offering a solution to what your client has communicated to be a problem. In other words, you are helping! So, don’t be nervous about that. You’ve gathered their testimony, you’ve affirmed their position, you’ve asked insightful questions that elicited more detail than they were likely going to share. In short, you’ve partnered with them during your time together. And now it’s time to move the ball forward by asking for a logical next step and that your client will understand is the next phase in alleviating an issue for them.

You can do THAT with great confidence and courage so, let me know how it goes next time.  -sg

Top Sales and Leadership Blog Posts in 2017

What a year! I cannot recall a year in recent memory that had so many ups and downs…and a few sidewayses thrown in there too!

At this time of reflection while we moved into the new year, I want to thank you for taking time to read my blog. It is an honor writing it for you. I will be taking a little break from writing until after the first of the year so, I will leave you with this recap of the five most read posts from 2017.  Have a great holiday season and we wish you the best for 2018!

Top  Posts of 2017

Silouettes of people debatingWhat Is a Healthy Debate?

One often hears the term “healthy debate” as a reference to two or more sides getting together to hash out an issue that could escalate into argumentative discourse if not dealt with upfront. Some might believe that a debate in business cannot be healthy at all since it pits people against each other. They’d rather have a “discussion.” Let’s take a look at why debating can be good for your business…if handled properly.

Read more…


"not" symbol for passive aggressiveHandling a Passive-Aggressive Leader

When someone openly criticizes your work, at least you know where they stand, directly. But someone who uses indirect expressions of blame, upset, or complaint can grate on anyone. This passive-aggressive behavior can create an atmosphere of constant stress, doubt and fear, which I’ve never seen lead to good things. Rather, the result is a team that resents their leadership, hides out so as to not come into the crosshairs of the boss and privately complains about the state of the department/company. Is this familiar to you?

Read more…


What’s the Plan? Leading Your Next Conference Call

I have a client who hosts up to 25 conference calls with clients…per month! The challenge, besides the sheer volume, is that his clients usually have four people on the call and so does he. Adding to the complexity is that each conference call participant is in a different part of the world! I am currently coaching him on how to manage this so that he gets the results he wants. But leading a conference call is a skill that, unfortunately, so many fall short of doing well.

Read more…


The 10 Worst Probing Questions

Every time I work with an executive or a sales team, I stress the importance of probing questions. They are open-ended questions that get you to a deeper level of understanding of your client’s business. They also give you a subtle opportunity to show that you’ve done your homework by asking well-researched questions. Feedback I get from business leaders is they wish more people would take the time to ask these types of questions since they lead to far more productive questions.

Read more…

Five Words to Avoid in Business

They are common, every day words that seem harmless. Casual words thrown into your client/customer communication. Often, we don’t give them much thought.
But the following five words (and words like them) are killing your position of strength with your clients.

How many are you using?

Read more…



Where the Airlines Fail, You Must Succeed

This holiday season, millions of people will take to the skies to visit family and friends. It will all go smoothly, right? One look at the massive construction at New York’s LaGuardia airport or the recent pilot scheduling snafu at American Airlines belies the reality…the air travel industry’s image has morphed from the lap of luxury to languishing in mediocrity.

But what can YOU learn from their mistakes? A lot. Here are some key lessons to consider (perhaps while you arrive two hours early for a flight that is then delayed indefinitely!):

Your Only as Good as Your Last Encounter

Many people have a negative image of air travel because…the last time they traveled they had a negative experience. How did things go when you last talked with your client? If the answer is “Not as good as I would have liked,” then find an opportunity to engage with them again. This time, bring your “A” game so that is the last thing they remember. The longer you let that one bad moment linger out there, the more time they have to make it a bigger deal than it probably was. Reset the table!

Competition is Always Waiting to Pounce

Complacency has killed a lot of customer service today. People just don’t seem to care like they used to. Airlines, which used to come up with many creative ways to attract customers, compete solely on price and convenience. That’s not going to get YOU very far. Remember, your competition is right outside, waiting for you to forget about them so they can slip in and steal your business. Have you worked hard to establish client loyalty? If you haven’t, you might have to go the back of line as your client moves on.

It’s Not the Product as Much as the People

I believe that clients buy people first, products second. However, airlines seem to fall all over themselves promoting seats that recline or that have more leg room. Is the expectation of comfort really something to promote? You should know what your clients expect and deliver it to them. Then, you need to find ways to stand out. Do your research and make smart, fact-based recommendations. Ask solid, probing questions that open up the dialogue. Create a follow-up plan…and follow it! Find ways to contact your client with meaningful, of-the-moment intel that shows you care. Whatever you do, don’t assume that your product/solution is good enough. It won’t be for long!

Be Inventive…Always

Most of us are too young to remember the golden age of air travel. But it wasn’t so long ago that we can’t imagine what it might have been like to travel when flying was new, exciting and something one anticipated with great hope. That’s how you want your client’s thinking about you. If you’ve ever been let go by a client you’ve had for years and replaced with a competitor, you know the sting that comes along with that rejection. What did they do to win the business? More than you because you become a commodity, instead of something of value.

What was the last GOOD customer service experience you had? Why did it standout?  Reply below.  -SG

The Arrogance of Selling

This blog/message is written as a reminder for you..and me.

You know that swagger you have when you walk into a client’s office ready to present your product/service?


Start walking in with a presence of curiosity and support, not surety. It’s implicit that you know and can defend your offering. However, that’s not the point of an initial business development meeting. The point of this precious encounter is care and concern. You’ll have your time for presentation swagger later.

Think doctor to patient. If your physician said to you “do this, try that and I’ll see you in three weeks” and then walked out, how would you feel? My point is, business development is ALL about the tailoring of a recommendation, just like a physician who correctly establishes an empathetic relationship with you then presents his Rx. It’s easier medicine to take.

Too many business development professionals assume their product is perfect just the way it is and unconsciously are arrogant about it.  We’ve got to prove to our client we affirm and understand their challenge WAY before we cure it. Master discovery behavior to condition your clients to your openness and desire to tailor your recommendation, not lead with it.

10 Things to Know About Your Clients

If you’ve followed my blog over the years, you know how much I stress doing your homework. It’s critical. When dealing with smaller companies, this task is mostly manageable. However, with larger companies, you may find that the challenge isn’t getting enough information…it’s getting enough of the RIGHT information.

To help, I’ve narrowed the focus of pre-meeting reconnaissance to these 10 things you really need to know before you enter the room. Get up to speed on these and you’ll be well prepared!

What You Need to Know About Your Clients

  • History. What is the history between your company and theirs? Who were the key players before you got there? What is the temperature of the relationship? Is there anything from the past that could haunt you in the future?
  • Marketing goals. Probing questions can get you the information you need prior to the meeting.
  • Business trends. What’s been happening with your client’s business the past 6 months? Year? 3-5 years? What are the industry trends and how are they affecting your client?
    Market share. How big a player is your client? Where do they have an advantage or are the market leader?
  • Competition. Who is gunning for YOUR client and how? Are they chipping away at your client’s market share?
  • Distribution network. Do you know what industry your client targets? How do they get their products or services to market? How broad a network do they have?
  • Target Audience. Who is the ideal “decision maker” who buys their products or services? Where and how do they find them?
  • Key Contacts. Find out who the key people are at your client’s business. Find them on LinkedIn to know their background. Who ultimately is the decision maker regarding your recommendations?
  • Latest News. Dig around on the Internet and other sources. What’s happened to your client lately? What’s been the biggest news? How does the media cover the company and its leaders? What’s been posted on the company’s social media channels (and what has been the reaction)?

Using this list, you will pare down the vast amount of information that’s out there about your client to the information you can use as their trusted adviser.

Which on the list do you feel most unfamiliar with? Let me know with a reply below. -SG

Get Involved…or Get Out!

Hold onto your hats…this post will sting a bit.

Business Development leaders, what are you doing each day to make your team a team of green berets? Are you on the sidelines reporting their achievements or are you on the field shaping their achievements?

Too often I’m finding leaders are on the sidelines, tracking progress instead of inspiring it. Why do you have this position if you’re just a statistician?

You cannot create a team of green berets without giving your blood to your team. The only way to accomplish this is to see and hear each person conducting business.

As you observe your direct report ask yourself, is my team….

  • Passive or engaged?
  • Tentative or confident?
  • Fast or deliberate?
  • Presumptive or inquisitive?
  • Peacemaking or taking a stand?
  • Clinical or cooperative?

Development is all about direct coaching NOT impromptu coaching. Stop your hallway tips. Start directly meeting with these direct reports and caring for their development.
Know their activity and shape it so that they make more of their bonus, they’ll follow you anywhere from this action.
Be forthright in your coaching. Know who they’ve met with, what’s occurred and what they need to say/do next. That’s development.

Discuss and create together their development plan.

So…are you on the sideline or leading on the field? Let me know in the replies below.  – SG

4 Open-ended Questions That Work

When I was a kid, my father, a doctor, would take me along with him when he made his rounds at the hospital.

I was always amazed at his focus and humanity. While my father was asking insightful questions of his patients, I was dreaming about lunch at the Strathmore Deli in Manhasset…I could just taste the roast beef piled high, steak-cut fries and huge vanilla milkshake (too much sharing here?).

Back to my father. I was enamored with his sincerity and genuine interest in whatever his patient said to him. He was as calm and collected as you’d want a surgeon to be.  He had a great way of getting more information from his patients which helped him provide better care.  His trick? Asking the right open ended questions. Read more

Managing Organic Growth After a Merge

Many organizations scale their business inorganically through buying and merging with companies that enhance/broaden their business proposition. “Overnight” these newly formed entities have a blended set of employees, vendors and customers. This is a fine strategy except once these marriages have taken place, an organization needs to meld their businesses into one cohesive unit that’s in one voice with their value proposition and overall ethos.

I’m always excited about consulting in these situations. By and large, the companies have smart, driven leaders who are committed to shaping their new organization into a formidable foe able to sit at a larger table doing battle with a new competitive set. But here’s the rub: an organization can’t fully transform without focusing on organic growth.

Organic Growth Critical to Transformation

Here’s what I mean. Organic growth is transforming an organization from the inside to accomplish the strategic goals that were achieved inorganically. Post-merger an organization must streamline their operation by synthesizing their new business development value proposition, unique to their company. Essentially, designing their new, broader DNA.

Once this has been accomplished, they then to need train their business development leaders in the articulation of this value proposition and determine who their green berets are that can source and close the business they merged to go after.

Leaders Gotta Lead

A leadership team’s ability to accurately assess talent, shape behavior and strategically lead is what separates a great company from a mediocre company. To be known for having the “top” people, you need to insure that your leaders can cultivate the elite Business Development professionals that excel in conversationally probing and presenting the value proposition in a relational, urgent manner. That creates a strong atmosphere for sustained organic growth because everyone is on the same page.

The new organization becomes a desirous place to work, i.e. the organization that everyone wants to be a part of.

This type of consulting is quite transformational and builds a strong set of like-minded people committed to creating a juggernaut of a company.

Have you been through a merger or acquisition? Did it go smoothly? What could have gone better?  Answer in the replies below. -SG