Lessons Learned from my Students #2...and Sales

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Thu, May 16, 2013

Tufts Entrepreneurship and Marketing Classes are over, final presentations to the management of this semester's companies are completed and, on Sunday, I finally...and reluctantly...punched the 'SUBMIT" button for submit grades.  For me, grading is always the worst part of being a professor.  With complex marketing projects this semester from companies such as Black Duck, Accounting Management Solutions, Nameplates for Industry, Paytronix, Boston Financial Management and Fraser Engineering, it's been an exceptional period with a very strong class of students.  Hence, my problem with having to define the exactness between a B+ and an A-.

Every semester, I try to converge three themes:

  • Learn how Marketing fits strategically and tactically into business
  • Learn how to use specific Outbound & Inbound marketing tools
  • Learn how to apply these sames strategies and tools in the search for great jobs

As a class, since we weave together and apply academic learning to complex projects from real companies, I'm constantly focused on building "Jack's Toolbox" of applicable marketing and sales tools that my students can carry directly into internships and full time positions.  As a result over 12 semesters, we've created a meaningful ecosystem of graduates, interns, and employees among a large number of companies ranging from small Kendall Square startups to Google and Dell.  Lots of practical learning, a solid amount of discovery, a degree of fun and just enough consistent anxiety to keep everyone, including me, on the edge of only slightly being in control over the period of every 13 weeks.

How to Make Great Presentations...

One of the tools that we consistently use and consistently improve on every semester is the ability to make presentations, both individually and as a team.  This becomes a critical tool throughout the semester during multiple presentations around case studies and team project reports, and, most importantly, for the one hour long presentations made to company management during the final exams.  I was therefore pleased at the end of this semester when one of the teams produced the following 9 minute presentation on... How to Make Great Presentations.  Click HERE, and you can view and listen to what Axel, Jillian, Wade, Walker and Simon created. 

As you take a look at their video, my expectation is that some of you may think that there's nothing really "new" in their comments.  I would have you consider that initial reaction with two of my own observations observing, listening to and studying salespeople for the last 25 years:

  • Much of what we, as salespeople, should be doing is constantly training ourselves to improve our basic skills, whether those skills relate to negotiation, perfecting our presentation abilities or simply the blocking and tackling that gets applied to bringing the ball across the goal line and closing deals.
  • Way too frequently, I see good salespeople, fail in landing a deal because their presentation style or their content was either not convincing, or it was downright distracting.   I see the same thing all of the time in job interviews unfortunately.

Since I'm already thinking ahead to the fall semester, it would be very helpful for me to get your comments and recommendations on your best books, blogs or articles on making the best presentations. 

Sales Guide to making great presentationsMy most recent read and now my close-at-hand desk buddy is HBR's Guide to Persuasive Presentations, which I've recommended to everyone of my CEOs. I'll also suggest this along with a couple of tips right after I've seen yet another weak presentation from a senior manager at a board meeting. 

 Easy to read.  Again, mostly blocking and tackling basics, but also with a more than a couple of "Hadn't thought of thats".


This morning  I'm off to Gillette Stadium to work with the KahnLitwin management team during what will be the culmination of a year long project to create practice plans and will now be summarized in 30 minute presentations.  A superb team consisting of strong managers who will today be presenting thier final business cases.  They've also spent the past year honing their presentation skills so it should be a rewarding time for everyone.

Have a great day!  Let's go out and sell some stuff.

 Jack Derby 


Head Coach
Linked In and Sales

 The 2013 Sales Management Boot Camp-Click Here

Sales Management Boot Camp   Copy resized 600We're dialed in for another exciting, engaging, and exhausting Sales Management Boot Camp from late Sunday afternoon, October 6th through Tuesday afternoon, October 8th at the MIT Endicott House.
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Tags: making great presentations, sales coaching, Sales Optimization, sales, sales management effectiveness, sales management coach, sales effectiveness, sales enablement, sales planning, sales tools, sales management training, sales training, sales boot camp, sales checklists, Tufts ELS