Suddenly, ChatGPT (and other brands of generative Artificial Intelligence) are everywhere. It’s all the rage. Seems like everyday there is something in the news feed about it. Apparently “everyone” is using it, and some people are saying that it is and will become a key element of future society and business.
That all may be true. But, should it be?
Just because something exists, does that mean you should use it? Recently a high school senior used ChatGPT to write his entire final paper for a History or English course. Apparently he did not realize that there are now several apps or programs that can immediately tell if text was written by a human or by AI. So, he got caught- and failed his course which he needed to pass to graduate from high school. Looks like he will be redoing his senior year or at a minimum he’ll attend summer school. Not too smart.
As a business model, the tech companies that are offering these kinds of specialty AI services have to find a way to make profits off it. Thus far it has mainly been “free” to use. It’s almost like the freebie joint or hit that is offered under the assumption that the customer will be hooked soon enough and then will gladly pay whatever the price or fee is. I’ll be curious to see how many individual (non-commercial) users will continue with it when it costs them $39/ month or whatever it might be.
Aside from all of that, I do believe that it will erode much of whatever is left as far as skilled technical or business writing. And with that, critical thinking. Being able to develop (and “sell”) a storyline or a business solution. If ChatGPT can do it just as well, then why should I try to draft and write something for a presentation?
I have been published by many business and technical websites and publications, and what is clear (even before the ChatGPT launch) is that it seems like each year there are less and less competent writers out there. Ask any PR company, or marketing company. Ask a manufacturer that needs help with creating content pieces.
Even recent college graduates that have degrees in English Literature often are quite lacking in the skills and awareness needed in business or technical writing. I have noticed this first-hand.
In my career I have done a lot of writing, and also a lot of bidding/estimating. And also a fair amount of design/CAD work. Writing is very similar to both estimating and design. You can’t fake a proper bid, or a design. You have to know what goes into it, what the specifications are, what the steps are, what the vocabulary means, etc. It goes the same with technical or business writing. You have to know what you are talking about; if not- it can become very evident.
If companies allow generative AI to write their content, and their presentations, and their proposals… then who at the company can show and prove that they know all the details of their own product or solution? Will they still understand and be able to explain in various ways the business case? If nobody that interfaces with the client or prospect can, then I suppose we are hoping that ChatGPT will just bail us out?
I realize that I am over-simplifying the questions and value of generative AI in this article. I do think it has uses, but I question if perhaps it could do more harm than good in the end. Professional writing is something that is of great value to people in technical sales and technical marketing, as well as product management. American society and industry doesn’t need something widespread that will make us worse at it than we are now.
I used to cry because I’m not a sales engineer. I considered going back to school, pretty much every week. Every time, my partner told me,”You are the best sales person out there. You have three sales engineers to support you!” Of course he was right, my sales work was fully supported, but I just wanted to do it all on my own. You see, one of my favorite things while at Sanbolic was to spend time with the IT administrators and datacenter engineers at customers’ sites, with those who were installing our software. Seeing their faces when it worked. We had developed one of those “I can’t believe this is possible”- products, so it was always amazing to see their reactions. The road to get to that place of sitting next to the guy who was doing the install was usually very long, and difficult, but I was determined to help our customers solve their problems. What I found most fascinating while sitting there, or watching engineers at work in general, is the logic they apply to the process, especially during troubleshooting. I have great respect for all people in technical roles.
The logic of moving from one step to the next, and using a method of elimination, is partially what I am offering you in the work I’m doing now. I don’t want to compare it to engineering, but I think engineers can relate to my thinking. There is a lot of talk about allies and advocates of women and minorities at work these days, but very little guidance on what that actually means. In a time when it’s tricky to know what to do and say, or where to begin in supporting others, I hope to make it easier for you. There are experts out there talking about unconscious bias and harassment, and fear and uncertainty grows the more you hear about it. I have taken a different approach and done a little “troubleshooting” myself. What’s the problem here and how do I get rid of all the noise to make the message clearer? I interviewed five dussin men, just like you, in tech related companies and roles. From individual contributors to CEOs. I asked about their willingness to, and what they were actually doing to support women’s advancement, and they gave me tons of great examples. Seven character prototypes of men, at different levels of understanding of equality in tech, willingness to support, and actions they were actually taking, emerged. I put them into a matrix. As there is no way to use one message to get a broad group of people to move (unless the motivation is very strong and everyone starts from the same place), I created different messages for each of the seven character levels.
I invite you to identify with one of the character prototypes on the matrix – Mark, James, Samir, Memo, Al, Cree, or Richard, and start from there. Once you identify with a character, ask yourself if you want to do more to support others. If the answer is yes, simply familiarize yourself with the character above yours, and what he’s already doing. Imitate his actions and you will climb to the next level. I am not going to tell you what to do, but help you to find your motivation to be a better ally or advocate, and then offer you examples of what other guys are doing. When you have started and done the same thing as them, an action of support, a few times, you will notice that your confidence is improving and you’ll find a sense of comfort in your actions. When you are ready, you can move to the next level on the matrix. This method means that there is constant room for growth, and once you reach the top, you can talk to other men about how they can get more comfortable supporting others. As the people around you constantly shift, there is always something to be done.
My wish is that you get comfortable enough to take over building inclusive teams of diverse individuals. That you realize that it’s part of everyday..not work..but being. That you stop thinking that someone else will do it for you, or that it’s not your problem. In a time of increasing talent shortage, which will not be reversed, only you can draw the talent in and keep them with you. The task is as much yours, as you are part of a team, as it is the team leader’s. Women and minorities are similar to you. They will thrive in a workplace where they feel seen, heard, respected, and included. The need to belong varies slightly between people, but you can safely assume that most people want to be part of something bigger than themselves. It’s your responsibility and your care that will make your teammates decide if they want to be fully invested in the work you are doing together, or look elsewhere.
**This article was written by Eva Helén. To order her book, please visit: https://eqinspiration.com/product/women-in-tech-a-book-for-guys/ (NAASE Members receive a discount; use Code NAASE.) **
(written by the Nuvue team, via https://hellonuvue.com/ ) Too often, sales presentations underwhelm prospects because they fail to provide a compelling narrative arc. As a marketer, you’ve done your research and conducted your focus groups. You know your audience, and you understand exactly how your product meets their needs. But are you treating those details like a sales pitch—or a compelling story that grips your prospects like a page-turner?
All of us have experienced the “death by PowerPoint” feeling. At some point, many sales teams just accepted that presentations work like bulleted lists. You run through the major points and facts, but there’s no narrative to keep anyone engaged. There’s no real story or personality. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. In fact, it shouldn’t be that way.
If you really want to get your prospects on board and excited about moving to the next phase, you need to approach your presentations the same way you’ve been taught to design your website—like a book. In other words, your sales presentation needs to have a story, and that story needs to be told in a compelling way. Websites and books both lay out a clear path for the audience. Whether through intuitive navigation or a narrative arc, you’re guiding the audience through the story you want to tell.
It all starts with developing a presentation architecture that leads your audience through a defined, concise journey. It’s how you excite prospects, keep them engaged, and close the deal.
Countless sales teams across multiple industries are currently making do with disjointed sales presentations littered with bullet points and bloated copy. Most sales teams probably don’t even realize they have this problem. Creating a narrative arc within your sales stories is a major key to success, but it does take some work. Here’s what you have to do.
You don’t need to take the one-sheet out of your toolbox entirely. But you do need to understand when and how to use it. We’ve seen plenty of clients hyper-focused on the idea of the one-sheet. Their intentions are ultimately good. No one wants to burden their prospects with a lengthy presentation.
However, if those one-sheets are littered with excessive copy and poor design, what type of story are you telling? Is this the best way to represent your products and services?
The length of your presentation really doesn’t matter as much as your sales team might think. If your presentation tells a compelling story and leads your prospects on a concise journey, it has done its job regardless of length. Don’t try to do too much on a single slide or a single page just because you think the audience wants a shorter time commitment. The one-sheet can complement a sales story by distilling facts, but it can never replace the narrative.
One of the quickest ways to lose your audience in a sales presentation is by leading with a product or service pitch. You need to empathize with your prospects’ problems and explain how your product or service solves them right out of the gate. That’s how you relate to your audience. It’s not a matter of telling them how innovative your product is. It’s about demonstrating how your innovation allows your prospects to meet their challenges in new and better ways.
That solution shouldn’t just be tacked on at the end of the presentation, either. It should be woven throughout the story you’re telling. Relate to your audience by:
With so many elements to incorporate, it would be difficult to tell your full sales story on a single one-sheet.
When crafting your sales story, working in incremental steps is the best way to build your narrative. A lot of companies have a story to tell but fail to present it in a single, unified narrative arc. Instead, it’s spread out across a fragmented series of assets—marketing materials, slightly differentiated sales decks, and so on. To nail your sales story, you must first pull these disparate elements together to craft a single, unified narrative arc.
Pulling these bits and pieces together in their most basic form—stripping away all design elements and working with as little copy as possible—helps to establish the high-level hierarchy of the more concise story. Identify the opportunity or the problem you’re addressing, and take only what you need to tell that part of the story. Then move on to the solution, doing the same exact thing. What you’re doing is creating an outline of your story’s chapters. Move the various pieces of the story’s puzzle around. Play with it until it flows in a natural, informative way. Take out any elements that distract from or add nothing to the story.
From there, it’s a matter of incorporating design elements and finishing touches to ensure that your presentation is on-brand and visually appealing . This may be possible using existing assets, or you may need more of a complete overhaul. But the important thing is to lead with your story. If you dive right in and try to overhaul every aspect of your sales presentation all once, you’re not going to achieve the action-driving results you need.
You and your marketing team are the foremost experts on your organization’s offerings. Your sales teams will leverage sales decks and materials to land clients, but they aren’t the ones who should be tasked with telling your story. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be part of the process, though.
When you’re ready to revamp your sales story and give it that narrative structure it currently lacks, make sure all the relevant parties are brought in right at the start. Sales and marketing must work together for this process to succeed. Sales knows what they need to do their job, but they’re not copywriters, designers, or layout artists.
Once you’ve figured out what’s necessary to successfully package your sales presentation, it’s time to lock everything in and give it to the sales team in its final form. It takes work to get there, and you may need to bring in an outside team that specializes in this type of story design. But once it’s there, you’ll see a night-and-day difference in your sales presentation materials—and business development success, too.