I once sat through a real nightmare of a sales presentation.
Twelve years ago, I was working part-time at an electronics store when a surge protector manufacturer invited the whole staff to a sales presentation, in the hopes that the powers-that-be at the store would pick up and push their surge protector lineup. Later that day, arriving at the presentation – inside a hotel conference room, of course – we were “treated” to an endless barrage of smoke and mirrors, overt salesmanship, advertorial clichés, bland Power Point slides, and lousy “jokes.”
The presentation rattled on for about an hour. At some point, one of the presenters brought out a special device designed to convert AC line interference into sound – an effect that was ever so dramatically silenced by putting one of the surge protectors in the signal flow, of course. It was a neat demonstration, but it ignored the fact that, as the staff of an electronics store, everyone in the room was keenly aware that almost any household wire would act as an antenna, particularly when amplified with live current. The presenters even referred to the filtering as if it was some proprietary technology, never mind the fact that noise gating has been around for decades.
The problem was, the presentation wasted our time and insulted our intelligence. It went on and on, well beyond the time it really necessitated, and it came off, over all, as desperate.
For anyone needing to deliver a winning presentation, there is plenty to learn from unfortunate incidents like the one above. Ideally, you will avoid the cheesy pitfalls and problems that plagued those sales presenters.
Let us dig in to learn how you can deliver awesome sales presentations that focus on the customer – and that do not insult their intelligence.
Here is a look at our best sales tips for the face-to-face pitch.
#1: Hey, this is a sales presentation, not a keynote address!
There can be only one Steve Jobs. Sorry to say it, but your sales presentation is not a keynote address.
Who would not want to listen to a prolific icon such as Jobs go on and on for an hour or two? Sadly, your audience will likely not be so captivated. Your sales presentations should be focused, brief, and interactive.
A good sales presentation should be able to persuade, not merely to awe and entertain. As tempting as it is to celebrate how awesome your business is in front of a group, you must fight the urge. Keep it customer-focused by underlining the benefits to your audience, and spelling out a clear action you would like them to take after the presentation.
This means you have to tailor things from the customer’s perspective, with great precision. Instead of telling the audience all about research and development, or the awesomeness of the rocket scientists that help you make the gadgets you sell, tell the audience how your product will help them in their daily life.
#2: Organize your sales presentations
Just as you would structure a piece of writing, you should organize your sales presentations. This will make your message clear and help you stay on track during the presentation. It also gives the customer assurance that you kept them in mind and came well-prepared to respond to their needs.
Organize your presentation in the following way:
Introduction – briefly greet the audience and preview the message (if a small audience, make this interactive, ask questions)
Body – the meat of the presentation
Conclusion – reiterate your key points and wind the speaking down
Closing/call-to-action – remember to close the sales presentation by asking your customer to take an action step
This pattern reflects the outline of a basic essay, which is okay because people are accustomed to receiving information in this way.
A face-to-face sales presentation is a lot like a business proposal. All the pieces are there – introduction, service description, close, etc. A good alternative use for a proposal tool, like Quote Roller, is generating a sales presentation outline. You can even export the proposal as a PDF, print it, and use it to keep you presentation on-track or simply project the web-based proposal on the wall, in order to walk your clients through it.
#3: Answer the question of Why
Your sales presentations should clarify several questions in your prospective customers’ minds. Namely, you want to give them the answer to why your product or service is a good fit. You will also want to make clear the reasons why they should get said product or service from you.
Answering the question of “why” actually requires you to create an argument in favor of your message. This is not actually a conflict; it involves making and defending claims relating to what you propose. This why should also be answering how your team will solve your audience’s pain points.
Here are a few examples of supportable claims:
Why your product will work more efficiently/save your audience time
Why your product/service will cost less
Why your company is better than the leading competitor at delivering the same product (Psychological Sales Note: Don’t mention the competitor by name, just be sure to stress points that are your strengths and their weaknesses.)
Whatever the claims you choose, the ultimate solution that you are “arguing for” is for your audience to take a buying action.
#4: Keep it as short as possible.
When you have a captive audience, you will likely keep them in body longer than you will hold their attention. In fact, the average adult has an attention span of only 12 seconds or so. (Yes, we’re all still children at heart.) If your presentation drags on for an hour, you are taking excessively long, and the customers will not retain what you are saying after the first few fleeting minutes.
Also, like children, we are very visual creatures and feel free to jazz up your presentation by making it on a Prezi or starting it with an engaging video.
One of the residual challenges presented by the digital age is that people are generally unreceptive to sales pitches in person, preferring instead to “find it online.” If you spend too much time talking about your product or service, you may just talk your audience out of the sale. Keep your sales presentation short, snappy and jazzy – your prospective customers will thank you for it.
#5: Ask engaging questions along the way
One of the best tips for public speaking is to ask a few questions to get a little interaction from the audience. Some speakers call it “taking their pulse,” but the best way to get a little engagement is to foreshadow your closing question – thereby strengthening its effectiveness as a call-to-action in doing so.
Some example of close-ended questions to pose (as applicable) during your presentation:
You love saving money, right?
Are you happy with your current provider?
Have you been getting your money’s worth?
Also, in a smaller setting, feel free to ask open-ended questions. You should have already talked to at least one or two members of your audience and are aware of their needs. Ask questions that bring these needs to the forefront — it’s a great way to structure your entire presentation as a solution more than just a sale.
Be careful not to ask too many questions, though. You want to keep them engaged and, perhaps more importantly, awake, but you don’t want to ask them to lead the presentation. Think about the outcome you would like from the sales presentation and shape your rhetoric around that throughout the delivery.
Sell it, ladies and gentlemen!
The sales presentation is your chance to shine. There is no better way to hone your sales skills than in front of a crowd. And it’s a wonderful way to connect with your potential clients on a more personal and memorable level. If you can succeed at selling in this setting, you can sell anything. Not only can you use what you know about proposal writing to outline your presentation, but you can seize upon the opportunity to interact with prospective customers in a group setting to inform future proposals. It is a win-win!