Are the sales presentation skills of your competitors better than yours? If so, you could end up with missed opportunities and lost sales. Successful presentations may be the cornerstone of all sales. Unfortunately, many companies spend a lot of time and effort on marketing and advertising but lack training and rigor around sales presentations.
Don't allow anemic sales presentations to cause you to miss opportunities to clinch the deal. Here are some tips that may help you and your team ace your sales presentations.
Seek First to Understand
It can be tempting to start off with your prepared presentation. A wiser move may be to start by making the prospect see that you understand their needs. So ask questions to understand what's going on and what the prospective clients' challenges might be. Even if you know the answer from a previous phone conversation, for example, start by stating your understanding of what the issues are to help ensure you're on the right track.
Be prepared to abandon the "canned" sales pitch if the client's feedback differs from the initial understanding. This obviously can require a great deal of preparation and intimate knowledge of your company's offerings so you can be flexible and steer the presentation to respond to the conversation that takes place in the room.
Change Your Mindset
Try to approach the sales presentation with a focus on helping the client find the best solution for their challenges. This means you're there as a consultant rather than a salesperson looking to make a sale. This can also force you to focus on them rather than on yourself.
Have this thought ingrained in your consciousness: Prospective clients don't care about you. They only care about how you can solve their challenges or give them what they need. Use your knowledge and expertise to help them make the best decision regardless of who they end up choosing. This can boost your credibility and engender trust. Trust sells.
Lead Your Audience Down the Path of Your Logic
Structure your message to appeal to your prospect's logic. Here's an effective 8-step template to help achieve this:
- Start by restating the prospect's needs, wants, problem or challenge.
- Outline your solution. How does what you offer fill the client's needs or solve their problem?
- Describe the benefits of your solution. Give examples to showcase the value of your product or service in relation to their needs. If you talk about features, do so only in relation to the benefits that the features offer. Don't get too granular at this stage.
- Emphasize your differentiation. Why should they buy from you instead of your competitors? What makes you stand out in a sea of sameness?
- Show them how your solution helped clients similar to them. This is the time to briefly talk about your success stories and to provide testimonials.
- Cover the various pricing scenarios. Show the value relative to price.
- Ask your prospect if there are any obstacles or barriers to them moving forward with your proposed solution.
- Outline next steps. By this point, if you've had an honest discussion with your prospect and delivered a good presentation, you can have a sense that the prospect sees you as a person of integrity—someone who understands their needs and doesn't try to sell them what they don't need. It's only logical that you have now earned permission to ask for the business or discuss how to take it to the next level.
No matter which structure you use for your presentation, try to provide signposts along the way. Signposts can tell the audience where you're at in the presentation, where you've been and where you're going next. Even though you show an agenda at the start, many presenters never refer to the agenda again. The audience may be wondering how much longer you'll be speaking.
Organize Your Slide Presentation in Sections
Use the Sections feature in PowerPoint to help give you flexibility in your presentation. Once you've organized your presentation in sections, and named each section, you may find it easier to navigate the presentation. Sections can give you the option to quickly move from one part of the presentation to another. For example, if you get a question that relates back to the advantages of your solution, you can quickly navigate back to that section of your presentation, which will act as a reinforcement of your message.
Having the presentation organized in sections can also help you to eliminate what may not apply. Some presenters have a tendency to go through the entire prepared slide deck even though some sections may mean nothing to a particular audience. Sections can also help you add what might apply to one prospect but not to another. For example, if you sense some reluctance to move forward, you may want to pull a section that briefly outlines the effects of the prospect maintaining the status quo. What are the implications of doing nothing? What are the possible complications of delaying action?
Sections can help you to be agile and react to what's going on in the room so you can maximize your chances of connecting with the audience.
Shape a Conversation
There may be situations where you can decide not to use a formal presentation, but instead have a conversation with your prospect. Depending on what you discover, you can show some visuals in response to the flow of the conversation. An iPad can be ideal for such a fluid presentation.
Don't Overwhelm With Too Many Choices
Conventional wisdom might lead us to believe that the more solutions we offer a client, the better. But too many choices can be bad for sales, if it leads to choice overload. It might also give the impression that you don't fully understand the client's needs. Rather than lead the person to buy, too many choices can confuse them, slow down the sales process and ultimately lead them to back off. When it comes to solutions you offer, less may be more.
Observe the Right Ratio of Conversation to Presentation
Before every sales presentation, try to remind yourself that your best shot at persuading your prospects will likely be from the conversation you have with them rather than the prepared presentation. Tighten up your content and make the presentation punchy so you don't lose their attention. This means making the presentation long enough to say what needs to be said without belaboring your points or getting too granular. A rule of thumb is to devote one third of the time to the presentation, leaving the rest of the time open for the conversation.
Ditch the Generic Sales Pitch
Well-meaning managers may spend time crafting a sales pitch and equipping their sales staff with a set of slides and a generic pitch that the hapless reps are required to memorize and deliver to each prospect without much deviation. This may not be an optimal solution. Today's buyers are savvy and can quickly detect a canned presentation. This approach doesn't help to crack the trust barrier that exists toward many salespeople. That's because a generic, one size fits all pitch can rob the person making the presentation of genuineness, a key ingredient for delivering a successful sales presentation.
By all means, provide your salespeople with the script to ensure they have all the salient points and the key messages you want them to deliver. But allow them to own the words, that is, to adapt them to their individual speaking style. Let them customize the presentation to different audiences by making small, harmless adaptations so they can deliver the presentation in their voice while staying true to the message.
Delivering an effective sales presentation can be one of the most critical steps in your sales process. After you've done all the work to gain a prospect's attention and to be invited into their boardroom, the quality of the sales presentation may be the key factor that will make or break the sale. So spend the time and effort to train yourself and your team to craft sales presentations that can close deals.
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