IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Avoid Bad Sales Presentations

Prepare yourself--and your entire sales team--to deliver effective, well rehearsed sales pitches...or find yourself outshined by the competition. By Andy Marken By ChannelPro

Selling is hard work, even in the virtual world of the Internet. It requires strong motivation, personal pride, and focus. Above all, it requires communicating and being able to read and understand the prospects' attitudes and needs, whether they are real or perceived.

A successful selling situation--especially when selling to a decision-making team--is based on the salesperson's ability to communicate. Your best salespeople analyze, prepare, and rehearse. The more "tools" you provide them to do these things, the better job they can do in selling systems, products, programs, and services.

Keep Your Sales Force Informed
Every technician or service agent should be fully informed as to the products and services your company can provide. A product presentation is a good way to teach your team about the various features and benefits of a product or service ... not to mention the salient selling points.

It sounds simple, but it's something that's often overlooked. One of the major problems is that most professional sales training still stresses one-on-one selling. But in today's selling environment, systems and solutions sales often involve group dynamics-decision-making teams, for example.

In order for organizations to be successful in specific market segments, they have to sell to more than just the buyer. As such, everyone needs to participate.

Teach Your Sales Team to Present Your Products Well
After you've presented your products to your team, teach them to do the same with the potential clients they face.

The only way to ensure that a sales presentation will be successful is with preparation. In any presentation, it's important to define and address the audience's need and wants. Make sure your sales team organizes its presentations with effective visual aids and a well rehearsed delivery.

Walk your team through the following presentation preparation steps for a well thought-out delivery: 

1.      Decide what it is you want people to do. Before you even consider the form and substance of your presentation, know exactly what you need your audience to do. What action do you ultimately want them to take? By knowing this, you can be more convincing. Write that object down. Rewrite it several times until it is very clear and very concise.

2.      Determine the decision-makers. Who among your audience will be the chief decision-maker(s)? Analyze his or her needs, goals, and interests. Tailor the presentation to that decision-maker or decision-making body.

3.      Minimize the presentation team. Don't crowd your audience with too many presenters. If specialists are needed, have them prepared to come in only at certain times to answer very specific questions.

4.      Keep statements brief. Don't overwhelm your audience. Keep your comments simple and to the point. After you deliver your message, don't interrupt those that respond.

5.      Select the best presenter in the group. Not everyone in your organization will have the same presentation capabilities. Perhaps he or she was hired for other talents or abilities. If a person isn't the best for the presentation, then don't use them.

6.      Develop a presentation schedule. This goes not only for the delivery aspects of a presentation, but also for the production of supporting materials and visual aids.

Basic Rules of Public Speaking
Once your team has established the audience, the message, and the delivery, the only thing left to do is execute.

When making a presentation before any sized group, it's only natural to be a little nervous. Be assured, confidence will increase as the presentation goes along. If they follow these basic rules of public speaking, your presentation delivery team will do just fine:

  • At the outset, presenters must introduce themselves and their team members.
  • Presenters must stand erect, speak clearly, and speak with the appropriate volume.
  • Presenters may shift positions during the presentation, but they shouldn't rock or pace.
  • Presenters should make eye contact with members of the audience, shifting their eyes every five to ten seconds.
  • Hands and arms should only be used in moderation. Energy should be focused on facial and vocal expressions instead.
  • Watch for visual cues from the audience. This will help you gauge their interest level.
  • Visual words and physical descriptions should be well used in the presentation.

Do a Full Rehearsal
The best way to give a successful presentation is to have a full rehearsal with all of your participants. Many businesses may claim to not have time for this, but what good is a sales presentation that doesn't work? 

When you schedule a rehearsal, make certain that you have enough time prior to the presentation to correct any problems or shortcomings that arise during the rehearsal. This is your chance to spot and correct flaws.

Treat the presentation as the show itself. Without this important step, problems and shortcomings will often go unnoticed and the minor flaws may keep you from winning.

During the rehearsal:

  • Watch the clock. Lean toward presenting your information at a quick pace
  • Do a materials check. Make certain that all of your slides, charts, video segments, and other audio-visual materials agree with the verbal information that is being presented.
  • Establish Roles. If one person is moderating, make sure everyone else is on board with that plan.

In today's environment, even getting a sales call can be a hard-earned opportunity. Don't cheat yourself by having underprepared presenters deliver your company's message. Perform your due diligence by working out any sales pitch kinks prior to a meeting with a potential client.

ANDY MARKEN is president of Marken Communications Inc.

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