Are your sales presentations falling flat?
We asked some of our favorite sales experts to give us their best advice for making tired presentations more engaging, relevant, and effective. Put these 19 simple sales presentation tips into action and watch your close rate explode.
Timing is everything / Make it a dialogue
Stop presenting so soon. Just because a prospect wants a demo or presentation doesn’t make it the right time to do it. If you haven’t done good discovery work to uncover their issues—desired outcomes, frustrations, specific challenges, initiatives, etc.—then you have no right to be doing a presentation.
My second tip is a bit contrarian. Nowhere is it written that a presentation must be a monologue. [Tweet this!] Put up a slide titled “Our Understanding of Your Situation” listing several of the prospect’s key issues and turn the “presentation” into a dialogue. You’ll be amazed how much the prospect will appreciate you making the meeting about them and not your offerings.
Use your prospect’s language
Every industry has its own specific language, terminology, or jargon. Your industry does too. Too bad your prospects don’t generally use or understand that language. [Tweet this!]
Improve your sales presentations by speaking about the #1 challenge your prospects face, using the language they use to describe that challenge. When you do this, your prospects will “get it.” More importantly, they will think that you “get it” as well.
Start with the right mindset / Create a mental model
“Selling is a transference of feeling.”—Zig Ziglar [Tweet this!]
Because of this simple truth, you need to create the right mindset before your presentation and the best way to do this is to invest time at the start of each day listening to or reading inspirational and educational material that will help you transfer the right feelings to the prospect.
Once you have your thinking right, invest 60 seconds creating a Mental Model of how your sales presentation will go. Create a picture in your mind of what you are going to say, the questions you will ask, the responses the prospect will have, and the questions you need to answer. Do this simple routine and your clarity and confidence will help you meet the prospect's needs and win the business.
Meet before the meeting / Stop talking and listen
Prospective clients care most about their particular situation. Research the company and industry first and then hold an initial meeting to verify facts so that you may accurately tailor the presentation to their needs and interests. [Tweet this!] One size never fits all.
Most sales reps kill the sale due to providing the same presentation to everyone without prior knowledge of needs and interests, and they incessantly talk without listening to input provided from those in the room.
Use a shared agenda / Focus on the slides that matter
The #1 thing in the world that everyone loves talking about is themselves, which is also the #1 problem in Sales—we all love talking about ourselves and clients don’t care. [Tweet this!] This I why I recommend using a shared agenda to guide your presentations or demos, starting with a quick intro from everyone that includes what their priorities are and what they want to get out of the presentation.
Then, don’t dive immediately into your background, history, client list, and awards. Instead, focus on what you know about them and try to get clarity on their priorities. After that, take the 20+ slides you have in your demo or presentation and focus on the 5–10 that are most relevant to them based on what they told you their priorities were.
Invest in your training / Don’t read off the PowerPoint / Keep it open-ended
1) Take an online course on presenting PowerPoints. If you aren't going to invest in yourself to get better, why should anyone else? [Tweet this!] It’s OK to ask your company to pay for it, but if they won't, you still want the skills, right?
2) Stop reading the PowerPoint—people can read. What you say should not be on the PowerPoint.
3) Stop asking “Does that make sense?” It’s the dumbest question ever to ask during your presentation. Instead, engage your prospects with open-ended invitations like:
- “Hey, I have been talking for a while. I’d like to shut up and hear what you are thinking.”
- “I’d like to stop here and see what use-cases you may be envisioning as you think about all of this.”
Lead with questions to discover your prospect's pain points
The biggest mistake any sales rep can make is walking in to the client presentation and immediately flipping open their PowerPoint. Not only is this an intrinsically boring approach for both you and your potential client, it doesn’t give you a chance to learn anything about them. So when you get to the end of your presentation and they say, “Well thanks for coming in …,” you have no response other than to thank them and walk out, without an order or a next step.
The alternative is to begin the appointment by asking probing questions about what they’re struggling with. [Tweet this!] Be listening for the ways in which their problems are specifically addressed by individual slides within your presentation. So when they’re done talking, you can say, “I heard you say that your biggest problem is ___. We hear that from a lot of our clients, which is why we’ve developed ___, which addresses that problem in these three unique ways. Allow me to show you some of the data here on this slide.”
Preparation makes you relevant
Sales reps need to focus more on being relevant than consultative. The consultative sale means you spend more time asking questions which most often you can find the answers to online or if you study their competition.
You need to show up with case studies, ideas, and research. Your clients do not have time for needs assessments and hundreds of questions. [Tweet this!] Use the tools at your fingertips and come to your next presentation ready to prove that you are an expert in your field and you are prepared for the meeting.
Develop an “internal knowledge base”
Know your audience and the answers to any possible questions or objections they can pose. [Tweet this!] Your team should share the questions previously asked and have an internal knowledge base for the answers that you can study.
If you’re presenting to an organization that's not that evolved yet, practice it on 10 different allies in the space and record their questions.
It’s not a “presentation” / Sell them what they want
Stop thinking about it like it’s a presentation—that encourages salespeople to think it’s all about them when, in reality, it’s all about your prospect! Ask questions and get your prospect to talk to you first.
After you finish listening to them, make sure you tailor your presentation to focus on what they tell you they want to hear about. Stop selling your personal favorite benefits and sell them theirs. [Tweet this!]
Start drawing your solution, and let the buyer finish it
As many of the other contributors have discussed, the ideal presentation should be a dialogue, not a monologue. You want to engage the buyer’s energy and attention. They don’t have it all figured out yet. The point of the presentation is not just to confirm what they need to buy. A presentation should also continue the discovery process.
To make that happen, ditch your slide deck. Trust me, no one wants to see it. Or hear you present it. [Tweet this!]
Instead, use a whiteboard for your presentation. Start drawing out a flowchart or system diagram for your proposed solution. But don’t draw out the entire diagram. Map out maybe 10% of it. Then, to paraphrase Dan Roam’s recommendation in his great book Draw to Win, invite the buyer up to the board to take over from you and draw out the rest of the solution as they see it. The level of engagement with your “presentation” will go through the roof.
The net result will be a jointly created solution in which the buyer has a feeling of ownership. Through this collaboration you’ll have delivered value to the buyer in terms of helping them clarify their needs and objectives and how you will help the buyer satisfy them.
Tell your story to allow your audience to connect with you on another level. Think of the presentation the same way you think of your content. Don't fill it with self-promotion or product reviews.
Know your audience so you can meet their needs with quality, in-depth analysis no one else can. Be authentic and honest to build trust with your audience. [Tweet this!]
For more expert advice, read 14 things successful sales reps do every week