Delivering an effective sales presentation is not rocket science

by George Pastidis

I just left a meeting at the bank I am a customer of. They had asked for an appointment for presenting a house loan product. Not that me and my wife were interested in any, but they have always been so polite and supportive that there was no way to refuse giving them some of our time.
Although I cared less about the product itself, I was observing and analyzing carefully how the bank officer was presenting. Too much talking, features dropping and little interaction. Neither exciting, nor convincing. One could argue that if you are really interested in a house loan, you care less about the presentation style. But then sales people limit themselves in selling to people that are either desperate for what they got or they don’t bother to browse around.
It is pretty much the same case in the other industries. Sales reps in pharma tend to bomb doctors with tons of features that link with clinical studies that their companies have financed. Sales engineers that work in the IT and telecom sector can hardly stop mumbling benefits in their special own jargon and value added services that persuade nobody for other value than upselling.
If we accept that sales presentations do not matter, is like getting self-commoditized. We got to believe that we can impact sales. We got to work on our sales presentations, focusing on the following key points:
Present to our audience’s challenges – Avoid product centered presentations and deliver customer centered presentations addressing our audience’s specific challenges. The more these challenges are confirmed with our audience before and not assumed only, the more concrete our case is. The million dollar question then is “are we really ready to deliver a sales presentation or we need some time to meet up with our customer and prepare for?”.
Keep it short and crisp – How long we can keep the attention and interest of the other party? There is plenty of surveys concerning the human average attention span. That varies from 5 to 20 min, depending on the age, conditions and the kind of task and mental focus. But we can all agree and say out loud “not for long”! We better then keep it short, start with a catchy value statement that gives our audience a good reason for engaging in and focus on the most critical areas of the presentation.
Interactive wins – Interactive wins but it is a “double-edged sword”. We can prepare well, deliver an impeccable monologue and head to home. This is playing safe on a blind date. Alternatively, we can encourage our audience to cut in and ask questions and clarifications during the course of our presentation and give us their feedback in the very end, pursuing their “green light”. This is less safe. This one first takes skills to manage with time and second, we might extract the wrong answers and the “green light” can turn “red”. But at least, we know where we stand and we have our chance to tweak things around, making the sale more possible to happen. Moreover, this interactive dimension gives the other party the impression that “we work it out together”. Customers would love it.

Delivering an effective sales presentation is not rocket science. It does need preparation, skills and lots of common sense though.


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