How to make a good sales presentation

The effort of cold calls, sales e-mails and numerous follow ups finally pays off when the prospect accepts and arranges a meeting for a sales presentation. Although salespersons perceive sales presentation as a sure-shot sales lead-trigger, unfortunately it is not exactly so.

Researches suggest that only 2% prospects actually buy after a direct sales contact, and that too being those who are already familiar with the product/service.

The remaining are yet to be ready enough to make the final decision. Sales presentations, as such, can play a crucial role in guiding the prospects and influencing them to arrive at the decision to buy the product/service.

How sales presentation works

As a positive response to the selling efforts of salespersons, the prospects generally express their interest in receiving the proposal.

The proposal contains all the required information pertaining to the product/service – description, illustration, features, price and other specific terms and conditions.

If the prospect is impressed but not completely assured to make the purchase, he might settle down in arranging a sales presentation (either on his own initiation or on the initiation of salesperson through follow-ups).

A sales presentation is a means of demonstrating the usage of products/services and their features along with quantification of benefits accruing from their use.

It influences the prospects in building insights in respect of the products/services under consideration. Sales presentations play the role of building trust of prospects towards the product/service, its vendor and the salesperson.

And trust is what determines, in most cases, the possibility of prospect to get prompted to make the buying decision.

Some useful tips for making a good sales presentation

Before the big day

Understand your products/services: Before talking about your products/services to others, you need to fully understand them like the back of your palm.

Take note of aspects such as technical progress, R&D and product development as well as recent improvements made in manufacturing, packaging, distribution etc.

Knowledge regarding the history of growth of your organization along with the various generations of ownership can help you establish trust amongst the prospects.

Analyze your competitors’ products/services: Adequate knowledge on features, strengths and weaknesses of and benefits offered by the products/services from your competitors is very essential.

In addition, you need to fully analyze the marketing strategies employed by your competitors so as to be able to maintain a comparative superiority of your products/services over those of your competitors.

Research on the prospect: Since the sales presentation is to be prospect-focused, research and gain useful information on the business of the prospect – its history, market position, competitors, major clients, ability to satisfy clients’ needs and products/services in use.

Also, understand the goals of the prospect’s business, problems faced by it in achieving those goals and how your products/services can contribute in achieving them.

Ensure right audience: Many a times, the sales presentation despite being an impressive one fails to be effective when the same is presented to the audience that has no decision-making authority.

So, make sure you are making the presentation to the right prospect.

Take necessary notes: Based on the interaction with the prospect, take note of special concerns the prospect raises; it makes them feel understood and cared, and impresses upon them a sense that you are there for their assistance and not just to push sales.

Work on the presentation: Start the presentation with an outline on a paper.

Take special note of the prospect’s knowledge, skills set, trust of you and role in the organization; personalize the presentation as far as possible and practicable.

Focus on what call to action you intend the prospect to take, and then work backwards.

Prepare the presentation material: Visuals are the sure-killers as they are processed much faster than texts, hence ensure that the presentation is visually appealing to the prospect – one with effective pictures, clip arts, diagrams and flow charts to demonstrate process flows and sequences.

Employ color contrast for slides and use a font size of 24-32. Have a heading for each slide with not too many bullets points in each slide.

Focus on building insights and avoid relying on tons of irrelevant data.

Remember, spreadsheets are for calculation and not for communication, thus, include only very important statistics and that too in the form of simple tables, pie-charts and graphs.

Prefer including case studies, stories and facts over statistics since researches suggest that around 63% attendees remember stories while only 5% remember statistics.

Personalize the presentation: The presentation must resonate within and across the audience.

Personalize the slides, instead of mere copying and pasting procedures, as per the requirements of the prospect.

Rehearse: Perform adequate research and come up with possible questions the audience may ask you.

Your team (everyone, not just the lead) must be able to respond and make satisfactory suggestions regarding those queries.

Excel through endless rehearsals and practice.

On the Big Day

Backup technically: Reach the venue a bit earlier to understand the setting and make necessary adjustments and arrangements to ensure that the presentation goes as planned.

Always carry spare projector bulbs to save yourself from their betrayal.

First impression: It takes only a few seconds, even before you speak, for the prospect to make an impression about you.

Thus, it is very important that you maintain a confident body language, a charming personality and sufficient eye-contact with your prospect(s).

Remember, confidence comes through rehearsals and practice.

Present the presentation as an expert: Avoid starting the slides with overly solicited message making the prospect superior and you subordinate.

Instead, present yourself as an expert so that the prospect starts feeling fortunate to have you help him solve his problems and satisfy his needs.

Start the presentation highlighting your expertise, achievements and your contribution, in brief.

Clearly state the objective and scope of your work with appropriate (aggressive but realistic) time estimates.

Converse more than present: Do not stick too much to your script; instead carry the script forward to make it more of a conversation than a presentation.

The interaction needs to be interesting enough to bind the prospect throughout the presentation; avoid monotony and try to be animated.

Try not to sell but to illustrate.

Focus on the prospect: People don’t have time to listen to your success story; they want to listen to something that has more to do with themselves.

So, keep your introduction and achievements to the minimum and start focusing on prospect’s needs and the ways your products/services can assist them and contribute to their success.

Welcome interruptions and queries from the prospects.

Establish emotional connection: Research about the prospects’ hobbies, place of origin, emotional attachments and the peculiarities of the problems faced by them.

Use those findings to lead them to identify themselves with you as a person to your advantage since people like doing business with their kind and the ones they like.

Greater conversions and long-term relationships are possible that way.

Turn objections into assurance: Respond to prospect’s objections regarding ROI, alternatives, compatibility etc. through valid and quantified reasoning.

Try and convert those concerns and objections into assurances.

Avoid comparison unless necessary: Compare with your competitors only when essentially required in order to establish your superiority, for instance if prospect is currently using or considering competitor’s products/services.

Otherwise don’t offer them with more options yourself.

Do not hide costs: Avoid mentioning price as far as possible since the same has already been covered by the proposal itself.

If insisted by the prospect, however, list out all the component costs and then finally mention the total costs: never hide costs through indirect components.

Ask for referrals: While most prospects are ready to offer referrals, only one in ten salespersons actually ask for referrals. Ensure that you belong to that one-in-ten lot of salespersons.

End with an effective ‘Call to action’: The most memorable part of the presentation is the last 5 minutes which must be effectively used to initiate an appropriate call to action.

Unfortunately, most salespersons fail to take this opportunity in discussing about the future course of action, asking when to call next, and who else to contact in a professional and reasonable manner, making the prospects feel that you care to solve their problem.

Following the Big Day

The sales generation process doesn’t successfully come to an end by having the sales presentation made.

Various researches suggest that 80% of sales are effected only after the fourth follow up, whereas 92% salespersons quit after having followed up the prospects for the fourth time.

This implies that those 80% of sales are effected by the 8% of salespersons who follow up even after the fourth follow up.

It is, therefore, essential to keep track of your progress with the prospects and continue making follow ups even after the sales presentation in order to conclude the effort successfully with an actual sale of your products/services.

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