Speak With Confidence
Eight Steps To Outstanding Sales Presentations
Even if you’ve made a compelling sales presentation to your prospect, it often takes weeks before you get a response. Therefore, you must burn vivid examples and key ideas into the prospect’s mind so he or she cannot forget how you’re different from your competition. This is critical if you are one of several individuals or teams competing for the same business.
The structure of your sales presentation is the skeleton under the flesh of your words. You must design and deliver your presentation to be remembered and repeated. What is the typical structure?
“Hi, I’m Fred Smith. Let me introduce my team: Tom, Dick and Harriett.
Thanks for your time.
We’re from the ABC Company . . .
This is what we do . . .
This is how long we’ve been in business . . .
This is what we’re known for . . .
These are our clients . . .
We would like to work with you . . .”
That is a dreary presentation. What’s more effective? Try this simple, eight-step process to help you make a more memorable pitch.
1. Compliment them. Start with something your prospect is proud of; it shows you’ve done your homework:
• “Congratulations on your recent product launch.”
• “Your latest advertising campaign is spectacular.”
• “Your stock price is up three points while most of the market is down. Your strategy is on track.”
2. Address their challenge or problem. Do not mention your product or solution upfront. Instead, talk about their current responsibility, challenge or opportunity. Then, follow up:
• “This is the time to make a bold move and . . .”
• “Your board of directors has challenged you with . . .”
• “Your competition is increasing in . . .”
3. Differentiate from your competition. Everyone else thanks prospects for their time. Don’t. Instead, say, “Thanks for the opportunity to discuss how our company (be specific with your service or product) can . . .
• “help you accomplish your goals.”
• “minimize your risk in . . . ”
• “expand your markets in . . . ”
• “demonstrate how our technology will be able to . . . ”
4. Make heroes of your contacts. If you have a champion within your prospective client company, or if individuals have helped prepare you for the meeting or have taken you through the discovery process, thank them now.
• “Thank you, Mike and Theresa, for your time and knowledge to help us understand the ABC Company’s goals, commitments and challenges.”
• “Mike tells us that your vision is to . . .” or “that your priorities are . . .”
• “In the next 30 minutes (60 minutes, three hours), you will hear (learn, discover, see demonstrated) how our solution (product, company, technology) can help you achieve that goal.”
• Never say, “I’m going to talk about . . .” or “What I would like to do . . .”
5. Provide examples, experience and social proof. Your product or service isn’t enough. Your prospect must understand how it could improve their business and that you are not just a salesperson but also a trusted advisor. Tell stories and case histories about satisfied clients.
6. Review key ideas. Do this with a rhetorical question or a simple statement based on your premise:
• “How is ABC Company better off by doing business with us?”
• “As you heard, we would help you accomplish your goals by . . .”
• “Our technology would increase your efficiency by . . .”
• “Our product would improve your . . .”
7. Head into the close with confidence, not a question. Many of your competitors close on questions. No. No. No. Close on a high, and let your last words linger. Make sure they’re yours. The warm-up to that is a question: “Based on what you have heard, what are your specific questions?” After you answer questions (and possibly objections), drive the sale forward. Depending on the complexity of your offering or how many people are involved, you may want to say:
• “At this point, our most logical step is . . .”
• “At this point, may I recommend we . . .”
• “At this point, our best clients elect to . . .”
8. Reinforce your key idea. Your last words are the most important ones you’ll say, so never introduce a new idea that you have no time to develop. Good copywriters often write the P.S. of a sales letter first, because it confirms the key idea in the letter. Your approach might sound like this:
“Again, thank you for the opportunity to demonstrate how our approach could be what you’ve been searching for. We look forward to our next meeting. In your discussions, remember the results of [other successful clients]. Be secure in knowing we pioneered this industry.”
Depending on the situation, you could also say you “are more nimble than our competition,” “can get started as soon as you say yes,” or “are a one-stop shop.”
Most professionals are fairly smooth in the body of their presentation. Very few, however, open and close effectively and memorably. Take these eight steps, and apply or adapt what is appropriate to your situation. Script your opening and closing for specificity and brevity. You won’t read it, but work from an outline. In the middle of the night, if your spouse asked, “How will you open and close next week’s presentation?”, your response should be automatic and exactly what you will say.
Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE, has taught individual salespeople and sales teams how to speak more powerfully and boost their sales beyond expectations for 25 years. She is trusted by clients such as Microsoft, ADP, Visa, Genentech, Wounded Warrior Project and the American Payroll Association. Her interactive virtual training platform offers a surefire shortcut to becoming powerfully persuasive and successful in sales. www.FrippVT.com.
Three Presentation Mistakes That Kill Your Message And Bore Your Audience
Successful presentations don’t happen by accident—they are carefully planned, crafted and rehearsed. Note these three common presentation mistakes and some ways to avoid them.
Mistake No. 1: Failing To Engage The Audience
Regardless of how much experience you have in making presentations, engaging your audience is an intentional process. People have short attention spans and it is your job to re-engage each member of your audience often throughout your talk. Some of the best ways to engage and re-engage your audience are to:
• Use compelling, well-crafted stories.
• Share just enough information to make your point, leaving the extra details for a written report later.
• Don’t be a corporate “talking head.” Be a likeable, knowledgeable person who connects to each audience member.
• Today audiences want to be entertained. A verbal flatliner with little variety in tone, volume and speed will lose the audience quickly.
The Solution: Preparation
Ensure success by using a robust presentation process and structure to address:
• Key intent
• Maximum points for time allotted
• Illustrative stories
• Audience/content calibration
• Power opening
• Call to action
Mistake No. 2: Being A Support To Your Slide Presentation
You have heard of death by PowerPoint but don’t believe it can happen to your audience. It is easy to slip into one of these traps that cause you to lose power and momentum:
• Slides should provide visual support, not take over the show. Your slides should not make you appear as someone who speaks only when the slide changes.
• You should be the authority, not the slide show. If you let your slides share the most important information, it might be better to email everyone your slides because they don’t need to hear you.
• People respond better to other people, but slides are easier to deliver. No matter how effective your slides are, they will never compel an audience to take action as well as you can when you are clear and passionate in your delivery.
The Solution: More Practice
Formally practicing your presentation is the only way to make sure that your carefully developed content is presented effectively. To get the most from your practice time, use the following process:
• Practice delivering your presentation (not silently reading it) while standing
• Video (or at least audio) record it
• Review the recording
• Refine your presentation
Mistake No. 3: Failing To Improve
Your presentations will ultimately define your success and, when done properly, will be remembered and acted on by your audience. While the ability to present information is critical to many professionals, most fail to improve over time, typically as a result of one factor: they don’t get feedback from the right people. Do you rely on feedback from:
• Friends, family and staff? These people are close to you, they like you and have a relationship or dependency on you. They are not necessarily objective and honest with you.
• The people who come up after your presentation and tell you how great it was? These people might just want to get a few seconds with you for their own reasons or you may have connected well with them. What about all the people who didn’t come up? What did they think?
The Solution: Get Strategic Feedback
Try the following tips:
• When people say “Great job,” thank them and then ask:
o What is something specific you learned?
o What are you going to do differently as a result of what you heard?
o How do you feel about this subject?
• By asking specific questions after you speak, you will discover what they really heard. Ask this of listeners who come up to you and those who don’t.
• Listen to a recording of your presentation as a disinterested, disengaged audience member who believes there are better things to do than listen to you. What would you improve?
• Ask a trained speaker to provide an assessment of your presentation skills at least quarterly.
--Mark A. Vickers, a certified professional coach and certified world-class speaking coach, is a communications consultant who helps organizations improve performance through improved communication and speaking skills. http://speakingisselling.com