Sales presentations are funny old things. You look at others and they seem to do everything so smoothly, intuitively…and without stage fright. You, on the other hand, are a bundle of nerves, trying to remember lines and hoping you won’t freeze when the pressure is on.
The truth about sales presentations is that EVERYONE gets riddled with pre-stage nerves. Fact is, successful outcomes are all down to effort. To make something seem effortless actually takes more effort and the more effort you put in to making a sales presentation then the more chance you have of succeeding.
Of course, we all know how to make a sales presentation. It’s basic selling law. But when the crunch time comes, these laws often fly out of the window. So let’s do a refresher and look at the basics of presenting with 8.5 tips you already knew but have most likely forgotten.
1. Planning and preparation
In any sales situation or negotiation it’s essential to have a clear plan of your desired outcome. It also pays to have a plan B and plan C.
Planning is the key to the door of sales success and the first thing you’ll need to think of is the need to write a script and plan your visual aids. So, before you hit that meeting, brainstorm and prepare all of your questions and answers.
With each question, write out all of the possible outcomes then craft a flowchart of the way the conversation may go. Being totally prepared takes effort but it also breeds confidence.
2. Don’t over script
If you’re over-scripted you’ll have no flexibility and, heaven forbid, what would happen if you forgot your script half way through the presentation? But surely, I’ve just given all the reasons to be scripted?
It’s all down to balance, and that again takes effort. The last thing you’ll want to be is sounding like a talking book. Outlining the structure of your presentation will give you flexibility and the freedom to ad lib, answer questions and inject a spark of spontaneity to the proceedings.
Planning and preparing your script, and to over-writing it, all comes down to structure and rehearsal. You’ll want your story to have a middle beginning and end (the closed sale) and this is how your script notes – rather than just script – should be organised.
As a guide you’ll want to start off by introducing yourself and your product or service then explain the points you wish to make before handling any objections and then closing the sale.
No amount of rehearsal can prepare you for real life events but rehearse you must do. The rule is to run through your presentation several times so that you are familiar with the story. Actors do it when rehearsing for a stage play. You’re the actor and your stage is the sales pitch. Rehearsing will give you the professional edge, just like an actor rehearsing for a stage play.
5. Start with power
All of a sudden the curtain is about to rise, the stage will be yours and all of the effort you’ve put into preparation, structure and rehearsal is about to bear fruit. Or is it?
Making a sales presentation is heart pumping stuff so before you start, take a few deep breaths, calm yourself and then go for it – head up, good eye contact, a friendly yet authoritative manner.
Ask questions and demonstrate by listening that you are incredibly interested in the client. Take notes and do so often.
6. Use metaphors
This is where your pre-planning really comes in. By rehearsing every outcome you’ll know your script and presentation structure backwards. Better still, you’ll be able to use metaphors and analogies to explain your points.
By doing so you’ll be speaking in clear visualisations that’ll help your prospect better understand what you’re saying. After all, visualisation is realisation!
7. Find their driver
Every prospect has a need, it’s just that many don’t know it yet. Through erudite questioning and listening you’ll be able to discover what drives your prospect, the result of which will steer you closer to the sale.
Ask your prospect two questions:
“What would happen if you don’t replace/fix/address this need?”
“What would happen if you did replace/fix/address this need?”
By getting your prospect to really think about both consequences it will focus their attention on their need and desire to achieve a positive result – which is…
8. Closing the sale
It goes without saying that you must close a sale. All your hard work – your effort – has been put into this singular outcome. Here’s a technique you can employ when you decide that you’ve sold enough.
Simply, round up all of the salient points of your conversation and gain a positive reaction to each. When you’ve done this, you can ask for the business.
8.5 - A foot note
It does seem as though I’m teaching grandmother to suck eggs but in my experience, in a sales situation, the most fundamental rules are so easy to disregard in an attempt to shortcut sales success.
The truth is, there is no shortcut. So maybe it’s time to remember what you knew but have most probably forgotten, implement the above and become the sales professional you want to be.
By Doug Tucker, Managing Director of Sales Commando, an international sales training organisation. His motto is 'Have fun. Make money' and you can too! More sales techniques, advice and tips can be found in Doug Tucker’s book ‘Sales Commando, Unleash Your Potential’. The book gets straight to the heart of issues, complexities and opportunities and encourages and accelerates personal growth and sales success.