Customer Experience News & Trends

9 elements of winning sales presentations

You’re in front of your prospect and he or she is ready to listen to you. Your challenge now is to structure all of your material into a logical, memorable story you can deliver effectively. Here’s what will help:

  1. Start with a powerful opening that’s about the prospect. Be very clear about the outcome you want and structure your material to support it. If prospects understand what’s going to happen, they’re much more likely to stay engaged throughout the presentation. Try to anticipate what benefits you’re offering the prospect and what you’d like the next step to be.
  2. Make it easy for your prospect to follow what you’re saying. What are the key points you want the prospect to remember? How will you illustrate each point? What examples will the prospect be able to repeat after three days time?
  3. Keep it crisp. Some salespeople talk too much about themselves and their companies. The result is a one-way interaction — they’re giving information, but they’re not having a conversation. The key to connecting with a client is good conversational skills. The key to a good conversation is to ask questions, then listen to the answers.
  4. Use memorable stories. Prospects rarely remember your exact words, but they may remember the mental images your words inspired in them. Try to support your key points with vivid, relevant stories. Help prospects form lasting images in their minds by using memorable characters, exciting situations and intriguing dialogue.
  5. Use third-party endorsements. Examples of how you’ve helped other customers are a powerful way of proving the benefits of the product or service you’re selling. The more relevant you make the stories, the better. Try to make the story flow logically: This was how bad the problem was. This is what you did about it. What were the outcomes? What were the benefits customers accrued as a result?
  6. Connect on a human level. The most powerful presentations combine intellectual and emotional connections. Prospects may justify doing business with you for specific analytical reasons. But what may give you an edge is creating an emotional connection, too. Emotion comes from engaging prospects’ imaginations, involving them in your stories by frequent use of the word “you” and answering their unspoken question, “What’s in this for me?”
  7. Provide the right level of detail. What level of detail is your prospect seeking? Generally, you start at a high level, objective view and work down into more and more detail. You need to be sensitive to your prospect’s needs when it comes to detail. Some prospects like the high level, objective view while others prefer the detail.
  8. Pause. Good presentations contain changes of pace, pauses and full rests. Pauses give prospects an opportunity to think about the important point you’ve just made. Give them time to ask lots of questions and think over what has been said.
  9. Don’t let fluff kill your message. The secret of a good presentation is to use fewer words, not more. Take out the excess verbiage and concentrate on delivering a clean, crisp message.

Objections may help

No matter how thorough your presentation, your prospect will normally have unanswered questions and concerns you have to deal with before you can close. The ability to identify, analyze and answer a prospect’s objections puts you in a better position to provide the information the prospect needs before signing an order.

Here are five important things objections will tell you:

  1. Why the prospect may not buy.
  2. What you have to do to make the sale.
  3. Where you weren’t clear.
  4. Where the prospect needs more information.
  5. Where you weren’t effective.

Look for them early

Although objections can arise anywhere in the presentation, it’s best if they come at an early phase. If you don’t get specific input from your prospect during an early phase, there’s a good chance that you’ll have to deal with serious objections later when you’re trying to close.

Listen carefully  

Listen carefully when a prospect raises an objection. Don’t argue as it only establishes an adversarial relationship that destroys trust. One of the most important things to do in handling objections is to ask questions. Prospects will sometimes cover their true objections with a smoke screen. Subtle questioning may pinpoint the real objection.

Adapted from: Presentations Plus, by David Peoples, a sales trainer for major corporations, including IBM, General Electric, The American Institute of CPAs and the American Red Cross.

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