Customer Experience News & Trends

The anatomy of a winning sales presentation

Whether it’s selling a product or a service, the ability to present effectively can mean the difference between acceptance and rejection. 

Getting a prospect’s attention, holding it for a period of time, persuading him or her to accept your viewpoint, and then moving the person to action is a skill that can be learned by any salesperson who is willing to invest the time and effort it takes to do all of the above.

Presenting is essential in selling because it shows off your ability to think, analyze ideas, make judgments, develop arguments that command attention, and organize information in a way that moves prospects and customers to action.

The first meeting

The first meeting with a prospect may be a do-or-die time. Phone conversations, emails and letters can all be effective tools of persuasion. But face-to-face presentations are the heavy artillery of selling.

Prospects are all different, and every presentation you make must be carefully crafted to win them over.

Here are five rules for persuasive presentations:

1. Most presentations are won in the preparation, not in the interview. Winning salespeople spend a lot of time finding out what the prospect wants and needs. Facts about your prospect’s specific situation will always be more persuasive than facts about your product or service. To identify customer expectations, ask yourself:

  • Do I know how the prospect perceives his or her needs and why? You know what your perceptions are, but they might be quite different from the prospect’s.
  • Do I know the customer’s quality, service and delivery requirements?
  • Do I know who the buying influencers are, and what their titles, responsibilities and authorities are?

2. Emotion is a primary driver of the persuasion process. A persuasive presentation starts with the salesperson. Your own personal enthusiasm determines whether your presentation creates enthusiasm in the prospect.

Some emotional points to consider:

  • Every product or service has an emotional component. Whatever you’re presenting will have some kind of emotional content associated with it. Think about the emotions that different parts of your proposal may trigger in your prospect.
  • When you plan a persuasive presentation, try to plan the emotional content, along with the informational content. Your goal is for the prospect to feel something that advances your proposal.
  • Create enthusiasm by telling them why. You can have all the facts and details in the world, but if you can’t package and present it with passion and conviction, you’re probably not going to get the job done.
  • Tap into what it is personally that you share, experience or deeply believe about what you’re presenting. Ask yourself if there’s part of what you’re presenting you can be totally passionate about.

3. The most persuasive salespeople strengthen dialogue and don’t try to control it. The least persuasive presentation starts and ends with a salesperson who takes total control of the conversation.

What sets salespeople apart from competitors in prospects’ eyes is extensive knowledge of their business.

So ask yourself:

  • What can I do to help prospects understand, feel, trust and get involved?
  • How can I put my prospects first?
  • Will my facts hold up? Do I have credible proof to support them? You don’t want to be halfway into your presentation and be brought down by an objection to one of your facts.

4. Don’t talk about solutions too soon. A common fault in presentations by new salespeople is talking about solutions too early.

Offering solutions before you know a prospect’s needs may cause objections and reduce your chances for a successful close.

Your goal is to tailor the presentation to create something unique for the prospect. To do this, you need to study your product from every angle and determine what you offer that is truly unique.

5. Ask for the order. A persuasive presentation has a goal. Before you end the presentation, you either want to achieve that goal or understand what the next step toward achieving it will be.

In a sales presentation, if you don’t ask for the order you won’t get it.

What research shows about presentations

Research has pinpointed these facts about presentations:

  • It’s better to open the presentation with easy-to-settle points, rather than highly controversial ones.
  • Prospects remember the beginning and end of a presentation more than the middle.
  • Prospects remember the end better than the beginning, particularly when they’re unfamiliar with the product or service being sold.
  • Repetition of a message may lead to learning and acceptance.
  • When pros and cons of an issue are being discussed, it’s usually better to present your favored viewpoint last.
  • Agreement on controversial issues may be improved if they’re tied to issues on which agreement easily can be reached.
  • Conclusions should be stated explicitly, rather than left for the prospect to decide.

Adapted from: “25 Toughest Sales Objections,” by Stephan Schiffman, former present of DEI Sales, which has trained more than 500,000 sales professionals.

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