Customer Experience News & Trends

5 unbreakable rules of persuasive sales presentations

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

Prospects are all different, and every presentation you make must be carefully tooled to win them over. Here are five rules for persuasive presentations:

Rule #1: Most presentations are won in preparation, not in the interview. Winning salespeople spend enormous amounts of time finding out what the prospect wants. They want to know their prospects’ needs better than the prospects themselves.

Try to uncover facts about what the prospect needs and not just about what your product or service can do for them. 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 expectations.
  • Do I know the customer’s quantity, service and delivery requirements?
  • Do I know who the buying influences are, their titles, responsibility and authority?

Rule #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.

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 information content. Your goal is for the prospect to feel something that advances your proposal.
  • Start building 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 that you can be totally passionate about.

Rule #3: The most persuasive salespeople strengthen dialogues and don’t try to control it. The least persuasive presentation starts and ends with salespeople who take total control of the conversation.

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

Ask yourself:

  • What can I do to help the prospect understand, motivate them to feel, show the contrast, help them to trust, get the involved or see a benefit that will win acceptance for my product or service?
  • How can I put my prospects first? What do I have to do to persuade them?
  • 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.

Rule #4: Don’t talk about solutions too soon. A common fault in the presentation is to talk about solutions too early in the call. 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 conceivable angle and determine what you offer that is truly unique.

Try to find ways to get the prospect involved in the sale. Ask questions. Get feedback on major selling points. Prospects want information, knowledge and helpful ideas. Do everything you can to share everything you know.

Rule #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, no matter how persuasive your presentation has been.

Be relentless. Momentum comes from a consistent effort. At the start of your presentation, your prospect may think a competitor has a better product or service. If your presentation is effective, your prospect will now see you on top.

This is the time to assume a positive confirmation with a commitment to start doing business together today.

Adapted from Presentations That Change Minds by Josh Gordon (McGraw-Hill). Josh Gordon is the president of Gordon Communication Strategies, a skill training and representation firm based in New York City.

Subscribe Today

Get the latest customer experience news and insights delivered to your inbox.