5 WAYS TO ACE THAT SALES PRESENTATION


I've been in corporate sales for about 15 years working for different brands both in the financial and retail sectors before I finally decided to embark in training and consultancy. I've seen 'em all; from the uberly enthusiastic and sold on the first hello to the apathetic and "I'll forget you were ever here" customers. Being a customer myself I have had my share of seeing some really brilliant and informative presentations to those whom I'd rather find bliss in banging my head on the wall rather than sitting through the entire pitch!

I am in no way saying I'm a virtuoso either, but I can give you some advice for all of you groping in the dark to those who just need a little polish in acing that dreaded production. I have compiled several tips grown from personal experience on the listening side of the pitch to that of years of experience in getting that elusive nod.

Why do people get so nervous during that big presentation if not completely run away from it? Some would rather clean toilets than stand in front of decision makers on the business stage while others seemingly breeze through confidently and competently, inviting even the feared Q&A session afterwards?

Let me debunk several myths for you:


SALES PRESENTATION MYTH NUMBER 1: "I need to impress my audience!"

By audience I mean they are either one of two: 1.) A branch of your company's executive and/or managerial team who tasked you to provide them a brief on sales, inventory or marketing figures and 2.) An existing or potential group of internal or external customers interested in seeing the features of that new product or service. A lot of us make the fatal mistake of assuming that we can win them over by just impressing their 5 senses; a setting in a posh restaurant or hotel conference room, sumptuous meals and drinks that last long after office hours and a fully decked out but isolated ambience. I have spoken to several business people who said they would prefer eating in a foodcourt jotting down breakthrough ideas on table napkins than savoring French cuisine and wine but ending the discussion not agreeing on common terms. Sure a little preparation and TLC wouldn't hurt, but the currency of business nowadays is not about perception but rather INFORMATION. Let me connect that with the next point:


SALES PRESENTATION MYTH NUMBER 2: "It's all about me!"

If you were a customer sitting through 2 presentations which one would interest you? One who's well dressed, sharp and prim and talks complete rubbish or a guy in a black t-shirt and denims showing you an idea which can change the way you look at how you live, entertain and interact? If your choice is the former I'd imagine you were taught old school that looks drive the sales and I can't blame you. Many of us are so concerned with the press of our clothes and the way their tie falls squarely at our belt buckles but this is clearly not the case. Your audience is more concerned about the information they can gather from your presentation than your choice of hair gel. Sure shines those shoes and trim those nails but focus on what's more important; what kind of information can I give my audience that can provide them the opportunity to make educated buying decisions. Remember, the amount of time you allocate in preparation and processing data is more important than what you spent in front of the mirror.

Oh and by the way, the guy in the black t-shirt and denims I was describing was Steve Jobs, the man who gave us the I-phone, Macbook and I-pad. He is considered one of the most exciting and effective presenters in corporate America selling millions of Apple products while placing the attention away from him but rather on the product and information. Catch my drift?


SALES PRESENTATION MYTH NUMBER 3: "The more numbers the better!"

It is said that the average attention span of a fully grown adult is at 7 seconds, anything you do that does not excite them within that time and the customer is lost unless you handcuff them to the chair. This holds especially true with numbers and text. We believe that smothering the screen with columns and rows of numbers make the presentation impressive (another misconception) and brims with preparation. Others use tons of text on powerpoint to create the illusion of being stocked with info.

Bad move.

The human brain interprets and processes in pictures and symbols so putting too much data literally choke our brains and produces overload thus making the slide completely unintelligible. Make no mistake, numbers and text are important, but the manner in which you present them is even more. Our dear friend in the black t-shirt knew this well. While most of us would be tempted to describe a new laptop in grams, millimeters and wattage, Jobs created an emotional connection in his presentation of the new Macbook Air by taking it out from an ordinary manila envelope! Now that eclipses all technical jargon and specs. Even the nerds rejoiced! (I'm one of them by the way)


SALES PRESENTATION MYTH NUMBER 4: "I am not eloquent, presentations are not for me"

This is connected with another misconception people feel that the audience is just waiting for them to make a mistake and pounce on them at the slightest chance. Truth be said, I would not want to see anybody making a presentation crumble and fluster in front of everybody and I'm sure you do too. Nobody wants to see you fail, but you are what you think. Even the best presenters get nervous too but not for the wrong reasons.

I once asked a colleague of mine why he is petrified being front and center and he said "I'm just not good at it, I get scared just thinking about presenting" Though that may hold true for right brainers and introverts what would you do if you were called at bat?

PREPARATION.

People normally get scared because they normally don't know what might happen. We are all afraid of what we don't understand, hence the need to prepare. If anyone asked you about your favorite sport or artista I am very sure you can talk about the topic the whole day! It's basically the same. The more you know about what you are presenting the less the risk of being caught off guard.


SALES PRESENTATION MYTH NUMBER 5: "The presentation seals the deal!"

Don't forget why you are up there. Going back to myth #2 I mentioned that your presentation should give your clients the right information in making a decision to hand you that check. But some people make the error of hiding the quality of information through videos, audio and tons of pictures. Technology won't do it for you either. The presentation, whether it be for selling or getting acceptance for an idea or data is a sales activity. Selling does not end in informing.

Remember this very important point: An effective sales pitch should always be A CALL TO ACTION.

If the client was informed but did not act, then it's a failure. There was no exchange, no transaction that transpired though the business hotel and coffee makers acknowledge the increase in sales. How you are able to move your client towards the next step in consummating the contract will be the measure of your spiel. The presentation can be pretty and nice with all the bells and whistles, but if you did not create the emotional connection to make them act, you're probably wasting your time on the wrong priorities.


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