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5 Tips to Craft Winning Sales Presentations

5 Tips to Craft Winning Sales Presentations

From product details to solution recommendations, sales reps present a lot. As a sales training company, we study, teach, and coach best practices for presentations. Typically, these involve one seller with one or two buyers. However, today, with so much uncertainty, budgets are tight, decision makers are plentiful, and competition is stiff. This complicates presentations and raises the stakes. In such an environment, here’s how to make the most of high-level sales presentations: 

Preparation

In day-to-day presentations, prep includes knowing your prospect’s industry, size, vertical, and problem. This sets the stage for discovery, uncovering their deeper needs. Often, when qualifying prospects, you want to know their budget and ability to pay.

In formal presentations, preparation must go further. Here, you need to know their financials. This means more than their mission, values, and culture. Now, you want annual reports, forecasts for growth, where they’ve been, are, and are going. In addition, this includes:  

  • Who you’re presenting to
  • Challenges they’ve faced
  • Solutions they’ve tried
  • What matters most
  • Effect on their bottom line

High-level presentations often involve multiple VIPs, including those with purse strings. Knowing these players lets you appeal to and align their needs to create a cadre of influence. This helps personalize presentations. When addressing managers, VPs, or the high C of Cs, make eye contact and connect content to person/position.

Here, too, move beyond organizational challenges to individual departments. Target the specific needs of decision makers. Never underestimate the personal touch. When your presentation addresses a known need, use their name. For example, “We all know how much Martina’s materials management team hates waste.”

Learn about the success and limitations of previous solutions. With this, sellers can highlight how theirs does more. This differentiates trusted partners and custom solutions from a typical salesperson’s generic solutions for common problems.

In addition, presentation preparation should address the buyer’s most pressing needs. This allows presenters to tie immediate needs to what’s most important, the bottom line.

Structure

The structure of a presentation is key to its success. We’ve all experienced poorly structured presentations that lack timing, pace, and engagement. Often, this stems from the misguided notion that sellers can just wing it. Instead, winning presentations are carefully planned, plotted, and executed. To help yours succeed, maximize these tips:  

  • Make It brief
  • Keep it simple
  • Note timing and pace
  • Leverage technology
  • Promote a lively Q&A

Keeping it brief is more difficult than it sounds. It means making judicious cuts and sticking to the essentials. Of course, presentation length varies by client and proposal. However, each part should be timed to achieve its goal.

When structuring, plan each section. For example, allow seven minutes for your introduction, outlying their problem. Maybe you need 15 minutes to demo your solution. In addition, consider the effect and length of each visual. How do the images tie into your text? Also, for each slide, think of your decision makers. How might you appeal to them?  

Effective presentations should appear effortless, but they are well-crafted, precision machines. A big part of this is timing and pace. With so much information, it’s easy to pack too much. But short and engaging beats long and boring. Plus, your supplemental material can fill gaps and add support.

As noted, high-level presentations often involve many decision makers. They can also include multiple sellers, such as one to present, one to demo, and a tech specialist. This presents challenges, especially if some players join remotely. As in virtual selling, technology can make or break presentations. Therefore, it’s essential to leverage tech effectively. Consider the following:

  • Check, recheck, and triple check technology
  • Practice before a mirror or co-workers
  • Conduct a dress rehearsal with other presenters
  • Plan use of your camera and material you want to share
  • Time sections for pace

Top sellers anticipate questions and objections. They maximize prep to minimize surprise. Also, they know lively Q&As boost interaction and engagement. Instead of a perfunctory close, encourage questions. Frame your Q&A as an invitation. For example, “Now, I’d like to get your input.” Again, address specific players, like, “Michelle, any questions from the manufacturing team?” This can spark a productive comment or question from someone who might’ve stayed silent.

If tech glitches stall sales, they kill presentations. That’s why top presenters check and recheck. But more importantly, know your content. If your slideshow won’t slide, you don’t just pack it in. You play your set unplugged.

Content

The heart of any presentation is content. It should demonstrate a deep understanding of the prospect’s problems and how your solution can help. At your conclusion, prospects should remember what you said, how you can help, and the value provided. Here’s an overview of the content needed:  

  • Emphasize problems over solutions
  • Illustrate value
  • Display visual representations
  • Utilize social proof

In day-to-day presentations, it can be tempting to focus on solutions. Sellers naturally want to highlight features as fixes. However, the client’s problem is key. It’s the source of their issues, concerns, and their stress. Focusing on the problem shows commitment. It builds trust and places the emphasis on the client, not the seller.

Further, highlighting the problem stresses need. The more pressing their need, the more attractive your solution—and the sooner they want it.

Ultimately, value can make or break presentations. The best solution can’t help clients who can’t afford it. Therefore, top sellers present a range of options. Here, sellers must demonstrate the economics of value, how your solution saves time and money over the long-term.

Of course, it’s one thing to tell a prospect how they will benefit. It’s another thing to show it. The best infographics are visual representations of value. These include images, icons, charts, and graphs that paint pictures prospects remember. Think how a 150% ROI looks, in bold, on a slide. In this, sellers should enlist their marketing departments to create content that resonates.   

Along with metrics, social proof highlights value. This does not mean sharing that story from Las Vegas (What happens here, stays here). Instead, it is using the behaviors of one to influence another. For example, “XYZ corporation implemented our ABC suite of products to achieve unprecedented growth.” The implication here is that similar clients in comparable positions may see equivalent results.

Delivery

Any message is only as effective as its delivery. You may have the right solution, at the right price. But until this is conveyed, it’s for naught. Here are tips to deliver content effectively:

  • Focus on audience
  • Accentuate speech over text
  • Make it interactive
  • Practice delivery

Focus on the audience. You are there for them. They are not there for you. For those unaccustomed to public speaking, the fear is real. They may be tempted to stare at walls or the tops of heads. This is a common tactic for anyone who thinks the goal is to finish. However, the goal is to win over this audience. This starts with a genuine connection. Some tips to consider:

  • Eye contact
  • Facial expressions
  • Body language
  • Hand gestures
  • Physical movement (stepping forward, back, or side to side)

Many presenters memorize. Others read bullet points. Alone, neither is a winning strategy. Instead of quick tricks, know your stuff. Display your expertise. Speak candidly about a problem you know, products you believe in, and a team you trust.

Successful presenters accentuate speech over text. Bullet points are great to highlight features or salient points, but they are not compelling. Buyers won’t remember your bullets. Instead, they remember how what you said you made them feel. If you’re engaged and energized, they will recall your presentation.

More than a salesperson pushing a product, you’re a knowledgeable, insightful, and passionate advocate. Fittingly, these are also the qualities of trusted advisors and potential partners.

Today, interactivity is essential. This can take many forms, such as rhetorical questions, informal polling, or even role play. But as a rule, interactive presentations are more memorable. Plus, they build rapport, increase engagement, and speed the process for presenters and attendees.

As sellers saw in the shift to virtual selling, virtual takes effort. It’s easier to engage in person. We make natural eye contact and interpret proximity. In virtual, however, these must be more deliberate. The same is true for presentations.

Post Presentation

Post presentation, sellers may retreat and await the call. However, instead of a ringing phone, you’ll likely hear crickets. This is because even the most effective presentation takes time to resonate. Also, you’re probably not the only vendor your prospect solicited. Chances are, they’re evaluating your presentation against others. While you can’t control competitors, you can support your position. Consider the following:

  • Set dates, times, and tasks
  • Create teams
  • Check in
  • Send additional collateral

Even if you hit a home run, your work isn’t over. It’s not presumptuous or bad luck to set the next steps or build a team. In addition to keeping your presentation in mind, you want to keep momentum.

Also, remember, your long-range plans. Sure, you want to win the sale. But the larger goal is to build a relationship and become a partner. Therefore, check in with your contacts, not just to hear the score but show your eagerness. After all, clients can’t see results until they implement solutions, but enthusiasm can be infectious.

Another important step is sending relevant collateral. If you deliberately kept your presentation lean, now you can implement additional blogs, testimonials, and case studies. These support your solution and drive home the social proof you established.

Of course, important sales presentations can seem intimidating. But like everything in sales, familiarity builds confidence. Rather than make-or-break moments, presentations are steps in a process.

Like sellers, presentations should be compelling, dynamic, and confident. They show buyers what you do, how you help, and the benefits provided. In this, presentations should display confidence in your organizations, products, and yourself. If you believe in all three, your prospects will see it. More importantly, they will feel it and want in.

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