By Jeff Beals
When you sit down in front of a would-be client for the big presentation, remember it’s show time. Sure, a sales presentation should have some give-and-take, question-and-answer, but don’t forget to put on a bit of a show. It’s time to borrow a little from the theatrical world. All the hard work that you have invested in researching the prospect and preparing for the meeting is analogous to the rehearsals a theater troupe puts in before a live production.
When the curtain rises on your presentation, be ready to delight the audience. While we want to be genuine and honest, remember that show business sells. Sizzle sells. Excitement sells. Be energetic. Be positive. Be interesting. Paint a picture of how wonderful it will be to do business with you and your company. Cast a vision of how much the prospect’s life will improve because you have the perfect solution to his or her problem.
While you’re putting on that great show, don’t go too long. As they say in the theater world, leave them wanting more. Too much of a good thing is actually bad. You want your great presentation to end within a reasonable amount of time, so prospects don’t become bored, and so you have enough time for questions and answers and casual conversation, which helps strengthen relationships.
If you are pitching more than one person, make sure to focus on all of them. It can feel natural to focus all or most of your attention on the supposed decision maker, but that can be a fatal flaw. For one thing, you never can be sure who will really make the decision. Just because the CEO is in the room doesn’t mean that the vice president is automatically not the decision maker. The CEO may just be there out of curiosity and could be planning to have the trusted VP decide. If you focus too much on one person, the others present could feel slighted and disrespected. That never bodes well for you.
Men have to be particularly careful not to focus too much on the male audience members. Even in today’s generally egalitarian business culture, it is still not uncommon to see male salespersons focus far more attention on the guys during presentations. In many cases, this could be a subconscious mistake as opposed to a deliberate one. Either way, it hurts your chances if a woman in the room is the real decision maker. Even if she is not, she may have tremendous influence over the decision maker. If she feels you are prejudiced or disrespectful, she just might sabotage your chances.
Spend at least some time highlighting value-added benefits during the formal presentation. These are things that aren’t foundational to sealing the deal but can help “push it over the top.” No matter what else, the presentation should focus on what the prospective client values.
If you plan to use audio-visual aids during your sales presentation, be very careful. Too often sales professionals will invest great effort in their PowerPoint deck and too little on the delivery. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to sit there and read what appears on the screen. If you use PowerPoint or something like it, incorporate it into the pitch but don’t make it the main focus.
Nothing is more dull, boring and awkwardly artificial than a sales presenter who simply goes over a PowerPoint, especially if you are presenting to a very small group of people.
The desirable picture you paint should linger in the prospect’s mind long after you’re gone. To provide a longer lasting vision, your message should be reinforced by a leave-behind packet that might include attractive materials designed specifically for use in sales presentations. These leave-behinds, either electronic or print, should have the same design as your website, videos and other printed materials, but are created with the intent that they will be viewed by prospects as they reflect on your in-person meeting.
Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at email@example.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.
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