For over a decade in this business I have seen and heard so many sales presentations. I’ve seen good sales presentations, I’ve seen bad sales presentations. And yes, I’ve seen downright ugly sales presentations. So what are good sales presentation techniques? The kind of sales presentation techniques that can win that six-figure contract? Here are eight sales presentation habits to identify and avoid—at all costs!
By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak
In the years since I founded ConfidentSpeak, I’ve worked with so many sales executives on their presentations, vocal skills and executive presence. I’ve seen at first hand what makes for a successful sales presentation—and I want to share with you today some of the presenting habits which can seriously impact your confidence, the success of your sales presentations, and ultimately the bottom line in your businesses.
If you are a CEO, a sales director or a sales manager with responsibility for a team, I hope that the eight sales presentation techniques below will help you to identify whether these habits are commonplace within your teams.
Because if your team has any or all of these bad habits, they are most certainly having a detrimental effect on sales figures.
1. Stop Thinking About Yourself
I’ve seen this happen so many times. So often, in fact, that it deserves to be Number 1 in this list.
Many executives might say they are “focused on their customer”, but what happens in reality?
In reality, they might know their customer’s name and job title, but have not given a single thought to them apart that. And this is recipe for a certain letdown.
Without careful and strategic consideration for your audience and without tailoring your message to their requirements—remember here, your audience is your prospective decision maker—you are losing so much credibility.
And because of that, you are almost certain to lose out to your competitor for that prized contract.
Your audience is more than just a title, you need to understand them deeply.
You must keep your audience in mind all the time. You must tailor your message to meet their requirements, not yours.
Every audience you present to has different wants, wishes and challenges – it’s your job to find out as much as you can about your audience and tailor your message to meet their world.
Yes, it takes time but will be worthwhile when your audience feels valued and understood. Then they will feel positive towards listening—and ultimately opening the “chequebook”.
Three-Word Takeaway: Get Outside Yourself
2. Winging It
Following on from the point above, so often I hear sales executives saying they have no time to prepare for sales presentations or meetings, or that they feel they don’t need to prepare.
They say they have their “tried and tested” presentation. So they’ll just “wing it”.
It makes me tear my hair out! Even if you are an experienced presenter, this is not setting you up for success.
You need to remember that ultimately, you do not decide how good your sales presentation actually is or how good you are as a presenter; your audience (not you) is always the decision maker.
Even more importantly, they also get decide how they spend their money.
You need to get out of the habit of believing that “winging it” is enough.
If you want a greater level of success you need to realise that planning is vital. Yes, this requires thought and time, no question about that and this needs to be factored into your day/week.
There are a number of planning tools and techniques you can use to be able to plan very efficiently and reap the rewards. (Get in touch with us for more on planning tools and techniques to prepare better for your sales presentations.)
Three-Word Takeaway: No Winging It
3. Social Bore, Business Setting
How often do you start your presentation with some variation of this.
“Here’s our company, here’s our employee numbers, here are our services. Oh, here are our clients too. And here’s blah blah, blah…”
If you do just one thing today, make a commitment to yourself to notice when you’re being self-centred and to STOP right now!
Think about the last time you met someone out socially and they “rattled on and on” about their holiday, their family, their car or their job, and never once stopped to ask your opinion or about your life.
How did that make you feel?
Not great I’m guessing? You might even go so far as avoiding that person now.
Now think of that in a business context. If you want to build a relationship with a prospective client, do your research and find out about them before you launch into your message.
Then bring their world into your message.
Starting getting curious about your audience to understand their needs.
Three-Word Takeaway: Don’t Do Boring
4. Delivering 30-Minute Sales Presentations
Think about this for a moment.
What is your attention span when you sit in an audience?
How quickly do you get distracted? Of course it depends on the situation, but even if you’re being regaled with a Verdi operetta, it’s not uncommon that in any given moment of downtime you’ll feel a little twitchy and do something like checking your watch or your phone, right?
I have news for you.
Your audience is no different.
Equally they have a short attention span, so make sure you respect their time. To put it a different way, respect their attention span.
If you cannot communicate your sales presentation in 10 minutes (or under) in a concise, audience-focused and memorable way, then you probably are going to struggle getting your audience to make that decision you so badly require.
So share your short presentation and then open the meeting to a focussed discussion.
Three-Word Takeaway: Ten Minutes (Tops!)
5. Unleashing the Jargon
Tell me when you start groaning.
“It is what it is.”
“Do more with less.”
“Take it to the next level.”
“Let’s circle back.”
“Think outside the box.”
There are lots more where they came from. If you’re being really uncharitable, you could try a game of Cliché Bingo next time you hear a sales pitch.
I hear it so often—generic, clichéd, jargon-filled content that is simply meaningless to the audience.
There is absolutely nothing more exhausting for any audience. Yes, you might feel comfortable with this language and it can be your “go-to content” when you’re under pressure, but unfortunately for your business it is much more than likely to be raising the hackles of the audience.
So bear this four-step process in mind.
- Make life as easy as possible for the audience
- Strip back all banal clichés or complex corporate lingo
- Speak in simple short sentences
- Use real examples and stories to illustrate your points
Another four-step checklist. This time, four questions you should always ask yourself before any presentation:
- Is this content meaningful and understandable to the audience?
- Is this content relevant to the audience?
- Is this content helping the audience make a decision?
- Is this content relevant in helping me achieve my goal?
If you answer “No” to any of those four, you have to be ruthless. Delete!
Three-Word Takeaway: Watch Your Language
6. Sitting Down (Also Known As: Taking the Easy Option)
I am often told by sales executives I work with that they tend to sit down, open the laptop and “talk through the slides”.
Two things about this approach.
- It is the safe and easy option
- It is totally forgettable
Even that phrase—”Talk through the slides”—gives me the shivers.
I say, set yourself up for success.
Plan to stand up and fully own and inhabit your presentation.
If there are more than 3-4 people in your audience you will have a much greater impact in a room.
Yes, it’s true that sometimes you will be on a client’s site and there may be physical limitations. But be brave and take control.
Do whatever you need to investigate the room setup and technology in advance. It requires a quick call ahead of time, but it will send a clear message to your prospective client that you are focused on their meeting and giving them your full commitment.
Standing up does not mean you are formal. If you maintain a conversational style, you will be more memorable and professional.
Three-Word Takeaway: Stand and Deliver
7. Thinking Rehearsal is for Rookies
When we explain to our sales clients the importance of rehearsal, they look at us like we are crazy. Often they say “you don’t understand how busy we are” ! Wrong, we understand very well, we work with hundred of sales executives yearly. We also know how decisions are made by your clients and we know what a polished, confident presenter can achieve. So, imagine taking 30 minutes over the course of a few days, practicing your message aloud (not in your head pressing the slideshow button). This rehearsal will ensure you are confident, concise and polished – now that is priceless.
“Rehearse your message aloud at least three times – even if it’s in the car on the way to the meeting”
Three-Word Takeaway: Practice Makes Perfect
8. Playing the Blame Game
When we don’t secure the contract or business after a meeting or sales presentation, there are of course many reasons, but don’t jump to conclusions and blame (1) a biased member in the audience, (2) a product, (3) competitor advantage, (4) some other external factor. You must always ask yourself what you could have done differently, it is vital to do a debrief and self reflect:
Did you consider the client’s needs/challenges and create a compelling message for them?
Did you prepare relevant, tailored and memorable content for your audience?
Did you plan effectively and rehearse ahead of the meeting?
Did you have slides that were relevant to your client?
If you are answering “no” to any of these, then you need to re-assess, get feedback from the client or your colleagues and take ownership of your sales presentations. If you do you will have a much greater chance of securing that 6 figure contract.
Three-Word Takeaway: No More Blame
There you have it.
Eight things to bring into your sales presentation techniques to bring you so much closer to six-figure contracts.
Here’s a quick recap.
- Get Outside Yourself
- No Winging It
- Don’t Do Boring
- Ten Minutes (Tops!)
- Watch Your Language
- Stand and Deliver
- Practice Makes Perfect
- No More Blame
Finally, remember this.
Presentation skills are a muscle.
It responds to constant work. So NEVER stop developing your presentation muscle.
If you are an experienced sales presenter and have had great success, well done to you!
If, on the other hand, you want to stand out among today’s busy decision makers by presenting effectively to secure that contract, know that this is a skill that can be learned and practised.
At ConfidentSpeak we teach you how to use these skills and techniques to get the results you want, and we have designed a dedicated “Sales Communication Bootcamp” especially for Sales Executives.
ConfidentSpeak is a Voice and Communications consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland.
We offer a range of voice and communications programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals. Our packages are tailored for both individual and corporate level. We work with leading Irish and international companies and executives.
Contact us for details by filling out this form, or call or email us via the details below.
Telephone:- +353 1 9696056
ConfidentSpeak is a specialist S.T.E.M Communications & Coaching Consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland. We work with leading Irish and international companies and executives at home and abroad. Contact us for details on our range of corporate/private programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals.