If you want to “wow” your prospects and with memorable, engaging sales presentations, you need to have a framework from which you can build up to your pitch.
In this article, we’ll share a three-part structure that will help you impress prospects and increase sales over your competitors. We’ll also discuss fundamental sales presentation techniques that will help you make a stronger impression on your clients and enhance your sales and marketing efforts overall.
A good sales presentation is one that is adapted to the needs of the prospect in attendance. A great sales presentation is one that is not only adapted to the prospect but that establishes a two-way flow of information that is used to build up to a sales pitch.
This is in contrast to rather forgettable sales meetings that obviously follow a script, dive headfirst into overly long discussions of the product features, or that revolve around transparent and pushy question and answer sessions.
If these kinds of meetings sound familiar, it’s time to give your sales pitch an overhaul: you’ll need to refocus your sales presentations to address the prospect’s point of view. As we discuss the prospect-focused presentation tips below, keep one thing in that back of your mind: “it’s all about them.”
No matter what the product is or who is selling it, there are three parts to any effective sales presentation:
1. The Beginning, or Setting the Stage
2. The Middle, or Them–Us–Them
3. The Ending, or The Mutual Agreement to a Next Step
The beginning of every sales call, of every sales presentation, is crucial. It sets the stage for the entire meeting, informs everyone of the agenda, and gets all the key points and important issues on the table—especially issues that have occurred in the prospect’s world since the last meeting in the sales process.
Many things can happen between sales meetings, and all too often the prospect suddenly interrupts a salesperson—mid-meeting—and says:
“Thibaut, this is good, but some things have changed that you need to know about before you continue.”
Unless you have set the stage properly, the prospect most likely won’t speak up before the meeting starts. Instead of addressing his current concerns, you will end up wasting half the meeting on topics that are now of no interest to him.
That’s why every sales presentation should start with a short debrief of everything that has happened in the build up to the meeting, and a short discussion of the current meeting’s agenda.
The middle part of the sales presentation is really the content part of the meeting. It’s the discussion of features, benefits, and the value your products and services are going to be delivering. Here you are highlighting why the prospect should buy from you.
Keep in mind that the best sales presentations are interesting to the prospect. How do you prepare for a sales presentation so it captivates the prospect? Follow a Them—Us—Them model.
The Them—Us—Them framework is an important tool for sales professionals, and by keeping its principles in mind for the middle part of a sales presentation, you’ll ensure that you are always returning the discussion back to the prospect’s point of view. (And remember, it’s all about them).
To put this framework into practice, start the middle of every sales presentation by talking about them, the prospect. Have your first few slides be based on your homework or on leading questions to get them talking. You want at least the first 20 percent of the meeting to be about them. Your slides or presentation material should stimulate thought and get them involved. They care about their own value proposition—the value they are supplying to their customers—and how they can become more competitive. Use Feature/Benefit and Feature/Benefit/Value statements to summarize your points, and then stimulate their thinking by asking questions about what this means to them or how they would use this.
In between, you can talk about you—briefly.
But you will want to quickly come back to them, ending every sales presentation by talking about the prospect.
Now it is time for the ending. This is a way for you to summarize the meeting, gain agreement, and then offer a step towards the next sales presentation—or better yet, a sale.
The end of the sales presentation could be very formal, lasting twenty minutes or so. It might also be a quick 5 minute roundup. All of this depends on the complexity of the issues needed to be discussed and the level of risk involved in agreeing on next steps.
To end a sales presentation, follows three steps.
This is where you summarize the discussion you just had, making sure you put the prospect’s position first.
Make a statement that will gauge whether the prospect feels comfortable moving forward to the next step in the sales process and that underscores the value proposition your product or service has to offer.
Statements of this nature might take the following form:
- “Executives like yourself are always asking us . . .”
- “Companies we talk to want to know . . .”
- “Major clients like yourself often wonder . . .”
- “People in your position frequently ask us . . .”
- “Some homework I have done on your company shows you are probably asking yourself…”
- “You are probably wondering . . .”
- “You probably ask yourself on a daily basis . . .”
It is important to note that the prospect must agree with the sentiment expressed by your statement. The buyer usually agrees because it is a summation of the conversation that just took place, but if the prospect does not agree, then you have uncovered an objection that you need to deal with.
It’s much better to uncover an objection than to let it emerge later, after you have invested a lot more time and energy.
This is when you propose the next step in the sales process.
- Get rid of maps in your slide deck. No one cares where your home office is.
- Use Magic Markers—lots of Magic Markers. Use color, and a lot of it. It will keep your presentation in the prospects mind longer, and make a competitive difference, since most reactive sales people are using that old green marker.
- Write down the benefits of every feature you want to reinforce. (In color!) Don’t just write down the feature, write down the benefit and its value to the prospect.
- Use multiple media. A flip chart and a projector are more powerful than just using a projector. If you are only going to use a flip chart, use two!
- Keep the energy going. Ask questions and get them involved.
- Use anecdotes (especially anecdotes adapted to the target audience). Stories are great example of useful education tools. When you are making a point, use a story. It becomes a powerful anchor that prospects pay attention to.
- Have them write something down. Having them write something down helps them to remember, and the act of writing it down is a great way for objections to come out and for you to get them to share what is on their mind.
- As with any live engagement, pay attention to your body language and follow public speaking best-practices.
If you follow the three-part sales presentation structure outlined above, you will find that your prospects are more engaged and more likely to convert. And while you should always adapt the presentation tips outlined above for your own specific situation, a strong foundation based on proven techniques will always be the most effective.
About the author
Skip Miller is President of M3 Learning, a ProActive Sales Management and Sales Training Company based in the heart of Silicon Valley.