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The Sales Presentation ... The Bottom Line is Selling

By: Andy Marken

In his nearly 25 years in the advertising/public relations field, Andy has been involved with a broad range of corporate and marketing activities. Prior to forming Marken Communications in mid-1977, Andy was vice president of Bozell & Jacobs and its predecessor agencies. During his 12 years with these agencies, he developed and coordinated a wide variety of highly visible and successful promotional campaigns and activities for clients. A graduate of Iowa State University, Andy received his Bachelor's Degree with majors in Radio & Television and Journalism. Widely published in the industry and trade press, he is an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

Selling is hard work, even in the virtual world of the Internet.  It requires strong motivation, personal pride, perseverance, flexibility, energy, discipline, and focus.  Above all, it requires communicating and being able to read/understand the prospects' attitudes and needs, whether they are real or perceived.

A successful selling situation--especially when selling to a decision team in a company--is based on the salesperson's ability to communicate.  However, few salespeople are successful at selling "off-the-cuff." Your best salespeople prepare, rehearse, analyze, prepare and rehearse.  The more "tools" that you provide for them, the better job they can do in selling systems, products, programs and services.

While you will rarely use a complete company/product presentation in a specific sales situation, it is wise to have one, which discusses all of the features and benefits, as well as the salient selling points.  And, it should ask for the order.

It sounds simple, but these facts are often left at the office when there's selling to be done.  One of the major problems is that most professional sales training still stresses one-on-one selling.  But in today's selling environment, for systems as well as other products/services, a team presentation to a group of decision-makers is required.

This is not to say that one-on-one selling does not take place today.  But for organizations to be successful in specific market segments, they have to sell to more than just the buyer who calls or sends an email and places small orders.  There's more at stake in high-volume organizational sales, and more people participate in the decision making process.

The only way to ensure that your sales presentation is successful is to prepare.  Define and address your prospect's wants and needs.  Organize your presentation, use effective visual aids, and have a prepared presentation team.

Before the Presentation

Even before you consider the form and substance of your presentation, decide precisely what you want your audience to do when you are through.  What action do you want them to take?  By knowing this, you can be more convincing.
  • First, write down your objectives in a clear, concise manner.

  • Keep the objectives in front of you when you are preparing the information and materials to be used in the presentation.

  • Determine exactly who the decision-maker is in the group you are addressing.  Analyze his or her needs, objectives and interests.  Tailor your presentation to the real decision-maker.
Preparing Your People

When you're making a presentation, it is not necessary to overwhelm the prospect with people.  Keep the presentation team to a minimum.  If specialists are needed, have them prepared to come in and answer specific questions.  Don't bring them in "just in case."

Keep your statements brief and to the point.  Don't go off on a tangent.  And when you're not in the spotlight, don't interrupt.

Not everyone in your organization has the same presentation capabilities.  Perhaps he or she was hired for other talents or abilities.  If a person isn't the best for the presentation, then don't use them.  After all, you're out to win a sale, not a popularity contest within your own organization.

Know your audience. Find out as much as you can about the individuals' likes, dislikes and attitudes.  Continually monitor your presentation and its acceptance with your audience.  If you are putting them to sleep, change your game plan and strategy.

Keep the presentation upbeat and moving briskly.

In preparing your presentation, you are often up against a deadline, get the wheels moving as quickly as possible.  Develop a presentation schedule and list the materials you'll need to ensure that all of the items come together--before the deadline.

Presentation Hints

When you're making a presentation before any sized group, it's only natural to be a little nervous.  Be assured, your confidence will increase as the presentation goes along.

Follow the basic rules of good public speaking.
  • Stand erect, speak clearly and loudly enough to be heard in all areas of the room.

  • Introduce yourself and the members of your sales presentation team at the outset.

  • Shift positions during your presentation, but don't rock or pace.

  • Use visual words and physical descriptions as well as your visuals during the presentation.

  • Speak directly to your audience, shifting your eyes every five or ten seconds.  Continually make eye contact.

  • Use your hands and arms only slightly, and then only for emphasis.  Concentrate most of your energy into your facial and vocal expressions.

  • Concentrate on your audience's body language and make certain you keep them interested.  If people seem restless or it is apparent that you are losing their attention, change your pace or skip to a more interesting portion of the presentation.

  • Don't worry about mistakes.  They will happen no matter how many times you have made the presentation.  Just don't amplify the mistakes to your audience.  Often they will go unnoticed.

The best way to give a successful presentation is to have a full rehearsal with all of your participants.  When you schedule your rehearsal, make certain that you have enough time prior to the presentation to correct any problems or shortcomings that arise during the rehearsal.

The rehearsal is your chance to spot and correct flaws. Treat the presentation as the show itself.  Without this important step, problems and shortcomings will often go unnoticed, and the minor flaws may keep you from winning. During the rehearsal, check your timing.  Lean toward presenting your information at a quick pace.  People will seldom have the nerve to ask you to speed up because you're dull, but they will ask you to slow down because they find you and your information interesting.

Make certain that all of your slides, charts, video segments, and other audio-visual materials agree with the verbal information that is being presented.  And be as visual as possible.  Use only key words and allow the visuals to provide your audience with an outline of the message.  People learn 11 percent through what they hear and 83 percent through what they see.  They retain 20 percent of what they hear, 30 percent of what they see, and 50 percent of what they see and hear.

The final checkout is simply an extension of your rehearsal.  Do this an hour or so before your actual presentation.  Make certain the room is set up and the equipment is working properly.

When you make a presentation, your audience wants to see what is being discussed.  Good, creative presentations can help accomplish this.  And at the same time, they can help curb your rising management, marketing and sales costs when you take into consideration the time, people and equipment involved.  All of these are important to firms in today’s global market, especially when there are multiple buying influences involved.

© Copyright 2000, G.A.Marken, Marken Communications

Other Articles by Andy Marken

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.


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