We’re often asked about the best ways to coach salespeople to help them to deliver effective presentations. In addition to following the basic principles of not presenting too early and ensuring that the presentation is delivered as one component of an effective professional sales process, there are four steps sales professionals can follow to ensure more effective presentations. If you’re a sales leader, you’ll want to make sure that the members of your team understand and follow all four of these steps.
Step One: Be sure the presentation is customized to the situation, and to the cast of characters, to whom you’re presenting. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits all presentation. Even if you have implemented similar solutions in the past, you have to be flexible in the design and delivery of your presentation. Specifically, you should structure the presentation in such a way that it unfolds in such a way as to address, in order, the most important business problems that are on your prospect’s radar screen – not in the order of the product or service you feel is best, or that you are most comfortable discussing.
Step Two: Practice your presentation. Don’t wing it. The very first time you hear yourself say the presentation should not be in front of a prospect. Get a colleague or a manager to help you role-play the presentation ahead of time. Listen to that person’s feedback. The more important the deal, the more time you should spend practicing.
Step Three: Make sure you know what’s going to happen next. Before you even agree to present, there should be clear guidelines in place for both sides about what's will be happening before, during, and after the presentation. What information, resources, and people is your contact responsible for assembling? Who’s going to be present from the prospect’s side as the presentation moves forward? What specific decision options will be in place once the presentation is complete? (“We’ll think it over” shouldn’t be one of them.) Once you have delivered your presentation, the leverage in the relationship changes, they want to know how you're going to solve the problems. After the presentation, they know everything about what you plan to do, and they are less likely to answer your questions. So set up agreements ahead of time about what the possible decision paths will once you have made your recommendation. In other words: Figure out what the decision process is before you present … and set up a clear agreement about exactly what will take place afterwards.
Step Four: Have mini-closes along the way. If pressing business problem number one is service, and you’ve just presented your solution for resolving all the service-related issues, stop talking and ask, “Has what we’ve outlined solved that issue, in your opinion?” If the answer is no, you still have work to do – and you’re all better off acknowledging that before attempting to move forward. On the other hand, if the answer is yes, you can go on to pressing pain number two. A professional presentation is a conversation. An amateur presentation, is usually an hour-long monologue that concludes with a question like “What do you think?” The problem is, they had a big question about service forty-five minutes ago … but now they’ve forgotten exactly what it was. All they’ve got now is a nagging feeling that something’s wrong. Setting up mini-closes along the way eliminates this problem – and bases the decision to move forward (or not) on a meaningful dialogue with the decision-makers.
Sales teams that follow these four steps deliver better, more productive conversations with prospects during their presentations … and they close more sales. Share the steps with your team!