Letting the Presentation Get in the Way of the Sale

Salespeople devote tremendous amounts of time and energy in creating compelling presentations. The problem is, most of this is more impressive to you and your company then the prospect.

If you are a salesperson I can guarantee you are not happy with this article so far. And I bet as a manager or executive, you are scratching your head. Better yet I bet you’re saying, well in some businesses that’s true but in ours, the better our presentation, the better our chance of getting the business….wrong!

Presentations are certainly important in some aspects. Some sort of demonstration of the usage of your product or service is imperative at some point. The problem is in most of our organizations we put so much time and energy into creating a way to tell the prospect why they should buy our product, we often forget to find out why they would. The presentation of our best “features and benefits” is an assumption that what we perceive as our real assets may mean nothing to them! (remember what happens when we assume!)

What’s more, your competitors are doing the exact same thing -giving the same kind of presentations and making the same claims. If you are saying to yourself right now, “well Greta’s right but we’re different and our competitors can’t claim they do what we do” then answer me this, if you are so unique and your presentation is so compelling then why aren’t you closing every deal? Better yet, if it’s that good, fire all of your sales people and just send you presentations to every decision maker in town!

. The old adage of sales was, cold call someone and browbeat them to get the appointment. On the appointment ask a few questions but then get right down to your presentation. Once they see that, they’ll be sold. Trial close or send them a proposal and wait. And how’s that workin’ for ya?

So what needs to be done to make your presentations great? All of the pre-work before you present anything. And maybe after the pre-work you will decide not to present at all. Really.

Here are some very important things to do when selling. First, stop selling! What? Yes that’s right. What I mean by that is the old adage I talked about earlier is typically what we see. Stop that now.

Begin with prospecting through referrals. Cold calling is typically not your best source for good prospects. Networking and referrals are the #1 way to get to the right person and get there quicker.

When you do get someone on the phone begin with the end in mind. Let them know what you do and why you are calling them. Do some research ahead of time so you will be able to develop good questions. Let them know If at the end of your conversation it makes sense to get together then you can set that up, but if it doesn’t that’s OK too and you can end the call there.

If you get an appointment go into the appointment armed with your research on the organization and some thought provoking big-picture questions that you have prepared.

A pen and pad is all you will need here. After asking those questions and really learning about their issues, summarize those to make sure you have understood them, have a discussion upfront about the investment it might take to solve the issues they have and if you can present a viable solution, what would happen at that point.

Here is where you can present but only present the solutions to the issues they have, not everything that you do. People are “selfish”. I don’t mean that negatively but they just look inwardly first at how they will be affected with this solution. If there is some wonderful feature that isn’t necessarily wonderful to them, don’t present it. The more you present, the more they have to go back and think about how they might use it. There will begin your long selling cycle scenario.

So spend more time in preparing for each call and do the real work at the beginning. Don’t depend on some great “dog and pony show” presentation to do the work for you. Most people know who they will choose before they even see the presentations. Make your best impression from the great questions you ask, not your company boasting.

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