The sales cycle has many stages, a number of which require a sales representative to present about their offering in a concise, relevant and understandable way to bring the sale to a close.
Most sales reps I meet are experts on their products. They are confident and charismatic individuals and often have graphically designed slides to work with.
However, behind this persona, sales professionals today are finding it very hard to simplify their message for their buyer.
With that in mind, below are 5 tips to help a sales professional;
- Slow down their fast thinking for a short time
- Be buyer focused in their presentations
- Speak slowly and clearly
- Think like the buyer
Truly valuing the buyer and investing in what they need from you as a presenter is the secret to presentation success. This means the first thing you must do is close your computer and understand your buyer before you can build any slides.
Any buyer you ever find yourself in front has two simple questions;
- How long will this presentation last?
- And…. What’s In It For Me?
You must begin your presentation addressing your customer / potential customer’s needs, thoughts and feelings. A great presentation ensures right from the beginning the audience recognises how the messages of the presentation will relate to them.
In future before you prepare your presentation ask yourself this question– If I was the buyer in this scenario, what are the 3 questions I would want answered ? Then build a presentation that answers them.
- Don’t talk about you first
Most sales people when they structure presentations do so using what is called deductive reasoning. Simply put, this means building up to your strongest point for the buyer instead of leading with it.
What this means in real life is they begin their pitch with an introduction and background. Then they talk about themselves and their company( and how great they are). Then at the end of the presentation they tell the buyer what they can do for them.
The main reason this is a chosen approach is presenters want to establish themselves and their credibility before they give conclusions.
If you are using this presentation structure, I do understand why but you must ask yourself if your audience is going to wait until the end to get what they need. Would you wait that long?
Now here is the good news, you can transform this presentation structure in one easy step.
All you have to do is start with your most relevant, engaging and striking point for your buyer. You then
spend the rest of the presentation building your story and credibility around that opening point.
- You are more important than the slides.
Today, more than ever, presentation slides are being over-used and abused.
People give the following reasons for over-using and exploiting slideware:
- ‘Everyone else’s slides looks like this.’
- ‘They help me remember what to say next.’
- ‘The slides are doubling up as a the audience handout’
The first thing I hope to help you understand is the slides are not for the presenter, they are for the audience. Slides are a visual aid to help the audience understand and remember your messages. You build the slides around your presentation structure and messages and not the other way around.
A presentation is not about the slides, it is about YOU. It is about you engaging with the audience and presenting a clear relevant message, slides or no slides.
Using slides in a presentation should be an option. A choice you make to enhance your content. Slides should not be a critical crutch you can’t present without.
The important part is what goes on before you prepare the slides. You must think like the buyer and have a clear structure with a strong start before you add in visual aids.
- Harness the power of pause
Most presenters don’t talk too fast; they simply don’t allow any space between their key points.
When you are standing in front of an audience it is natural to want to talk through your presentation as quickly as possible and sit back down again. The faster you get it over with the less chance there is of things going wrong.
On top of that you probably have lots of data to get through so you have to talk fast to get through it all, right?
There is a better way. One of the most important tools you need as a presenter is the pause.
A pause is when you stop talking, you take a breath in and then a breath out.
Those three seconds will feel like three hours. The silence in the room can be very overwhelming for any presenter (hence the enormous urge to fill up every single second of the talk with your voice).
- You need to pause at the beginning of your presentation before you start to make sure the audience is ready to listen.
- You need to pause either before or after you make an important point.
- You need to pause when you put up a slide to allow people to take it in.
- The secret to great presenting is rehearsing
One of the most overlooked areas in a presentation is the need to rehearse. The truth is in most cases the presenter only realises how vital this step is when they are presenting in front of a real audience and the words won’t come, at least not the right ones. Their talk is full of ums and ahs as their brain scrambles desperately under pressure to find a flow between words and points. They take 20 sentences to say what could be said in two because they didn’t find the most direct path to their message before they decided to bring their audience there. They didn’t rehearse.
A real rehearsal is when in advance of your talk you deliver your content with slides, while standing and saying the words out loud in real time without skimming over any detail.
Glancing over your notes or reading through your slides in your head is not a rehearsal. You must rehearse a minimum of three times for any presentation.
For a sales professional to succeed when presenting he or she must figure out how to get the information out of their mind to the people in the audience in a way they will understand, remember and act on. This is the skill of presenting.
Great presenters are created, not born. Don’t let yourself down when you stand up to speak.