All professional salespeople have to be involved in a presentation at some time in their sales career – Top 5 % players present their proposals every time.
Presentations allow us to:
Influence a group of important people
- Gain consensus and commitment
- Find out who the real players are and the real status
- Set ground rules for a major sale
- Make a lasting impression of professionalism
When it comes to the enthusiasm that sales professionals have for making a presentation, they broadly fall into four categories:
An Avoider does everything possible to escape from having to stand in front of an audience. In some drastic cases, salespeople may seek positions that do not involve making presentations.
A Register is also extremely hesitant of speaking in public. However, Registers may not be able to avoid speaking as part of their job – but they never encourage it. When they do speak, they do so very reluctantly.
The Acceptor will give presentations as part of their job, but does not seek opportunities to do so. Acceptors occasionally give a presentation and feel they did a good job. They even find that, once in a while, they are quite persuasive and enjoy the experience.
A Seeker looks for opportunities to speak. They understand that anxiety can be a stimulant which fuels enthusiasm during a presentation. Seekers work at building their professional communication skills and self-confidence by speaking often.
The reality is that making presentations is an essential sales skill – Top 5% achievers are very good presenters. Any salesman or woman, who has ambitions to become the best in their sector or industry, will need to ensure that they can deliver dynamic, convincing and professional presentations whenever they are called upon to do so.
Becoming a Seeker is a pre-requisite to success!
There Are Four Key Elements Of A Successful Presentation
In preparing for any presentation, there is a simple, yet useful structure:
- Prospect Need
- Prospect Advantage
- Your Proposal
- Your Action
It is essential that you consider your prospect’s/audience’s views, because every prospect/audience has a need. Need consists of two parts – symptoms and causes (through identifying the symptoms, we find causes).
- Main – This demonstrates how your ideas will meet the needs and resolve the prospect’s problems
- Added – These are powerful persuasions that explain why your ideas are superior and compelling
Advantage statements should always be specific.
Never assume your audience is as informed about the subject as you are. You must define your proposal by explaining the general pattern, to the extent that your audience needs, in order for them to understand the message.
- Present Action – This is a single immediate action that your audience must initiate
- Future Action – These will be a series of actions, spread out over a period of time (example: inform departments of order, form consultative groups, finalize policy, implement policy)
Your ideal presentation will cover the above four steps. However, you may change the position of the two pairs according to your audience.
The following format will ensure that your presentation is forceful and compact. It will give you control over the content and structure of your message. You will need to adapt the elements, so that they can be used in any sequence to fit your presentation agenda and to match that of your audience.
- Introduce yourself
- Thank your prospects for their time
- Build credibility
- State your objectives
- Confirm the level of commitment you expect
- Overview the elements
- Topics to be covered
- Brief presentation of your prospect’s goals and objectives (The primary goals that you will address)
- Those identified and agreed at the exploratory meeting
Proposal Discussion (Your Solution)
- Highlight features and associate advantages
- Translation of advantages into actual prospect’s benefits
- Summarize topics
Question & Answer Session
- Encourage questions to reiterate important points
- Outline your action plan – what you want your prospects to do, based on what you have told them
Your message is the core of your presentation – this is where you must be at your most persuasive. The definition of persuasion is “Causing someone to do something by argument, reasoning or entreaty”. Most persuasion requires some form of evidence.
Audiences process information in two ways: by responding emotionally to imagery or by using logic. Therefore, you must address both ways of perceiving information and you achieve this by using analogies to appeal to imagery and facts and figures to appeal to logic. You will never control your audience’s feelings and actions but you can plant images and create feelings that lead to the actions.
The Three Laws of Successfully Communicating Your Message:
To achieve a balance in your presentation – for every set of numbers, tell a story and for every story, present a set of numbers. This is called “The law of variety”.
Give facts and figures only for points that your audience may doubt – this is “The law of stinginess”.
Present one point at a time, prove one point at a time and use the most powerful facts and figures – Auxiliary law.
In addition, also consider using the other two forms of “evidence”.
Experience, both your own and your audience’s and opinions of experts – but the opinions of experts outside your company.
The delivery of a presentation is split into two parts – verbal and physical.
Tips on Verbal Delivery Gear your presentation to your audience, use familiar terminology and acronyms. Ensure that your voice level is sufficient for all to hear.
Think about your attitude, because your confidence will make your presentation. Confidence is displayed in the words that you use and in the way in which you use your voice.
A good presenter is always aware of his or her audience and alters delivery accordingly.
Steer clear of:
- The use of unnatural terminology and acronyms
- The use of destructive phrases and non-words – e.g. “OK”, “You Know”
- Speaking too quickly
- Speaking in a monotonous voice
- The use of slang words
- Reading visuals
- Addressing one person continuously
Tips on Physical Delivery
Retain eye contact with your audience and they will always pay attention. Use large descriptive gestures, along with a big voice, to describe important points. Your words and hand movements must carry throughout the room.
Stand straight, yet relaxed, move around the platform/room – do not hang on the podium/lectern.
Being aware of your audience will help to ensure that you have control of them. If they appear distracted or have lost interest, moving closer to them or using exaggerated gestures should regain their attention. Smile, as this will relax both you and the audience.
- Minimal eye contact
- Small descriptive gestures
- Distracting gestures
- Poor posture
- Untidy dress sense
- An unsmiling attitude
Finally, if you look and sound enthusiastic about your subject, the more your prospect/audience is likely to be. Enthusiasm really is infectious!
Specific Tips for Seminar Delivery
- Pitch your presentation for the audience – not the subject matter
- Sense how your audience is responding and react accordingly
- Ask questions – it encourages a certain amount of interaction
- Always repeat questions back to make sure that everyone has heard them
- Address answers to everyone – not just the questioner
- Use analogies in your presentation – make it fun to be there
- Limit your use of visual aids. Remember, if it is worth saying to the audience – say it!
- Don’t be afraid of silences – you can use them to emphasize a point or let the audience absorb an idea while you check your notes
- Try to speak as you would in normal conversation – with inflections and pauses – rather than speeding non-stop in a monotonous voice
- Talk to someone all of the time, talk to everyone some of the time
Remember, you are selling:
- Your solutions
- Your company
- Your services
and one of the first tasks is to sell the attendees on wanting to listen.
Start with the assumption that nobody wants to be there or to stay – this provides you with a good challenge.
Involve Your Audience
- Tell them what you are going to tell them
- Tell them
- Tell them what you have told them
The Use of Visuals
Generally people comprehend:
- 11% of what they hear
- 32% of what they see
- 73% of what they see and hear
- 90% of what they see hear and discuss
An effective visual presentation will
Emphasize the highlights of your proposal and provide you with a guide and prompt, but also:
- Stimulate interest
- Guide you – moreover, guide you logically
- Be creative
- Be specific
Visuals are not a crutch, but a way of re-enforcing your contact.
Confucius said “One picture paints a thousand words”
When creating visuals, try and anticipate areas where the audience may need ‘reassurances’. Dramatize important points that you want to get over, but, overall, know your audience and your position.
And Finally – Nine Golden Rules for the Effective Handling of Questions
- Welcome questions
- Question questions
- Be discreet
- Keep it simple
- Illustrate your answers
- Never win an argument and lose your audience
- If you don’t know, don’t bluster
- Involve the audience
And….Stay in control!