Preparing and conducting a successful sales presentation: tips and tools
Not all the presentations conducted by salespeople magically become sales presentations and close deals. In the article, we’ve gathered some of the issues that tend to often appear before, within, and after you try to make a product presentation and equip you with some tools and tips to overcome them.
Imagine the pleasant weariness that accompanies returning from a successful business conference. You’ve collected a stack of business cards from potential customers after presenting your company’s newest product. A month after, you’ve reached the sales department and were shocked: not one deal from all of your gathered leads was closed. Nearly the same time, you get the quarterly report, demonstrating that thousands of dollars were spent on that conference. This includes promotion of the event and money for tickets and accommodation for the team. The waste of time, effort, and money with zero effect. The most offensive part was that during your speech you were sure that the audience was interested, took notes, and asked questions. And the public was definitely your target audience. So, if the speech fascinated the audience, and you, as a sales representative, collected 300 “warmed up” contacts, at what point did everything go wrong?
Though it sounds like a salesperson’s nightmare, this is the real story of the failure of Shing Wong, the former member of the Yahoo! Global Sales team. Later, analyzing this situation, Wong concluded that the reason was the slow follow-up of the sales department. The audience was ready to learn more about the Yahoo! product, and perhaps even to sign a contract, precisely during the conference. But the sales contacted them long after, within a month after the event, when the listeners had already forgotten both about the conference and about the product. For Shing Wong, this discovery was a game-changer in his career: he left Yahoo! and started to develop software for sales presentations. The program has not exploded the market, but this is an entirely different story.
Not all sales are so dedicated that launch an investigation on their failed presentations as the above-mentioned guy. Some of us just get used to not being able to make an appointment with a potential customer for months; or to sending product PDFs into a silent email abyss. With all of that, it’s not so hard to get discouraged by the very idea of a “sales presentation”.
We’ve done some research through sales blogs, added our own experience, and came up with a list of issues that prevent a presentation from becoming a selling one. The issues are divided by the time of the appearance: before, within, and after the presentation. After each of the problems, there is advice on overcoming it. Of course, the list of problems is far from being complete, but by solving even these challenges, you will significantly “pump” your sales show.
Issues to manage before a presentation
Challenge: the endless search for materials
A 2001 IDC productivity study showed that knowledge workers were spending two and a half hours a day searching for information. Twenty years later we have broad access to the Internet, cloud storage, and limitless software automation tools and yet, according to recent data by Gartner, professionals still spend 50% of their time searching for the information. Plus eighteen minutes of searching for the required corporate document. These numbers may surprise some CEOs, but not regular employees or managers. For most of us, it is very easy to believe in two and a half hours of searching of some file that is stored on the company’s Google Disk, and when found, at last, you see that access is denied. And then you need the other file that you’re surely positive was sent to by a colleague via email. Oh, and then you’ll need the company logo in high resolution somewhere in the depths of Slack chats.
Add to all that time the fact that all the sales information needs to be updated on an ongoing basis, and this requires contact with products suppliers or vendors. Here, you can hardly predict the response time: you can get an update in seconds, or that «email will find you well» when you already quit the position. This is not only time-consuming but emotionally draining, especially if you gather material for a presentation. Spending a whole workday composing three slides of information.
Solution: a single storage
The best solution will be a specifically created tool for sales presentations — Roi4Presenter. Here you can keep all the corporate presentations. Thanks to this, every salesperson in the company is provided with a portfolio of updated presentations, slides, and scripts in different languages about all the selling products. At the repository, you can take a look both at your team’s slides and top-notch presentations of IT products created by other sales or vendors themselves. Such storage of presenting materials will save hours searching for the necessary information and let concentrate on closing the deal.
A less convenient, but still effective way is to start using a single storage and file management program for all the corporate needs. It is more suitable to choose software from the corporate storage category as they are better in structuring, offline access, and security tools. This is especially important for freelancers and remote employees in order not to store birthday photos and PDF case studies of vendors in one place. For example, users of the Capterra website in the document management category preferred Confluence (Atlassian), Samepage, and eFileCabinet. Also, you can simplify your life by creating unified tags for naming documents. For example, if you organize your files based on client name, you’ll probably want to use the same file structure over and over again for each client.
Challenge: insufficient product knowledge or a newbie sales
For better or worse, the time of salesperson knocking at the front door to present some goods is gone. Now, potential customers have read about your product online before they even meet you. This complicates the presentation process for newbies, who are acquainted with the product not much more than a user who’s done some googling.
Solution: a knowledge base and learning through practice
The already mentioned Roi4Presenter will cope with this task perfectly since one of its main use cases is the trainer for a presenter. The advantage of the app over learning management systems (LMS) is that a sale is learning not through abstract behaviouristic models and tests, but from the practical experience of the salespeople of their company. It works like this: while preparing for a presentation, the beginner reads the best-selling scripts, and in the Q&A mode of the app memorizes the correct answers to the objection (the answers of senior colleagues that turn out to work the best). Such familiarity with the product speeds up the start of work while equipping beginners with the most essential knowledge to sell a product effectively. With Roi4Presenter, you can also confidently present an unfamiliar product — it is the pocket guide in your smartphone, from where you can take a glance at variations of text scripts and responses to objections.
You can also train sellers through corporate LMS, as the most popular ones have intuitive video editors, a wide range of testing and onboarding tools. The most popular ones are Talent LMS, Lessonly, and Trainual.
Issues to manage during a presentation
Challenge: reading the slides
While creating slides, keep in mind that the visual component of pretty much every presentation is a supplemental tool. Slides are not a cheat sheet a speaker to read it dully out loud. This will not only bore listeners but annoy them. After all, if all the information is gathered on the slides, why have they allocated time to meet with you?
Another common way to irritate the audience is speaking too quickly. Sellers chatter for various reasons: someone wants to get it done faster, someone worries that they speak too slowly, and some may be on high speed due to an adrenaline rush. One way or another, such presentations will not only sell nothing but hardly be understood.
Solution: a script
Writing a script for your slideshow will help to structure it better and to keep that structure during the meeting. The scripts will guide you through the slides along the planned course. Most likely, after each meeting, you will make some adjustments to a text, which will gradually level up the whole piece to a master level. Then you will be able to reproduce your most successful performance every time.
It is better to write a few scripts for different occasions. For example, relying on the experience of sellers, Roi4Presenter supplies every presentation with three types of scripts: short, medium, long text versions. If you don’t present many products, it’s not so hard to create such texts by yourself. Such variations will help when you’ve spent more time on some slides than intended to and now need to cover up other topics swiftly. Or, on the contrary, you were prepared for a short meeting and giving just a quick pitch, and suddenly a client is engaged enough to listen to the long presentation.
Every listener of your presentation has objections stopping them from the purchase — if they have had no doubts about the price, value, use cases of the solution for their particular situation, they would have already bought it. While dealing with an objection is a natural part of the sales cycle, many salespeople nevertheless feel dramatic about it. Sometimes an objection can demotivate the presenter so much that he or she even agrees with it, especially if it looks rational or they were caught off guard.
Solution: training to overcome objections
Nothing is more dangerous to a deal than leaving a client’s objections with no attention. The best way is to deal with them as soon as they arise, since the longer the consumer holds to their opinion, the stronger the thought becomes. Handling objections cool is a matter of training and a pre-prepared pool of questions-objections and answers helps to deal with this. In the aforementioned Roi4Presenter, along with scripts from successful sellers, there are special Q&A slides about a particular product and also some general clients’ objections. In the Q&A section, you can look at the audience doubts that your company’s salespeople had successfully overcome.
You can search the web for typical objections and answers to them, there are approximately half of a hundred totally, which is not that much. Once learn how to deal with them, you will feel confident and calm at any product demonstration. When you become comfortable with objections, you can also use them proactively in a presentation. For example, while showing a slide on software security, ask if your listeners are concerned about the non-confidentiality of your product and demonstrate some examples to ally these fears.
However, it’s crucial to remember, that no matter how well prepared you were, some potential customers will refuse to close a deal. So don’t take it personally. To make as much as possible from a refusal, ask the client about the reason. This will help you understand if there is anything you can improve next time.
Issues to manage after a presentation
Challenge: lack of knowledge about the impact on listeners
This problem is caused by insufficient communication between the marketing and the sales departments. After finishing communication with a potential client, the seller does not always understand whether he liked the performance. And if the materials about the product were sent via mail, then you can not even be sure if the user opened them at all.
Solution: presentation analytics
Automated presentation solutions reveal strong and weak slides, capture the reaction of the audience and track the interactions with the presentation. This is usually a separate feature in programs that work with commercial presentations, like Roi4Presenter. They make it easy to track KPIs in real-time. Analytics and further reports include both indirect data — information about the viewer, the amount of time spent on watching slides, and direct user polls.
Author: Natalka Chekh
*Originally published at Roi4Presenter Blog