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Making Your Presentation Work

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Making Your Presentation Work

Structure

When deciding on the structure of your presentation, there are a number of things to consider. Will you present to a group or to an individual? Where will you be giving your presentation? What tools will you use?

Sometimes these options are under your control, but often in business-to-business (B2B) sales, you will have to adapt your presentation to your prospect’s needs. You can maximize your presentation if you know what to avoid, what to prepare for, and how to make your solution come to life with the tools you have.

A good salesperson can read group dynamics as skillfully as she can read an individual prospect’s verbal and nonverbal cues and is comfortable in one-on-one and in group presentation situations. As a salesperson sometimes you have control over the kind of presentation you will deliver, but in many situations, the size of the audience to which you will present is determined by the needs and structure of the prospect’s organization. In many organizations large purchasing decisions are the responsibility of purchasing committees and group decision makers. [1]

Presenting to Individuals
In one-on-one presentations, of course, you only have one person’s needs, preferences, and background to research and adapt to, so customization is usually an easy task. You can observe your prospect’s nonverbal communication and listen to her stated needs and concerns and respond accordingly.

Does he look worried when you tell him that your company’s integrated marketing plan usually takes four months to develop?

You can explain that for preferred prospects you are sometimes able to turn around a faster solution. Does he seem distracted when you begin discussing product features? You can back off and begin asking more questions.


You will be in a better position to deliver value during your sales presentation if you know something about your buyer’s personality before going into the meeting: Is your prospect conversational and people oriented, or is he task oriented and businesslike? Does your prospect care about details and thorough descriptions, or does he prefer to see the “big picture”? Is he competitive? How does he feel about change?

Understanding these things about your prospect will help you to plan your presentation so that you can put emphasis on the things that matter most to the individual.

If you know your prospect is highly competitive, for instance, he will probably be interested in learning about the features that set your product apart from others on the market and the ways in which your product can give him or his company a competitive edge.

Writing up a customer trait description before your meeting can be very helpful so that you can use the information as a guideline in preparing your presentation. [2] If you’re working with an existing customer
or if you’ve interacted with your prospect prior to the presentation, you can use your observations to write a trait description.

If you haven’t met the prospect before, try asking other salespeople in your organization or other contacts you have who might have met your prospect and who can tell you something about her personality. [3] Also, use the company resources including the CRM system to gather information about the company and your contact.

It is also a good idea to send a precall questionnaire to your contact to gather information such as the names and titles of the people who will be attending the presentation. This information can provide valuable information and help you create an agenda.


In adapting to an individual buyer, it’s also important to consider his motivation. [4] What are his responsibilities in the organization? What pressures does he face? Is he on a budget or concerned with his status in the company?

If you have two buyers who purchase the same product, chances are they’ll be doing it for different reasons: [5] one person might buy a car from you because he sees it as a status symbol, while another might buy the same car because it is well built and reliable. Keep in mind that delivering value isn’t only about meeting a prospect’s needs; it’s also about showing him that you understand his specific motivations and concerns.

The best salespeople present themselves as advisors their customers can trust. [6] Is a prospect worried about proving herself in a new role in her company?

Show him how your product can help him perform her role better, or demonstrate how people in similar positions at other companies have used your product with success.

Presenting to Groups
Sometimes the nature of the sale demands that you must give a presentation to a group.

However selling to groups is more efficient than selling to individuals. Group presentations can help you identify the decision makers in an organization, if you aren’t sure who they are.


Additionally, group presentations can be a way to win greater support for your sale. If you know one or two people in an organization who are excited about your product, you can allow their enthusiasm to influence others in a group setting. [7]

If you know what is at stake for each member of the group, you will be able to facilitate the discussion during your presentation much more effectively. This is why it’s important to gather information about everyone who will attend your sales meeting.

Find out the individual’s needs within the organization. What is her status? How does she perceive the urgency of the problem you want to solve? Does she have any ego involvement in the product or service? [8]

This will help you understand the most important concerns you will need to address in the presentation, and if certain parts of your presentation apply more directly to certain members of the group, you can direct those parts specifically at those individuals.

Keep in mind that people act differently in group settings than they do when you are interacting with them alone, so finding out about individual members’ personalities is less important in group presentations. Instead, adjust your presentation to the dynamics in the room.

Watch the group for nonverbal cues; when one member is talking, observe how others react to see whether or not they support what she’s saying. [9] If the energy in the room feels low, or if you get the sense that the group is getting restless, consider moving on to the next part of your presentation or changing tactics.

Sometimes you won’t know who or how many people you will be presenting to beforehand, so you won’t be able to research the individuals.

However, it’s always a good idea to ask when you call to schedule your meeting. You may be able to find out information that your contact at the organization wouldn’t otherwise volunteer in order to perform your background research.

The Right Place
If you know you’ll be presenting to your prospect at his office or in a conference room at his company, you won’t have control over the environment.

When you know you’ll be presenting in an unfamiliar environment, make sure to have a contingency plan in place. If slides or other multimedia equipment are central to your presentation, talk to someone at the company to make sure you’ll be able to use the equipment.

There are other selling situations in which the prospect will come to your office or a conference room at your company or where you will meet at a “neutral” location like a rented meeting space. [10]


When the prospect comes to you, treat her like you would treat a guest in your home. Make sure you set up any presentation materials well in advance and have refreshments set out in the conference room or your office.

Sales professional John Chapin suggests having small items on hand that you can give to your prospect, such as pens or calculators with your company logo on them. [11]

If you are giving your presentation in a neutral location like a rented conference room you have the freedom to set up and work out any technical bugs well beforehand.
Since you will have time to set up beforehand at a rented location, you can treat the presentation the way you would treat a presentation at your home office.

Make sure you know the name of the facility’s contact person; find out what equipment she has at on hand and what you will need to bring. [13]

When Keith Waldon of Earth Preserv was preparing for the presentation that secured his biggest customer, JCPenney, he rented a boardroom in a building near JCPenney’s corporate headquarters.

Waldon set up multimedia equipment for video, sound, and slides. He had placed a thick binder of presentation materials at each executive’s seat. Waldon had also rented an empty storefront in the same building, and created a window display to look like one JCPenney might use to display Earth Preserv products. [12]

Prospect’s Place of Business
When you deliver your presentation at your prospect’s location, you won’t have the luxury of extensive setup time.

You may find that you have to adapt to the space and resources on hand. However, there are a few things you can do to make a good impression and ensure that things go as smoothly as possible:The main thing is to call ahead to find out about the space in which you will be presenting and the materials that will be available to you, arrive early and set up any technology you plan to use so that you can minimize the chance of something going wrong.

Further Considerations

Let your prospect know how long you will need to set up-particularly if you are using multimedia equipment.

When you arrive, the first person you interact with will probably be the receptionist. Introduce yourself and let her know that the customer is expecting you.

In addition to your presentation items, consider bringing food, coffee, or small giveaway items.

In B2B sales, if your presentation will be around the lunch hour, it’s often customary to offer to take your prospect to lunch before or after the meeting. [14]

Webinars and Video Conferences
It is becoming increasingly common for salespeople to use Webinars, video conferences, and online meetings.

These technologies are allowing companies to reach more prospects internationally and across long distances. Of course, there are some drawbacks to giving sales presentations through video conferencing. For one thing, since the presentation relies entirely on technology, there is a greater chance that a malfunction could prevent the presentation from working.

In-person presentations are still the most effective and personal method, so whenever you are able to give a face-to-face presentation, this is your best option. However, technology keeps improving, and online meetings and video teleconferences are becoming more successful as an alternative method all the time. [15]

Depending on your selling situation, this is something you might consider. As online sales strategist Joanna Lees Castro points out, video conferencing can be almost as effective as an in-person meeting in a number of selling situations, and it is certainly a better, more personal approach than e-mail or telephone. [16]

Even though video conferencing feels different from in-person communications, you should essentially treat your online meetings the way you would treat any sales call. Keep in mind that nonverbal communication has a strong influence on interactions-and, especially with good technology, your customer can see you clearly.

Pay attention to your body language and facial expressions, and avoid personal gestures (like playing with your hair or scratching an itch). [17] Dress professionally, plan your agenda carefully, and make sure to prepare and get your materials set up ahead of time.

Privacy is expected during a video conference, so if you want to record part of your presentation, it is important to ask your prospect for permission. [18]

When the presentation is over, Joanna Lees Castro suggests closing the meeting with a clear call to action in which you include a wrap-up and well-defined next steps that you and your prospects should take. At the end of a conventional sales presentation, Lees Castro points out, next-step discussions can happen more organically, as the customer is walking you to the door, but this is obviously impossible in an online situation.[19]

The Right Tools
In the best sales presentations, the product or service comes alive. Try to see the presentation through your prospect’s eyes.

What is the best way to capture his imagination? How will you tell the story that will make your product or service compelling? In what ways can you delight or surprise your customer?

So what techniques can you use to achieve these goals in your sales presentations? The tools you choose will depend on the situation and your presentation style. whatever tool you use, it is important to carefully consider your choice and how you can maximize its effectiveness.

Dazzle the Customer


Dann Ilicic, CEO of Wow Branding, frequently outperforms big name competitors when vying for a prospect. Ilicic approaches each presentation with the same mind-set: you can’t bore your customer into buying from you, so why not dazzle them?

One customer said the presentation Ilicic put together for his company couldn’t have been better: “Dann unquestionably knocked it out of the park compared with the other firms, and they were really high-end firms with spectacular portfolios.” [20]



Take customization to a new level


Ilicic says he and his team spend about fifty hours preparing for a sales presentation. They call employees in the customer company and the company’s past customers, to learn things the prospects might not even know about themselves.

Glumac, an engineering firm in Portland, Oregon, and one of Wow’s customers, said Ilicic’s technique “was a brilliant move…because he wasn’t asking what our imagery should be”; instead, he researched to find out what the image already was.


Never miss an opportunity to delight


Ilicic likes to surprise his customers with the small things: like stamping green thumbprints throughout a proposal for an agricultural company-or, for a pharmaceutical company, handing out vitamin bottles on which he has replaced the label with a message about Wow. Sometimes he brings in a cake on which he reveals the suggested name for a new company.

Because of Ilicic’s intensive research, he is able to perfectly match the wow factor to each prospect and make the product come alive.

Always make the presentation creative and fun

This technique engages the customer, even when the meeting agenda isn’t exciting itself. On one occasion, rather than potentially putting a prospect on the defensive by telling the company what their image should be, Ilicic told them that Wow had been assigned a branding project for their biggest competitor.

He launched a multimedia presentation to show them their competitor’s branding overhaul, and by the end his prospects were asking themselves, “Why didn’t we think of that?” After the presentation, Ilicic revealed that he hadn’t actually made the campaign for the company’s competitor; it was for them. [21]

PowerPoint slides provide an easy way to organize your presentation and add helpful visuals. For many salespeople, PowerPoint is one of their go-to presentation tools.

It can be a helpful tool for salespeople who are starting out and want the security of a clear framework from which to present. An added benefit is that it doesn’t take much technological know-how to put together a clean-looking PowerPoint demonstration.

Be aware of mistakes salespeople make when using PowerPoint. As sales coach Anne Miller says, “Putting PowerPoint into the hands of some sales reps is like putting matches into the hands of kids.” [22]

To maximize PowerPoint as a tool to successfully sell your story, use these tips. [23]

The following dos and don’ts can also be helpful as you are creating a PowerPoint presentation.

Don’t turn down the lights. It takes the focus away from you, and it can put people to sleep.

Don’t go overboard with technological gimmicks. Fancy fades and clever add-ons will only distract from you and from the content of your presentation. [24]

Don’t hide behind your computer screen when using PowerPoint; make sure you face your audience and make eye contact. This can be a temptation when the computer is set up on a podium close to eye level.

Don’t fill your slides with words. Use bullet points, separate each point with white space, and cut out any unnecessary words you can.

Don’t bore your audience with visual sameness. Slide after slide of bulleted lists gets monotonous; visuals and charts have a stronger impact. [25]

Do make your slides easy to read. Avoid small fonts, visual clutter, and dark text against dark backgrounds. [26]

Do replace descriptive headlines with headlines that sell. No one cares about a headline that describes what’s already on the page. [27] For example, rather than writing “Our Statistics” at the top of the page, write “See Significant Savings in the First Year.”

Do use the 10/20/30 rule: Make sure you limit your slides to 10 or fewer. Focus on the things you want people to remember, rather than overwhelming them with information. Give yourself 20 minutes to go through your 10 slides. Any more than this and you will reach the limit of your audience’s attention span. Finally, use only 30-point or larger font size so that your audience can clearly read what you’ve written. [28]

Do remember that that PowerPoint is only an aid. “You are the star,” says communications consultant Ronnie Moore. “The media and visuals support you.” [29] Use dynamic speaking strategies, move around, keep your audience involved; don’t let your technology take over.

Brochures and Samples
In addition to a printed supplement to your PowerPoint presentation, you might decide to bring along brochures with information about your company, products, and services. During the presentation, you can bring your story to life by offering product samples or reminders for your prospects or by running demonstrations that let them see for themselves what your product can do.

Brochures


What are the benefits of brochures? According to sales expert and author Geoffrey James, in some situations you need a brochure to make your firm look serious.

However, James lists “I promise to read your brochure” as one of the top ten lies customers tell sales reps. His conclusion: the brochure might gain you credibility, but it probably won’t get read. [30]

Reminders


When it comes to reminders, a good bet is leaving something functional that your customer will actually use.

These reminder objects-calendars, refrigerator magnets, pens, or mouse pads labeled with your company name-are called premium leave-behinds and are a proven method of reminding customers you exist. [31]

Samples


When winemakers sell their products to large distributors, they don’t just bring in descriptions of their wines for the buyers to read; they offer tastings so buyers can experience the product. When caterers want to sell their services to someone, they bring in samples from their menus.

Or think of Keith Waldon of Earth Preserv who didn’t just tell JCPenney, “We can make displays of our environmentally friendly products for your store windows;” instead, he set up a real shop window display that his prospects could see.

Demonstrations

These are a good way of bringing your story to life, here are a number of good reasons to use them:

To educate your prospect.
To involve your prospect. [33]

To prove the performance of your product. [34]

KEY TAKEAWAYS



Presenting to individuals requires a different set of skills and techniques than presenting to groups, so make sure you have a clear strategy for your presentation.

When presenting to an individual, keep your prospect’s personality in mind and adapt your approach accordingly.

Selling to groups can be a more efficient presentation method, and sometimes it is required in your customer organization.

When conducting a group presentation, take group dynamics into account.

When you are delivering your presentation at your place of business or in a neutral location (like a rented space), treat the customer as you would treat a guest in your home. Set up refreshments and supplies well ahead of time so that you are well prepared when the prospect arrives. When you are presenting at your prospect’s place of business, try to find out about the presentation venue beforehand-but be prepared to adapt if your prospect doesn’t have the equipment or setup you were expecting. Arrive early so that you have time to set up.

If your presentation is given as a Webinar or video conference, treat the presentation as you would treat an in-person interaction. Dress professionally and set up ahead of time. Make sure to minimize distractions.

When delivering a PowerPoint presentation, keep your slides brief, uncluttered, and easy to read. Don’t let the technology overshadow you, the presenter.

There is almost no better way to bring your product to life than by using samples or demonstrations to get your prospect involved.

Your customer will expect you to bring a cost-benefit analysis or ROI analysisas a way to quantify your solution.

Exercises
Choose a product or service and prepare a short sales presentation that includes a demonstration. What other items do you need besides the product or service to perform the demonstration? How do you use the demonstration to engage the prospect with the product or service?



Find a PowerPoint presentation online; (http://www.slideshare.net. is a good resource) Write a critique of the presentation based on the information you have learned

Bibliography
[1] Gary M. Grikscheit, Harold C. Cash, and Clifford E. Young, The Handbook of Selling: Psychological, Managerial, and Marketing Dynamics, 2nd ed. (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 1993), 152. [2] Gary M. Grikscheit, Harold C. Cash, and Clifford E. Young, The Handbook of Selling: Psychological, Managerial, and Marketing Dynamics, 2nd ed. (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 1993), 127.

[3] Gary M. Grikscheit, Harold C. Cash, and Clifford E. Young, The Handbook of Selling: Psychological, Managerial, and Marketing Dynamics, 2nd ed. (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 1993), 136.

[4] Gary M. Grikscheit, Harold C. Cash, and Clifford E. Young, The Handbook of Selling: Psychological, Managerial, and Marketing Dynamics, 2nd ed. (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 1993), 128.

[5] Gary M. Grikscheit, Harold C. Cash, and Clifford E. Young, The Handbook of Selling: Psychological, Managerial, and Marketing Dynamics, 2nd ed. (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 1993), 135.

[6] Ian Brodie, “Becoming a Trusted Advisor,” Ian Brodie: Business Growth for Professional Service Firms, blog post, July 5, 2008,http://www.ianbrodie.com/blog/becoming-trusted-advisor (accessed May 16, 2010).

[7] Gary M. Grikscheit, Harold C. Cash, and Clifford E. Young, The Handbook of Selling: Psychological, Managerial, and Marketing Dynamics, 2nd ed. (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 1993), 165. [8] Barton A. Weitz, Stephen Byron Castleberry, and John F. Tanner, Selling: Building Partnerships, 5th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003), 264.

[9] Barton A. Weitz, Stephen Byron Castleberry, and John F. Tanner, Selling: Building Partnerships, 5th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003), 265.

[10] John Chapin, “Sales Presentations-How Location Can Affect Your Presentation and What to Do,” CompleteSelling.com, blog post, March 14, 2008,http://www.completeselling.com/members/completeselling/blog/VIEW/00000009/00000076/Sales-Presentations---How-Location-can-affect-Your-Sales-Presentation- and-What-to-Do.html (accessed May 16, 2010).

[11] John Chapin, “Sales Presentations-How Location Can Affect Your Presentation and What to Do,” CompleteSelling.com, blog post, March 14,
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[12] Susan Greco, “Anatomy of a Launch: The Five-Hour Multimedia Sales Presentation,”Inc., October 1, 1995, http://www.inc.com/magazine/19951001/2441.html (accessed May 16, 2010). [13] John Chapin, “Sales Presentations-How Location Can Affect Your Presentation and What to Do,” CompleteSelling.com, blog post, March 14, 2008,http://www.completeselling.com/members/completeselling/blog/VIEW/00000009/00000076/Sales-Presentations---How-Location-can-affect-Your-Sales-Presentation- and-What-to-Do.html (accessed May 16, 2010).

[14] John Chapin, “Sales Presentations-How Location Can Affect Your Presentation and What to Do,” CompleteSelling.com, blog post, March 14, 2008,http://www.completeselling.com/members/completeselling/blog/VIEW/00000009/00000076/Sales-Presentations---How-Location-can-affect-Your-Sales-Presentation- and-What-to-Do.html (accessed May 16, 2010).

[15] “Sales Trends: Electronic Sales Presentations,” KnowThis.com,http://www.knowthis.com/principles-of-marketing-tutorials/personal-selling/selling-trends-electronic-sales-presentations (accessed May 16, 2010).

[16] Joanna Lees Castro, “Using Video Conferencing to Host an Effective Online Sales Presentation-6 Best Practice Tips,” EzineArticles, http://ezinearticles.com/?id=1316495(accessed May 16, 2010). [18] “Video Conferencing Etiquette Checklist,” Manage Smarter, June 8, 2009,http://www.presentations.com/msg/content_display/training/e3i0fe06f39ca140432cc75be4595e2c6e1 (accessed May 16, 2010).

[19] Joanna Lees Castro, “Using Video Conferencing to Host an Effective Online Sales Presentation-6 Best Practice Tips,” EzineArticles, http://ezinearticles.com/?id=1316495(accessed May 16, 2010).

[20] Stephanie Clifford, “Fasten Your Seatbelts,” Inc., February 1, 2007,http://www.inc.com/magazine/20070201/features-sales-performance-ilicic.html(accessed May 16, 2010).

[21] Stephanie Clifford, “Fasten Your Seatbelts,” Inc., February 1, 2007,http://www.inc.com/magazine/20070201/features-sales-performance-ilicic.html(accessed May 16, 2010).

[22] Anne Miller, “Death by PowerPoint,” Sales and Sales Management Blog, February 22, 2008, http://salesandmanagementblog.com/2008/02/22/guest-article-death-by-powerpoint-by-anne-miller (accessed May 16, 2010).

[23] Anne Miller, “Death by PowerPoint,” Sales and Sales Management Blog, February 22, 2008, http://salesandmanagementblog.com/2008/02/22/guest-article-death-by-powerpoint-by-anne-miller (accessed May 16, 2010).

[24] Jim Meisenheimer, “How to Use PowerPoint During Sales Presentations,” EvanCarmichael.com, http://www.evancarmichael.com/Sales/407/How-To-Use-PowerPoint-During-Sales-Presentations.html (accessed May 16, 2010).

[25] Anne Miller, “Death by PowerPoint,” Sales and Sales Management Blog, February 22, 2008, http://salesandmanagementblog.com/2008/02/22/guest-article-death-by-powerpoint-by-anne-miller (accessed May 16, 2010).

[26] Jim Meisenheimer, “How to Use PowerPoint During Sales Presentations,” EvanCarmichael.com, http://www.evancarmichael.com/Sales/407/How-To-Use-PowerPoint-During-Sales-Presentations.html (accessed May 16, 2010). [27] Anne Miller, “Death by PowerPoint,” Sales and Sales Management Blog, February 22, 2008, http://salesandmanagementblog.com/2008/02/22/guest-article-death-by-powerpoint-by-anne-miller (accessed May 16, 2010).

[28] Jim Meisenheimer, “How to Use PowerPoint During Sales Presentations,” EvanCarmichael.com, http://www.evancarmichael.com/Sales/407/How-To-Use-PowerPoint-During-Sales-Presentations.html (accessed May 16, 2010).

[29] Geoff William, “The Perfect Presentation: Technology,” Entrepreneur, July 13, 2007,http://www.entrepreneur.com/marketing/marketingbasics/article181582.html (accessed May 16, 2010).

[30] Geoffrey James, “Top 10 Lies Customers Tell Sales Reps,” BNET, April 23, 2009,http://blogs.bnet.com/salesmachine/?p=2323&page=2 (accessed May 16, 2010). [31] Brad Sugars, “Building Repeat Business from Day 1,” Entrepreneur, May 22, 2007,http://www.entrepreneur.com/startingabusiness/startupbasics/startupbasicscolumnistbradsugars/article178724.html (accessed May 16, 2010).

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[33] EDTM, Inc., “4 Steps to Close More Sales,”http://www.solarstop.net/edtm/sales_demonstration.htm (accessed May 16, 2010).

[34] EDTM, Inc., “4 Steps to Close More Sales,”http://www.solarstop.net/edtm/sales_demonstration.htm (accessed May 16, 2010).

[35] Gerald L. Manning and Barry L. Reece, Selling Today: Creating Customer Value, 9th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2004), 256.

[36] David H. Miles, The 30 Second Encyclopedia of Learning and Performance (New York: AMACOM, 2003), 139-40.

[37] Energy Star, “Commercial Dishwashers for Consumers,” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy, http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=comm_dishwashers.pr_comm_dishwashers (accessed May 16, 2010).

[38] “Cost of Ownership, ROI, and Cost/Benefit Analysis: What’s the Difference?” Solution Matrix, http://www.solutionmatrix.com/tco-roi-cba-difference.html (accessed May 16, 2010).