Making Successful & Effective Sales Presentations

sales presentationMaking successful and effective sales presentations is one of the challenging tasks any salesperson seek to accomplish. An effective sales presentation guarantees achieving your objective, and ultimately making the deal and closing the sales. In reality, this is not an easy task, but it is a possible one if you understand and implement the following important and essential techniques.

Conducting sales in the 21st century information age, which is based on the assets of knowledge and information, requires that you think about ways to improve the sales presentation. So how can you make sure it’s a success? Four elements determine whether or not a sale will be made:

  1. Rapport: putting yourself on the same side of the fence as the prospect
  2. Need: determining what factors will motivate the prospect to listen with the intent to purchase
  3. Importance: the weight the prospect assigns to a product, feature, benefit, price or time frame
  4. Confidence: your ability to project credibility, to remove doubt, and to gain the prospect’s belief that the risk of purchase will be less than the reward of ownership

Here is a closer look at the steps you can take to make your sales presentation a successful and an effective one.


Before the Presentation

  • Know your customer’s business. 
    Potential clients expect you to know their business, customers and competition as well as you know your own product or service. Study your customer’s industry. Know its problems and trends. Find out who the company’s biggest competitors are. Some research tools include the company’s annual report, brochures, catalogs, and newsletters; trade publications; chamber of commerce directories; and the internet. Never underestimate this knowledge!


  • Write out your sales presentation.
    Making a sales presentation isn’t something you do on the fly. Always use a written presentation. The basic structure of any sales presentation includes five key points: Build rapport with your prospect, introduce the business topic, ask questions to better understand your prospect’s needs, summarize your key selling points, and close the sale. Think about the three major selling points of your product or service. Develop leading questions to probe your customer’s reactions and needs. Be careful. I do not mean here to complicate things by writing a script or a memorized presentation. Instead, I encourage you to have a sketch, a flow, or a bullet-point discussion of the major things you plan to discuss with your customer. In short, plan your sales presentation very well!


  • Make sure you are talking to the right person.
    This seems elementary, but many salespeople neglect to do it. Then, at the last-minute, the buyer wriggles off the hook by saying he or she needs a boss’s, spouse’s or partner’s approval. When you are setting the appointment, always ask yourself “Is the prospect the one I should be talking to, or are there others who will be making the buying decision?” That’s basic, but important!


In the Customer’s Office

  • Build rapport. 
    Before you start discussing business, build rapport with your prospect. To accomplish this, do some homework. Find out if you have a colleague in common. Has the prospect’s company been in the news lately? Is he or she interested in sports? Get a little insight into the company and the individual so you can make the rapport genuine. Go on break the ice. Building rapport should lead to credibility.


  • Ask questions.
    Don’t jump into a canned sales spiel. The most effective way to sell is to ask the prospect questions and see where he or she leads you. (Of course, your questions are carefully structured to elicit the prospect’s needs — ones that your product just happens to be able to fill.) Your job is to identify your customer’s needs and be their problem solver. You can’t be as such without asking proper questions in a smart and non-interrogating way.


  • Ask questions that require more than a yes or no response, and that deal with more than just costs, price, procedures and the technical aspects of the prospect’s business. Most important, ask questions that will reveal the prospect’s motivation to purchase, his or her problems and needs, and the prospect’s decision-making processes. Don’t be afraid to ask a client why he or she feels a certain way. That’s how you’ll get to understand your customers. In short, let the customer speak!


  • Take notes.
    Don’t rely on your memory to remind you of what’s important to your prospect. Ask upfront if it’s all right for you to take notes during your sales presentation. (Prospects will be flattered.) Write down key points you can refer to later during your presentation. Be sure to write down objections. This shows your prospect you are truly listening to what he or she is saying. In this way, you can specifically answer objections by showing how the customer will benefit from your product or service. It could be, for instance, by saving money, raising productivity, increasing employee motivation, or increasing his or her company’s name recognition.


  • Learn to listen.
    Salespeople who do all the talking during a presentation not only bore the prospect, but also generally lose the sale. A good rule of thumb is to listen 70 percent of the time and talk 30 percent of the time. Yes 70-30! Don’t interrupt. It’s tempting to step in and tell the prospect something you think is vitally important. Before you speak, ask yourself if what you’re about to say is really necessary. When you do speak, focus on asking questions. You can improve your listening skills by taking notes and observing your prospect’s body language, not jumping to conclusions.


  • Probe deeper.
    If a prospect tells you “We’re looking for cost savings and efficiency,” will you immediately tell him how your product meets his need for cost savings and efficiency? A really smart salesperson won’t do that! He or she will ask more questions and probe deeper: “I understand why that is important. Can you give me a specific example?” Asking for more information — and listening to the answers — enables you to better position your product and show you understand the client’s needs.


  • Find the “hot button.”
    A customer may have a long list of needs, but there is usually one “hot button” that will get the person to buy. The key to the hot button is that it is an emotional, not practical, need — a need for recognition, love or reinforcement. Suppose you are selling health-club memberships. For a prospect who is planning a trip to Hawaii in two months, the hot button is likely to be losing a few pounds and looking good. For a prospect who just found out he has high blood pressure, the hot button could be the health benefits of exercise. For a busy young mother, the hot button may be the chance to get away from the kids for a few hours a week and reduce stress. You job is to find that “hot button” and satisfy it!


  • Eliminate objections.
    When a prospect raises an objection, that’s normal in any sales presentation; so don’t immediately jump in with a response. Instead, show empathy by saying “Let’s explore your concerns.” Ask for more details about the objection. You need to isolate the true objection so you can handle it. Here are some ways to do that:

    1. Offer a choice. “Is it the delivery time or the financing you are concerned about?”
    2. Get to the heart of the matter. “When you say you want to think about it, what specifically did you want to think about?”
    3. Work toward a solution. Every sale should be a win-win deal, so you may need to compromise to close the deal: “I’ll waive the delivery charge if you agree to the purchase.” As you get more experience making sales calls, you’ll become familiar with different objections. Maintain a list of common objections and ways you have successfully dealt with them.


  • Answer objections with “feel,” “felt” and “found.”
    Don’t argue when a prospect says “I’m not interested,” “I just bought one,” or “I don’t have time right now.” Simply say “I understand how you feel. A lot of my present customers felt the same way. But when they found out how much time they saved by using our product, they were amazed.” Then ask for an appointment. Prospects like to hear about other people who have been in a similar situation. You can use testimonials and other proof devices to support your argument. Check this post: “How to Help Indecisive Customers Try Your Product” here if you face an indecisive customer. Very useful!


  • Close the sale.
    There is no magic to closing the sale. If you have followed all the previous steps, all you should have to do is to ask for the customer’s order. However, some salespeople make the mistake of simply not asking for the final decision. It’s as if they forget what their goal is. For some, “closing” sounds too negative. If you’re one of them, try changing your thinking to something more positive, such as “deciding.” As you talk with the customer, build in the close by having fun with it. Say something like “So how many do you want? We have it in a rainbow of colors; do you want them all?” Make sure to ask them several times in a fun, nonthreatening way; you’re leading them to make the decision. Remember that in your sales presentation!


So after all this, you can sense how challenging to make a successful and effective sales presentation. But, at the bright side, it is doable. What do you think? Do you have other suggestions? Feel free to comments and share your thoughts.

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