Top 3 Tips for Effective Sales Presentations

May 7th, 2014 by admin

Presentations are a critical part of the sales process and making them effective is becoming more essential. Sales people are facing long odds according to SmartCompany’s report. This report substantiates statistics that have been quoted by others in the past:

  • 1% of sales are made on the first contact.
  • 2% of sales are made on the second contact.
  • 5% of sales are made on the third contact.
  • 12% of sales are made on the fourth contact.
  • 80% of sales are made on the fifth contact (or above)

Applauding CrowdLet those statistics sink in for a moment. Almost all deals are closed with at least 5 sales calls. If nothing else, it should make you wonder how much each of those sales calls cost you and how you make the interaction that takes place in each of them as impactful as possible. It should also make you wonder if there are ways to decrease the number of calls.

Regardless of what you think about the number of calls outlined in this report, it demonstrates that when the presentation opportunity does arise, it should be fully optimized. There are three areas that sales and marketing resources should focus on when preparing presentations with the goal of shortening the sales cycle and closing more business:

Preparation: Take Inventory and Think Outside the PowerPoint Slide

Pragmatic Marketing has a worthwhile article covering the importance of preparing for the presentation. In this article they cover a number of items that will help you prepare for an impactful presentation. After all that is what all of us are after, isn’t it? If the presentation doesn’t have an impact, they why are we wasting our time and the customer’s time on it.

The key items covered are:

  1. Taking inventory of the information you will need to make sure the presentation hits home.
  2. Thinking outside the PowerPoint Slide. Many of us use PowerPoint as we draft our thoughts. Think about writing out your story instead of confining yourself to PowerPoint.
  3. Focusing the presentation on the needs of the customer and specifically on the needs of those in the audience. They probably have already researched you on the Internet, so share info specific to their needs, not just info on your product.
  4. Planning for customization of the presentation. If you do this correctly it can be used with a variety of prospects.
  5. Balancing brevity with useful illustrations. This important, as there is not much worse for a client than dragging them through a long boring PowerPoint presentation, and there isn’t much worse for your sales team than not getting the point across.
  6. Mastering the organization and flow of the presentation to make sure it tells the story you want.
  7. Creating speaker notes.
  8. Testing and revising the presentation.

By the way, it doesn’t have to be a formal presentation in front of a group to warrant this level of scrutiny. Sometimes…many times…those one-on-one “presentations” can be just as important. Take the time to treat each of those calls or presentations with importance. Think about the fact that if you close just on call earlier what that means in terms of a shortened sales cycle and also being able to use that time closing another prospect.

Delivering the Presentation

If you spent the appropriate time preparing the presentation, you certainly want to do a good job delivering it. This is where most of us have a problem…and the problem is one of familiarity. Most of us in sales are comfortable talking with people one-on-one and even in front of an audience. In fact, many of us are pretty good at it and we’ve been told so over the years.

Steve Jobs PresentingIt’s good you are comfortable, and it’s good you get compliments. The problem is that makes many of us think we don’t have anything to learn or any way to improve our presentation skills. That’s simply not the case. In fact, the world continues to change, and a world dominated by tweets and vines, it requires much more effort to keep the attention of our audience. Steve Jobs probably understood that better than anybody in the recent past. In fact, we can still learn a lot from his approach to presentations.

There is an article in Forbes from several months ago that covers 11 things we can learn from Steve Jobs in terms of making presentations. Three of my favorite learnings are right in the middle of the article:

  1. Sell the Benefit
  2. Build Simple, Visual Slides
  3. Tell Stories

If you haven’t taken the time recently to look at how you can improve your presentation skills, this article is a good starting point. It has several links to brief videos as well, which are always helpful in actually seeing and experiencing these skills in action.

Follow Up: Finish Strong and Quickly

Experts recommend that as much effort should be put into the follow up as the actual presentation. I think most of us intuitively understand the importance of follow-up. It shows interest, expresses importance, and helps serve as a reminder. However, most of us are busier than ever before, and it’s this busyness that can prevent us from following through. Propoint Graphics has an interesting article they posted a while back on some ideas for following up. They included:

  1. Emailing the deck you used during the presentation.
  2. Setting up a string of automated emails.
  3. Creating a series of videos you can email to audience member. You don’t always have to create the videos. You might simply email some existing videos that are pertinent.
  4. Emailing an electronic brochure, complete with a product animation and a testimonial video.

You don’t have to follow up with media types such as videos, but they do tend to catch the attention of the recipient much more than words alone in an email.

Seeking More Expertise?

Our clients are facing sales presentation challenges but also benefiting from new best practices. They have found that by using engaging visual selling techniques and easy-to-use tools, all three stages of the sales presentation process become more efficient and effective. They are prepping quickly and more effectively, delivering much more engaging presentations whether one-on-one or in a large audience, and following up before even leaving the meeting by emailing appropriate content immediately.

We can help you. Simply email us at or leave a comment on this post. One of our advisors will  reach out to you.

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