Sales Excellence June 08, 2015

8 ways to kill your sales presentations

Make sure your presentation doesn't fail

Sales management: 7 excuses you shouldn’t just accept



 Krauthammer newsletterIf you want your sales presentation to hit the mark, make sure that you focus on the right things by avoiding our 8 frequent presentation killers.

Presentations are crucial sales tools, especially in today’s competitive business world. They’re valuable opportunities to connect with prospects, set your business apart from competitors and close the deal. But a winning presentation isn’t always easy to create. In fact, many things can go wrong that can ruin your hard-earned opportunity at a buyer’s table. So, if you want to make sure that your presentation ‘sails’ you to a sale, avoid these common presentation killers.

One size fits all

The biggest presentation mistake? Missing the mark. Thoroughly research your prospect’s company, its needs, challenges and culture, as well as its industry. Ask how your organisation can support them? What specific information and insights will appeal to them – and what are the best ways to communicate these? Use your answers to these questions to tailor a focused, well-structured presentation, which will inspire your audience to take the next step.

Don’t rehearse

Stumbling with your words, reading from your slides, searching for your notes and struggling with technical equipment. Distractions such as these can be avoided by rehearsing ahead of time. Practice a conversational tone, while speaking clearly and at a moderate pace. Make sure you can complete your presentation in the allotted time. Double-check all the technical aspects and decide beforehand where to place your notes and the other items you need.

Kill with PowerPoint

PowerPoint should enhance your presentation, but text-heavy, overloaded, irrelevant and unprofessional slides can destroy it. The focus should be on you and what you’re saying, so limit the number of slides you use. Only include value-adding facts and ideas, use less text, simplify graphs and include relevant, meaningful images and videos.

Provide no context

Don’t just assume your audience is as excited about what you have to offer as you are. Failing to set the context at the start of your presentation is a missed opportunity to truly engage your listeners. So always start off with a strong, attention-grabbing opener. Let them know what kind of information you’ll share, why it’s relevant and how they can benefit by collaborating with you.

Let your words rule

What you say is as important as how you say it. Don’t be too informal, but talk naturally – and not too quickly. Vary the tone, pitch and volume of your voice to add interest and showcase your enthusiasm. Maintain eye contact to build a bond with your audience. Control distracting mannerisms that can divert their attention, like nodding your head excessively or overusing filler words like ‘um’.

Stick to facts and figures

Too many presentations only focus on the features or benefits of services and products. While they are important, story-telling (sharing case studies and testimonials) enable you to demonstrate the benefits of your offering and help you to connect with your audience in a memorable way. Weave a story and captivate your audience by incorporating interesting characters and situations, or even humour where appropriate. And don’t be afraid to ask questions to get your audience’s feedback and input on key points.

Glue yourself to the script

Your presentation may not always go as planned. When your audience steers it into a new direction (by asking questions or commenting), see it as an opportunity to learn more about them. After all, they are the reason why you’re presenting. However, try to anticipate any queries ahead of time, so that you can still provide the answers that they are looking for.

Make the end, the end

Many presentations fail right at the point when it matters most – they end without highlighting the key messages or a call to action. What do you want your audience do to with the knowledge and insights you’ve shared? Are you going to provide more information or set up another meeting or site visit? Use your conclusion to provide the answers and use the valuable opportunity to make a final, lasting impression.

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