My client was having trouble winning sales. Their prospects were organisations that make decisions via a combined management group that included the heads of the organisation such as General Manager.
They had made presentations to dozens of these groups, traveling hundreds (maybe thousands?) of kilometres over many months … and had zero response.
No requests for follow-up meetings.
What a waste of time and effort! And were they frustrated …
What was wrong?
They were making classic sales presentation mistakes that you should avoid as well.
Avoid these six common sales presentation errors:
(1) Premature Presentation Syndrome
The main problem was that they were presenting prematurely. That is, they really weren’t in a position to make a presentation that addressed specific needs of each prospect.
In fact, in most cases they only had the chance to do a general review of the prospects website before conducting their presentation. Because they didn’t address specific needs, they couldn’t generate any interest in what they were offering – which required the prospect to spend tens of thousands of dollars.
(2) Not Understanding Your Prospect
It is important (in fact it is crucial) that you conduct thorough research before giving a sales presentation. In the case of my client, due to time constraints, they usually didn’t meet with the key decision makers or influencers before the presentation.
The best approach is to use a through process for understanding what the prospect wants to achieve, and how the different parts of their business may be affected by what you are proposing (your product and/or service). The SOX questioning strategy I teach as part of my sales training workshops is ideal for this stage.
(3) Being Driven by the Prospects Time Frame
Even though my client was in fact initiating the discussions with prospects, they fell victim to being pressured into making a presentation as soon as possible, to suit the prospect.
This situation was partly encouraged by my client. They were so keen to ‘make a sale’ they jumped at any opportunity to give the presentation. However, it is very difficult to go back at another time for a second shot. You need to get it right the first time.
You must have your own time frame in mind that allows you to be fully prepared, including allowing time or any research, travel, time away from other clients, and time away from your office.
(4) Feeling Pressured Not to ‘Sell’
The organisations my client was presenting to made it clear they didn’t want a ‘sales pitch’ as the presentation. But they did expect my client to travel and take time to educate their decision makers. The prospects wanted a one-way street!
Don’t allow prospects to suck your information out of you without giving you a fair chance of discussing suitable business options with you.
‘Sales’ presentations don’t have to be pushy! In fact your sales presentation should be very easy going, not twisting the prospects arm for the order.
Be clear about whether you are willing to give a no-obligation educational seminar (which may be part of your marketing strategy to generate leads) or whether you need to give a sales presentation, based on your prospects requirements, designed to move them towards making a buying decision.
Yes, sometimes you need to be diplomatic and negotiate a suitable outcome for all parties. But avoid purely giving them education at your own expense when they are not willing to take action.
After all, if you’re responsible for generating new business you must set priorities to deal with prospects that offer some opportunity for future sales. Time is money.
(5) A Lacklustre Presentation
Once my client was in front of the decision-making group they proceeded through a visually boring PowerPoint presentation. They showed slide after slide of text, much of which the audience may already have read in their promotional brochure.
Because they didn’t clearly understand what each particular audience needed my client simply gave general information. They mentioned what ‘might’ be possible. They spoke about ‘potential’ benefits for the prospect. They had no concrete reasons for their prospect to act now.
The good news was my client had a working model of the product they were presenting. This proved to be the highlight and got the audience involved and asking questions. But the decision-makers still didn’t see the reason to act.
(6) Present at the Right Time in Your Sales Process
You need to create your own sales process for your business. That is, what are the steps you take to convert a lead to a paying client? Where does your presentation fit into that process? Once you determine this you can plan for more effective presentations.
In summary, remember my maxim:
Marketing Creates Leads … Sales Creates Clients
- Decide whether you are giving a marketing presentation or a sales presentation.
- For sales presentations always do your homework on your prospect. Find out what their specific needs are.
- Create a presentation that is focused on the needs and requirements of your prospect.
- Manage the presentation – timing, venue, participants – to give you maximum opportunity for success.
Find out why too many presentations are boring, and how you can create and deliver an effective presentation by downloading the free ebook The Persuasion Principle.