We love sales presentations. We make a living from sales presentations, and from helping to create other visual sales tools. That said, there are some inherent limitations in the traditional corporate sales presentation, and it’s worth understanding what they are.
Too Much Text
Bad sales presentations are overladen with text, and cause ‘Death by PowerPoint’. Typically, the presenter shows the content on their slide, and then repeats the same information verbally. But as the audience have already read it, the presenter becomes unnecessary, and the audience gets bored.
Presentations are usually very linear. The presenter has content to get through, and they get through it in the order they have prepared. Corporate presentations often get delivered from start to finish, even though with a bit of thought a presenter would be able to tailor the material to the audience. If the audience don’t understand certain material, the presenter might not even realise this until they finish presenting.
Buyer is Passive
The format of a sales meeting that contains a sales presentation is often fairly stilted. Typically, the sales person would ask questions for a certain period of time and attempt to listen, and then switch to presenting, and attempt to talk. In a 30 minute meeting, the sales person might talk for a 20 minute block of time. This approach encourages the prospect to be passive, and risks them losing interest.
Presenter Seen as Inauthentic
Rather than presenting something that the sales person has interpreted to meet the needs of the individual prospect or client, the presenter is typically presenting material that he or she has been given to present, which has been written by someone else and so as a result, the presenter can seem – however inadvertently, as if they are just there to deliver the company line. The sales person wants to gain the trust of the prospect, but the prospect is fully aware that the sales person is just saying what they have been told to say.
Too Much about the Presenter
Often sales presentations are written from the point of view of Product Marketing, and not the audience. If the first few slides are about ‘My Company’, ‘Company Structure’, ‘Company History’, ‘Office Locations’, and ‘Revenue by Division’ – chances are the audience is getting bored before the presenter even gets started. How will the prospect benefit by working with the presenter’s company? Why is the status quo not a great option for the prospect?
No Feedback or Control
Most companies use PowerPoint for face-to-face sales. However, this approach doesn’t provide sales management with any feedback on what is delivered, nor does it allow any control.
Sales reps can (and do) spend huge amounts of time creating their own slides, and editing the slides that they have been given by marketing. Nothing stops reps doing what they want in PowerPoint, which means that by the time they get in front of prospects, you have no idea what they are saying, which can cause all sorts of legal and compliance issues.
What Can We Do?
These issues can all be overcome. Our presentation creation service, for example, provides interactive versions of material too. Or, Visual Conversations are a more interactive yet controlled type of sales tool altogether. The key point is to understand the limitations of the traditional format, and to look to overcome them. Selling badly really ought not to be an option.