Sales presentations are the cornerstone of many companies’ sales efforts, yet so often they aren’t given the time and attention they deserve. Thrown together at the last-minute, often your sales reps stand up in front of a sales presentation that's nothing more than a glorified page of notes. Read this article for everything you need to make the ultimate sales presentation.
Sales presentations are important, but 1000s of people each day deliver material that is tired, ugly, and ineffective. These sales presentation ideas will help you to easily improve your sales presentation, stand out, engage your audience, and sell more.
Prioritise your messages
If you have a long list of reasons prospects should choose you, chance is that your prospects will get lost and forget half of what you tell them. Worse still, you won’t know which half of your sales messaging will be forgotten – and buying committees will have divergent views about the value that you bring. See if you can focus your sales message on three key reasons to buy, and place everything else into one of those main categories. It will make your sales presentation far more persuasive.
Be a challenger
Since Dixon and Adamson found that sales reps who challenge and teach things to their prospects sell more everyone wants to be a ‘challenger’. What’s one of the best ways to challenge your prospects? By starting your presentation by looking at why what everyone has always done doesn’t work and won’t work, and what that costs. As an example, or pitch explains why arguing over slide copy is pointless because text-heavy slides all suck.
Cut half your material
It’s very rare indeed that prospects complain that a sales presentation got to the point too quickly, or didn’t go on for long enough. So why is cutting material from your sales presentation such a hard idea to implement?
Most sales presentations cover ground that’s unnecessary, list too many features, and confuse ‘why change?’ with ‘why us?’ Edit your presentations aggressively – try cutting half the material, tell your story pithily, and make certain to address the decision your prospects are making at the right stage in the sales cycle.
Lose the text
No, don’t shorten your bullet points. Don’t even limit yourself to one line of text per slide on a beautiful photo background (even if you have seen this idea used at conference presentations). Don’t use text to communicate at all. Just use photos you took or that are really relevant, graphs, charts, and other visualisations. People can’t read and listen at the same time – so stop undermining your sales presentation with lousy text-heavy slides.
Use a physical prop
Find a prop, pass it around, talk about it, show it, let your audience hold it. The prop can be your product, or an object that helps explain what’s different or important – a kitchen funnel if you are talking about your impact on the sales funnel, a broken part if you are going to emphasise what’s wrong with competing approaches. 3D props help to make presentations compelling. (For a famous example, check out Richard Feynman explaining why the Challenger Space Shuttle exploded at 2 minutes into this video.)
Mix your media
Don’t just use slides, or a whiteboard, or video, or pitchbooks. Mix it up. Use a variety of media, as appropriate, as part of your sales presentation. Each time you change the media you are using attention levels rise. So, mix things up to help make your presentation more compelling.
Create a hyperlinked interactive menu
Plan out the sections in your presentation, and then create a small navigation bar at the bottom of each slide. Hyperlink parts of the relevant slides, and click on the menu when presenting to skip to that section. It sounds more complicated than it is.
Record an on-demand version, and track it
Forget providing a printout of your slides – it won’t help you to sell. It jut gives an excuse for a gatekeeper to stop you coming back to pitch to the real decision maker, and it’s as-likely-as-not going to get copied to your competitor. Instead, use a tool like Brainshark to record a narrated version of your sales presentation, and then track exactly who watches. There’s nothing more satisfying than watching your sales presentation go viral through an organisation, selling for you while you sleep. Now there’s an idea…
Video yourself delivering your sales presentation
Your slides aren’t your sales presentation. A presentation needs a presenter too, and presenting confidently and clearly can make all the difference. Video yourself presenting and try to (i) say “you” not “we” (ii) explain clearly what the benefits for prospects are by using phrases like “which means you get…” (iii) eliminate your verbal ticks and (iv) interact confidently with your visuals.
This next sales presentation idea is based on the insight that your sales presentation doesn’t need to be a monologue. Having a discussion can really help. Try presenting your introduction – describing the problem and the cost of not solving it – and then stop presenting and start questioning. Then, once you reach a natural pause, present your solution.
Have a conversation
One-way sales presentations make sense in a formal pitch situation where the prospect doesn’t want to talk, and is insistent every presenter follows a clear formula. Otherwise… What sales person doesn’t want to listen and adapt to what a prospect is saying? Why plan out a 20-minute monologue when you can present a few slides, talk, then follow-up with whatever’s relevant. A true visual conversation. Have a clear message you want to get across by all means, but be flexible about when you say what.
Annotate your slides
A lot of people don’t know about PowerPoint’s annotation tools. In show mode, hover your cursor over the near-transparent pen at the bottom left of the screen. Then just write on top of your slides using the mouse. Annotate photos, populate charts, or even ask your prospect to take control and sketch out their own situation.
Hand over your iPad
There’s been a lot of hype about iPads in sales, but more Angry Birds and email than sales conversations and enablement. But the iPad can work excellently for sales conversations. Divide your sales presentation into short sequences, and present on iPad. Use a sketching to share ideas. Sit on the same side of the desk. Hand the iPad over to your prospect. Be conversational, and interactive.
Get help from a professional
If you really want to get your sales presentations right, consider bringing in a professional presentation agency to help you. An outside view can help bring consensus about what’s important. Presentation design expertise can protect your brand and deliver compelling visuals. A persuasive sales presentation pitched frequently can bring a rapid ROI.
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DirectorView Joby Blume's profile
We exhibited at a large trade exhibition a couple of weeks ago, and I went along to see what other vendors are up to. A lot of exhibitions are a desolate wasteland for exhibitors with nothing but tumbleweed and other vendors to stop the boredom. This show was actually pretty busy though, and by walking around l think I managed to notice things companies were doing (right and wrong). Some of these observations are surprisingly apt for sales presentations too...
It's easy when you are immersed in something to forget how small a part of your customers’ lives that thing is. At a recent Better Presentations event in London I asked 60-odd people if they had read Presentation Zen.
I did not think it was possible for an external team to get our message so quickly and accurately. You got our messages better than we did, and delivered presentations that were slick and really effective.Guy Shepherd Bouygues