How do you identify, and then use, the key messages for your sales presentation? How do you get the right sales presentation messages?

We need to work out our key sales presentation messages to structure our presentation. And we repeat them in order to help our key sales messages stick. Getting the value proposition right – i.e. answering the key question of the presentation effectively (“why us?”, “why change with us?” or “why change?”) will be central to your success.

What makes a successful sales message?

To be successful, your sales message has to be persuasive. To do that, it needs to be relevant – to offer something that prospects want, or that they can be made to want. It also has to be differentiated, in the sense that it sets your offer apart. That can come from offering something different, or from being able to deliver the same things more convincingly. Sales presentation messages must be based around things that prospects want (or can be made to want), and things that you can deliver better than others.

Why change vs why us?

Sales messages when selling a category (“why change?”, whether to buy) should be different from those used when selling a particular solution (“why us?”, which one to buy). When selling the category, your sales presentation key messages will be made up of benefits – ‘increase turnover’, ‘reduce risk’, or ‘improve efficiency’. Some of these can expanded upon (e.g. efficiency reduces your costs), but there’s already no doubt that they are a good thing.

When selling your solution, the key messages (or value proposition) should be made up of advantages, and even features. Things like ‘lightweight’, or ‘better predictivity’, ‘or ‘flexible’, or even ‘BSI approved’ and so on. Advantages have an inherent positive quality, but need to be expanded upon if the benefit is to be understood – so, for example, better predictivity allows a laboratory to deliver better results to ensure satisfied customers. Features such as ‘BSI approved’ need to be elaborated upon – the presenter needs to tie each feature in the value proposition to a strong benefit verbally – so for example in this case approval might mean you can reduce insurance premiums to save money.

Sales presentation messages: Differentiation

The key reason for this difference is around differentiation.

If you are selling against other suppliers, and you each present a list of benefits, everyone will sound the same.

If you all offer efficiency, cost reduction, and reduced risk, how will you stand out? In this situation, you might want to move away from the benefit to something more differentiated. Maybe you offer efficiency because you have a unique online scheduling system. Maybe you offer security because your guards are vetted to a high level. If so, you can focus on that in your value proposition in order to differentiate.

When presented, features and advantages should always be expanded upon to describe the benefit they deliver to the customer.

If you want to focus on benefits when selling your solution it is possible to get differentiation at the level of your justification, i.e. to be better at delivering the same benefits than anyone else. That’s fine if you really are better, and the prospect is very clear on what they want – but you won’t be able to differentiate strongly. It can be a waste of some great differences, which get hidden away behind fairly standard benefits. If your key sales presentation messages look the same as everybody else’s, consider looking behind the benefits that you offer, and talk about how you deliver them, and what’s unique there.

Corporate credential sales presentations

Some presentations fall in the middle of the ideal ‘why change?’ or ‘why us?’ archetypes. In fact, the standard corporate credentials presentation does – it looks at the capabilities of the company overall, the things on offer, and what differentiates the presenter’s company all at once. This type of presentation is often a ‘why change with us?’ presentation – it runs together reasons for the prospect to change with reasons for the prospect to choose the presenter’s company – without slowing the sales process down or encouraging the prospect to look for other providers. In this circumstance, your sales presentation messages should contain a mixture of benefits and advantages: benefits because they more directly address the prospect’s nascent needs; advantages because they allow for some differentiation.

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Joby Blume


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