Before the Internet changed B2B sales forever, if a buyer wanted to find out about the market, they would attend trade shows, read trade magazines, and request information from companies that would be provided by sales reps perhaps through a sales presentation. Today, the potential buyer opens a browser, searches, reads LinkedIn, and engages in online conversation – perhaps with other buyers.

Marketing has changed as a result. Marketing automation is growing as a segment at breakneck speed. Companies employ people to tweet, to blog, and to create content. Generating leads for sales, and contributing directly for revenue – has become a prime objective. Read more on how marketing automation can go wrong in this article.

Has sales changed? And have the materials sales people use to sell changed?

Prospects spend hours educating themselves, reading whitepapers, vendor guides, and company websites. They do this for ages – sometimes well before you know they are out there. And then? When they finally reveal themselves, what does a sales rep do differently today to what they might have done fifteen years ago?

If your prospect’s behaviour has changed, so too must your sales presentation.

  1. The old ‘About us’ introduction to a sales presentation is boring. Very boring. Now, there’s even less reason to make prospects sit through it. They already know about your company, from your website. You don’t need to build credibility – they accepted the appointment. And it wastes precious time… Why spend the first five minutes of your sales presentation talking about you when they want to know about what you can do for them. It will just risk boring them, and ensure that attention levels plummet before you get going.
  2. You ought to know a lot about your prospect already. Does your company use marketing automation technology? Can you read your prospect’s digital body language? If you do, and you can – then delivering a canned presentation is daft. You know what the prospect is interested in – focus on that.
  3. Prospects can fall into the trap of thinking they know what you do. They’ve read your site, commented on your blog, retweeted your insights (maybe). But that doesn’t mean that they actually understand. Don’t be scared to go over the basics – quickly, and in  a way that focuses on their needs.
  4. You can’t just repeat what’s written on the website – they’ve already seen it. There’s an argument that holding back some messages for use by sales (and not by marketing) helps in the creation of a sales presentation. (Maybe, but sales might never have anyone to present to if marketing has to hold back.) But even if sales and marketing use the same messages in different ways – make sure that something is new, or sales people will be rendered redundant.
  5. Companies are buying by committee. According to Sales Executive Council research, widespread support for a vendor within the buying organisation is the single most important factor influencing buying decisions. Even the best sales people can’t always access everybody who might influence a decision. Buyers want information – but they don’t always want to meet with sales people. In that case – let your supporters sell on your behalf by providing an on-demand version of your presentation for busy buyers to view. Narrate your slides – don’t just use PowerPoint as a word processor.

Is there material that marketing departments shouldn’t put in the public domain? Has your organisation adapted to the new buyer?

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Written by

Joby Blume

Director

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