Sales Presentation: Content
Sales presentations can be critically important in business-to-business sales, and making sure that a sales pitch is effective is crucial. There can be millions of dollars at stake – so how can you ensure that you’re going to make the most of your opportunity?
The good news is that m62 is here to help. We know sales presentations – after all, we’ve created 1000s of them. Here, we bring you great tips from our own consultants, as well as other sales, marketing, and presentation experts. We’ve reproduced all of these tips for you in a series of articles split into six different aspects: content; planning and process; format and structure; design; delivery; and audience interaction.
The first part of our series contains tips on messaging and content.
Make sure that your presentation brings your points to life, rather than simply presenting abstract concepts. If making a sales presentation, make sure that you offer proof. As Chip and Dan Heath note in their pamphlet ‘Making Presentations that Stick‘ – “The number one mistake we’ve observed in presentations – and there is no close second – is that the message is too abstract. The presenter offers concepts and conclusions but not evidence. He talks at a high level about the big picture, but gives no concrete details that might make the big picture understandable and plausible.”
Focus on Solutions
In a credentials presentation, says author Joey Asher, don’t talk directly about credentials, or too much about your own company. “Instead, your credentials will be apparent as you talk about your solution, and how you’ve implemented similar solutions for other clients. You focus your presentation solely on what the client really cares about – a solution to her business problem.”
Value Proposition for Structure
Less is more. At m62 we advise our clients to structure their sales presentations into five parts or fewer. Use benefit statements to form a value proposition, and use the value proposition for structure. Giving five strong answers to the question ‘Why Us?’ is far more powerful, and memorable, than listing 100s of benefits that nobody can prioritise or remember.
Bring Solution to Life
In Fire Them Up, best-selling author Carmine Gallo suggests focusing on the solution that your service delivers, and recommends bringing to life how this solution will help – “Tell your listeners why you’re excited about your product, share a vivid vision of the future that your product makes possible, and be specific about how your product will help them succeed in business”. He reminds us of the well-known adage that ‘nobody wants a quarter-inch drill; they want a quarter-inch hole’ – that is, in B2B sales, people want solutions, not just products.
Duarte Design in California (the folks behind Slide:ology) teach presenters to use ‘S.T.A.R Moments™. S.T.A.R. stands for “Something They’ll Always Remember” and S.T.A.R. Moments refer to the memorable moments in a presentation that stick in the minds of your audience long after the presentation is over.’ We’ve mentioned it before on this website, because we love the clip, but a great example of this is Bill Gates releasing a jar of mosquitoes into a crowded auditorium while talking about Malaria. People remember that kind of stunt, and if it’s connected to your message, they remember your message too.
Benefits not Features
Remember that successful sales presentations can’t simply list product features, but must make the connection to benefits that actually help the audience. As Jerry Weissman writes in Presenting to Win ‘A feature is a fact or quality about you or your company, the products you sell, or the idea you’re advocating. By contrast, a Benefit is how that fact or quality will help your audience. When you seek to persuade, it’s never enough to present the Features of what you’re selling; every Feature must always be translated into a Benefit.’
Stories and Emotion
‘People buy on emotion, and justify with fact’ says Bert Decker, CEO of Decker Communications. Stories are ‘emotionally connecting’, ‘move people’, ‘give third party credibility, and are memorable. Sales people should make use of stories in presentations, because stories help presenters to connect, and ‘connection trumps everything’.
Allude to Competitor Weaknesses
Many companies feel uncomfortable in directly attacking competitors in their sales presentations. The alternative is to use a technique called ghosting. In ghosting, the aim is to allude to the weaknesses of competitors without specifically mentioning them. Explain why a certain feature is important, allude to the risk of not having that feature (without openly mentioning a competitor), and then present your own strengths in that area.
Many presentations are prepared and delivered with no clear objectives in mind. Yet, if a presentation isn’t trying to achieve anything in particular, it risks achieving nothing. Andrew Abela, author of Advanced Presentations by Design, suggests creating a table, and listing what the audience think now, and what the presenter wants them to think after the presentation; and what the audience do now, and what the presenter wants them to do after the presentation. This framework ensures that presentations are given for a purpose.
Handouts for Detail
Sales people need to convince emotionally and rationally, and some of the rational sale can be achieved using detailed handouts, as Seth Godin argues – ‘the presentation is to make an emotional sale. The document is the proof that helps the intellectuals in your audience accept the idea that you’ve sold them on emotionally.’
Case Studies for Social Proof
As Chris Atherton, writer of the blog Finite Attention, affirms, sales people really need to use case studies. Show your audience how other clients have benefited from your product or service. This immediately poses the question, “What would this do for me?” This approach is interesting, affirming, and involves your audience.
And finally, an audience needs to feel important. As recommend by Sue Hershowitz, whose blog SpeakerSue provides resources for sales skills, you should ‘Love your prospects.’ Take the time to get to know them. Do the research. Most importantly, let them know that you appreciate them. Show them that you understand; that their problems matter to you; and that you offer a solution that is tailored to helping them in the best way possible.
Review outlining improvements and feature enhancements in the forthcoming PowerPoint 2010, based on extensive testing by m62′s professional PowerPoint presentation designers.
Review and comparison of some of the most popular slide sharing websites – SlideShare, authorSTREAM, SlideBoom, and myBrainshark. Which is best for on-demand presentations?
m62 worked to a tight deadline with the Gaymer Cider Company to create a presentation about the cider market, clearly presenting the key messages from within significant amounts of data.
4 Comments to Sales Presentation: Content
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Stuart Buckley, CEO and Founding Partner, Calltracks Ltd
m62 are simply PowerPoint gurus. They made our message so, so simple and straightforward and just brought it to life. Now I’ve done the training course, I look at our past presentations and cringe… I’m a very happy customer! m62 are just excellent. Five star – can’t be beaten. The service, the product, the knowledge – excellent to all of the above!