The Winning Sales Presentation
Value Propositions, Proof, and the Winning Sales Presentation
There has been much written and much debate about what makes a winning sales presentation. From the measurement of sales effectiveness, to outlining the sales process, distinguishing between sales messages and marketing messages, developing consistent messaging, and using appropriate slides – many elements must come together to create a winning sales presentation. As important as all of these, however, is creating a winning value proposition.
A value proposition sets out the benefits that a vendor offers in return for payment; the greater the benefits at a given price point, the greater the value offered. Identifying and communicating value is key to crafting a winning sales presentation. As presentation coach Jerry Weisman 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.”
The temptation for presenters looking to put together an effective sales presentation can be to simply list dozens and dozens of possible benefits – hoping that if enough bets are made, some will be on the winning horse. Yet here, less is more. In communicating 100s of benefits, few will be remembered – and each audience member will take away something different from the sales presentation. Without a clear value proposition, when the audience evaluate your presentation afterwards, there will be no agreement on what you offer.
Fundamentally, the strength of the value proposition in a sales presentation can be determined by three key factors:
- How important the benefits you offer are to the client,
- How these benefits fare in comparison to your competitors’ value propositions, and
- The extent to which you justify the claims that you make about being able to deliver benefits.
As the starting point in developing a winning sales presentation, development of your value proposition is of paramount importance. First, brainstorm a list of the benefits that you offer to your clients. Some people find it hard to express ideas in terms of benefits rather than features – but at this stage this doesn’t matter; in fact, at m62, we often build a value proposition using features or advantages, and allow the presenter to explain the benefit that the feature offers verbally. This is to avoid allowing the audience to disengage if they feel like they fully understand what the presenter is going to say by reading the benefit listed on a slide.
Having established a list of features and benefits that might be of interest to clients, the question of how important they really are to the client must be addressed. There are a number of ways of evaluating items on a list – the idea is to focus on things that you offer that your potential customers care about. This increases your chances of winning – if prospects don’t care about the benefits you offer, they aren’t really benefits for those customers. Many companies are happy to make educated guesses as to what customers care about – where a research budget exists, it’s possible to get pretty scientific.
Offering benefits that your audience care about isn’t always enough for a winning sales presentation – you also need to consider competitive position. If your company can offer benefits, but your competitors can offer the same benefits for less money, or the same benefits but more of them – then your presentation will not win. Rank ideas for your value proposition in terms of both importance to the customer, and the extent of competitive advantage that your company has. These elements – taken together – make up the competitive value proposition.
It is the competitive value proposition that should be the framework of any winning sales presentation. In identifying what is of importance to your client and where you are better than your competitors lies the arsenal behind a winning presentation. The value proposition can be made memorable through passive mnemonic processing, and should be used to structure the sales presentation.
Proof and Justification
With the opportunity to get in front of your target audience at a premium, especially during difficult economic times, this opportunity simply cannot be wasted. The presenter must be able to demonstrate delivery or back up their claims with hard evidence. The simple claim of value with no supportive substance simply will not wash, even if trust can go a long way. If prospective purchasing decision makers simply don’t believe that you can execute, then they will not believe you, however much you beg for a chance. And importantly, they are not going to buy something they do not believe. A winning sales presentation depends upon having a value proposition that appeals to the audience, and in successfully justifying this value proposition.
m62 often recommend a straightforward approach to gathering proof points for sales presentations. This process can be boiled down to four key points of justification: testimonial, process, technical or logical.
Testimonials should be self explanatory. They are the positive things that have been said about your company, product or service by your customers, partners, or those with influence in your industry. This is the testimonial hierarchy; third person testimonials are perceived as objective and independent and therefore trustworthy, the most powerful of testimonials. Second person testimonials can be sourced from customer feedback following a job well done and can be the fastest route to generating content.
A process justification explains how a product or service will work to deliver value. If the value proposition claims that a product will enable faster manufacturing times, the process justification will explain how.
A technical justification relies upon the existence of proprietary technology or intellectual property to deliver a benefit. For example, a client who has developed a unique method for separating oils from water has a competitive advantage in the oil-clean up industry.
A logical justification relies on proof delivered through reasoned argument. If you claim to offer value because you source materials more cheaply than competitors, showing the prices that you pay against those your competitors pay will prove this point logically and unquestionably. Explaining how you manage to pay less will be a process justification.
The Winning Sales Presentation
There are indeed a great many aspects that must go into a winning sales presentation – including visualisation, structure, and design. At the heart of every winning sales presentation, however, is the value proposition. The method is a less-is-more approach, boiling down your key USP’s and making sure that they are presented and supported appropriately.
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m62 worked with Serco to assist with the creation of two presentations to Plymouth Hospital NHS Trust. With m62′s help, Serco won a seven year contract worth approximately £140 million.
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Thomas Dickson, Essential Money
I was a bit dubious about replacing my text with images, but the graphics helped me with what to say, and I found that the presentation worked a lot better with less information on the slides