Whether or Which in Sales Presentations

Thursday, July 9th, 2009 , , 0 comments


Is The Audience Deciding Whether To Buy – Or Which Version to Buy?

Every presenter should ask themselves a simple question during preparation – is the presentation going to address whether the audience should buy at all, or has the need been identified and is the audience considering whether to buy from me versus the competition? In other words, whether the audience’s ‘need to purchase’ has been established is a critical determining factor in choosing which messages to convey.

For example, if ‘outsourcing’ is one of a presenter’s core value propositions, then the appropriate message if this audience were considering whether to buy might be: ‘Why outsource?’ Alternatively, the appropriate message for an audience which is considering which supplier to buy from would consequently be: ‘Why outsource to us?’. The two questions are fundamentally different, in terms of the resulting discussion – although each is potentially relevant and appropriate, depending upon the audience’s requirements and, potentially, the stage of the sales cycle at the point of presentation.

Using the above questions, two possible answers might be ‘cost savings’ and ‘an improvement in service levels’ respectively, for example. The first answer is relevant to all outsourcing offerings and so plays an essential role in establishing why the audience needs such a service – but the second offers a key point of competitive differentiation.

In differing circumstances it is conceivably possible that either the ‘whether’ or ‘which’ messages may be relevant and appropriate during either the marketing or sales phases of the overall sales cycle. However, it’s worth noting that when these two points are presented concurrently in the sales phase for example, they can be significantly more powerful than when presented independently, effectively re-establishing the audience’s overall need to buy, before then delivering the presenter’s specific value proposition to confirm why the audience must buy from them. In other words, sales messages concerning ‘whether’ to buy can help to shape the audience’s understanding of how to choose ‘which’ to buy.

When preparing to deliver a sales presentation, it is highly worth considering whether the audience is likely to be thinking either: “Do I need this solution?” or “Can this presenter provide me with the solution I need” respectively. If the former, then the presenter should aim to make the audience want to buy, ideally without going out to market, but at the very least with a view of what to look for that is tailored to the presenter’s own offering. If the latter, the opportunity is clearly to convey why the presenter is the best placed to offer the service that the audience has already identified is required, via a more compelling and benefit-led sales presentation than the competition.

By considering where the presentation sits within the sales cycle based on whether the audience is considering the merits of a purchase or whether the audience is sold on making the purchase but considering where to spend their money, the smart presenter optimises the chances of achieving the desired positive outcome.

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The Ultimate Guide to Sales Presentations