By Karen O’Donnell, Toastmasters International
Business presentations can have many pitfalls but a well-crafted presentation put together with the audience in mind can have a massive impact on your sales success.
Here are my top tips to help you avoid the pitfall and make more sales at the end of your presentation:
All too often speakers put a lot of preparation into securing the pitch and little thought into the actual presentation.
Top Tip: Once your presentation is written, put time into practising it with a colleague or coach. Don’t practise with your client! Having prepared, you’re much more likely to close a deal.
You have secured the sales pitch – so this is NOT the time to pull out the generic presentation.
Top Tip: Research your customer and become familiar with their business/industry. Research their competitors and if possible tailor your presentation to demonstrate how your product or service can help them gain a competitive advantage.
How much data?
You may love the technical specification of your product. However, as we know most people will want you to sell its benefits to them. With a kitchen appliance for example – how it makes life easier, saves cooking time, give you an array of exciting new recipes to try.
Top Tip: Don’t sell the features, sell the benefits. With our example, you might mention ‘it can create a wonderful meal for that special event’. You create a picture your potential ‘buyer’ can imagine and appreciate
Do you need slides?
Have you fallen into the trap of getting slides prepared and then wondering what you’ll say to go along with the slides?’ This approach can ruin presentations. Firstly, create your message and develop your presentation – only then consider if slides are needed to help get your message across.
Top Tip: Remove the slide if: It is just to entertain the audience or to act as a prompt to the speaker.
Keep the slide when: It clarifies your audience’s understanding of your message
Impact of stories
Many presenters include lots of data in their sales pitches – this can be boring or create overwhelm. Every company has wonderful stories – so explore those how you can portray the data in a story. People make decisions based on emotions and then follow it up with logic.
Top Tip: Select stories that will resonate with that particular audience. Once you engage with them, they can look at the data at another time, if they wish.
Many speakers distribute handouts when they start their presentation. This can result in the audience flicking through the handout, instead of focusing on your well-crafted presentation.
Top Tip: Instead of distributing handouts, create a unique URL page on your website for this particular group. Put all the resources from your presentation that they require there. This adds the personal touch as well as encouraging people to visit your website.
When to start selling
We have all been there; sat through a presentation waiting for the inevitable sales pitch at the end. The close of your presentation is NOT the time to start selling.
Top Tip: Sales starts from your introduction. You could start with a question; ‘would you like to have more commitment rather than compliance from your team?’ having identified their pain your presentation can offer the solution. Pepper your talk with service or product benefits. Tease your audience with how you can solve their pain. If done well, they will want to hear how they can get your solution, so toward the end of the presentation give them their next step to avail themselves of your product or service.
Your Question and Answers
If you leave Q&A until the very end, someone could ask an awkward question and create a negative mood. This could be your audiences’ lasting impression of you, your company and your product/service. Your message must be the absolute final words they hear.
Set up the Q&A early on. I usually say, “We’ll have time for some questions towards the end of this presentation and then I will give you my final message.” You’re letting your audience know that the Q&A session is not the end of your presentation.
End your presentation strongly with the key message or call to action you want to give.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karen O’Donnell is from Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and Ireland. Members follow a structured educational programme to gain skills and confidence in public and impromptu speaking, chairing meetings and time management. To find your nearest club, visit www.toastmasters.org