Sales presentation strategy


By Peter Watts

What is your primary goal in making a sales presentation? It’s to sell something.

So why do so many sales-presenters try to conceal the fact? You might be amongst them. Do your sales presentations open with phrases such as:

  • “Your success is important, and we’re going to look at how our products can help you be even more successful.”
  • “We’ve helped many organizations achieve benefits, and in this presentation we’ll explore how we could help you to do the same”
  • “The purpose of this presentation is to demonstrate how our products offer you the best value solution.”

All commendable sentiments, but also great big honking fibs!

A lot of salespeople, especially the salespeople with the really big impressive job titles such as “Senior Strategic Account Director” or some other business-card hokum, have internalized the message that selling is just a little bit dirty. To be after the customer’s cash is sleazy and liable to make them doubt your credibility.

Actually no. If you want to make the audience doubt your credibility then attempting to conceal the primary purpose of your presentation is a far better place to start!

You’re there to sell and the customer is there to buy.

It’s actually two highly compatible agendas.

Within public speaking there is a topic called ethos, and this is all about credibility. As public speaking expert Andrew Dlugan explains, ethos is everything you include in a presentation to show that you are credible in your subject, trustworthy as a speaker, and compatible with the audience viewpoint.

There are things that you can do throughout the sections of a presentation to build-up your ethos as a speaker, but nowhere is ethos more important than the section right at the beginning. This is where the audience asks themselves: “Can we trust this person?”

If you’ve just started your presentation with a sweet sounding but rather transparent fib about your primary purpose, then what do you think you just did to your ethos level?

You avoided any words to do with sales because you didn’t want to sound sleazy, but instead you’ve made yourself sound evasive. And sleazy!

Here are some ideas for professional ways to tell the customer that you’re interested in the colour of their money:

  • “I would love to be able to welcome you as a customer.”
  • “I would be delighted to have your business.”
  • “I want to demonstrate how buying our product will meet your goals.”

All of these statements say “I want your business”, and all of these statements start with the first person “I”. This is important. It’s you that’s standing in front of the customer, and you that is asking them to believe the words that are about to come. Even if you are representing a larger organization, using the word “I” gives meat and ownership to those words.

Now for the little bit of blog-magic. Take any of those three phrases in red, and stick them in front of  any of the three earlier phrases in blue. The result sounds a lot stronger doesn’t it.

By being upfront, you create transparency. Transparency creates trust. Trust creates credibility.

Credibility creates a winning sales presentation.

Comments

  1. Peter:
    Nice post! I like your sentiment. As I often tell audiences: You’re a Salesperson: Embrace it! I think it’s important that we take full responsibility for being salespeople – and remind ourselves (and our prospects) that our job as salespeople is to add value and fulfill needs. Selling is the noble art of making our client’s lives better, businesses more successful and even their clients happier. We should embrace it from the first words out of our mouth.

    In your first examples, you remind us of three “neutralized” statements that too many salespeople say as a kind of “excuse me while we have to go through this” sort of way. In fact, such statements put all the onus on the “product or service” itself, rather than the salesperson assuming the role – with confidence – of problem solver and need-fulfiller. And that’s one of the most important keys in sales: Confidence. If you start the presentation by confidently expressing your desire to earn their business, and welcome them as clients, you’re more than halfway there (assuming you’ve done a good needs analysis before the presentation part).

    Thanks for sharing this; always a good reminder for experienced salespeople, and helpful to newbies who need to get started on the right path. I’m going to share it with my peeps.

    – Matthew

    • Thank you so much for your comment Matthew. You mention how those three opening statements put the focus onto the product rather than the problem-solving salesperson. I think you’re absolutely right. In addition from running away from the “sales”aspect of their role, I think that salespeople sometimes, under the stage-lights of a presentation setting, find it more comforting to slip the spotlight and focus the audience onto the product.

      It’s all about confidence! Confidence in yourself, and in your sales role.

  2. Great Post. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Great post!Thanks for sharing🙂

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