Do any of these comments sound familiar?
“Our standard sales presentation is boring… even I’m bored giving it. I often notice people’s eyes are glazing over. It’s just not what they want to see or hear.”
“Our team really doesn’t have time to prepare, because we’re so busy, but then I notice in the meeting, some people on our team talk too long, give answers we wouldn’t want to give, and we just don’t look well coordinated.”
“I just don’t have the utmost confidence that when we are talking to decision makers that we’re polished, prepared and ready to have a conversation at the C-Suite level.”
What’s Wrong with Our Sales Presentations?
Every organization knows that sales presentations are a key driver of the sales process. Companies invest enormous time and resources developing materials for sales presentations. Yet most sales leaders agree this doesn’t correlate to closing more deals! What do you need to do to make sure that the presentation you deliver results in sales?
The truth is that there is far more to successful sales than the PowerPoint slide deck. When the marketing team sends slides to the sales team, that’s only the first step in the process. Even experienced professionals say there is a huge gap between what they have in hand, and what happens when they walk into the room to deliver it. And it starts with a fundamental question - “What is a sales presentation?”
How Do You Define a Sales Presentation?
What your prospect has in mind is not someone coming in to talk “at” them. What they are interested in is a conversation that might lead them to say, “well, this person has something of value to offer my business.”
What a good presentation “isn’t:”
- The PowerPoint slides
- The “client book”
- The “stand and deliver” presentation
- The “leave behind”
A great “sales presentation” is everything that happens in that room from the moment you walk in the door, to the moment you say goodbye. Whether this is an initial meeting, a needs assessment, proposal stage or a finals presentation, a sales presentation is the conversation you are having with the client. It’s what’s happening in the room!
Eliminating the Confusion about the Sales Presentation
When you send your salespeople out with a slide deck, they may assume they are supposed to “present” this material. Why wouldn’t they? This is what you’ve given them.
We have worked with thousands of sales professionals, in world-class organizations that have had lots of training and experience. But they’ve told us they’ve been given their “marching orders” to go sell the “hot” new product or service. Unfortunately that’s not usually why they got the meeting.
To be successful in sales, your sales team needs to think of the meeting as a dialogue. They need to have the skill to go in to a meeting and make things happen. This includes teaching them to have curious minds. They must be able to ask questions, be consultative, and where appropriate, weave in the “presentation” of a product, service or solution.
When we do sales training, we use a process of “asking great questions.” A lot of sales people believe they are good at this until we videotape “mock” sales meetings. Even experienced salespeople are surprised at how quickly they stop listening and start “selling.” They are selling before they understand.
The whole point of any meeting with a prospect or client is to get a conversation going, and keep it going until you identify something of value to them that is profitable to you. Curiosity and the ability to ask questions leads to a genuine dialogue that helps them understand how to improve the client condition.
Where to Invest in Sales Training
Most sales organizations invest in sales training. They know it is important. However, the pressure is on to focus only on product. With new salespeople joining the organization and new products to sell, the reason for this is obvious. But it constitutes overinvestment in one area that is limited, in terms of generating sales and revenue.
Many sales VPs and managers “assume” their people are doing the right things when they get into the room. Then, they attend a meeting with one of their sales associates and are disappointed. They wonder if these skills can be learned. They can.
Where to Start in Coaching Your Team
Start by sharing with your team that your expectation first and foremost is that they learn to get into a real conversation with a client. The dialogue should be the center of the meeting. Their question skills should include how to establish rapport, uncover client needs, explore options that work for them, establish urgency, cement the value in the mind of the buyer, and then explore implementation and next steps.
Here are seven things you can communicate to your sales team, to immediately improve sales results:
- The focus of the meeting is not the “stand and deliver” slide deck - it’s the conversation you are having with that client, in every stage of the selling process
- Ask smart questions that indicate you’ve done your homework and you know something about the client situation; never ask “what keeps you awake at night” or other hackneyed questions – they come across as lazy and disinterested
- Go into every conversation with a “curious mindset” and that will prompt you to go deeper than you thought you could; explore every statement that is interesting or intriguing, or anything you don’t understand – never ever “assume” you know
- Don’t worry about “selling” anything until you understand precisely what the client is telling you – those small details will enrich your conversation and your proposal
- Use “their words, their way” when talking with a customer or prospect; make it a point to understand their industry and company words, ways and jargon; when you understand their language, you control the conversation
- If you’re an extrovert, work hard to listen and ask questions – in your enthusiasm, you may jump in to “sell” before the client is ready to buy
- If you’re going in as a team, get your act together; get on the phone and coordinate the meeting from beginning to end; if it is an important finals presentation, you must practice together to leverage each other’s knowledge, expertise and experience
ROI in Sales Presentation Training
ROI from sales training doesn’t come from doing the same thing over and over and hoping for a different result. Allocate more time and resources to sales presentation training, including asking questions, professional presence, consultative dialogue, and watch what happens. If you’ve hired the right team of enthusiastic go-getters who are motivated to sell, arm them with these skills, and get out of their way.