Lessons Learned From a Bad Sales Presentation


I’ve been at this sales game for many years, and I have to confess I listen to sales presentations long after most people have hung up or walked away. I know at some point I’m going to learn something worth remembering or find a topic for this newsletter.

Not long ago I sat through a two hour presentation on investing in a vacation time share. The sales person was a friendly and energetic woman. I had volunteered to hear this presentation as a current time share owner because I wanted to learn what was new in the industry and perhaps buy another. The time share company had a file on me and could easily run a credit and background check. For all intents and purposes, I was a good prospect.

The presentation began with typical questions one would expect to establish some rapport and gather minimal information. Then it began to derail. The result was I firmly said no thank you, but I did participate for the entire two and three quarter hours. Yes, she ran over the agreed upon time promised.

Here are a few things I noted and apply to B2C as well as B2B sellers.

  • Do your research. There are numerous ways to gather background information on your prospect company and the person you are meeting. Start with Google for heaven’s sake. Knowing your prospect in advance demonstrates your sincere interest. Winging it in today’s selling environment is just plain dumb.
  • At the beginning of any sales call or presentation confirm the time allotted and stick to it. Agreeing to two hours and running over by 25% without further agreement is unacceptable. Your prospect is trying to be polite while at the same time wondering “when will this end?”
  • Ask open ended questions. The more your prospect is talking, the more you should be learning. Asking a follow up question is even better. Why do think that and how did you arrive at that answer are couple of simple ones.
  • Listen. Allow your prospect to complete their answer. Do not talk over them. Rather than thinking of how you are going to respond; listen intently. Take notes. Your planned response may be incorrect or inappropriate.
  • Every sales call or presentation needs an objective. It may be just when will we continue this conversation, or may be asking for a decision, or asking to increase the order to make a full truckload. If you don’t ask you are passing up an opportunity.

Whether you are on the receiving end, or the giving end most sales calls are opportunities to learn about the art and science of selling. Do your research beforehand, remain on time and on task, ask open ended questions, listen intently, ask for some commitment and you will be more productive.

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