Presentation Preparation Leads to Success

As we travel around with salespeople coaching them on all things related to sales we see too many sales calls that are just plain painful to witness. Delivering a really solid presentation is a mixture of art and science. Think about it. Sales and marketing have put a lot of effort into getting you in front the right people. Now, it is up to you. You can keep the process moving, or embarrass yourself and your company.

Let’s cover some basics that every presentation should have to be successful. This is not the time to “wing it”. Do your homework, have a plan and set expectations. Some of this is pretty simple stuff and a little time invested can make you look like a rock star.

First, do some research on the prospective customer. Visit their website, look for recent news articles, visit LinkedIn and if you subscribe to credit rating service, check that too. There may be items you want to talk about and frankly, some you may want to avoid. Public companies make all kinds of interesting information available on their websites. By the way, almost everyone does research on prospective vendors. You don’t want to be the only one in the room who hasn’t done your homework.

Next, set some goals, expectations and anticipated outcomes for your presentation. Not every presentation can expect an order at it’s conclusion. Maybe this is a forerunner to a second meeting with a different audience. Maybe this is only an information gathering session. Understand the buying protocols of your prospect. Respect their process. Be realistic.

When you are in front of your audience do less talking and more listening. Ask open ended questions and engage your audience. No one enjoys a 45 minute lecture complete with a boring PowerPoint presentation. Good grief! Make an effort to understand their problems and stop selling your product features.

Finally, determine what’s next. Will there be another meeting? When should you follow up and schedule a return visit? Did you make a list of the questions that YOU need to answer and respond to you prospect? What information should you expect from them and did you set deadlines for information exchange?

Follow these simple guidelines and come across as more professional and better informed. Ultimately, you will be more successful.

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