Crafting persuasive sales presentations: Successful Selling - June 2017

By Sandy Smith

It is a sure bet that you, as a sales professional, find the efficient use of your time to be a crucial factor in your success. You don’t schedule lengthy appointments that aren’t promising. You don’t waste prime portions of your workweek. If you focus on something, it is important.

The same is true of your clients or potential clients. Over the last year or so, I asked sales professionals from a variety of industries to give me a profile of their customers, who are typically senior executives. The responses indicate that they are busy, time-pressured and impatient. They are subject to exacting demands, are in back-to-back meetings and are not interested in unfocused, rambling, long-winded presentations. So how do you get on their agenda, hold their attention and make the sale?

Through the years I have learned-sometimes the hard way-and implemented a few practical tips for presenting to senior executives. 

Many sales professionals focus so intently on the technical content of their presentation that they fail to consider who their client is and what challenges they face. It is important to always keep in mind that the subject of every effective sales presentation is what you can offer to help solve your client’s problems. Otherwise, why would they want to hear what you have to say? 

Such an important meeting must not be a blind date. Take the time to fully research who will be in your audience: their names, roles and responsibilities, tenure with the organization, age range, educational level, gender breakdown, and what challenges they face. Match that with what your products and services can offer to improve their chance for success. 

Let your audience know up front that you will give a brief overview for, say, 12 to 15 minutes, and then you will entertain questions. Even busy executives will be patient when they know how much time they are being asked to give up and that they will soon be able to ask their questions, get their answers and move on. Then progress systematically through the key points the executives need to know about what you offer them. 

I have coached many sales professionals who use their slides as their presentation outline and proceed to read the bullet points, one after the other to what seems like no end. In addition to being mind numbing, this practice confuses the audience, who is trying to decide whether to read the slide or listen to the presenter. 

Presentation graphics should be few and far between. They should be used exclusively to emphasize key points, and they should be big, bold and imaginative. Think of each slide like a billboard your audience is driving by on a highway. Like the passengers, your audience should get the point in a few seconds and then refocus on you, the presenter. 

If more detail is necessary for your audience to understand and make their purchase decision, there are much more 

appropriate ways to provide it. You can elaborate orally or provide printed material, such as brochures, manuals or presentation handouts. In addition, you will be free to discuss any additional points in the question and answer portion of your presentation.

I was recently selected to speak at a national sales meeting on the topic of persuasive presentation skills. Shortly before the seminar began, one of my client’s experienced salesmen phoned me and said that he had been giving sales presentations for 20 years and did not feel that he needed the seminar. After hanging up the phone, I wondered whether that salesman had changed his presentation over that time, because the audience has certainly changed. Some studies show that the average buyer is almost through the sales process before he or she contacts a sales rep. They have done their homework. Do yours.

Know your audience. Be concise and to the point. And keep your presentation neat and clean. 

Copyright 2017 Floor Focus