The prospect finally agreed to meet. Once you present, the sale is practically a given …
… until it’s not. Because your presentation is just as lifeless as the next one.
If you made the buyer’s calendar, you got their interest. But it’s tough to keep their interest with a pocketful of tchotchkes and a mediocre slide deck – which is the depth of way-too-many presentations.
Presentations are a crucial turning point in successful sales. If yours stands out and above, you’ll win. If yours is the same-old, same-old, you’ll lose. Plain and simple.
Here are 14 sales presentation tweaks that help you win more sales.
1) Give more story, less data
Stories make up 65% of the content in the most successful TED Talk presentations, a Forbes study found. People connect with characters, places and images created in stories. Yet most sales presentations are filled with facts, statistics and specs.
Tweak: Build presentations around stories – real-life situations that happened to your customers. Add humor, with a dash of data. You can create engaging, brief stories with a formula as simple as Problem-Solution-Result or Protagonist-Antagonist-Conflict-Solution. Even better: Make your prospect the protagonist in the story.
2) Show more images, fewer words
About 65% of people are visual learners, according to research in the Social Science Research Network. That means two-thirds of the people who witness your presentation will be more engaged and remember it if you show more images than text. But many salespeople move from one text-heavy slide to the next.
Tweak: Use photos of your customers, images of your products, short videos and infographics in presentations. Avoid using slides that are strictly text. And if you must show a text-laden slide, follow these guidelines:
- No more than three bullets per slide
- One line per bullet
- Font size 28 or larger, and
- Five slides maximum per 20 minutes.
3) Use other people’s words
Of course, presentations need words – spoken and written. Many salespeople fill the space or silence with their own words, sales-focused language and corporate-ready pitches.
Tweak: Use expert, research-driven, customer-spoken words. Descriptions and analysis that comes from third parties and outside authorities hold more weight than your witty or contrived words in a presentation.
4) Lean more on meaning, less on facts
Facts, stats and data from outside and in-house sources need to be part of presentations. But if they’re the crux of presentations, buyers will get bored and/or confused.
Tweak: Focus mostly on what the facts mean – rather than on the facts. Explain why something happened or will happen and the ramifications specific to the prospects in front of you.
5) Focus more on problems, less on solutions
Many salespeople focus primarily on their solutions throughout presentations. They talk about how it will make everything better. But most buyers really want to hear about themselves – their concerns, frustrations, issues and unfulfilled needs.
Tweak: Spend a larger portion of presentation time recognizing buyers’ frustrations and issues and how they feel about those. Justify their feelings by saying you recognize why there’s an issue and they “deserve to be” frustrated, disappointed, overwhelmed, etc. Then suggest that they would feel some relief from those emotions with something that’s easier, quicker, more profitable (or whatever the main benefit they need is).
6) Do less to be more
Salespeople who are eager to finally get the opportunity to present sometimes try to cram in everything but the kitchen sink. That makes presentations tiring, complex and forgettable. Buyers suffer information overload and stall or outright stop the sale.
Tweak: Simplify. Whittle down complex concepts into easy-to-understand and easy-to-digest stories backed by short, bullet-pointed specifics. Note: Don’t dumb down your presentation (which could lessen your authority). Keep the concepts as big as they are, but use simple language and bold descriptions to express them.
7) Converse more, present less
Some salespeople use slides as the presentation navigation system rather than as roadside assistance. They read slides like a script, need to load another to move to the next point and look at the screen more than the buyers.
Tweak: Consider the text on your slides as an overview of the main points, not full-sentence descriptions. The main points can be used as conversation starting points, rather than the presentation keys. Prepare extra slides with charts, stats and/or more in-depth details just in case someone asks for that kind of information.
8) Prepare more, wing it less
There’s an extreme to “let’s have a conversation” approach: winging the presentation. Some salespeople want the meeting to be more like a casual conversation than a presentation, so they just wing it. Other salespeople wing it because they’re lazy or over-confident in their knowledge of the material and ability to be professional.
Tweak: Don’t wing it! Prepare an agenda and a goal. Have a SlideDeck that you can at least use as a backup if the casual conversation goes nowhere.
9) Customize more, generalize less
Some presentations are generic and general – just copied from one meeting to the next with the current buyer’s name plugged in the slides and speech. Buyers get bored and won’t likely connect with the salesperson or solution.
Tweak: Customize every presentation. Make the effort to identify one thing that makes each buyer unique, and use that as the launchpad for customized presentations for each buyer. Focus on how your solution will fit into something unique about their facility, situation, processes, organization, customers, etc.
10) Recognize a relevant shift
Prospects are more likely to change when they recognize there has been a bigger change they need to adapt to. But salespeople often focus on making a change and not on the shifts that caused the need for change.
Tweak: Identify a relevant shift in their world – something that has affected their industry, community, company, personal life – and point out how the shift affects them in a big way.
11) Share and analyze more
Great presentations are often wasted if prospects can’t access them on their own. Salespeople want to do more than send files or share a SlideDeck. Most buying decisions are made by nearly seven people, according to research from CEB, now Gartner. So the easier it is to share with one and many people, the better.
Tweak: Use online presentation software to create personalized URLs for each presentation you do. Then buyers can go through it again as needed on their own time – and share as often and with as many people as they choose. Even better: The software usually has analytic tools so you can see when your presentation was viewed again, which pages they looked at and how long. That helps for more effective, focused follow-up.
12) Talk about differences, not perfection
Salespeople believe in their solution (rightfully so) and might get a bit boastful, claiming perfection. Presentations that promise perfection are usually hard for buyers to believe.
Tweak: Your solution doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to better than the alternatives. Focus on what makes you different and superior. Stop short of claiming it’s perfect.
13) Stir emotions, not urgency
In an effort to speed along a decision, some salespeople try to build unnecessary urgency or pressure with statements such as, “Prices will increase next week,” “You’ll never see something like this again” or “We’ll soon be limited in our ability to supply.” They’re almost threats, and customers don’t respond positively to that.
Tweak: The better way to create an urgent need is to stir emotions in a presentation. Help prospects recognize that your solution will relieve their frustrations, make them proud of improvements or satisfied with savings, for example.
14) Be specific, not water-downed
To avoid coming across as aggressive, some salespeople water down their call to action in presentations. They might just “suggest” buyers do something, give several options on next steps, give vague direction or fail to call for action.
Tweak: Be specific. Put a clear call to action – for example, sign now, take delivery of trial tomorrow, schedule a demo for next week – in writing on a slide, in an email or printed document and lay it out near the end of the presentation.