By far, the biggest issue I hear about from senior executives regarding presentations by sales executives is that they come prepared to present their own agenda.
In other words, if sales executives have a 35-page PowerPoint, they are often hell-bent on getting through each and every slide. Many sales folks are under the impression that if they get through the entire pre-planned presentation, they have made significant progress toward closing the sale. Somehow they feel that the presentation will answer all pertinent client questions — as well as do all the necessary selling.
How about the salesman who asks the audience to hold all questions until the end? Perhaps he has so much “valuable” material he is concerned that a question might get him off track and prevent him from finishing in the allotted time. We certainly don’t want our prospect to ask a question that might be pertinent to a sale — would we? I say this in jest, but these are true stories related to me by executive-level decision makers.
Have you ever heard the term “Death by PowerPoint?” Too many times we all fall into this trap. We get massive amounts of marketing material from corporate. Unfortunately, many times we take the entire presentation and torture our audience by delivering every single slide from the deck. While it may be a beautiful presentation for a given audience, chances are that all the slides are not pertinent to your prospect. And if you have a dozen or so slides that you spend even a small amount of time on, it extends the presentation for another 15 minutes. Presenting slides that are not relevant to the proposed solution are detrimental to your agenda for three reasons:
· Diverts attention from your solution by not staying on point
· Shows lack of respect for the executive’s time
· Demonstrates that you may not have a grasp on the business challenge you are attempting to solve
To avoid this situation, take the time to fully understand what the audience expects from your presentation. Then spend whatever time is necessary to delete any slide that is not relevant to your audience. It might also involve you customizing some slides and inserting them into the corporate presentation. It is much better to have 10 slides that are completely on point with what you want to accomplish than 30 slides that are full of corporate fluff and other information that may not be relevant to your prospect’s current business challenges.
Getting through a presentation should not be your objective. Presenting a compelling solution to your clients’ needs is the objective. It is far better to spend 45 minutes in a lively and compelling conversation that is based on three slides than having no interaction with the audience in a full hour. This can only be done by staying on point and not getting side-tracked with unnecessary information.
Your customers and prospects will appreciate your professionalism as well as your respect for their valuable time. Time is a valuable commodity for busy executives. Don’t waste it with information that is not pertinent, or you will lose their respect, and most likely will not be invited back for additional business opportunities. And, quite frankly, a sales exec’s time is equally valuable. Be well-prepared for each and every sales call. That doesn’t mean using the same presentation for every prospect. All prospects don’t have identical business challenges. Be specific and demonstrate professionalism. And by all means, don’t waste your prospect’s time!
UNIVERSAL SALES TRUTH #1
Surround yourself with successful people of integrity.
Refuse good advice and watch your plans fail;
Take good counsel and watch them succeed.