Prospective clients sometimes call us with a “sales presentation problem.”
Translated, that means executives or managers have noticed that their salespeople don’t use the beautifully produced, loaded-with-information, and probably expensive PowerPoints that management has prepared. “Everything is there,” the managers tell us: “Exactly what we want prospects to know about our offerings and our company.” They’re puzzled: What’s not to like?
The good news is that management has identified a specific problem and, even better, that they don’t blame their salespeople. For the time being, they’re confident that their sales team is doing its best.
The bad news is that the problem is usually a combination of issues that have developed over time—again, not the salespeople’s fault. Or anybody’s fault, for that matter. Here are the legs of a strong presentation stool.
Leg #1: Content—What You Say. If you are making a canned, seller-centric “pitch” that is all about your capabilities and not about your prospect’s issues and problems, you are already in trouble. No amount of presentation skills is going to offset the drag of ineffective content. Your presentation will miss the opportunity to create value for the prospect within the sales process. In other words, the process is not consultative.
From a training standpoint, then, the initial need is to improve discovery skills, not presentation skills. Our FOCIS® Selling course teaches the skills top producers use to get and stay at the top. Using five different types of discovery questions they uncover the key problems facing a prospect that their product or service can resolve. They also structure the intelligence gained from the discovery process so that their presentations explain the issues in the right sequence and in the right proportion. The right content increases the odds that their presentations are effective in connecting with, and impacting, their prospects. And yours can, too.
Leg #2: Delivery—How You Say It.The way salespeople share the valuable information and ideas that effective discovery provides does matter. It’s the second leg of the sales presentation stool. Here at Productive Strategies we believe we are experts at teaching business developers how to discover crucial issues and then help prospects understand what those issues mean to their company. Developing specific delivery skills, on the other hand, is something we often turn over to an expert in that area. Delivery communicates not only the problems prospects do know about but also problems they don’t even know they have. It’s essential.
“We are only as valuable as the ideas we have to share,” says Mary Clare Healy of M.C.CommunicationCoach. “Focusing on how we share [what we know] is critical. Scores of studies show that effective presentation skills contribute to career success.” Effective presentation skills also contribute—a lot—to sales success.
One way to improve your presentation skills is to focus on what you already do well—your strengths, Healy explains. Too often, this thinking is not emphasized in traditional communications training.
Leg #3: Confidence—You Can Do It! Confidence is the third leg of the stool. It comes from feeling comfortable with your presentations based on an effective combination of the content you’ve discovered through your consultative sales process and the communication methods you’ve developed or learned. If you address factors #1 Content and #2 Delivery, #3 Confidence almost always takes care of itself.
And keep in mind that in sales a key disconnect occurs because typical presentations emphasize educating a prospect. Presenting becomes all about the seller and the product or service. In fact, especially in sales, presenting should be designed to persuade. It’s the fundamental difference between marketing and sales. Marketing’s job is to educate prospects and attract them to your offerings. Selling’s job is to persuade them to buy and to buy from you.
Is your sales-presentation stool solid or ready to topple? To find out, get in touch us at pkrone@productivestrategies.
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