marketing+sales: The Three Biggest Sales Presentation Mistakes
A sales presentation can take a variety of forms. Demonstrating a product. Using a hardcopy brochure or a presentation on your laptop. Delivering and detailing a sample. Responding to a customer's request and providing a price. Delivering a proposal. Submitting a bid. All of these are sales presentations.
Without the sales presentation, there can be no sale. It is, then, the foundational step in the sales process. Everything that happens before is preparation for the presentation, and everything that happens afterward is the result of the presentation.
You would think, then, that every salesperson is well-trained in the science of making an effective sales presentation—but that isn't the case. Left to learn on their own, many salespeople make the same mistakes over and over again. Here are the three most common ones:
1. Lack of preparation.
Preparation is the first step towards an effective sales presentation. That doesn't necessarily mean memorizing the presentation, but it does mean organizing it, securing and checking your collateral (the sample, brochures, price quotes, etc. that form the basis of the sale), and practicing the presentation until you are comfortable and confident in your ability to deliver it.
Unfortunately, preparation is becoming less common in the routines of many salespeople. Too many salespeople don't respect customers' time, or overvalue their own ad-libbing abilities. This creates the sense that they don't need to prepare, that on the spur of the moment, they will come up with the most persuasive things to say, in the most effective manner.
That's too bad. Preparation is the first step toward a better sales presentation, and lack of preparation is too common in the world of sales.
2. Information purging.
Information purging occurs when salespeople think their job is only to relate everything they know about the product, service or proposal.
I participated in a training program where I worked with six salespeople every day for a week. They role-played various situations, and we videoed and critiqued them. We were methodically working through the sales process, and it was time to make the sales presentation. The class was taught to organize the presentation on the basis of what they learned about the customer in the previous "find out what they want" role play.
One salesperson never got that message. He thought a sales presentation was like an oral exam in school, his opportunity to spill everything he knew about the product. What should have been a 20 minute presentation dragged on for 45 minutes. Even though it was a role play in front of the class, the person playing the customer began to fall asleep. The salesperson continued on, giving every bit of related information about the product. Eventually, I had to step in.
It may be a dramatic example of this mistake, but it occurs in smaller ways every day. The problem is greater than just "too much information." Salespeople who do this disrespect the customer, as they don't take the customer's interests and requirements into account in the presentation. As a result, customers are turned off and tuned out, and salespeople leave shaking their heads, unable to understand why the customer didn't buy all the incredible features of the sales presentation.
3. Failure to include the customer in the presentation.
This occurs when the salesperson thinks that the presentation is all about the product, service or proposal. The truth is, effective sales presentations are always about two things: the offer, and how it can impact the customer. When salespeople talk only about their offer and ignore the second half of the equation, they make a major mistake. Customers are far more interested in how the product being presented impacts them than they are in the details of the offer. The salesperson may be impressed with all the neat details and features, but that reflects his or her own values, not necessarily those of the customer.
The best sales presentations describe the most important aspects of the offer, and then relate them to how they impact the customer. In other words: Don't overemphasize the features and forget about the benefits.
If you or your salespeople are guilty of these mistakes, your sales presentations are not as effective as they could be. You're leaving money on the table. Fix these mistakes, and watch your sales rise.
By Dave Kahle
Dave Kahle is one of the world's leading sales authorities. He's written 10 books, presented in 47 states and 10 countries, and helped enrich tens of thousands of salespeople and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Sign up for his free weekly Ezine or check out his Sales Resource Center for 455 training programs for every salesperson at every level. For more information, visit www.davekahle.com.