I have been giving presentations for more than 25 years, and I still think pitching to a prospective client, or presenting to a professional audience (large or small) is one of the hardest things to do well, mainly because, as business owners, we do not always have time to prepare properly to ensure a successful pitch experience. Very early in my career, I noticed that I gave terrific presentations, but like most newly minted professionals, I found closing the sale or getting to a “yes” challenging. It did not make sense – my presentations were well put together. In fact, I began each meeting with an exciting, thoughtful pitch. I was self-assured and confident. Also, my carefully crafted pitch was full of passion. Unfortunately, nothing worked. Meetings would end with prospects telling me, “We will get back to you soon.”
Of course, that was many years ago, and I have learned a thing or two about making a successful sales presentation. Thankfully, I have discovered new and innovative ways to build lasting relationships and close deals. In fact, I now coach and train professionals on how to make great sales pitches and give inspiring presentations. The coaching sessions have been so successful that most of my clients have sent their friends and colleagues to the training sessions – helping me to build a thriving consulting practice and enabled me to develop terrific “how to” material for my business columns. Here are my top tips for making impressive sales and business presentations:
- Do your research. Everyone knows this, but you would not believe how many people fail to do the one thing that builds credibility and grows relationships. When you communicate directly from a genuine concern for your customers by carefully tailoring your pitch or presentation, it increases the odds of your success. How do you do this? Just learn about your client’s wants and needs, and build a dynamic pitch that caters to their expectations.
- Be authentic. A terrific presentation alone does not ensure success. Even an innovative pitch does not always guarantee a sale. Why? Because you must factor “yourself” into the presentation. Customers must accept or buy into “who you are” before they buy your pitch. Clients want to know more about you and your company’s vision, performance, and reliability—all of which are transferable to you and relevant to your target audience. Coming across as arrogant, slick, or opinionated is never good. These behaviors keep folks from liking you, which will ultimately prevent them from trusting you—and this will not help you develop a productive relationship or end in a sale.
- Greet customers with confidence, energy, and a smile. It is great to begin with conversation and ever-so-briefly hit on the likely topics of interest. Then start with a compelling, crisply communicated two-minute summary of the value of your product, including results, technical highlights, benefits, and return on investment.
- Know who the decision makers are. You should know who is likely to sign the check. In other words, get to know your customers’ process – how they will make decisions regarding your presentation. Understanding these issues will help you come up with a persuasion strategy and get you closer to making the sale.
- Wrapping up is important! When wrapping up your pitch, you should be concise and clear, with a cogent summing up of why your product will be beneficial, and how the product will give them a competitive edge and boost in market share.
Finally, the best sales people tell stories. Telling stories throughout your presentation work because they capture the listeners’ attention while imparting certain knowledge, facts, statistics, and explanations. Peter Guber, the former Chairman of Sony Pictures, once said, “Move listeners’ hearts and their wallets will follow.” With these simple tips, you, too, can mesmerize and excite your audiences!