By: David Jacoby on November 19th, 2015
The Secret to Great Sales Presentations
According research conducted by the Chally Group, 39% of B2B buyers select a vendor according to the skills of the salesperson rather than price, quality, or service features. From the buyer’s perspective, one of the most visible indicators of the salesperson’s skill is the sales presentation.
When we think of great sales presentations, we tend to focus on the obvious public speaking elements such as the presenter’s public speaking skills, the quality of the presenter’s slide deck and so on. These are all important, but ultimately not critical to success. At the core of any sales presentation, whether it is being made to one person or to a large buying committee, is sales message: how well it clearly articulates the buyer’s problems and related benefits of your solution.
So the best method for preparing a persuasive sales presentation is to start early in the sales process with a view towards addressing the following issues.
#1 Benefit to Whom?
In today’s complex sales environment, it is not uncommon for deals to have multiple decision makers or influencers. So one of the biggest sales presentation blunders is not adequately identifying all of the key decision makers and influencers in advance of the presentation. You can’t give an effective presentation if you don’t understand who your audience is and what they care about.
One effective way of identifying the key decision makers and influencers is to “map” the key players based on level of influence within the buyer’s organization and level of commitment to you. There are many different types of commitment levels, including:
- Decision Maker – this person ultimately makes the decision (sometimes a C-Level executive), but may be difficult to meet with during the sales process
- Approver– often decision makers don’t want to make decisions alone, so an approver there to give final sign off on the decision. Approvers may be the CFO or departmental heads.
- Champion or Change Agent – this is often an influential individual who has courage, capacity for change and is respected. He or she is not satisfied with status quo and is the driving force behind the change.
- Technical User – this is the person who will be using your solution and is focused on features.
- Influencer or recommender– this person is a trusted advisor to the Decision Maker and his or her opinion carries a lot of weight.
- Obstructionist – this person is actively supporting a competitor’s solution or taking a different course of action
- Doubter – this person doesn’t see the need for taking any action at this time.
Once you understand who the key players are, you are then ready to understand what is important to them.
#2 Identify all of the Problems
The process of tailoring your message to each key player begins with identifying the important problems that they care about. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for these key players to each focus on different problems or issues. For example, technical users are concerned about functionality (specific features, ease of use, training issues), whereas Decision Makers (i.e., C-Level Executives) may be more concerned about business drivers such as how will your solution increase revenues or create a competitive advantage. Compounding this problem is the reality that you may not get access to many of the decision makers and influencers who you have identified.
Many sales professionals fall into a trap of being too narrowly focused on identifying problems. They often ask too few questions and limit their inquiry to their direct contact or to only the first problem identified. In our experience, if you ask too few need related questions, say three or less, there's a real risk that the buyer won’t reveal all of the potential problem areas or you won’t understand the full magnitude of a problem.
In order to understand how a problem can impact other areas of the organization and which decision makers or influencers care about such impact, you must plan on asking many questions. We recommend on planning to ask no less than 10 questions and always ask a follow up question when your Buyer states a problem, such as “How often does this happen?” Or, “How is this trending?”
#3 Benefit of Solving Problem
Often sales presentations lack impact because the sales professional hasn’t sufficiently connected the problem to the benefits of solving such problem. Sales professional fall into a trap of assuming that merely identifying the problem is enough to motivate the buyer to take action. But understanding all of the benefits of solving a problem may not be obvious to a buyer, particularly when the problem effects multiple departments and the key players have differing opions as to what is really important.
So in addition to preparing questions that help identify problem, you should also prepare questions that help the buyer think about the implication of solving problems, including:
- “What are the consequences of…?”
- “Why is it important to solve this problem?”
- “What are the consequences of…?”
- These can include questions that focus on quantifying needs such as:
- “How often does that happen?”
- “What is the cost each time that error is made?”
- “How much would it cost if that continues another 6 months?”
These questions will help you craft a more impactful sales presentations that highlights the benefits of solving a problem.
At the heart of any impactful sales presentation is a message that addresses the concerns of the decision makers and influencers. The process of developing this message should start early in the sales process and include mapping the sales organization and asking great questions.
About David Jacoby
As a Managing Director at Sales Readiness Group, David helps large B2B sales organizations improve sales performance. Previously, David was a Principal at Linear Partners, a sales consulting firm providing sales strategy, sales operations, talent management, and interim management services to emerging growth companies. In the past, David has served as Vice President of Business Affairs of Xylo, Inc., where he was responsible for the Company's business development, sales operations, legal affairs, and financing activities.