Delivering Persuasive Presentations

The fourth step in a sales or interviewing cycle

Business people discussing blueprint
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Brian Tracy went from rags to riches and has seen countless others follow that path, primarily by learning the steps in a sales cycle. It all starts with prospecting. Without effective (and frequent) prospecting, the sales cycle will stall. After prospecting, successful salespeople build trust and rapport. Once trust is established, it's time to move on to identifying needs. Without having identified needs, both realized and unrealized, your chances for success greatly diminish.

The next step in the sales cycle is learning how to deliver effective and persuasive presentations. As Brain Tracy stated, "presentations should progress from the general to the specific."

Follow the Path

Persuasive presentations need to have a beginning, middle, and an end, and they must follow a pre-designed path. The best way to visualize a presentation's path is to see the beginning or opening of the presentation as the time to discuss the generalities of your solution. These could include an overview of your company (focusing primarily on how your business's history and experience can create a positive impression on your customer.) The middle could be when you discuss identified needs and an overview of your solution. The ending may focus on specifics of your solution, how your company can best fulfill your customer's needs, next steps and, of course closing the sale.

Each presentation will be and should be different from all others, but follow a similar path. Winging it should never be your strategy when delivering a presentation.

Trial Closes

If you plan and logically organize each step of your presentation, not only will your customer be better able to follow the presentation, but doing so will also allow you the opportunity to trial close after each step before moving on to the next step.

Trial closes are simple questions that not only give you a chance to take your customer's "buying temperature," but also gain their commitment to move to the next step. Trial closes can be as simple as asking your customer "Do you agree with what we've covered so far?" Trial closes are also great ways to uncover any objections that your customer may have. Often, customer objections are never presented until the final close. When this happens, it is often too late to save the opportunity. Getting customer objections out during the presentation allows you to more immediately address the objections and affords you time to either redesign your end solution or consult with your sales manager or fellow sales professionals on methods to overcome the objection.

One or Many

If you are confident with your presentation skills, going it alone allows you to control the flow and tempo of the presentation and eliminates the possibility of your customer disliking one of your presenters. Going it alone is usually the best choice if you have established a strong and positive rapport with your customers, but is not a good idea if your rapport is lacking.

You should also think about asking co-workers to join your presentation if your presentation skills are weak or if your presentation involves technical discussions that are behind your skills set. One important thing to keep in mind for those who are presenting technical presentations: Make sure that your technical specialist does not use tech jargon that your customers won't understand or that your customers are tech-savvy.

Your Location

If your office is either located in the basement of your home or an office building last renovated in 1974, you may want to consider hosting your presentation at an off-site location. Many hotels have meeting rooms that can be rented out and can help create a positive impression on your customer. Never just go on reviews when it comes to choosing a location. You need to visit any location you are considering and make sure that the presentation room meets your and your customer's expected standards.

You've put in a lot of work to get to this stage of the sales cycle so why risk it by not making sure that your presentation location is one that will assist your efforts and not detract from them.

Lastly, be aware that going overboard with your location may deliver the opposite effect of your intention. Bringing customers, who are "price-conscious" to a lavish meeting room, where you spare no expense, may lead them to believe that you are either trying to buy their business or that you have built a lot of profit into your deal.