Award-Winning Presentations

by Tom Hopkins

Okay. You used some of your excellent prospecting methods to find someone who needs your product or service. You made a competent original contact. You qualified the decision-makers as to their needs and are confident your product or service will truly be good for them. Now, it’s time for the show to begin – and YOU are the master of ceremonies. Are you prepared?

Giving a winning presentation is not unlike presenting at the Oscars. It’s not easy preparing for such a major event. While chances are good that you will probably never have the opportunity to present at the Oscars, every presentation you make can potentially earn you the award of a new client. Always keep the potential reward in mind when you are preplanning a presentation. That reward or goal should be inspiration enough to keep you honing your presentation until it’s smooth as silk.

While most salespeople agree that the fun is in the presenting, too many fail to prepare properly for their presentations. Preparation is the key to giving any winning presentation. Doing your homework is vital. Knowing the decision-maker’s history – his or her likes and dislikes – will help you direct your presentation in a manner that will be most acceptable to him or her. And, acceptance is exactly what you’re after. Getting acceptance, authorization, approval, an endorsement or his or her OK on the bottom line is what selling is all about.

Giving a powerful presentation or a deft demonstration should never be your purpose in and of itself. You’re a key player in the event, but you are not the star. The only purpose for presenting or demonstrating is to get the prospect ready to approve the purchase. You receive no trophy until and unless you give a truly award-winning presentation and the decision-maker decides to keep whatever it is you’re offering.

View yourself as a sort of matchmaker. You believe your product and the client are a perfect match. During your presentation, you introduce them and give them a chaperoned opportunity to get to know each other. After all, they’ll be alone together for many years if they agree to the match.

Many salespeople falter and ultimately lose sales because they try to make themselves the stars of the presentation. They want to show how well they have learned to operate the equipment. Unless you’re also applying for a job with this company to run the equipment for them, you must let the product be the star.
There’s no essential difference between a presentation and a demonstration. Both are processes by which you prove the reality of the benefits that the prospects are seeking. In the presentation, you do it with graphs, numbers and words. In the demonstration, you do it with tests, samples and performances. The results should be the same: implanting in their minds the conviction that you are their best source for the benefits they want.

During the demonstration, if you are not having people push the buttons, make the copies, type on the keyboard, smell the air freshener, open and close the doors, you’re not selling–you’re showing. You must have them participate in the performance to make them feel involved.

If you market an intangible product or service, be sure to have brochures, graphs, and other items that you can hand to the decision-makers. Give them a calculator to prove the figures you’re quoting are correct. Show testimonial letters from other happy clients. This creates both physical and emotional involvement.

Keep the clients mentally involved by asking questions that will keep them thinking about how they’ll use your offering once they own it. Keep the clients physically involved by giving them simple things to do.
Some of the best advice I give salespeople about giving presentations is to get themselves out of the picture. If you are in real estate and demonstrating a property, don’t precede the potential buyers into a room. When they own the property and enter that room, will you be there? Not likely. So, let them see it as they will once they have it all to themselves. If you sell business machines, step to the side and direct the decision-maker through the operations. Get their hands on the machine as quickly as possible.

Developing their comfort level with the product is essential.

Another key point is not to let the decision-makers see anything until you’re ready to address it. Keep control of the presentation. This may require that you make a preliminary statement to the effect that you have planned a precise presentation and ask that they hold any questions, then address them when you’re ready. If you’ve truly prepared a winning presentation, chances are good that you will have answered all of their questions by the time you each the end of your presentation.

If you have several things to display, I suggest you bring a cloth of some sort to keep them covered until you’re ready for each item. Don’t risk a distraction. Keep them focused. Keep them with you. If you’re giving a computer presentation, be certain to insert attractive blank screens where you plan to elaborate or pause rather than leaving the information from your last point in sight when moving onto the next item.

Proper planning allows you to keep control of your presentation. If you’ve really prepared well, that control will lead you directly to a sale.

Tom Hopkins is a sales legend. Many believe that natural ability is enough to make you successful in a selling career. The truth of the matter is that natural skill, combined with “how to” training is the real secret to high level productivity. Having learned this lesson the hard way, Tom is quick to admit that his early sales career was not successful. After benefiting from professional training, he became a dedicated student, internalizing and refining sales techniques which enabled him to become the sales leader in his industry.

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