Sales presentation best practices

B2B sales presentations – score quickly with a football mindset

sales presentation best practices

Just move the ball 10 yards

It’s generally over when a salesperson opens the presentation with something like ‘I was born in a small town…’.

No matter how many qualified leads you or your demand gen team find, you won’t move the ball far with an opening like that.

Let’s try to understand the sales presentation in terms of a football drive. By the time you’re in the sales presentation, you already have the ball on your 25-yard line. The most any presentation can do is get a first down conversion. Enlist your audience in the effort.

They’re not interested

Few people will be interested in when or where your company was founded. Or about your product’s “state-of-the-art” features. Or about your onboarding process.

They’re not interested because 99.9% of the time they’re thinking about themselves, their problems and their challenges.

You must rise above that noise.

Sales presentation best practices: Part 1 – quick interaction is key.

The best approach to sell ourselves, our company and our offering is to tell stories not about us, but about them and other clients we’ve served. And we then map those stories to challenges the prospect wants to overcome.

You have, at most, a few seconds to launch a story so engaging that your audience can’t help but pay attention. You can help do that by quickly getting your audience to interact with you and each other. Here’s how you do it.

Engaging the prospect

Whether you’re in a one-on-one presentation or in a room with people, you must get your audience engaged quickly. Look confidently at the person, or a person, and say something like, “Sally, congratulations on your company’s new product launch (or success at XYZ tradeshow, or whatever). I know your time is valuable so let me ask ‘what would you like to get out of our time together today?”.

Sales presentation best practices. Find a friendly face.

Regardless of the answer, build on it. “Yes, that was a concern of most of our new clients when they first became interested. Can I share a story about that?”. Have a couple of 2-minute sound bites ready that tell interesting, positive client stories.

In a few seconds you have the audience’s attention and shown that it’s all about them. You’re already moving the ball downfield.

 

“Just to refresh, here’s what makes us different…”

Next, say something like “If you don’t know about our company and our solution, here are the top 3-4 things that make us different.”

Do not make your sales presentation solely about your product. Why? Because, if they’re like most B2B prospects, they’ve already done their research and know something about your product and company. Let them guide you on what more they want to hear.

 Sales presentation best practices: Part 2 – ask these questions.

Next, go into the challenges facing their company, their industry or their market space.

“We all know that lots of companies your size struggle with data security (or whatever relates to what you’re selling). Data breaches are costing companies your size an astonishing _____ dollars a year. And we all know what happened to XYZ company after their last cyber-attack.”

Next, ask:

“What other stories have you heard?” You must get your audience talking with you and each other to keep them focused. And in the process, you’re gaining more yards.

Next, say (don’t ask):

“Tell me how well your current solution is working.” 

It’s likely that you’ll get a litany of things they’d like to improve. Even if they say the solution is all they ever dreamed of, you can now move into total cost of ownership, terms, vendor likability, customer support and other variables that impact the entire customer experience. If you’ve done your homework you already know where the fulcrum is and where to lean on the lever.

Finally, ask:

“Now that you’ve shared the changes you desire, what questions do you have for me about how we can deliver those changes?”

 

You may get some questions, you may not. It doesn’t matter because you already have your call-to-action ready.

“At this stage, companies that became customers decided that a pilot (or trial, or visit to our headquarters, or a chat with a current customer or user, or fill-in-the-blank) is the next step. Let’s go ahead and set that up while we’re together today.” More yardage gained.

Getting to the first down: stop talking

Once you’ve introduced the next step, just stop talking. Someone will say something, guaranteed. If all goes as planned, you’ll get the conversion and the opportunity to gain 10 more yards in the next series. If it doesn’t go as planned, just back up a bit to the step that makes sense. Quarterbacks think on their feet.

Remember, never ask a question that can be answered with a ‘no’, because that will stop the conversation cold. For example, ‘would you like to set up a pilot?’. You will almost always get a ‘no’ response because it’s more comfortable than taking a risk. You must keep the conversation alive all the way through the buying journey until the deal is signed and the first check clears the bank. Only then is it a touchdown.

Also, here’s where you will encounter objections. That’s a good thing because, if you’ve done your homework, you know which objections are coming and how to respond to them.

Conclusion and resources

Keep repeating this process until you cross the goal line. Unlike football, however, you’ll need a whole different set of plays for each conversion. Do your homework and have a game plan for each prospect.

If you understand sales presentation best practices, you know that getting and keeping your prospects’ attention is tough. Especially in complex sales situations. If you’re not achieving the results you want, there are plenty of resources to help.

If you or your team need help to improve the results from sales presentations, here are some of the experts and resources I recommend:  Patricia Fripp, ZoomInfo, GONG, and Sales Hacker.

“If it doesn’t matter who wins or loses, then why do they keep score?”  — Vince Lombardi, Green Bay Packers

Sales Presentation Best Practices

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About Mike Harris

Mike is the founder of Harris CMO Partners, a Nashville based firm offering interim and fractional CMO services to B2B companies.

He enjoys writing about what's working in B2B sales and marketing.

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