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Updated 29 Sep 2020

Create a winning sales presentation

Avoid glazed eyes and lack of attention — the right presentation can win over prospects and seal the deal.

Lisa Girard, Entrepreneur, 19 August 2012  Share  0 comments  Print

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We’ve all seen it — people listening to a sales presentation, eyes glazed over and their minds anywhere but on what the speaker is saying. As an entrepreneur, whether you’re selling yourself or your products and services, it’s critical to avoid the missteps that put prospects to sleep and kill the deal. Here are five must-follow rules to win over prospects and seal the deal.

1. Listen before pitching
One of the mistakes business owners make is talking too much about the wonders of their company, instead of asking questions and listening to a potential customer’s needs.

Your prospect probably did some research about you beforehand anyway, so don’t waste precious minutes going on about your qualifications. Put yourself in the prospect’s shoes: Nothing is more annoying than when someone is pitching you, and it’s all about them and their products.

Instead, open your presentation with a question like, “I’m prepared to discuss our solution for you, but has anything changed since we last spoke?” or “Is there anything else I need to know before diving into a solution?” Before long, the customer will give you the key to how you can win the deal. You just need to ask enough questions and then shut up.

2. Put in more prep time
No matter how good you are at thinking on your feet, don’t wing the presentation. You’ll risk jumping all over the place without a logical flow. Take the time to prepare and to practice from an outline, making sure your presentation covers all your points clearly and concisely.

You should also review the prospect’s website to learn about what they sell, how they make money and how you might be able to fix their problems. Check for any mutual connections on LinkedIn who you can give a call and ask about the prospect’s personality and what you could say that would make the meeting successful.Sometimes people will even give you a heads up with how you should approach the prospect, which can be invaluable.

3. Liven it up
Many professionals don’t realise just how boring their presentations are — too many facts, a flat monotone, tired stories. In today’s competitive market, your presentations must be entertaining in order to obtain and maintain the attention of prospects. So be creative and put some energy behind your presentation.

Practice with a tape recorder to determine if your presentation falters and make improvements. The tone you use and your vocal variation allow you to project your own personality and create a positive response whether you are speaking to one person or a large group of people.

4. Don’t use visual aids as a crutch
If brochures, handouts or slides could sell a product or service on their own, companies would not need sales people. Depending too much on visual aids can also give you a false sense of security. People tend to think it isn’t necessary to prepare thoroughly because their props will lead them right through the presentation. They let the visual aid become the star and virtually run the show.

Instead, strategically place visual aids in your presentation to highlight major points, but remember that your style and personality will have much more impact. Most important, ask yourself whether a visual aid is for you or for them? If it’s for you to get you through your presentation, scrap it. If it’s for them so they can visually understand your presentation, keep it.

5. Be ready to take the next step
Not every presentation is going to end with a sale, so it’s up to you to establish the next step in the process. Don’t leave a meeting with an “I hope to talk again soon” mentality. The executives you speak with are probably incredibly busy.

This means that you need to determine next steps right then and there – before life gets in the way. Be ready to schedule a subsequent meeting or follow-up phone call, which will show you’re serious about working together. You may not have the sale yet, but you at least have something set up so things can continue to move forward.

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About the author

Lisa Girard, Entrepreneur

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