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Sales Presentations – Knowledge is Everything!

Great news – you’ve won the chance to deliver a sales presentation and the client seems interested…Things are looking up!

But what next?

Sales presentations can fill the best of us with dread and pinning down exactly what makes a successful one is a frustrating and often fruitless task.

There is usually a lot riding on the outcome and this pressure is combined with the crisis in confidence that many people suffer when faced with public speaking or an audience of successful business people.

But it doesn’t have to be like this – presenting can be your new best friend if you let it. The spoken word is a powerful medium through which to convey your message and, luckily for us, we practice it every day.

The adage ‘Knowledge is Power‘ is never more relevant than when you’re standing in front of a crowd of potential customers who are impatient to hear exactly how you plan to improve their lives. They want to hear what you have to tell them because, to them, you represent an opportunity. Armed with the right knowledge, you can ensure that you pull off your presentations with ease, confidence and success.

1. Know your audience

The key to delivering relevant and captivating content is knowing everything you can about your prospective clients. What problems are they looking to solve with your product or service? What do they expect from the presentation? Who else are they considering giving the business to? Will decision makers be present?

Find out exactly what is expected from your sales presentation in terms of content and focus. Also, learn what their specific business needs are while ensuring that you are equipped with enough background knowledge of their industry to show a real understanding of their world.

If possible and appropriate, make contact with members of the audience prior to the presentation. This will help you build rapport and casts you in a positive light before the presentation has even begun. Find out as much as you can from these people. By familiarising yourself with the audience through human contact, the presentation should become much less daunting. Try to also gauge the audience’s level of prior knowledge of your product or service to avoid patronising and confusing them.

2. Know the context

Don’t forget the practical side of things! Find out in advance how long your slot is, the size of the audience, the room layout and how long you have to set everything up. This will help you to show up fully prepared with all the logistical things dealt with, enabling you to focus fully on your content and allowing you to mentally prepare yourself with no distractions.

Know the background to the meeting. Is it the initial or final stage of the sales process? Who has set the presentation up and why did the potential clients agree to attend? Is your audience’s existing relationship with (or perception of) your company positive or negative?

3. Know what you’re offering

All your preparations should have led you to a point where you can pinpoint what you want your audience to remember by the end of your sales presentation – this should be a small number of key, memorable messages.

It goes without saying that you should know as much as possible about your proposition, but it is crucial that you take the extra step that prepares you to match your offering directly to your audience’s needs and desires. Don’t bombard them with statistics, evidence or the features of your product. Rather, you should include enough information to make your claims credible while having additional information at hand in case you need to deal with queries at the end of the presentation.

4. Know your style

No one knows how you work better than you do, so build on this self-knowledge to prepare appropriately. Do you perform best when you keep the stakes firmly in sight, or do you like to keep the pressure off to maintain a level head and a calm composure? How do you deal with nerves? Do you prefer working from a script or freestyling with a few prompts?

Creating the best possible mindset that allows you to clearly convey your key messages is the goal here – and this is all within your control. Know your weaknesses, but don’t dwell on them. Practice with colleagues, get feedback and predict questions. As long as you come across as professional, confident and direct, anything goes!

Written by: Steve Eungblut, Managing Director of Sterling Chase