Understanding the importance of proper preparation for your sales presentation can make the difference in whether you close more deals or not. Modern prospects want more from your sales presentation than just a few slides with graphs and bullet points. In order to successfully close sales, you need to give your audience an experience that exceeds their expectations.
But mind-blowing presentations don’t happen automatically. Our team at Mikogo delivers web presentations on a daily basis, and also educates other businesses on how to prepare their own online sales presentations. We leaned on their experience to find out what is key for their presentation preparation. They require meticulous planning, based on three elements, namely:
1. Extensive Research to Ensure Your Plan Meets Your Prospect’s Needs
Old-school sales presentations were… very salesy. Salespeople would rattle off a list of product benefits, much like trying to nail jello to a wall, hoping that some of it might stick. In mentioning every last benefit of their product, they hoped that one or two might fit their prospect’s needs.
However, by delivering a generic presentation, many sales were lost, simply because prospects only cared about the benefits that offered solutions to their unique challenges.
Successful salespeople know that by researching their prospect thoroughly, they will be able to ascertain what solutions they can offer and how they can tailor the information into a highly personal and dynamic presentation.
How do you research your prospect?
Devan Gaffney, Mikogo Account Manager, offers the following insights into how he researches his prospects.
- Social media networks and business websites offer a fantastic (and free!) way to find out whatever you need to know about your prospect. Look at their customer websites, LinkedIn and Google+ accounts, as well as other industry-related profiles across the web.
- Before scheduling the presentation, ask questions to find out what their unique challenges are, and consider how you might provide solutions to their use cases.
- Look at competitor solutions, particularly if you’re aware that they are looking at specific companies’ products or services.
- Review previous correspondence between any other members of your team and the prospect (check your CRM solution, such as Salesforce). Knowing what they’ve inquired about in the past will likely give helpful insights. It helps greatly when you see in the CRM system that one of your colleagues recently had a call with the customer and what they spoke about.
“Plan your presentation so that your client can see that your solution best fits their requirements,” adds Devan. “The demo should be based on what you now know about your product, your prospect and the competition.”
While research is key to preparation be sure to remain flexible on what you’re presenting. It’s possible that you start out with your online sales presentation and then realise that their requirements are different from what you anticipated, or that they already know quite a bit about your product and need more detailed information. Don’t be afraid to abandon your original plan. You should know enough about the product you’re selling to adjust your talk to your lead’s requirements.
2. Send Out a Reminder Email
Life can get busy at times, for everyone. Sometimes, even though your client is interested in your solution, they may forget to show up on time for your sales presentation. Meanwhile, you have to be prepared for the meeting.
“Send a reminder email to your prospect on the day of your meeting (or a day before) to verify they will be available for the demo,” recommends Devan. “If necessary, reschedule the meeting.”
Furthermore, Devan recommends that you always schedule an additional 15-20 minutes beyond your actual demo timeframe, as the prospect may have questions afterwards, or may want to bring in a colleague to have a second look. Mikogo Account Manager, Annika Bohrdt, always books extra time into her presentations in order to allow for prospect interruptions, and to check that they are paying attention:
“Ask questions throughout, and give them space to ask their own questions at multiple points during your presentation. You really don’t want to be talking for 15 minutes only to realise that you misjudged the use case, or that they didn’t understand a word you were saying after five minutes. So every time you move on to a new point, for example, pause for a second, ask them if they have any questions, and then move on.”
And therein lies one of the biggest secrets to successful sales representations, according to Marc Wayshak, author of Game Plan Selling and Breaking All Barriers. By getting feedback from your prospect throughout your demo, “… you are prompting the prospect to either give his approval or explain why it doesn’t make sense. When you get the prospect’s approval, he is beginning to slowly close the sale for you. On the other hand, when he tells you that it doesn’t make sense, you create an opportunity to adjust your offering to increase the likelihood of closing the sale.”
By booking twenty minutes extra, you won’t be rushed, thinking that you are running late for your next meeting. Instead, you will know that that extra time is the most productive stage of the meeting.
3. Setting the Scene: How to Prepare Your Office (and Yourself!) for Your Sales Presentation
Preparing your computer and office at least 15 minutes before the meeting is crucial. The last thing you want is to be late for your online sales presentation as it reflects badly on you as a presenter, and on the company. Start early to open up and organize your presentation materials. Just before the meeting starts, remove any distractions such as your email or messenger. Turn your mobile phone off completely, not just on silent and vibrate, as that would still be a distraction.
In addition, take care of the following:
Declutter Your Computer Desktop: Annika says that your computer screen should leave a good first impression. “They don’t see your neat desk and your freshly vacuumed carpet and your well-watered plant. They see a desktop full of icons and files named “Untitled Document (24)” and they’ll get the impression of a disorganised, even careless person.”
She recommends that you clear your desktop, moving all those unnamed files into a single folder, and adds “Ideally, get a second monitor which you can keep clear for your presentation, while you use your primary monitor to store any notes or additional files you may need during the presentation.”
Take Notes Using Pen & Paper: “Have a notepad and pen ready to take notes, as nobody likes hearing keyboard noise during a call,” recommends Devan, and Annika agrees, pointing out that the sound is not the only problem with typing up notes.
Unless you’re using a second monitor to screen share during a sales presentation, your prospect might see your notes. “Regardless of the potential misunderstandings this might cause, it’s also just plain distracting. So even if you have a whisper-silent keyboard, rather use a pen.”
Be Mentally & Physically Prepared: Don’t sell your own role in the presentation short. You can use all the right techniques, the best graphics and still fail by being lethargic or by lacking focus during your presentation. Some presenters swear by doing jumping jacks or push-ups before a sales presentation, but Devan recommends a strong cup of coffee while you prepare your desktop. “Drink some coffee to get energized, but not so much that you’re talking at light speed. Also, don’t forget to breathe.”
At the end of the day, most of your prospects have already researched your products and services on your company website by the time they request an online sales demo – that’s what the modern consumer does. They already know that you are able to provide a solution to their use case, and the purpose of the presentation is really more about filling in a few final gaps in terms of questions they may have about your company or products. Be prepared, but follow their lead and remain flexible to their needs.
By focusing on the three steps above, you can take the opportunity to tell your story in a way that moves your audience from prospect to buyer quicker, and close more deals.