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Successful Small Business Sales Presentations

Often, how you present your small business offering can make or break your chance to close the deal and make the sale. As a small business entrepreneur, it's critical that you use your sales presentations to present your product or service in the best light, and to turn prospects into customers.

Prepare your small business sales presentation

Effective sales presentations match product benefits with customer needs or desires. Before you start, be ready with the following information:

  • Know your product. Be clear about every customer want or need that your offering addresses. Then think about every question a prospect might ask and have the answers ready, linking each product fact to a customer benefit. Remember, people don’t buy features. They buy benefits or, better yet, the personal outcomes or desirable solutions that the benefits deliver.

  • Know how to explain your offering in a sentence. Condense everything you know into a brief explanation that grabs interest and causes the prospect to think, “Hmm, this will benefit me.” Don’t resort to jargon. Consider the difference between “We offer aesthetic laser services” and “We restore the look of youth and health using the most advanced laser, medical, and therapeutic treatments.”

  • Know your prospect.

    • For individual consumers, consult your database to find out about previous interactions with or purchases from your business. Also, be observant. Notice the kind of car or clothes the customer arrives in and whether the person is accompanied by friends or family members. Know the typical buying pattern of all customers, including whether they make purchase decisions on the spot or after consultation with others. Plan your presentation accordingly.

    • For business customers, visit websites, read company and competitor marketing material, talk to mutual associates, and do any research necessary to understand wants and needs. Also, determine whether the prospect has the authority to say yes to your proposal. If not, be prepared to share information that can represent you well when your message is relayed to the decision-maker.

  • Know what message your prospect is ready to receive.

    • Especially if yours is a new or unusual offering, develop awareness and interest before asking for the order. Even the iPhone, now ubiquitous, didn’t launch sales until Steve Jobs worked his magic, gaining worldwide awareness and interest for “a revolutionary and magical product that is literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone.”

    • When people are aware of the need your product addresses, help them see it as the best and highest-value solution before asking for the buying decision.

    • Even customers with awareness, interest, and a desire to purchase may require more information or an incentive before they make the final decision. They may require information to share with others who will influence the decision. Or maybe some incentive is necessary to spur action. Determine your prospect’s mind-set and tailor your presentation accordingly.

  • Know your presentation goal. Knowledge of your customer’s position in the buying process determines the goal of your interaction. Sometimes, your goal is to make the sale and launch a celebration.

    More often, your aim is an incremental step — a request for a proposal, a meeting with a higher-level decision maker, a demonstration, or some other step that moves the process toward a close. Be aware that if your product involves significant cost and deliberation, you may need a good number of interactions before you achieve the sale.

Make your small business presentation

After you’re prepared, you’re ready for showtime. When presenting to your customer, take these steps:

  • Establish rapport, taking care to notice the customer’s body language and to match communication styles.

  • Agree on goals so you’re both clear about where the conversation is going.

  • Identify the customer’s wants and needs and explain how your offering provides the solution.

  • Convey cost benefits by discussing the costs involved with the customer’s current situation and the beneficial return the customer can expect from investing in your offering.

Turn your small business presentation into a conversation

People buy in before they buy. The more your prospects are talking, the more involved they are, and the more likely a sale will occur. Great sales presenters follow these two steps:

  • Ask, then listen. Make your introductory remarks and then ask questions that elicit more than yes or no answers. Nod to validate points, but don’t interrupt. When the prospect pauses, say something like “tell me more” to learn as much as possible before you respond, share additional information, or present another question.

  • Show, don’t tell. People start to own a product when they hold it in their hands, take it for a test drive, carry it into a fitting room, or in some other way get involved in a tactile manner. That’s why realtors take home buyers onto a bedroom deck to give a sense of living in the home.

    It’s why service businesses show samples of projects similar to the one the prospect is considering — and why they sometimes show speculative work conducted on the prospect’s behalf.

Deal with objections to your small business presentation

In sales presentations, prospects raise objections as a means to gather information to pass along to decision influencers and also as a way to accumulate facts to justify the buying decision. Often, objections are questions in disguise. Encourage them, because when prospects ask questions, they’re engaged in the presentation process.

Responding to Prospect Objections
Objection Positive Response
Lack of belief or trust in your business. Share testimonials.
Preference for a competitor. Never bad-mouth. Instead, present unique benefits included with your offering and show how the prospect will receive greater value and cost-effectiveness from your business.
Concern over cost. Present pricing options, volume discounts, payment terms, or other incentives to address the concern. Then move quickly from the cost to a discussion of the value received, including warranties, service, reliability, convenience, and quality. If appropriate, discuss the cost of not making the purchase.
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