Sales Presentations For Dummies book cover

Sales Presentations For Dummies

By: Julie M. Hansen Published: 10-05-2015

Are your sales presentations stuck in the 20th century?

Sales Presentations For Dummies rises to the challenge of guiding you through the process of engaging and persuading busy buyers in a world that's constantly bombarding them with sales pitches. Motivating today's buyers to pull the trigger on a new deal requires a certain set of skills, and this straightforward text guides you through what you need to know to create and deliver compelling presentations. Pulled from examples and experiences of thousands of actual sales presentations, the information in this innovative resource offers the tools and tips you need to keep your leads engaged from hook to call to action.

Today's business landscape is competitive. When your sales presentation is being compared to countless others, it's important to stand out for all the right reasons. Instead of using dated sales approaches,, update your understanding of the art of selling—and create compelling, engaging presentations that hook audience members from the beginning.

  • Leverage a proven, blockbuster formula that engages audiences in any industry
  • Use the power of storytelling to connect with prospective clients and soften their resistance to your sales pitch
  • Understand and apply customer insights to ensure that your solution is top-of-mind in purchasing decisions
  • Update your professional skill set to encompass today's most motivating sales tactics

Sales Presentations For Dummies brings your sales style into the 21st century and connects you with the skills you need to excel in today's complicated business landscape.

Articles From Sales Presentations For Dummies

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45 results
45 results
Sales Presentations For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 03-27-2016

A successful sales presentation must grab your prospect’s attention and make a compelling case for him to take the next step in the sales process. Winning presentations don’t happen by chance. Make sure your next sales presentation is designed to persuade and engage today’s busy decision makers by keeping the following checklists handy as you plan, build, and deliver your sales presentation.

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10 Quick Tips for a Winning Sales Presentation

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

In a perfect world you’d have weeks to prepare for every sales presentation, but you don’t live in a perfect world. Opportunities can present themselves with little or no notice. Following are ten things you can do right now that will have a big impact on the success of your presentation. Know your first line. Nerves and last minute changes can easily throw you off track. If you have your first line down cold, you can start with confidence. After you get that first line out, your preparation will kick in and you’ll be in the flow. Keep it conversational. Even though you may be doing most of the talking, a sales presentation isn’t a completely one-sided exchange. Leave space for your prospect to respond both verbally and nonverbally. Avoid falling into presenter-mode — a rote-style delivery that causes your prospect to tune out — by keeping your tone conversational but professional. Interact early. Having your prospect involved in your presentation increases her engagement, makes her more receptive to your message, and improves recall. But don’t wait until the end when it’s too late. Establish the rules early by creating some interaction — such as a question or a poll — in the first few minutes of your presentation. Keep your prospect focused. Always try and look at things from your prospect’s perspective. From the words you choose to the length of time you spend on any particular subject, put yourself in the shoes of your prospect and ask yourself: “Why should I care about this? Address the elephant in the room. If you know that you’re going to encounter an obvious obstacle in your presentation — such as a prospect who prefers another vendor or a previous bad experience with your company — you must recognize it in order to open your prospect’s mind to your presentation. Ignoring an elephant is rarely a winning strategy. Acknowledge the obstacle early on, through humor (carefully) or with a well-crafted story or analogy, and then move on. Get to the good stuff fast. Television networks know that you need to give your audience a glimpse of what they came to see early on in order to keep them engaged. Use that same mind-set in your presentation and give your prospect something they came to see — a benefit, an insight, a discovery — before they’re tempted to take a commercial break. Use an analogy or metaphor. An analogy or metaphor — popular literal devices used to compare one or more things to something else — are powerful and underutilized tools for helping your prospect understand a complex process or recognize its value or application. Painting a picture in your prospect’s mind makes it easier for her to recall it as well. Introduce the unexpected. In a sea of familiarity, the unexpected stands out and demands attention. That’s part of the reason shows like Netflix’ House of Cards or AMC’s Breaking Bad are so popular. Unusual comparisons or contradictions can wake up your prospect and draw her in. It shows her that you aren’t just like everyone else and encourages her to pay attention. Rehearse like a pro. Most people aren’t naturally great performers. From Daniel Radcliffe to Steve Jobs, many people who appeared effortless in their roles put in hundreds of hours of rehearsal time. Although you don’t have that kind of time, plan on spending at least 20 percent of the time you do have rehearsing your presentation, especially focusing on key elements, such as your opening, stories, and your closing. Doing so gives you confidence and frees you up in the moment to place your attention on connecting and engaging with your prospect. Sell the next minute. Your prospect’s attention is fleeting. Focusing on selling your prospect on staying tuned for the next minute of your presentation — one minute at a time — forces you to make the current minute as compelling as possible.

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Using Presenter Notes, Memorizing, or Winging It for Your Sales Presentation: The Pros and Cons

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

How to memorize or read from a script is a topic rarely covered in sales meetings, yet the success of your sales presentation lies on your ability to effectively and accurately communicate your message. When it comes to using scripts, there are three basic methods to choose from. Some salespeople like to put their script in the notes section of PowerPoint or Keynote to read from or refer to as they present. Others prefer to memorize the entire script, whereas still others prefer to wing it and hope for the best. What’s the best way to work with a script? The answer is it depends. Here are some pros, cons, and best practices for each style. Employing the best practices for your method of choice helps ensure that you’re able to deliver your script in an authentic and engaging manner. Using presenter notes The notes section of your slides are a handy way to associate key points you want to make with the appropriate slide. Following are some pros and cons for using your presenter notes effectively in your presentation. Pros: They’re right there in front of you when you need them. You don’t have to shuffle through papers or worry about blanking out. Even if you don’t end up referring to your notes, the act of typing them with the associated slide can provide mental reinforcement. Cons: Presenter notes keep you stuck behind your laptop. Even if you know the material, you can easily start relying on your notes. Reading your notes, sounding authentic, and interacting with your audience at the same time is difficult. Unless you’re really good, your audience can see that you’re reading notes — or in a web presentation, hear it in your voice — and prospects feel less engaged. Best practice: Use presenter notes to write down key phrases, numbers, or words that you need to get right. Don’t write down full sentences and don’t use notes for every slide, especially the ones that are obvious. When using your notes, follow a practice actors use: Glance at your notes, get the information you need, and then make eye contact with your prospect as you say them. Make a point of stepping away from the laptop for several slides at a time when don’t need your notes. Memorizing If you have the time and the ability to memorize comes easily to you, committing your presentation to memory is often the best way to free you up from the constraints of a script. Here are some additional reasons you may want to consider when memorizing your script as well as some tips that can keep your script sounding fresh and natural each time you deliver it. Pros: Memorization gives you the benefit of having the information in your head when you need it and the freedom to improvise as you see fit — no fumbling for notes or staring at your laptop. You can focus on engaging and connecting with your audience. Cons: Sometimes it’s not all there in your head. Nerves or distractions can cause you to forget what you were going to say. Few people know how to memorize a script in a way that makes recall easier and keeps their delivery sounding fresh and authentic. Best practices: Because memory isn’t fail-proof, keep key points in your presenter notes as a fall back. The way you memorize your script can greatly affect your ability to recall it when needed and how you deliver it. Here are some good memorization tips used by actors: Get familiar with your script before memorizing. Most salespeople jump straight to memorization, which can lock them into a mechanical delivery that sounds preplanned and insincere. Read through your script a number of times before attempting to memorize it. Get the big picture first and let memorization be a natural byproduct of that familiarity. Know your subtext. Many salespeople try to memorize their script word for word and then get thrown off when they forget a specific word during their presentation. Focus on the subtext — the underlying meaning of each line. What are you really saying and why are you saying it? Knowing this information helps you to stay in the flow of your presentation and find your way back if you should get off track. Don’t predetermine how to say it. Many presentation coaches tell you precisely which words to emphasize and where to pause or smile or gesture. This type of delivery rings false to most audiences and should be avoided at all costs. It reinforces a mechanical delivery that is tough to break. Just as a good actor doesn’t give the same performance night after night, your delivery will change based on what’s happening in the moment and your reaction to your prospect — both verbally and nonverbally — keeping your delivery fresh and exciting. Winging it Like to go with the flow in your presentation? Operating without a net isn’t without its drawbacks. Make sure you understand the risks and consider putting the following safety measures in place for when you do choose to venture off script. Pros: You’re in the moment and able to react to your prospect. Cons: You may forget to make certain points or leave out important details or entire sections. You may wander far off course and struggle to find your way back. You can appear unprepared and damage your credibility. Best practice: Allow room to improvise in a well-rehearsed presentation, but leave the total improvisation to the pros. Know your material so well — or keep your presenter notes handy — to make sure that you hit all the important points and have a good sense of timing when you do go off script.

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6 Ways to Make Your Sales Presentation Sticky

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

When was the last time you gave a sales presentation and the prospect signed the contract at the end? If you’re selling a complex or high-priced solution, it may never happen. For many products and services decision makers may not get together for days, weeks, or even months to discuss your proposal. In the meantime, your prospect has seen additional vendors and had to address new demands and challenges. Making sure your presentation sticks in your customer’s mind long after you walk out the door is critical with today’s busy decision makers. You can increase the stickiness of your presentation with the following tips: Have a unique opening. If you start off strong, you’re more likely to have your prospect’s attention through the rest of your presentation. Beginning your presentation with a company overview or agenda isn’t a strong start and does nothing to set you apart. A unique opening — an anecdote, a poll, an insight — improves your prospect’s attention and ensures stronger recall of your presentation. Tell a story. Stories are incredibly memorable. They are how information was passed down long before written words. Using a story within your presentation to highlight a benefit, change a perception, or emphasize a key point is an extremely helpful way to lock an idea in your prospect’s brain. Reinforce one thing. Unless your prospect has an incredible memory, the unfortunate truth is that he’ll remember little of the actual content of your presentation. Trying to reinforce too many things backfires completely. Make it easy for your prospect to recall your central idea by creating a catchy 3- to 12-word phrase and sprinkling it in three or more times within your presentation. Use a prop. Nearly 80 percent of the population learns visually, so it’s no surprise that using a visual aid in your presentation is proven to improve recall by almost two-thirds versus no visual aid. Whiteboards, flipcharts, tablets, or a simple item that supports your message can greatly increase the recall of your presentation. A prop plus a story plus your opening? Killer combo! Create presence. Although your prospect may not remember a lot of the details of your presentation, he will form a memory of the overall experience. Your voice, body, and attitude — in other words, your presence — play a leading role in what type of an experience your prospect has. Using your voice to emphasize key points, moving around your space with purpose and confidence, and being intentional about connecting can leave your prospect with the memory of a strong, positive experience of your presentation. Call back to your opening. As your final impression, the quality and content of your closing has much to do with whether your prospect remembers your message or it fades away as soon as you walk out the door. One way to give a powerful closing and bring your presentation full circle is to call back to the hook you used in the opening, whether it was story, a prop, or an insight. Your hook helps tie together your presentation and makes it easier for your prospect to remember you and your message.

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Using Hooks in Your Sales Presentation’s Opening

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

A hook is an attention-grabbing device that focuses your prospect’s attention on your message, sets the tone of the presentation, and provides something of value. Here are several types of hooks that ensure that your presentation starts on a strong note. Quote: Using someone else’s words can add an element of credibility to your presentation or effectively frame your message. Example: “The secret of success is to do the common thing uncommonly well.” John D. Rockefeller Question: Asking your audience a question can get them actively thinking about the topic and participating in the conversation. Example: What percentage of expense reports you process is error-free? Startling statement: Opening with a strong point of view can be effective at getting your audience to sit up and pay attention. Example: “You may be losing half a million dollars or more a year by not being able to take advantage of early supplier payment discounts.” Fascinating fact: An interesting fact that is relevant to your topic can incite curiosity and conversation. Example: The fastest growing segment of the population is those individuals 80 and older. Story: A short relevant story is a unique and powerful way to open a presentation. Example: “My recent zip line experience reminded me of the business challenge we’re here to discuss. Here’s why…” Prop: An object can give your message a powerful visual impact. Examples include flipchart, whiteboard, book, phone, key. Insight: Sharing something valuable about your prospect’s industry or company can enhance your credibility and greatly improve attention. Example: “We discovered that your accounting personnel typically touch a document four times before it gets processed in your current system.” Video: A short on-point video is a sure way to gain attention and set the tone for your presentation. Example: A company selling security technology uses a quick montage of news clips on personal information leakage.

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Increase Interaction by Gamifying Your Sales Presentation

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Keeping prospect’s engaged during a sales presentation is an ongoing challenge, and you need as many good tools in your toolkit as you can find. Gamification — using elements from game playing, like scoring, rules, and team activity — is a hot topic, especially in e-learning where it’s proven to be extremely effective at helping people learn and retain information. In fact, your prospect has probably participated in some form of game-based training. Here are a few quick and easy ways to use gamification in your presentation to add variety, increase engagement, and improve your prospect’s ability to recall your message. Develop an interactive agenda. Most presentations are delivered in a very linear fashion with topics delivered in a pre-determined order. If the body of your presentation doesn’t require a sequential structure, in other words, you can start at any point and it still makes sense, give your audience a choice to increase their engagement. Let them decide what the order is by creating a modular agenda. Here’s how: Create an agenda slide and place your topics in a nonlinear order. Use a simple icon for each topic or a one- or two-word description, like “generating reports.” Select the topic that you want to reinforce with your audience and include a prize when it’s selected. Insert a hyperlink on each topic that takes you right to that section in your slide deck. Ask your audience what topic they want to address, click on it, and jump to the topic to begin. Award the prize to the audience member who selects the pre-determined topic. When finished, hyperlink back to the agenda slide and repeat the process until you’ve covered all the topics. This is a fun way to keep your audience engaged at the start of each topic and give them a sense of actively participating in the unfolding of the presentation. Create a real-time poll. Polling your audience on a question that leads into your topic is a great way to get them involved in your presentation early. By adding an element of gamification to it, you make it even more engaging for them. Polls are highly engaging because your audience gets to see how their answer does in comparison to the rest of their group. Here’s how it works: Get set up in advance with a polling program that allows for text message polling, like www.polleverywhere.com. Develop a poll with a number of choices and assign a unique code to each choice. Create a slide for your poll, clearly displaying the code numbers for each answer and a number for prospects to text their response to. Make sure you have web access for your presentation. Show the poll results in real time on your screen as your audience responds. Do a live leaderboard. Great for larger groups (eight or more), this option combines an interactive poll with the concept of a leaderboard because participants compete for a prize and get to see in real time how they stack up next to others. Here’s how to create a leaderboard contest: Come up with a question or topic and solicit answers from three to five audience members. Create a unique code for each audience member’s answer, using your polling program. Ask the group to vote for the best answer by texting the unique code to the number displayed on your screen. Show the results in real time on the screen. Award a prize to the person who receives the most votes. This option creates a lot of interest and stimulates healthy competition because participants see how their answers do compared to the rest of the group in real time, whereas also providing some anonymity for their own vote.

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Designing Your Slides for Your Sales Presentations

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

The best slides tell a story, but that story can get miscommunicated or lost on your prospect if your presentation slide is unclear or difficult to read. Subject each slide in your deck to these guidelines to make sure that you’re using your valuable real estate wisely. Keep one message per slide. No more than six lines of text. Choose images that create an emotional connection. Create simple graphs for statistics. Keep to a consistent color palette. Avoid tired templates and create your own look. Limit animated transitions and builds. Use contrast colors in background. Use dark type on a light background. Feature 18-point type so text is easy to read at a distance. Load up the white space.

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A Planning Checklist for Your Sales Presentation

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

A sales presentation that is tailored to address your prospect’s unique needs and interests is a prerequisite for success. Use the following checklist to help you gather key information about your prospect and the opportunity. The opportunity ___ Identify the opportunity. ___ Qualify the prospect. ___ Set an actionable goal. ___ Identify the challenge. ___ Discover the trigger event. ___ Determine the current solution. The impact ___ Establish the impact of the problem. ___ Identify the impact of the solution. ___ Determine key performance indicators (KPI). ___ Confirm timing and expectations. The competition ___ Identify the competition. ___ Research buying history. ___ Do a competitive analysis. The logistics ___ Determine who will be at your presentation. ___ Agree on the format. ___ Establish the time and date. ___ Confirm the venue. ___ Make arrangements to set up. ___ Determine your travel needs. The audience ___ Identify roles. ___ Get contact information. ___ Schedule discovery calls. ___ Conduct discovery conversations. ___ Define point of view and personal impact. ___ Confirm your audience’s decision-making process.

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7 Secrets for Telling a Great Sales Story

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Prospects are used to being told things in a sales presentation. Stories are an effective way to shake things up and show your prospects, rather than tell them. A relevant, well-told story can gain your prospect’s attention, soften her position, drive home a key message, and differentiate you and your solution. On the other hand, a poorly crafted or executed story can cost you credibility, attention, and ultimately the sale. With so much at stake, you want to make sure that your story delivers on all counts. Here are seven tips for crafting and delivering a successful story in your sales presentation. Add conflict. Too many stories fail to hook the listener because nothing real is at stake. Drama needs conflict in order for your prospect to care what happens. Give your story the “So what?” test. If it doesn’t pass, you need to escalate the dramatic tension. At each turning point in your story, ask yourself, “And then what would happen?” Just like in your presentation, the tension should be at a peak before you reveal the ending. Connect the dots. Much of a story’s power comes from the fact that it lets your prospect come to a conclusion on her own. Too much backstory or an attempt to explain every little plot twist quickly loses a prospect’s attention. People like to be drawn in and not have everything spelled out for them. Provide only enough context to frame your story and trust that your prospect is smart enough to connect the dots. Use descriptive terms. Allow your listener to experience the story in a three-dimensional way by using words that engage her through multiple senses. Think in terms of drawing word pictures, but be careful not to go adjective crazy. Highlight specific details. Bring your story to life by emphasizing a few key details. Pick and choose only those descriptions that help provide context and advance your story. Irrelevant or too many details can confuse your listener. Be specific and quantify when you can. For example, “85” rather than “a lot” or “three” instead of “some.” Keep it short. Busy prospects don’t have time or patience for a long-winded tale. Two minutes is about the max you can expect to hold their attention. If you’ve followed the previous suggestions, fleshed out a few key details, and eliminated all unnecessary prologue, your story should be fairly concise. If it’s not, consider whether you’re trying to get too much across and take the time to edit your story to the essence of what you want to say. Hold the last beat. When a film actress delivers a powerful line, the camera usually lingers on her for a few seconds in silence while the actress remains motionless. This is called holding the last beat. This slight pause and hold of the actress’s expression and body allows the impact of what she’s just said to sink in with the audience. Apply that concept to your story and avoid rushing on to the next item on your agenda. Hold that last beat for a count of one . . . two . . .three . . . before moving on. Rehearse. A story is only as good as the storyteller. It takes practice to refine a story and tell it in an engaging and succinct manner — even if you’re familiar with it. After you get the storyline down, allow yourself plenty of time to practice. Keep these tips in mind when you rehearse: Practice it out loud. Often what sounds good in your head doesn’t work as well when you verbalize it. There’s no substitute for practicing your story out loud. Set the stage. You want to position yourself in the same way that you plan to deliver your presentation so that you can explore gestures and movements before you’re in front of your prospect. Time yourself. Be rigorous and keep it under two minutes, cutting where necessary. Record yourself. Listen to see if you missed any important plot points or if you added some that you want to be sure and include. Look for body language and movement that supports your story or detracts from it. Test it. After you think you’re performance ready, test your story in front of a live audience — a roommate, a spouse, a co-worker — and ask for honest feedback on these points.

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Making Sure You Have the Right Tools for Your Sales Presentation: Your Performance Tool Checklist

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Your sales tools aren’t limited to your PowerPoint slides and projector. Used effectively, your voice, body, and movement can bring your presentation’s message to life and add impact. Follow the guidelines here to make sure that you’re using your voice, body, and movement to their highest potential. Voice ____ Volume ____ Cadence ____ Emphasis ____ Clarity ____ Use of pauses ____ Variety ____ No filler words Body ____ Gestures ____ Open body language ____ Eye contact ____ Facial expressions ____ Confident stance ____ Relaxed body ____ Authentic ____ Congruent to message Movement ____ Tied to purpose ____ Tempo ____ Sit or stand ____ Appropriate for room size ____ Set props

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