10.3. Presentation Details

When deciding on the structure of your presentation, there are a number of things to consider. Will you present to a group or to an individual? Where will you be giving your presentation? What tools will you use? Sometimes these options are under your control, but often in business-to-business (B2B) sales, you will have to adapt your presentation to your prospect’s needs. In either situation, you can maximize your presentation if you know what to avoid, what to prepare for, and how to make your solution come to life with the tools you have. If you know your prospect is highly competitive, for instance, they will probably be interested in learning about the features that set your product apart from others on the market and the ways in which your product can give them and their company a competitive edge. If you’re working with an existing customer or if you’ve interacted with your prospect prior to the presentation, you can use your observations to write a trait description. If you haven’t met the prospect before, try asking other salespeople in your organization, noncompetitive salespeople at other companies, or other contacts you have who might have met your prospect and who can tell you something about their personality (Griksheit, Cash, & Young, 1993). Also, use the company resources including the CRM system to gather as much information as possible about the company and your contact especially if you can determine the social style of the prospect (See Chapter 3).

Presenting to Individuals

In one-on-one presentations, of course, you only have one person’s needs, preferences, and background to research and adapt to, so customization is usually an easy task. You can closely observe your prospect’s nonverbal communication and listen to their stated needs and concerns and respond accordingly. Do they look worried when you tell them that your company’s integrated marketing plan usually takes four months to develop? You can explain that for preferred prospects you are sometimes able to turn around a faster solution. Do they seem distracted when you begin discussing product features? You can back off and begin asking more questions.

Presenting to Groups

If customization is that straightforward with an individual buyer, why would you ever choose to sell to a group? Besides the fact that sometimes the nature of the sale demands it, selling to groups is also more efficient than selling to individuals. If you’re selling accounting software to a number of departments in an organization, rather than meeting individually with a decision maker from each department, you can save time by giving your sales presentation to a number of decision makers at once. Group presentations can also help you identify the decision makers in an organization if you aren’t yet sure who they are. By keeping an eye on group dynamics during the presentation you can usually observe the “pecking order” among members and identify the individuals in the group whose opinions hold the most leverage. Additionally, group presentations can be a way to win your sale. With one buyer, if they have a negative view of your product or service, it is hard to sell to but in a group, you can leverage any allies to help sway any members who are unsure (McConachie, 2017). If you know what is at stake for each member of the group, you will be able to facilitate the discussion during your presentation much more effectively. This is why it’s important to gather information about everyone who will attend your sales meeting. Google any names of group members before going into a group meeting. Find out the individual’s needs within the organization (For instance, an accountant in the organization might feel threatened by new accounting software if it replaces part of her current role.) This will help you understand the most important concerns you will need to address in the presentation, and if certain parts of your presentation apply more directly to certain members of the group, you can direct those parts specifically at those individuals. Keep in mind that people act differently in group settings than they do when you are interacting Webinars and Video Conferences So maybe you do not have the budget to travel and meet prospects face to face or your prospect is not available to meet in person (or there is a pandemic), you can still meet with your prospect through video or webinars. “Virtual events still sound a little futuristic, but they’ve been happening since 1993 when the world’s first livestream brought us nail-biting webcam footage of a coffee maker in mid drip. The streaming pot brewed up millions of views.” (Sehl, 2020, para 4). Much has changed since 1993. There are multiple video platforms that are free and easy to use—Zoom, MS teams, Whereby, Skype, Messenger—are a few examples.

Creating a virtual sales meeting is not much different from a face to face meeting. Once you have picked your online platform such as Skype or MS teams, make sure you are very familiar with the software. Send the link to your prospect (individual meeting) or group members (for a group presentation) at least a day ahead of the set meeting time. Be cautious of just showing slides in your virtual meeting—remember you are still trying to connect with your prospect(s) building rapport, trust and credibility. “But if all you do is share your screen and hide behind a little 2″ x 2″ video streaming box, you’re missing a huge opportunity in the relationship building power of good video calls. If you need to show something, a visual aid, a photograph, a PowerPoint slide, anything really, then do it… but as soon as you’re done talking about it or everyone has had ample time to digest it, unshare your screen and return the call to a full video conference” (Martin, 2020).

Make sure your prospect has their video on so you can connect visually, make sure the light is good, the sound quality on your end is good (get a microphone headset), align your background to be professional (no unmade beds in the background please), and stick to your time appointment (don’t go over the time you have booked). With so many in group presentations. Instead, adjust your presentation to the dynamics in the room. Create interactive presentations and bring 150% of your energy and your enthusiasm –bring you’re A game! (McConnachie, 2017).

The Right Tools

In the best sales presentations, the product or service comes alive. Try to see the presentation through your prospect’s eyes. What is the best way to capture their imagination? How will you tell the story that will make your product or service compelling? In what ways can you delight or surprise your customer? The right tools include: Powerpoint (slides), brochures or leave behinds, samples and demonstrations, and cost-benefit analysis.

PowerPoint Presentations

PowerPoint slides provide an easy way to organize your presentation and add helpful visuals. For many salespeople, PowerPoint is one of their go-to presentation tools. It can be an especially helpful tool for salespeople who are starting out and want the security of a clear framework from which to present. An added benefit is that it doesn’t take much technological know-how to put together a clean-looking PowerPoint demonstration. On the other hand, not all presentation situations lend themselves to PowerPoint (e.g., conference rooms with no wall space on which to project or presentations given in the field), so if you plan to use this tool, make sure that you will be presenting in a space where you can make it work. Additionally, be aware of— and avoid—a number of common mistakes salespeople make when using PowerPoint that can ruin a presentation. Keep it simple, avoid too many bullet points, use high quality graphics, and limit transitions, and use colour and video.

Brochures, Premiums, and Leave-Behinds

It is usually expected that you will have printed material to give your audience during a presentation. You might decide to bring along brochures with information about your company, products, and services or provide a link to the information or a flashdrive if the information is extensive (more in a B2B environment). What are the benefits of brochures? Well, a brochure reminds the buyer of the product or service and is considered a contact point in the buying journey (5 reasons by brochures are still important to selling, 2020). Brochures are also easy to distribute, are cost effective, build trust, and allow you to personalize your business (Flottman, 2016). Almost all salespeople bring some sort of brochure or premium leave-behind on their sales calls.

Samples and Demonstrations

There is almost no better way to make your story come to life for your customer than letting them experience it for themselves. During the presentation, you can bring your story to life by offering product samples for your prospects to try or by running demonstrations that let them see for themselves what your product can do. When winemakers sell their products to large distributors, they don’t just bring in descriptions of their wines for the buyers to read; they offer tastings so buyers can experience the product. When caterers want to sell their services to someone who is planning a wedding, they bring in samples from their menus, so the customer can say, “Wow this pasta really is delicious!” Or think of Keith Waldon of Earth Preserv who didn’t just tell JCPenney, “We can make displays of our environmentally friendly products for your store windows;” instead, they set up a real Besides bringing your story to life, there are a number of other good reasons to use demonstrations:

    • To educate your prospect. If you are selling a complex product, such as a highly involved software program, the best way to help your customer understand how it works is to show them.
    • To involve your prospect. Let them find the results for themselves. Just as car shoppers get to take the wheel in a test drive—and this often makes the difference between a decision to buy or not to buy— customers who use your products for themselves are more likely to make a personal connection with it.
    • Give Them the Numbers: Cost-Benefit Analysis and ROI

When you present your solution to the customer, especially in B2B sales, closing the sale usually depends on whether the cost of your solution is offset by the value it delivers (Manning & Reece, 2004). If you can quantify your solution using cost-benefit analysis and ROI (return on investment) analysis, you can help your customer determine whether a project or purchase is worth funding. A cost-benefit analysis adds up the benefits and then subtracts the costs (Kenton, 2019). Imagine you are selling an energy-efficient commercial dishwasher to a pizza kitchen. The dishwasher costs $3,000, but average cost savings per year are $800 in energy bills and $200 in water usage: a total of $1,000 (Energystar, 2010). Your dishwashers are guaranteed to last a long time; in fact, you offer a five- year warranty on any purchase. At a savings rate of $1,000 each year, your customer will have saved $5,000 in energy and water expenses by the time their warranty expires. Based on this information, you present this cost-benefit analysis to your prospect:

$3,000 = cost (initial investment) cost savings – initial investment = benefit $5,000 – $3,000 = $2,000

In this case, the cost savings is $1,000 per year times five years for a total of $5,000, minus the initial investment of $3,000, means that there is a benefit of $2,000. In other words, the dishwasher has a three-to-two cost-benefit ratio over five years ($3,000 in cost to $2,000 in benefit). You can tell your prospect, “This purchase will save you money in the long run. After you make back what you spent on the dishwasher in cost savings, you will continue to save $1,000 each year.” Similarly, you can show your customer a return on investment (ROI) analysis. ROI shows the customer the return (profit or cost savings) compared to the investment they will make. In the case of the dishwasher, the ROI would be calculated by dividing the benefit (in this case $2,000) by the cost of the product or initial investment (in this case $3,000), then multiplying the result by 100, which would yield a 66 percent ROI after five years.

$2000 (savings over five years) ÷ $3,000 (initial investment) × 100 = 66% ROI

This approach fits well for analytics and drivers and if the product or service lends itself to calculating ROI or cost-benefits easily.


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The Power of Selling Copyright © 2021 by Dr. Michelle Clement is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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