What is the best way to engage a prospect in a sales dialog?
The answer is to make your sales presentations entertaining, interactive and memorable.
Every one of us has sat through one of those presentations. You're sitting in a boardroom. You’ve eaten the catered lunch. It's 1:15PM. They dim the lights and start the slick PowerPoint presentation. The pitch begins. You realize that that "free lunch" really wasn't free. Your mind wanders and you start to plan your weekend or think about all the work you should be doing. You send a text or two. You really don't remember the presentation at all.
Don't let this happen to your next presentation
Companies often invest a lot on money in client entertainment. A sales presentation often includes a costly catered lunch. The sales materials you leave behind are expensive and often go unread. But how much money, time and effort do most companies invest in making the sales presentation really entertaining and interactive?
It is hard to make a sales presentation memorable
We live in a fast-paced, dynamic world. Peoples' attention spans are getting shorter and fragmented because we are constantly forced to multitask. Sales presentations need to keep up and be designed for this new, more demanding audience that will not be entertained by a "dog and pony show".
You clients and prospects live in an interactive world where they are used to having an active role and being in partial control. Here are a few ways that sales leaders have made their presentations engaging and memorable:
Make it a Magic Act
Magicians have been doing it for years; they spice up a boring act with audience volunteers. This is one trick worth stealing from them.
When the magician selects his volunteer, at first we secretly wish we were selected. If the magician then locks the volunteer in a box and pulls out a gigantic saw, we change our minds and breathe a sigh of relief. No one really wants to volunteer to be sawed in half.
Start the presentation off with a brief introduction but then move quickly into a dialog. Keep it informal, keep it on topic, and involve your audience. It doesn't matter where you are giving the presentation – a large group, a few people in a conference room, online or by remote video – you can build in audience participation. Just don't lock anyone up in a box and pull out a gigantic saw.
Make the presentation style suit your audience
Don’t use a "flashy" presentation for a small, informal group. Save it for a large meeting, conference or for a Board presentation where it is expected.
When you are presenting a small group or an audience of one, keep the presentation simple. Don't use a laptop or projected presentation unless it is core to your product or service. When you have a small group, work to maximize your opportunity to make a personal connection.
Discard the old structured presentation agenda
Have the guts to abandon a classic, structured sales pitch. Most presentation experts recommend a sales presentation with an Introduction, Benefits with concrete examples, Conclusion where you "ask for the order", followed by a Q&A period.
Think about changing this up. Why not incorporate the benefits in the introduction? Why not invite questions in the middle of the presentation? And why wait to ask for the prospect's business?
Remember, your audience has seen dozens, if not hundreds of presentations. You do not want to blend into the sea of just another corporate presentation.
Don't use outdated clip art, complex build slides and cluttered templates
It seems elementary but is it still such a common mistake, I have to include it. The fastest way to brand you company as "out of touch" is to use canned clip art. At all costs, avoid "cartoon" style illustration. Don't use complex build slides or cluttered PowerPoint templates. It is far better to use a plain template with straight-forward, simple language and online information-added graphics.
We all love PowerPoint but…
This is one case where less is really more – more memorable that is. Keep the slides to the minimum number required to tell the story. Research studies have found that shorter slide presentations are more memorable. Don't bore the audience with a data dump. Make a few brief, powerful points and support them with fast memorable facts and brief case history example. Try to inspire questions – don’t give all the answers.
If you are not a standup comic, don't pretend to be one.
Everyone in the room is exposed to the high-level comedy on TV so the bar for a joke is very high. Use prepared jokes only if you can really deliver them professionally. If you lack comic timing, avoid them at all costs.
Say thank you and don't just hope for an encore performance - ask for it.
And no matter what, end the entire presentation with a thank you and a request to go to the next step – ask for a follow-up meeting or when you can start service. Make the audience want an encore.
Bottom line: Make your sales presentation stick. Impress yourself with how elegantly simple it is and how well your audience listens. Deliver the goods, not the fluff.