HARDISON’S TIPS – January 14, 2021 – How to Present a Presentation to a Guest
You’ve made it! After all your hard work you have reached the point in the selling process where the qualifying, researching, and planning stages pay off. Finally, your story and the customer’s story are about to connect in an exciting way. Most salespeople think of the presentation as the best part of the selling process. It’s the opportunity to show the prospect that you know your stuff—and the chance to deliver value by putting your problem solving skills to work. So get ready, visualize the best possible outcome to your sales presentation, and take the necessary steps to make this outcome a reality.
Keep Your Eye on the Prize
As excited as you might be about your product, or as eager as you are to demonstrate your solution, keep in mind that your sales presentation is primarily about building a relationship and beginning a partnership, especially in the business-to-business (B2B) arena. When Selena Lo, CEO of Ruckus Wireless, is gearing up for a sales presentation, she focuses her final preparations on making it personal. Lo’s company specializes in wireless routers that handle video, voice, and data capabilities for businesses. When she identifies a prospect, Lo’s first priority is finding the person she refers to as “the fox”: her ally in the prospect company who wants to see technological changes take place in his organization. Lo gives this relationship special attention, often inviting this individual out to dinner before the presentation to win his loyalty and get any additional details about his company.
Several days before the presentation, Lo researches everyone who will be in the meeting. She reads their bios and googles them to find out their employment histories. “You don’t want someone to think you checked out their entire past,” says Lo, but “you try to strike up more links between you and that person.” She prepares the seating arrangement for the sales meeting strategically, making sure that she will be sitting directly across from the highest-ranking person there so that she can make eye contact. On the day of the presentation, she asks a member of her sales team to write down each person’s name when they walk in the door—and to make a point of using the names during the presentation.Stephanie Clifford, “Find the Fox,” Inc., February 1, 2007, http://www.inc.com/magazine/20070201/features-sales-performance-lo.html (accessed May 16, 2010). Lo’s efforts to give the sales presentation a personal touch are a reminder that in relationship selling, you can never lose sight of the most important thing: your customer. Coach yourself on this on the day of your presentation and keep it in mind in the days leading up to it. What can you do to personalize this presentation and show your customers that it’s all about their organization?
Taking a customer-centric approach lies at the heart of delivering value. In these terms, value isn’t about offering a good price. It’s not just about solving the customer’s problems either. As Tom Reilly, author of Value-Added Selling: How to Sell More Profitably, Confidently, and Professionally by Competing on Value, Not Price, explains it, delivering value means that you “define value in customer terms, ask questions, listen to customers, and put the spotlight on customer-centric solutions.”Tom Reilly, Value-Added Selling: How to Sell More Profitably, Confidently, and Professionally by Competing on Value, Not Price, 2nd ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002), 23–24. This might mean that it takes more than one meeting to close your sale; you might need several visits to adequately respond to your customer’s needs. According to one study, “Today’s presentations typically are conducted over several meetings, with the salesperson often doing more listening than talking.”William C. Moncrief and Greg W. Marshall, “The Evolution of the Seven Steps of Selling,” Industrial Marketing Management 34, no. 1 (2005): 18. Make it your goal to see that you and your prospect get what you want out of the meeting.