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HOW TO SELL ANYTHING

How to Craft the Perfect Presentation

A few simple tips to help your presentations stand out amongst even your biggest competitors.
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The first step in landing a big deal with a new client or customer is getting them interested in what you have to offer. That usually entails an initial presentation that will whet their appetite for more information. Interest generation is one of the most important types of executive presentations you can make. Get it wrong, and there probably won't be another opportunity to make any other presentations.

Recently, I connected with Nicholas Oulton, an expert in the field of interest-generating presentations. Oulton is the author of "Killer Presentations" and the CEO of m62 visualcommunications, which has helped to craft more than 10,000 B2B presentations with an 87% close rate!

Here are some thoughts from Nick on perfecting your presentations:

"Your presentation is your shop window. Customers look at it and make decisions about who you are, what you do, and whether they want to deal with you--based on the impression your presentation makes.

We have written more than 10,000 B2B sales pitches and what we've learned is that companies large and small inevitably make the same mistakes. The most efficient way to help our clients win is to help them avoid these two pitfalls. In our training course, we call them:

  • From How to Why
  • From We to You

From How to Why

Pitfall number one: Asking the wrong question.

Almost all of our clients turn up with the wrong information: 40 slides of bullet points listing the company statistics, capabilities, products, geographies, processes, systems and awards. This is all in an attempt to answer the question: "So... What do you do?"

But in reality, even though the prospect may have actually asked the question out loud (and many do), they don't really care about any of that. Frankly the question they are trying to answer--but probably don't verbalize--is, "What's in this for me?"

If I'm your prospect, I don't really care how you are going to execute, I care about why I should let you. It may be that how you do it adds value to me, but mostly you do what your competitors do. If you don't--if it's different--then unless I understand why that adds value to me, I don't care!

So what should the presenter do? Tell me why I should care!

The golden rule is to ask, "So What?" to every fact, point, picture or diagram in your presentation. If it isn't there to support delivery of value to the customer, then remove it--it's a distraction. Try this as a sales pitch:

"I could go through my 30 slide PowerPoint and tell you all the things we think are great about our company. Or, I could tell you how we are going to increase you sales next year by 10%, and reduce your cost of sale by 5%. Which do you want to spend time on?" 

This is actually our sales pitch, and our statistics show that it works almost 87% of the time!

From We to You

Pitfall number two: Telling prospects what you do, not what they need.

Really, this is a mindset thing. If I present about my company, I use the word "we" a lot. We do this, we do that, we, we, we. If I present about the client and their issues, I use the word "you"; you need this, you could do with that, if you had this would that solve your problem? It's a habit, but changing this habit shifts the emphasis of the presentation from this is all about me to this is all about you.

Switching the focus to 'you' in a sales presentation (just like in a date!) works much better.

In training we count the number of "we"s and "you"s used by the presenter, partly to focus everybody's attention on it, but partly to demonstrate that telling people how great we are isn't as persuasive as asking them how they are.

Conclusion 

Bigger isn't better. In a pitch, the playing field is level. Fail here at the end, and you've wasted your entire effort. This is something small businesses can't afford to do, so they tend to make sure their presentations look and work better than the big boys'. A slick presentation makes your organization look slick. Focus your presentation on why the prospect should choose you and make the presentation about their issues and problems--and how they can solve these--and you won't go far wrong!"

If you would like to see the m62 webinar you can watch it here. If you are interested in learning more about Nick and Killer Presentations, go to Killer Presentations.

Last updated: Dec 12, 2012

TOM SEARCY | Columnist | Founder, Hunt Big Sales

Author, speaker, and consultant Tom Searcy is the foremost expert in large account sales. With Hunt Big Sales, he has helped clients land more than $5 billion in new sales. Click to get Searcy's weekly tips, or to learn more about Hunt Big Sales.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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