When it comes to preparing and delivering presentations, Olivia Mitchell has seen and done it all. We're thrilled to feature her words of wisdom so you can take your presentations to a new level.
Simon Cowell has popularized the phrase “You owned that song”. That small word "owned" packs a lot of meaning. The singer didn't write the song, but they've taken it over, added their personal gloss and delivered it with the conviction of ownership. Your sales reps also have to “own” the company sales presentation. So, if you’re tasked with preparing your company sales presentation, here are six tips for preparing a solid sales presentation:
1. Separate the script from the slides.
There are three components to a presentation:
- What the presenter will say – which I’ll call the script
- The slides
- The delivery by the presenter.
In traditional presentations, the script and the slides are often the same document. The presenter is prompted by and talks to a set of bullet points displayed on a slide. The result is “death by PowerPoint” - slide after slide of bullet points that put the audience to sleep. In contemporary presentations, slides are genuine visual aids that complement and enhance what the presenter says. This makes for a far more compelling and persuasive presentation. It does mean, however, that you'll need to prepare slides and a separate script.
2. Design the presentation.
There are three stages to designing a presentation. The sales reps can add value at every stage:
Craft your message with input from the front lines.
Hold a workshop with the sales reps to develop the key message of the presentation and the sub-messages to support it. Their experience talking with clients on a daily basis will be invaluable in crafting messages that will resonate with prospects. Having sales reps involved in crafting these messages will also ensure that when they get to deliver the messages, they do so with conviction.
Add examples, case studies, and testimonials.
These are what make a presentation engaging. And the best examples will come from your sales reps:
We were holding a workshop with the sales reps of an insurance broker to develop a presentation. One of the reps told the story about how a client had rung her on a Saturday morning because he had fallen in love with a super-expensive car that he just had to have – and needed insured on the spot so that he could drive it away. It was a pretty rare model, and it took her a bit of ringing around to arrange the insurance. Not only was it a Saturday, it was her wedding day! How’s that for customer service? That’s a story that all of the sales reps can tell to demonstrate the dedicated customer service of their company.
The sales reps will also be able to identify the best clients to approach for video testimonials and case studies.
Design for visual interest and relevancy.
Designing visual slides takes a little more creativity than just typing in some bullet points. Before you open up your slide software, hold a storyboard session with the sales reps to sketch out ideas for visual enhancements to the presentation. Again, not only will they have good ideas, their involvement will ensure they’re proud to deliver the finished presentation.
3. Get feedback.
Once you think you've finalized the presentation, get some feedback from the sales reps. But don't just give them a copy of the slides and the script. That's like giving them a two-dimensional plan of a building and asking them to comment on what it will look like. Instead, deliver the presentation to them so that they can experience the presentation as an audience member. They'll be able to give you much better feedback.
4. Provide a video of the presentation.
Once their feedback has been incorporated, record the presentation and give each sales rep a copy of the video. Ask them to watch the video to become familiar with the presentation. Don't give them the script. They'll be tempted to read from it and will come across as artificial and stilted. Instead encourage them to produce their own set of notes from the video. When they deliver the presentation working from their own notes, they'll talk in their own natural phraseology and will come across as conversational and approachable.
5. Hold a group rehearsal session.
Rehearsal is the most underrated phase of preparation. Rehearsal is what makes the difference between a competent presentation and a great one, but not many people enjoy rehearsing. Ensure that your sales reps rehearse by holding a group rehearsal session. Depending on the length of the presentation, you may have them deliver the whole, or a segment of the presentation. Not only will this session ensure that they do rehearse, it will allow them to see their colleagues deliver the same presentation. They’ll get ideas for the best way to deliver specific segments of the presentation and can also practice handling the Q&A session.
6. Encourage your sales reps to tailor the presentation.
Trust your sales reps to make changes to the presentation to suit particular clients. A presentation is not “one size fits all”. Potential clients will spot a “canned” presentation and feel insulted by the lack of tailoring to their specific needs. Some sales managers react to problems with the way sales reps are using the sales presentations by commanding that they use the presentation exactly as is. For example, you may get concerned that your sales reps are changing the presentation in ways that are inconsistent with your company's brand or weakening the messages. Or perhaps they're adding poorly designed slides. The knee-jerk reaction is to mandate that the presentation must be used exactly as is. A more useful and effective response is to handle the situation as a coaching and performance issue.
Follow these tips and your sales reps will feel like they own the presentation. They’ll come across to prospects as credible and convincing. And that will mean more sales for your company.
About the author: Olivia Mitchell is a presentation trainer and partner at Effective Speaking, a presentation skills training and coaching business she runs with Tony Burns. Olivia publishes a steady stream of valuable advice on her blog and has published a free guide entitled "The Quick and Easy Guide to Creating an Effective Presentation".
*Photo credit: Wiki edit Jonny Released under the GNU Free Documentation License