While some would put a great deal of emphasis on delivering a great presentation to close the business, what you do before your presentation, especially in the area of gaining a superior understanding of your prospect’s business challenges, is the most important part of selling in a complex, relationship sale. People usually develop buying preferences long before presentations are made. (The best investigators close the most business.) That being said, here are some presentation rules.
Rule #1: Never make a presentation until you have completed the qualification process. Premature presentations cause premature rejection. You must understand the prospect’s challenges (pains) completely, you must have an idea about the monetary investment they would be comfortable with, and you must understand their decision making process.
Rule #2: Never make a presentation to anyone who does not have the authority to make a decision. If the decision maker is not present, you cannot get a commitment. You can only get a “think it over” or worse, have someone with no authority tell you “no.” Don’t trust anyone to sell your solution for you. No one else can do it as well as you can. Nothing but problems will result when you don’t present to the decision-maker.
Rule #3: Never overload your audience with irrelevant information that has nothing to do with the prospect’s pains. Keep your presentation focused on the problems you’re being asked to resolve. Extraneous information can create objections and cause decisions to be postponed (“We’ll need to evaluate this new information.”) A good rule of thumb is to fix the problems first and save the “education” until later.
Rule #4: Always test for progress. Throughout your presentation you should periodically “test” for acceptance by asking questions such as…
- “Are you with me so far?”
- “Does this make sense?”
- “Will this work for you?”
- “Do you have any reservations about this?”
- “How do you feel about what you’ve seen so far?”
If you are doing a good job, you’ll get positive responses. If you run into hesitation or concern on the prospect’s part, deal with it before you move on.
At the end of your presentation or whenever the prospect says he’s ready to move forward, you should say: “What should we do now?” It’s an easy “close” and let’s the prospect buy.
Self-Study Assignment: Take a few minutes to reflect on some of the presentations that you’ve made in the past month or so. How many of these ideas have you been using? Make a commitment to doing a better job of the three rules, and make sure you are always testing for progress when you make a presentation.