A Guide to Making and Presenting the Perfect Sales Presentation
Presenting in front of an audience can be a nerve racking experience, even for a veteran. Read our guide and ensure a knock-out performance
For many business people, the idea of delivering a sales presentation can seem more like an ordeal than an opportunity.
Standing up and speaking in front of a large audience is never going to be the most relaxing of experiences. But the rewards a good presentation can offer your business far outweigh the discomforts of public speaking.
The chance to talk about the benefits of your offering in detail to a captive and interested audience isn’t once you should pass up, and if you prepare well in advance, you can teach yourself to avoid any pitfalls and relish the experience of selling your business on such a large platform.
This guide will help you to carefully plan and structure your sales presentation to ensure you deliver it confidently, ready to handle any questions thrown your way.
What should I know before planning a sales presentation?
Before you start preparing a presentation, there are two things you need to know; the objectives you’re trying to achieve, and the audience you will be speaking to.
A sales presentation directed at a member of the general public will be different to one directed at the MD of a large company, for example.
Know your audience and establish roughly the number of people you will be pitching to, and the average level of specialist knowledge that they have. Adjust your presentation to reflect this.
Well in advance, decide what your objective is. Is it to generate sales, or just to drum up interest in your business and its offerings? Do you wish to demonstrate your product and train people how to use it? Do you want to try and stand out from the competition?
How should I structure a sales presentation?
Your priority when structuring a presentation is to highlight and emphasis the core message that you are trying to communicate to your audience. To structure a sales presentation, follow these simple steps.
- Establish the key points.
Make sure these are the points the audience remembers. Remember to stress benefits, rather than features – it is the memory of the benefits that will differentiate you from the competition.
- Establish a single key phrase.
This should be a memorable single-sentence summary of whatever aspect of your offering will be the most appealing to your current audience. Make sure you plan to repeat this phrase several times throughout your presentation.
- Gather relevant facts.
Research thoroughly – back your arguments up with evidence, and make sure you have a comprehensive knowledge of your business area and market, so that you can answer any queries and objections.
- Break it down into sections.
This will give a structure to the argument whilst allowing you the freedom to adjust it – if it seems a particular audience will not respond to a particular section, for example, you can remove it without affecting the general progression of the presentation.
- Emphasise the opening and closing sections of the argument.
These are the sections that audiences remember best – stress your most important points at the beginning and the end of your presentation. Introduce key points in your introduction and summarise them as part of your conclusion.
- Establish your running time.
Time your presentation when rehearsing it, and find out how much time you will be allocated to present in. Remember, it is better overestimate the amount of time your talk will take – in the event you will take more time that you think.
- Prepare for questions and objections.
Many presentations will conclude with a Q&A session. As part of your research, consider and seek responses to common queries and issues with your arguments. If possible, incorporate objections and your responses to them into your talk.
Should I prepare notes for a sales presentation?
Yes – though only to the extent that you need them. It pays to work out what you are going to say in writing beforehand, and it is likely that you will need some details of the presentation to hand as you are speaking (key facts, important phrases, prompts).
However, audiences do not want to hear you reading from a script – make sure you deliver a presentation, and keep your written notes to a minimum.
While you should definitely compose a written draft of your presentation, make sure you rehearse this as much as possible. This will include reading it aloud to yourself, and revising/refining it as appropriate. Underline any phrases you feel are especially important. As previously noted, in the real event, keep card reading to a minimum.
Write out the key points you’ll be addressing on cards. Once you have reduced your presentation to quote card format, throw away the written drafts. Again, rehearse from your cards as much as possible.
Finally, rehearse and perform your speech in front of an audience. There are several ways to do this – you can video record yourself speaking and then play it back, or else deliver the presentation to friends, families and colleagues. Request detailed feedback, and change your presentation to reflect this.
Should I use visual aids when delivering a sales presentation?
When used correctly, visual aids can make your presentation more engaging and compliment your arguments and message.
Represent figures visually by using graphs and diagrams to make raw data comprehensible and quickly accessible to an audience. Keep your slides/data simple so the audience will be able to digest the content of an image within a few seconds.
Remember to also keep them relevant, as images for the sake of images will only serve to distract an audience. Keep text to a minimum and concentrate the bulk of your information in your spoken delivery.
This will also prevent you reading text from a screen – a common temptation, and one that will weaken your presentation. The bigger the audience/auditorium size, the larger your visual aids will need to be to be seen. Plan for this beforehand. Finally, turn them off when you’re not using them. They will only distract the audience.
How should I deliver my sales presentation?
90% of the success of any sales presentation is down to your delivery. By following a few simple steps, you can easily put on a good show.
- Introduce yourself.
Tell the audience your name, role, and the reason for your coming.
- Get their attention.
Look at them directly and ask them questions. Using humour is a good way to get an audience on side. Do not begin the presentation proper without everyone’s full attention.
- Speak clearly and slowly.
This will project confidence and ensure people can understand you.
- Be conscious of body language.
Stand openly, make eye contact with the audience, and use gestures to emphasis your points (when appropriate). Be enthusiastic and kinetic.
- Give an overview of the presentation.
Tell them what you are here to talk about, and give an idea of the points your will be making.
- Run through your points.
Go over each in detail. Make sure you confirm people’s understanding at every stage – invite questions to clarify points of difficulty.
- Make a summary.
Repeat key benefits, and stress the intended take-aways.
How should I deal with presentation nerves?
When speaking publically, a touch of nerves is inevitable – if you prepare effectively you can channel this nervous energy into an ebullient and enthusiastic talk.
It may sound obvious but the better you know your presentation, the more in control you will feel when delivering it. Practice giving your presentation to an audience – rehearse in front of willing friends and family.
When delivering your speech, speak slowly as this will help you avoid tripping up and stumbling over words.
Breathe deeply and don’t be afraid to take several deep breaths before beginning.
Make sure to keep some water nearby also. Use this to keep your mouth from drying up or if you begin to cough.
How do I deal with questions and objections?
Don’t fear questions – they prove your audience is listening and interested. However, its essential you prepare for them.
Think about possible objections and points of difficulty when researching and composing your presentation, and have your responses ready.
Once again, rehearsing in front of an audience of friends, family, or employees can be a good way of establishing what points people will need clarification on.
Listen carefully to questions and if you are unclear what has been said, repeat it back to them to get them to confirm it. If you mishear a question and answer it, it may seem like you’re not really interested.
When giving an answer, keep it simple. Simple answers are generally more comprehensible – if the question requires a complex answer, save it until the end.
Deal with all questions separately to avoid getting flustered. Answer them one at a time.
Finally, while you might not want to, admit ignorance.
Don’t try to blag your way through an answer to a question you aren’t prepared for.
If you are totally stumped, ask the audience member to leave their contact details with you so that you can provide them with a response at a later date.
How should I conclude the presentation?
Don’t let all your hard work go to waste – ensure that you make it easy for your audience to follow up on the interest that you’ve concocted with your presentation.
Give out handouts as this will help your audience remember your presentation after the event. Include any contact details for your business, and information on how they can find out more about anything you’ve discussed if they are interested.
After the event, approach people who have seen your presentation and ask what they thought about it. You might get a more honest appraisal of your performance at this stage.
Finally, organise any follow ups. Get the contact details of anyone who has expressed an interest or gave good feedback to your presentation. Follow up any questions people have, and any potential sales interest.