Make Better Sales Presentations

Power your sales presentations to new heights of success with these business-building tips.

1. UNDERSTAND YOUR PROSPECT. A great presentation begins before you step into the conference room. Before presenting, Steve Bove, a promotional consultant with NJ-based Active Imprints, learns a client’s needs through phone or in-person conversations, where he asks about the prospect’s intended message, target audience and apparel they want to buy. “Once I have that information,” Bove says, “I build my presentation around it.”

2. ESTABLISH A GOAL. While understanding a prospect’s needs is critical, it’s equally important to have your own specific presentation goal. For example, your aim may be to secure a sale on the spot, with a backup goal of advancing the process toward closing the deal by setting up a date for you to present more product options to the decision-maker. “Be in control of the next step,” says Ryan Moor, CEO of Vancouver, WA-based Ryonet (asi/528500).

3. PRESENT SOLUTIONS FOR A SPECIFIC NEED. Use what you learn about your prospects to create presentations that demonstrate you’re uniquely capable of making their objectives a reality. “The presentation is a tailored and interactive conversation about all the ways you can meet their needs, solve their problems and alleviate their pain,” says Barry Maher, a nationally renowned sales trainer and author. “Anticipate common objections – the presentation should be structured to answer those objections before they’re asked.”

4. START STRONG. Snap prospects into focus with a powerful opening that’s immediately relevant to them. Maybe you’re presenting apparel options to a school booster club that’s interested in selling logoed wearables to raise funds for the football team. Begin with a word about how you understand that to be the club’s main aim and have selected products that will appeal especially to likely buyers, such as students and parents.

5. SHOW SAMPLES AND USE VISUAL AIDS. When Phil Stumpf, sales representative for Glenwood, MN-based American Solutions for Business (asi/120075), makes presentations for large apparel orders, he showcases samples decorated with the prospect’s logo. Steaming and pressing the garments beforehand, Stumpf displays the wearables on table-top mannequins that he sets up in prospects’ conference rooms. To maximize the sale, Stumpf exhibits items that complement the main product(s) he’s pitching. “If I’m presenting to a company with a largely female workforce, I show ladies-cut apparel decorated with rhinestones,” he says. Stumpf has earned many orders this way.

6. TELL POWERFUL STORIES AND SHOWCASE TESTIMONIALS. Some presentation pros relate tales of how they’ve helped clients in businesses similar to the prospect they’re courting. As Florida-based Cotton King (asi/169201) grows sales in the yachting industry, owner Weston Cotton speaks to prospects about how Cotton King has met the decorated apparel needs of well-known yacht crews. The tactic strikes the correct chord with buyers. “It’s an asset if you can show your proven track record in the industry,” Cotton says.

7. GO FOR THE GOAL. If your objective is to clinch a sale, ask for it. You can ease into this by recapping how the solutions you’re proposing will benefit the buyer. From there, choose the wording you’re most comfortable with and ask directly for the business. If you’ve addressed all the objections you can and still the prospect isn’t ready to sign, set up the next phase of the sales process. Regardless of whether your presentation ends with a sale, always leave something behind. In addition to catalogs and brochures, give a branded gift or two.