By John Foust, Raleigh, NC
Carl is a marketing manager who has been on the receiving end of hundreds of media presentations. He knows a thing or two about effective sales techniques. “Most of the time, I’m the point person to gather information about advertising options,” he said. “I frequently need to pass information along to others in the company. Usually there’s a written proposal, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
“To make fair decisions, I need to share the key points I hear,” he explained. “It’s important for sales people to provide me with solid, repeatable product information. The best presentations make those printed proposals come to life.”
Be repeatable. That’s a strong recommendation from Carl.
Here are some ways to accomplish that in a sales presentation:
- Keep it simple. This is the first rule for just about every type of communication, because we are bombarded with more messages than ever before. The simple messages have sticking power, while the complicated ones get lost in the crowd.
I’m reminded of the Telephone Game, an old school child’s game which demonstrates how a message can change as it is relayed to others. People sit or stand in a line or circle. The first person whispers a phrase to the second person, who whispers it to the third. And so it goes, until the last person announces the message as he or she heard it. Unless it is simple, the ending message usually bears only a faint resemblance to the initial words.
To make things clear and repeatable, eliminate technical terminology and use language that is easy to understand.
- Make it visual. We think in pictures. That’s why it’s natural for us to have a better memory for visual images than for words. The more vivid the image, the easier it is to repeat to others.
A sales person once told me about using a Venn diagram in a presentation. She drew three overlapping circles on her legal pad. One circle represented the print edition of her newspaper, one represented their online product and one represented other media being used by the advertiser. The segment where all three overlapped indicated those times when all three had to be carefully coordinated to work together. It was a clear visual image which gave the advertiser a repeatable sales point.
- Make it personal. Cookie-cutter presentations are a waste of time for everyone – especially prospects. Of course, there are standard things which should be included in every presentation, but each one must have a stamp of individuality. A presentation should be about the prospect and no one else.
A person’s favorite topic of conversation is himself or herself. And a decision maker’s favorite topic is the decision. To make a presentation personal, show the other person – and his or her company – how they can benefit from the ideas you are proposing. Talk about results from their unique point of view.
Without a doubt, if you create repeatable sales points, you’ll increase your chances of making that big sale.