Over the years, as a firm we have sieved Delivering A Successful Presentation into five tips; representation, repertoire, research, rehearsal and repetition.
In 1996, I was a life insurance agent and had just landed my biggest prospect to date. I was now in his office, this chief engineer of a multinational firm. After the flawless presentation we found a vacuum which my product could fill and agreed that I submit a sample of the contract for his perusal before he makes a final decision. Boy, was I ready! I flashed it from my folder and gave it to him. He promised to get back to me in a week’s time. And that’s when it all went haywire.
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You see, I had noticed and escalated a gaping anomaly in the wording of the contract document which was unfair to the client. It was yet to be amended. My copy of the contract even had this offending sentence underlined. And I had just submitted the same copy. Long story short, I was fried.
Today, while training, I usually give this story to demonstrate that you can never be too prepared.
Like almost everything else in life the basics is what people forget (especially if they are winning) and wonder why relationships (social and professional) are going wrong despite gaining more ‘experience’.
Over the years, as a firm we have sieved preparation into five tips; representation, repertoire, research, rehearsal and repetition.
One day my wife was looking for a house help. Among several, one stood out. She beckoned her and as she approached, my wife saw the word loser conspicuously displayed across her T-shirt. The interview was over before it started. First impressions may not be the last impression, but in presentations they usually are. Looking presentable need not to be an expensive affair; you look sharper in an ironed second-hand shirt than you do a new creased Giorgio Armani suit.
It does not stop with how you look on the outside. It actually starts with how you carry yourself. Your significant other may have forced you into that impeccable suit but it is useless when you wear it with a loser’s attitude.
Repertoire in Delivering A Successful Presentation
Usually, every firm has its own sales repertoire, usually called, sales kit.
Your job as a sales person is to strategically place items in it such that you do not have to clutter the prospects desk in search of a calculator you should have placed on his desk the moment you sat down. The salesperson starts off with the kit, then proceeds to shed off bits as he gains “experience” and then wonders why he has hit a plateau.
Google has brought information to our fingertips. Yet, I still find sales people gushing all the things the prospects website says they do not condone, simply because it worked on the previous sales call. This works against delivering a successful presentation
Researching and exploring allows you to ask a senior level manager how the price penetration strategy is carrying on; how his son who recently topped the region in Maths is fairing; and so on.
In many ways, a sales call is equivalent to a social date; what worked for Jean will not necessarily work for Joan and Joan will be more endeared to you when you say things that she can resonate with and certainly not what she knows, worked for your ex-friend, Jean.
Rehearse to Deliver A Successful Presentation
Rehearse. Whether you are on your fifth day in sales, or your fifth year, practice. Practice makes perfect is not a cliché, it’s a fact.
A negative attitude, laziness to set appointments, spending less face-to-face and more monitor-to-face time is practising bad habits. Bad habits are so much easier to develop. Good habits require discipline. Practice the presentation to your mirror, colleague, supervisor.
If you must use PowerPoint, keenly go through it every time before you see a new prospect to ensure remnants of the past prospect are absent.
Embarrassing does not begin to describe making a presentation with images and taglines of a competitor showing in your proposal or PowerPoint.
You have to repeat the first four tips to be well prepared.
These 5 tips apply to not only sales people but everyone because we all are always selling—ideas to our spouses; asking for increments from our bosses; asking for a date.
As a professional salesperson though, be steadfast in the scout’s motto: be prepared-always.
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