We’ve all had to sit through sales presentations that made us long to reclaim the time we lost while listening to them. And many of us have had to give presentations and hoped that our audience wasn’t feeling that same way. Sales presentations are an integral part of the sales process, and when done right, are effective and profitable for the salesperson and the company. However, when they are not done right, they can be boring and useless.

Fortunately, there are some tips that can help you make the most of the next sales presentation you present to a prospect. The following are seven important tips to consider:

  1. Know your prospect. Never go into a sales presentation without doing your homework first. You need to know who will be listening to your presentation, who the decision-makers are, and how your product or service will help them. Each presentation you give should be tailored to each specific prospect – in other words, don’t use the same generic presentation with every prospect. Modify it to make sure it appeals to each prospect.
  2. Utilize presentations tools. There are lots of tools out there online that can make your presentation look great – use them. But you need to look deeper than just clicking on your PowerPoint icon, and choosing a template. Chances are good that your prospect has seen those templates a hundred times before. Look for presentation tools that are not as widely used, offer you customization options, and look great.
  3. Offer solutions. If you did number one correctly, then you should know what your prospect’s challenges are and how your product will solve them. That’s what you want to address in your presentation – specifically, and at the beginning of your presentation. This will let your prospect know that you have done your research, that you have solutions, and that they should sit up and listen.
  4. Use stories. Telling stories helps you connect with your audience on an emotional level. If you have a story (one that’s true; you need to be genuine) that is relevant to your presentation and to your prospect, then you should use it.
  5. Allow time for Q & A. Before your presentation, be sure that you know what time frame you are working with, and leave time for answering questions at the end. It’s a good idea to come up with a list of possible questions your prospect may ask beforehand, so that you are comfortable answering them if they are asked. During Q & A, if you don’t know the answer to something, that’s okay, just say so and promise to get back to the prospect with the answer. Then be sure to do it – it’s a great opportunity for another conversation that may strengthen your relationship.
  6. Keep it short. No one loves long presentations. Use the time that you have wisely, make your key points quickly, and allow time for interaction at the end. Your prospects are likely busy people, and they will appreciate your efficiency and open communication.
  7. Practice, practice, practice. In your presentation, you want to project confidence and competence. To do that, you have to practice your approach and know how you are going to present information. That said, you don’t want your presentation to come off as a script that you have memorized. Using bullet points in your notes is a good way to make sure you hit all of the relevant information without sounding like you’re reciting. Ad lib and interject your personality and things that may are specific to your audience.

Sales presentations don’t have to be a source of anxiety for the presenter or boredom for the audience when you use these tips. The key is to speak to the prospects’ needs, be personable and genuine, and offer solutions. Remember these strategies and you will see a difference in the outcomes of sales presentations in your future.

Jami Deloe