Skip to main content

Elevating Your Sales Presentations: Strategies for Captivating Audiences

By July 17, 2023February 6th, 2024No Comments

Can you remember the last presentation you sat through?

If you can, then what can you remember about the presentation? What were the key messages? What did you learn? Was it compelling, or did you switch off after the first few slides? Did you feel it was a good use of your time?

Of course, there are some fabulous presenters presenting fabulous presentations every day out there… but sadly, this is not the case everywhere, every time.

So, what, as sales managers, can we do to ensure our teams are “pitching perfect?” As salespeople and sales managers, we are all experienced presenters, but as with most aspects of selling, it does not hurt to brush up on our skills from time to time.

One of our primary responsibilities is to coach our sales teams to become ever more successful.

Typically, we do this through deal coaching sessions where we focus on deal qualification, relationship building, pursuit momentum, and encounter/client meeting planning. But what about the way our teams deliver sales presentations? Perhaps we should also focus our coaching in this area to help our teams improve presentation performance and, ultimately, business outcomes.

Clearly, the subject of presenting is a huge one, deserving of much more time and investigation than we can hope to cover in this brief article. However, by applying these few proven techniques, we can certainly take steps towards ensuring our teams are delivering compelling, impactful sales presentations.

Audience First – pretty obvious, but it is very important to know who we will be presenting to and what their business objectives and priorities are. Have we tailored our value messaging to resonate with the most important things to key decision-makers? Our presentations must be laser-focused on our client’s goals and specifically how we will help to deliver them – not about how great we are, and our stuff is.

Attention and Retention – what do we want our client to remember after we have concluded our pitch? Studies have found that retention is directly proportional to attention. So, it is important to create slides to grab your audience’s attention from the start and then deliver your messaging in short, manageable time slots rather than delivering one long pitch.

Retention Fades Very Quickly With Time – typically an audience member can recall 50% to 60% of our key messaging after three hours if we deliver it well, but as little as 10% after three days. So, what can we do to maximize client retention?

Visuals, Style, and Content –to gain attention quickly, an approach that we have found to work well is to open your presentation with a brief, compelling video clip relevant to the subject matter of our client’s business challenges and/or our experience in our clients’ industry, before moving on to our key slide – our value proposition.

At the center of our key slide, we position the primary business objective of our client for this project. Surrounding this is a wheel with five or six segments, each defining key elements of what we believe the client will need to have in place to deliver this project successfully.

Stepping around the circle to each segment, we are then able to highlight each key enabling requirement in turn before then switching into a more detailed, “visually rich” supporting slide that requires the presenter to explain (to maintain audience attention). This provides evidence of our capability to deliver on this key requirement – then we go back to the segment slide and so on around the wheel.

Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse – the “golden rule.” The presenting team can never be too well prepared for the actual delivery of our sales presentation. Make sure as we plan and prepare for the big event, we build in enough time to have a least two or three run-throughs… far better to have a well-rehearsed pitch with 90% perfect content than to waste precious time running up to the wire trying to get the last few words/details of our slides 100% perfect.

In addition to things, we should aim to get right during a client presentation, there are, of course, a few things we should avoid when presenting. Timing – it is really important to run to the allocated time our client has given us as a matter of respect. If we have a 30-minute slot, then turning up with 40 slides might not work out so well… and yes, it happens frequently.

Bullet Points – or worse, bullet points followed by text. Please, for client-facing presentations, never ever build your presentation using bullet points (or clip art, for that matter), and never have copious lines of text which you then proceed to read to your audience… they can read as well as the presenter, which begs the question why is the presenter standing up-front at all? We might as well send the slides to the client and let them read at their leisure.

Make Them Legible – above, we suggested stepping in and out of more detailed slides supporting each key business requirement segment on our value proposition slide to illustrate our capabilities, etc. When doing so, please never have text or graphics on the slide which your audience, cannot easily see… and if you want to irritate your audience, then point to the screen and say, “I know that you cannot read this, but…”

A long time ago, I was coached by a very seasoned presenter to understand the definition of a great presentation is measured, and only measured, by the extent to which we, as presenters, can get our key messages across to the audience – and that is it, period.

Follow these suggestions and help you and your teams to deliver outstanding presentations. Happy presenting!

Personal Challenge:  Take a look at the last few sales presentations delivered by your team to see just how client -focused they were. Were they compelling? Were they laser-focused on the client’s business objectives? What techniques did the salesperson use to get their message across to the audience? Mostly with visuals or mostly with bullets and text? At your next sales team meeting, how about running a refresher workshop on presentation skills for the team – perhaps even bringing in a guest presentations specialist to polish those important pitches.



Leave a Reply

  • Reset