The quality of your sales presentation can mean the difference between a successful sale and a prospect choosing one of your competitors.

Despite its obvious importance, many salespeople still struggle to deliver presentations that are engaging and compelling.

To help you master this vital skill, this article will share several essential steps for creating a winning sales presentation.

1) Research the prospect

Before you begin preparing any sales presentation, it’s important to spend some time thinking about the person or business you are selling to. By understanding their goals, motivations, and concerns, you will be able to devise a successful sales presentation that is very convincing. There are multiple ways you can research a prospect, including:

Check for past interactions with your business

Has your business pitched to the prospect before? What feedback did you receive? Were they concerned about price or expected additional features from your product or service? Did they appear to enjoy the format of your last sales presentation or will you need to shake it up?

Identify the key demographics of the prospect

Learn the key demographics of the prospect including geographical location, sex, age range, socioeconomics, market share, income/cash flow, market role and so on. If they are a business, take a look at their annual financial reports to determine the stage the business is at and the challenges they are currently facing.

A man doing research

Check their social media

Social media is a wonderful resource for learning more about a prospect. It can tell you more about a prospect’s interests, values, culture, goals, motivations, and interactions. You can even use social media to identify shared social connections, which helps you build rapport with a prospect.

Interview current customers that are similar to the prospect

If you have customers that are in the same demographic or industry as a prospect, consider asking them about their current motivations, problems, and goals. They may be able to shed some light on what a new prospect is interested in.

Perform industry research (business prospects)

If you are pitching to a business, look at what is happening in their industry. Are there any legislative changes coming that may force change upon their business? What are the industry-wide trends that may be affecting your prospect? What are businesses in this industry good or bad at? This information will help you identify the prospect’s current needs.

Search for trigger events online (business prospects)

A trigger event is an occurrence that creates a sales or marketing opportunity with a prospect. This could be a change in leadership, a customer announcement, company expansion, new product announcement and so on. These events mean the prospect is changing in some way. They may now be interested in a particular type of solution which you can provide.

2) Look for ways to connect your offer with the prospect

Now that you know more about the prospect, identify their major motivators and find ways to connect those motivators with your product. Here are several questions to consider which will help you find the links between the prospect and the product.

  • How does the product relate to the prospect’s desire for gain or fear of loss?
  • Can the product be linked to other prospect motivators like affordability and functionality?
  • What major benefits are associated with the product and how do they solve the challenges that the prospect is currently facing?
  • Explain how the product will give your prospect a competitive advantage.

The answers to these questions can be used to create the core components of your sales presentation. Once you have explained how your offering is perfectly matched to the prospect, they will be jumping at the chance to purchase it.

3) Think about product differentiation

Some sales presentations fail because the salesperson neglects to think about product differentiation, or in other words, doesn’t sufficiently explain why their product is better than products from other companies. Unless the item you are selling is extremely unique, you should:

  • Explain why your offering is different in terms of functionality.
  • Explain how your product provides better value-for-money than other products — discussing it from the point of view of the purchase price, running costs, and return on investment.
  • Identify why your product is easier to use than other products.
  • Identify any other competitive advantages that are unique to your product.
  • Share any changes in styling or aesthetics which make it superior to other products.
  • Share details of any product rebates or volume discounts unique to your company.

4) Neutralise objections and concerns before they are voiced

Winning sales presentations will often incorporate a section where the salesperson pre-emptively neutralises any objection or concerns that a prospect has. If you expect a prospect to be concerned about price, emphasise how much value-for-money your product provides or how high the ROI will be. If they are likely to be concerned about the necessity of the purchase, spend more presentation time highlighting features that the prospect will find useful.

5) Back up statements with data

Data on a tablet and sheets of paper

Whenever you make an important claim about your product, provide data to back it up. Ideally, this should in the form of easy-to-read graphs, infographics, animations, and charts. Avoid displaying raw data in spreadsheet tables as your sales presentation will quickly become boring for your prospect.

6) Use sales presentation software to put it all together

Sales presentation software can dramatically improve how well you convey information during a presentation. Presentation software makes it simple to include engaging visuals including charts, graphs, images, and videos to convince the prospect of the value of your offering. When it comes to sales presentation software, you have two paths you can choose — free presentation software such as Google Slides and Open Office or commercial presentation software such as PowerPoint, Audience Advantage or Keynote.

Free sales presentation software

In the past several years, some excellent free sales presentation apps have been released. The types of functionality and stylistic approach offered by each free solution can vary greatly.

Advantages of free sales presentation software:

  • They are free!
  • Many of these applications are web-based, which means you can share your presentation whenever there is an Internet connection
  • Easy to share your presentation
  • People don’t need to buy commercial software to view it

Disadvantages of free sales presentation software:

  • Lack of functionality and features
  • Limited support

Commercial presentation software

Commercial sales presentation software has come a long way since PowerPoint. There are many advanced commercial sales presentation software apps available now and they tend to have more features than free apps, but there are some costs involved of course

Advantages of commercial sales presentation software:

  • Commercial presentation software like PowerPoint is available on most Microsoft computers
  • Usually has more export and import options
  • Usually has more sophisticated transitions and animations

Disadvantages of commercial sales presentation software:

  • Can be expensive
  • You may need to bring your own computer to a meeting to play the finished presentation

When selecting sales presentation software, look for a platform that you feel comfortable using. You can try the free packages out and download demos of various commercial applications to test their functionality.

6) Order your sales presentation correctly

Now that you know the kinds of content that should be added to your sales presentation, begin building it. In most cases, the following presentation format will obtain the best results:

  • Step 1: Build rapport
    Introduce yourself and your business. Briefly mention any relationships that you have with businesses or individuals that the prospect knows. You can also ask questions of the prospect during this stage to identify their motivations and goals.
  • Step 2 Identify needs
    Lay out the reasons why the prospect might need the product, using the information that you obtained during the research stage.
  • Step 3 Showcase
    Step through the various features of the product and explain how they meet the prospect’s needs. Talk about features, benefits, price, time frame, product differentiation and so on.
  • Step 4: Build confidence
    Neutralise any objections and concerns that the prospect might have. Discuss the product’s warranty, support system, and reputation for success.
  • Step 5: Conclude
    Present a summary of your key points and take questions. Take feedback if it is provided, paying particular attention to any objections that the prospect has. Write these down for later reference, as it will help you the next time you deliver a sales presentation.

And that is it, go and find some prospects, create a winning presentation and deliver it with confidence and you will make sales!