Amelia Earhart once famously said, “The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life and the procedure. The process is its own reward.”
Do you get nervous or find yourself fumbling before or during sales presentations? Do you want to get rid of your paper tigers and hold high-impact sales meetings that result in higher sales numbers?
We often get so wrapped up in the subject of our presentations or in our desire to make the sale that we forget about the basics—the small but important things we ought to be doing to ensure that we will make a positive and lasting impression. Preparing a great pitch and proposal is important, of course, but what are some of the other things you should be doing to ensure that you have a successful meeting? What can you do to get rid of any paper tigers that may be limiting your sales potential and keeping you from becoming the real sales tiger you want to be?
Getting Back to Sales Presentation Basics: 5 Tips
1. Bring takeaways.
Even if your takeaways are just your business card and a meeting agenda, it’s important that you give your sales meeting attendees something tangible to take away from your meeting. No one should walk away from your meeting empty-handed.
2. Don’t know your presentation materials inside and out? Don’t act like you do!
If there’s a topic you are unable to speak on with confidence, arrange to have someone with more experience on the subject speak on that topic.
Too often, presenters will fumble on topics with which they’re not particularly familiar, and will wind up having a colleague pipe up and fill in the blanks or rescue them in the moment. This can make presenters look unprepared and feel nervous.
Sometimes, this scenario is inevitable, but if you want to look more prepared and avoid making yourself nervous unnecessarily, let your colleagues know beforehand that you’re going to pass certain topics off to them. This will help you feel more confident, and give your colleagues a heads-up and a chance to prepare themselves to be put on the spot. You’ll all look more professional. Going to a meeting solo? Arrange to call or Skype with your more knowledgeable colleague or colleagues during the meeting, even if the call or session is going to be brief.
3. Never let them see you sweat.
Ever get the feeling that the meeting’s not going so well? Whatever you do, don’t make excuses for a presentation that may be falling flat or a meeting that might be going badly. No one wants to hear that you’re sick, didn’t get much sleep, or forgot to bring an important piece of collateral. Just do your best and try to pace yourself so that you can hopefully create an opportunity to turn things around before the meeting is over. And it may be a cliché, but don’t forget, a smile can go a long way.
4. Avoid tangents.
If you’re making a sales presentation, you don’t want the meeting to go off-topic for too long. You want to hear what the prospects are interested in, but you don’t want them to get them too revved up on a topic that isn’t going to help you make the sale. To get back on track, offer to research the subject of interest and provide them with more information on it at a later date, or offer to refer them to another party that can help them with a need that you can’t fill. Offering to follow up at a later date can help put an end to the off-topic discussion and give you a valid reason to reach out to prospects again after the meeting.
5. Remember that first impressions count.
This should go without saying, but come to your meeting well groomed, dressed appropriately, and with the items you will need to be comfortable physically during the meeting. If you’re going to be talking a lot, make sure you have a glass of water and access to breath mints. If you’re going to be standing for a long period of time, be sure to wear comfortable shoes. Do your hands get sweaty when you’re nervous? Keep a handkerchief or Kleenex in your pocket. If you are put together, prospects will notice. If you’re not put together, they’ll notice that, too.
Now, go get 'em, tiger!