Most salespeople get caught in the presentation trap. They spend a huge amount of time preparing for a glitzy presentation, but lose sight of why the customer might want to buy.
The irony is that most of this effort is lost on customers. Presentations that come too early in complex decision-making processes are largely a waste of time, says Jeff Thull, CEO ofPrime Resource Group, a US sales training company.
The solution? Don’t present, he says.
“Conventional salespeople hate to hear this because the presentation is usually the key weapon in their sales arsenal,” explains Thull. “It is their security blanket, their comfort zone, and they loathe giving it up.
A presentation is, in essence, a lecture. The salesperson is the talking teacher and the customer is the listening student.
The big problem with teaching by telling is that little information is remembered. People retain only about 30 per cent of what they hear. The use of visual aids boosts retention rates to 40 per cent, but the accepted rule of thumb among learning experts is that more than half of presentation information gets lost.
What’s more, a typical sales presentation rarely devotes more than 10 to 20 per cent of its focus on the customer and their current situation. Generally, 80 to 90 per cent of a typical sales presentation is devoted to describing the seller, its solutions, and the rosy future if you buy.
Your competitors are following the same strategy and are busy presenting, as well. Unless you have no competition, your customers will surely hear their story, too
Look at this from the customer’s perspective. They’ll forget most of what you said. And what they do remember sounds very much the same as what your competitors are telling them.
To help you avoid falling victim to the Presentation Trap, ask yourself these five critical questions:
1. What percentage of your sales presentation is devoted to describing your company and your solution?
2. What percentage of your proposal is devoted to describing your customer’s business, their problems and objectives?
3. How well do your customers understand their own problems?
4. How much of your presentation is focused on persuading and convincing?
5. How well can your customers connect your solutions to their business situation?
Best of all, stop presenting, says Thull.
Instead, use a diagnostic approach. Conduct a thorough diagnosis to uncover problems and expand the prospect’s awareness of their situation. Once the problem is clearly understood and the customer perceives all the ramifications of that problem, the salesperson can make recommendations, and a presentation will not be necessary.
When you guide your customers through this process, you’ll establish a high level of credibility and jointly develop optimal solutions, which will benefit both you and your customers.
Picture courtesy Oatmeal Group