Having pitched over 300 companies and being part of another 200 pitches, I’ve learned how to give a sales presentation that has my prospects begging for a proposal. I know what to include in what order, and know what to say and when. I’ve mastered some highly effective techniques that have helped catapult my sales.
I’ve also learned to avoid major sales presentation mistakes that can hurt your chances of closing a prospect. It outright sucks to know your stuff, have a great product and service but lose a deal because of some pitching flaws. You probably already know how it feels–I sure do. That’s why I want to share what the five most common sales presentation mistakes are with you. Avoid these faults at all cost!
Sales Presentation Mistakes
The flaws below apply to any product or service presentation regardless if you’re pitching in-person or during an online meeting. So if you sell something besides SEO and Internet marketing services, the information below is relevant.
1. Talking Too Much
Even more important than avoiding information overload in your proposals is making sure you talk only about what’s relevant to your prospect in a concise manner. Forget the fluff. I don’t know about your experiences, but the business people I pitch don’t appreciate taking an hour to cover a thirty-minute sales presentation.
In my very first sales presentation deck (way back when we had a different logo and branding), I had over twelve slides about my company. That was far too much!
To cover all the slides, it must have taken me between ten to twenty minutes. Taking up to twenty minutes at the start of a presentation to focus on my company rather than my prospect was a big mistake. It wasn’t until the marketing director for an international energy drink company recommended I talk less about my business after I pitched her. What a humbling experience! (Interestingly, I didn’t close that company then but two years later and two years wiser, I got another go, and my sales presentation killed it; and I closed them.)
Always place yourself in your prospects’ shoes and ask yourself if what you’re discussing or plan to discuss benefits your prospect or if it’s necessary to your sales pitch. If it doesn’t help, consider removing those talking points from your sales presentation.
2. Moving Too Slow
Moving too slow through your sales presentation can be a function of #1, talking too much. But it also can happen if your presentation speed and rhythm are misaligned with what your prospects are used to or like. Taking too much time to cover different points can bore your prospects and lead to losing their attention–the last thing you want to do! Also, prospects might feel that their time could be used more wisely doing something instead of listening to you.
Be aware of how your prospects are acting and reacting. Do they look bored or restless? If you’re presenting over the web and can’t see each other, ask questions like, “Would you like me to go into more detail or are you familiar with the topic?”
Before starting each presentation, I tell all attendees the following:
“I like all of my presetantions to be very educational, so if you have any questions at all, please let me know. I tend to move quickly through slides that are technical in nature but can cover them in depth if you want me to. Just let me know.”
By saying this, I move fast through various parts of my presentation without offending or disappointing anyone.
3. Being Vague
It seems like common sense, but I’ve attended a lot of presentations where speakers reveal they haven’t mastered the material in their pitches because their details, explanations, or answers are vague. If your presentation includes fifty slides of material, make sure you know everything about those fifty slides.
Being vague will cause your prospects to:
- Think too much. Don’t frustrate your prospects by making them think, or worse, do the thinking and explaining for you.
- Question your status and authority. People who know their material will be confident and can speak intelligently about details. If your presentation is unclear, your prospects will begin to lose confidence and trust in your abilities.
- Reconsider the quality of your service. When prospects begin to doubt you, they will start to question your product, service, or team. Can your offering or company produce results?
Aside from knowing your material like the back of your hand, present your material in a way that is aligned with your prospects’ experience level. For example, if you are presenting to someone who knows absolutely nothing about your product or service, don’t assume they know what you’re talking about, and make sure you cover every step or detail. Also, use layman’s terms instead of industry jargon.
You should know your prospects’ level of expertise by the time you reach your sales presentation; however, if you don’t, it’s okay to ask them right before the presentation and make adjustments to accommodate.
4. Too Similar To Other Pitches
In almost every industry, competition grows year after year. In the Internet marketing industry, it seems like there is a new consultancy or business opening every week! To survive and thrive, your company needs to stand out from the competition.
Similarly, if you want the most effective pitch, your sales presentation should be memorable, too. Expect that your prospects are being approached and pitched by your competition. It’s likely that your prospects will see and hear a lot of the same things. Make sure to differentiate your sales deck from the rest. Do some competitive research and try to get your hands on their sales presentations. Even better, you can pretend to be an interested prospect and go through the entire sales process!
Here are some ways I differentiate my presentations that might help you.
- I conduct a good amount of research and provide a pretty kick-ass preliminary analysis that segues into my recommendations. I go well beyond automated Internet marketing or SEO audits and report on items many of my competitors exclude in their pitches.
- My presentations are custom made for each prospect. They appreciate this as they don’t receive a boilerplate presentation.
- I present a competitive analysis and show my prospects where their competitors are doing better and what they can do to catch up or do even better. Prospects love this information.
- Any unused time during my sales presentations is left open to answer any and all questions about my prospects’ online marketing initiatives. Even before formally working together, I provide tremendous value.
5. No Organization Or Flow
The last sales presentation mistake is having no organization or logical flow. Jumping from one topic to another, then to another without a sound connection will confuse your prospects and probably frustrate them.
I remember a CEO at a competing marketing company who would use a 240-page slide deck for all his presentations. About 90% of the deck was boilerplate, and 10% was custom made for the prospect. The CEO would never use all of the slides. Instead, he would jump from slide 10 to slide 183, then to slide 34, all based on how the conversation went. There was no organization or flow, and no one ever knew how many of the slides would be covered in a meeting. The CEO was basically ‘winging it.’
As a presenter, you need to be able to handle unplanned jumps from one topic to another. However, highly effective pitches and sales presentations adopt a framework. My basic framework includes:
- Talking about my company
- Discussing my prospects needs
- Going over our custom analysis
- Providing our recommendations
It’s simple, effective and keeps my presentation organized.
These are the five biggest sales presentation mistakes I’ve come across in my sales career. If you keep them in mind and avoid them, I’m confident your sales pitches will be more effective.
Do you have any challenges with these sales presentations mistakes? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.
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