So you have been to the sales trainings you have sign a few clients and now you have prospected like only a superhero would and landed a meeting with a potentially large client and have to have the big presentation to the decision maker and his executive committee. This is where we as sales people get the cold sweats and panic attacks. There have been many studies conducted and Americans fear public speaking over death. So at a funeral most of the people would rather be in the coffin that delivering the eulogy. Fear of public speaking is one of the most common phobias ever diagnosed. I once had a member of my sales team ask “What can I do to get over my fear of speaking.” I said “It’s pretty simple really Prepare, Prepare, Prepare.” Public speaking is definitely an important skill that every sales person and businesses manager or owner needs to master. When you enter the sales world or executive management, I promise you there will come a time when you will be required to deliver some sort of presentation whether it is the board of directors, a group sales presentation, speaking to a committee, or just a group of peers. Presenting is a tool that every Superhero needs in their tool belt. Today I am going to share with you what I perceive as the top 5 pitfalls to presenting like a superhero.
So where do we start, first you need to research your audience. Researching your audience will help you decide if you need a PowerPoint presentation or a nice printed piece. Next you will need to decide what message you will be presenting. I suggest you brainstorm every possible answer your audience may ask and have answers prepared. Once you have your audience and message prepared, you must practice in front of a mach audience. This can be co-workers, friends, or family members. My daughter Lauren who is now almost 13 has been my mach audience since she was 2. Someday she is going to set the world on fire in sales. Your mach audience will help you with what questions might be asked of you and what holes you may have in your presentation. You have to practice, practice, practice,
So let say, you have researched your audience, practiced in front of your mach audience, and feel you have a solid list of what questions that might be asked? No matter how much you prepare you cannot predict the future. The first pitfall is technical troubles; technology is not 100% reliable so when a laptop crashes or a projector bulb blows you need to be prepared. This should not be a problem if you have practiced your presentation and you have back up printed materials. Don’t waste your precious presenting time fussing over a technical disaster. Thirty seconds of down time will kill a presentation. In the worst case scenario, if your super techno presentation crashes in the middle of your presentation don’t panic, remain calm. You will need to decide if the time it takes to reboot or revive your laptop or projector is worth the trouble. If you decide you can sacrifice time and momentum, distract your audience from the technical fidgeting. Engage them in question and answers or continue presenting while you reboot your laptop. Once the laptop is rebooted continue with your presentation. You and your confident presentation skills are what sells, not a high tech sales presentation. Keep Practicing and over the next 4 days I will give 4 more pitfalls that can crush your sales presentation!
The second pitfall is rookie fumbles. The number one rookie mistake is making up an answer. There is nothing wrong with saying, “That’s a great question I have never been asked before, let me research the answer and get back to you.” Your audience is always testing you and they may already know the answer, so if you make up an answer you could be setting yourself up to be the fool. Another rookie mistake is starting an answer with um or I think. Always give your answers with confidence.
The third pitfall is the boss gets called away. After you have been presenting for a while you will experience this pitfall. The decision maker is suddenly called away from the office and two mid level managers are sent in to hear your presentation. At this point an ordinary sales person would get offended and blow off the presentation. However, a Sales Super Hero will give the managers the full blown presentation. You want to make these people feel important. Look at this new audience as an opportunity to find out more about the company, the called away executive decision maker, and how the product can be beneficial to the client. Use it as a fact finding mission and an opportunity to develop a stronger relationship with people who can be your cheerleader with the decision maker. One added bonus is let’s say the decision maker gets fired, hit by a bus, or finds a new job. These mid level managers can easily become the new decision maker and you already have a relationship with them. You must remember they are not the final decision maker, avoid price negations if possible. They may have a use and like for your product but no buying authority.
The fourth pitfall is clock watchers. Avoid end of day presentations and right after lunch. These are times your audience is most likely to be disengaged and tired. If you have to present in theses time frames you must engage your audience from the beginning. Ask lots of engaging questions, you might have prizes for answers. Some great prizes can be promotional products with your companies name on them. You can only hold the attention of adult learners for so long. Using their names often to perk their interest and keep them engaged. Let them know you realize it is late in the day or right after lunch and you feel their pain. You can do this by assuring them you will get to the point and keep things fast paced and interesting.
The fifth pitfall you cannot avoid and most likely cannot control. We call this the cynical executive; they have sat through one too many presentations. He beats on you with questions, interrupts your carefully considered replies, and doesn’t believe that you have anything that will be of benefit to him. Focus on our presentation share some of his industry specific information that you have researched and not just your product or service, remain focused and deflect his hostility. Build relationships with others in the company and mine them for insight into why their leader’s is so cynical. This may help you break down his wall. Don’t take their challenge as an attack. Don’t be offended their behavior might be related to a past negative encounter with others at your company or a past sales rep. You may remind them of someone they dislike or distrust. If you are presenting to a group it could be office politics at play. You may offer the hostile executive a private session. If they continue, stop talking, never get into an argument, insult your client, or have a prolonged debate with one individual when you are presenting to a group. Turn the spotlight on him at least you will find out what his issues are or why he is so irritated. If you discover what is most important to the interrupter, you can possibly break through the hostility.
Presenting can become one of the most enjoyable parts of your job. You have to remember to always remain calm. Remember what I said about Americans fears of public speaking. 75% of you audience doesn’t want to be in your shoes. Present with confidence, show them you are passionate about your topic and practice, practice, practice. Prepare for the worst and you will present like a Superhero.
Follow Gordon Weathers and learn other techniques for your Superhero tool belt on Twitter @SalesSuperhero visit our website whiteriverbusiness.com