According to the Washington Post, public speaking is the biggest fear of the American public. Feared by more than 25 percent of the population, public speaking narrowly edged out heights, bugs, and drowning.
Whether or not you are scared of public speaking, there are certainly many things you can do to improve the quality of your presentations. No matter what corner of the business world you may be in, a presentation can often make the difference between closing a sale and letting one getaway.
Presentations are important because they allow you to connect with a target audience and make a specific argument. Regardless of whether you are trying to close a deal or merely deliver important information, the importance of being prepared for a presentation should not be overlooked.
In this article, we will discuss 8 tips on how you can create a powerful sales presentation. With these sales presentation tips in mind, you can increase your conversions and, ultimately, achieve your long term goals as a business professional.
1. Ask Questions with Positive Answers
One of the best ways to get someone to believe in your product is to have them say positive things about it. Suppose that you are selling a chair. Asking questions such as “this would be good to sit in, right?” may not sound like much, but this one of the easiest ways to get your audience to confirm that what you are offering has tangible value. “Would this be more comfortable than the floor your sitting on?” “Wouldn’t this chair look great in your office?”
2. Show that you Genuinely Understand their Problems
Too often, presenters jump directly to the solution they are hoping to offer, rather than making sure they are addressing a relevant problem. The beginning of your presentation should focus on creating the need. Without an actual need or at least the illusion of a need, then there is no reason to assume your audience cares about the solution. Once the need is firmly established, the solution (what you’re selling) will be much more appealing.
3. Start Small and Build Up
Some salespeople will begin their presentation by listing everything good about their offer. While this strategy may seem reasonable on paper, it is often ineffective in practice. With the “skyscraper strategy,” you can begin your presentation with a humble foundation and gradually build your way up from there. By concealing your hand and keeping your best cards hidden, you may be able to pleasantly surprise the audience towards the presentation’s end.
4. Make the Presentation a Two-Way Conversation
Nobody likes to be “talked at.” Even Socrates would provoke his audiences by continually asking new questions. Instead, your audience will much prefer to be talked to. Throughout the presentation, try and engage your audience and genuinely understand their perspective. Not only does this show that you care, but it also may help you identify new opportunities for selling. Even if you are not constantly asking questions, you should at least offer the audience an opportunity to give their own input.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice
If you are nervous about your presentation, practice the parts you can control by speaking into the mirror the night before. This will help improve your confidence, eye contact, and the ability to keep speaking smoothly. Even lifelong salespeople and professional speakers still practice on a regular basis. Practicing various speaking drills (like the ones competitive debaters do) can help you hone skills in all speaking situations.
6. Use Visuals
If all you do is speak, you will only be appealing to the portion of your audience that are audio learners. However, studies show that as much as 65 percent of the population learns visually. The old cliché “a picture says a thousand words” has stood the tests of time for a reason. By using visuals, you will widen your appeal and increase your odds of closing the sale. Pictures, graphs, and charts will communicate a clear message while also showing that you are genuinely prepared.
7. Believe what you are Saying
If you truly want to be a successful salesperson, the first person you will need to sell to is yourself. After all, if you don’t even believe what you’re saying, the audience will certainly not have a reason to believe it. Think deeply and consider if what you are selling is worth purchasing. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience and consider the selling points that you would find most appealing. Your audience isn’t dumb and they will not be tricked easily—instead of trying to outsmart them, put yourself on their level.
8. Limit the Amount of Time you Speak
The average adult human being has an attention span of 11 minutes and even this might be a high estimate. Though you may initially be tempted to bombard the audience with facts, quotes, and appeals to reason, if you haven’t sold them in the first eight minutes, you will likely not sell them at all. Usually, 5 to 8 minutes is a reasonable timeframe for a presentation. If you find your presentation is well beyond this range, you should seriously consider cutting out some of your content. It would be better to follow up with additional information in an email, rather than talking your audience’s ears off.
Even if you are overwhelmed by your upcoming sales presentation, there are still plenty of methods you can use to improve the way you speak and deliver your message. Each of these sales presentation tips will help significantly increase the probability of turning your audience into leads (and, eventually, conversions). Though it may not always be easy, mastering the art of public selling is well within your reach.
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