A major part of many people’s sales process is presenting formal proposals to audiences comprised of one or more decision makers. The fact you’re even in the room and at the table with these prospects speaks to the fact they are interested in what you have to offer and what you have to say, the problem is that you, yourself, aren’t all that interested in what you are saying(and how you are saying it).
You know the slide deck by heart, you can rattle off the list of features and benefits like machine gun fire, and your boss and co-workers are in awe of your ability to quote entire catalog pages and recite product specifications from memory.
Imagine your surprise at the end of your pitch when the prospect tells you she’s not interested. She’s only telling you half the truth — what she really means is you are not interesting.
You’ve given this presentation hundreds of times before, but chances are this is the very first time (and probably the only time) your prospect is seeing it.
It is common to get comfortable and complacent regarding repeated pitches and proposals presented to prospects (try saying THAT 10X fast!) As a result, your delivery gets droopy, your luster begins to lack, and your passion goes “poof!”
The insidious part is that it all doesn’t happen overnight (so that you’d immediately notice), it happens over time. When you finally notice what’s happened, you wonder how you ever ended up here.
Here are 3 things you can do to help keep your presentations skills sharp and successful:
1. Bring along a boss or trusted peer
Not every time, just every so often. Tell them you’re just trying to stay polished and would like to hear their honest feedback after the meeting. Offer to do the same for a peer. After a couple times, you’ll both have a feel for when the other might be slipping or slacking.
2. Keep it fresh
Rote memorization is the enemy of innovation. The problem with completely memorizing a presentation is that it makes you more likely to switch on the auto-pilot and cruise-control. It also means that if you lose your place because of an interruption (like a question from the prospect) you have to replay or repeat a section of the piece in your head (or aloud!) in order to get back into your groove. Worse, you won’t be able to nimbly move to the information the prospect asked about, because it’s “out of sequence”, thereby missing an opportunity to close at the height of customer interest.
We live in an age of instant and constant information. Dip into that stream of knowledge to update a section (or even just a line or two) with something you learned that week which is pertinent to your product or service, or the client’s industry.
3. Record yourself
Video is best, but a pocket audio recorder is better. If you implement tip #1 you can have your meeting partner do the recording (and it makes it a bit more easy to surreptitiously record a video of yourself by having them use their mobile phone.) Watch or listen to yourself give your standard presentation two or three times per month. Watch with a critical eye. Don’t just pick out the things you did wrong — be sure to make note of the things you did really well. Notice where you had the most attention and engagement of your audience and do more of “that”. Make two lists to carry with you and review them before you head into every presentation: Five things to NEVER do again, and Five things to do EVERY time.
Most everyone realizes it takes experience and practice to be able to present your material in a compelling and convincing manner, but too many forget that competence can quickly convert into contentedness and complacency.
Don’t let the curtain fall on your presentation effectiveness!
Deliver every presentation as if you were trying to get a standing ovation.