Here are 5 somewhat random things to consider when giving a sales presentation to a group of people that you’re meeting for the first time.
1. Take their guard down. I don’t believe in “always be closing.” I believe in “always be leaving.” Be clear and open about the fact that it’s very likely that the solution you have is not right for your audience (depending on your close rate, it’s probably not). This is not emotional, you’re simply there to determine whether or not there’s a fit. If at any moment you determine that this prospect is not a good fit for your solution you should be ready to politely pack up and leave. You want your prospect leaning forward to learn more, not leaning back trying to avoid a pushy salesperson.
2. Give credit to the competition. Never, ever bad mouth your competitors. Whatever you say they won’t believe you. Compliment your competitors but differentiate yourself by explaining what they do better than you and what you do better than them. In fact, I don’t believe that you have competitors. You may be trying to solve the same problem, but I guarantee you’re going about it differently. Carve out that niche. Don’t say you’re better, say you’re different. And help craft a framework for the audience on how they should think about the different solutions.
3. Go easy on the data. They don’t know you and they don’t trust you and most people are smart enough to know that data can be manipulated to tell any story you want. Sell them on the concept. Appeal to their logic or their compassion. Get into the data in follow-up meetings once you’ve built up some credibility.
4. At least once tell them something your product doesn’t do well. Be humble. There’s nothing wrong with product flaws. There is something wrong with salespeople that don’t recognize that their product has them. You’re not selling features anyway, you’re selling a concept and a potential business impact. You’ll gain credibility and generate a more honest discussion by admitting your weaknesses.
5. Be interesting. Most of the stuff that the people in the room are going to do for the rest of their day is likely to be somewhat boring. Raise the bar and be compelling. Challenge the audience’s thinking. This actually isn’t that hard and it’s much more fun. I don’t say this out loud, but when I’m about to start presenting, here’s what I’m thinking: “I know you’re busy and you’re expecting a boring presentation, so I’m going to keep this short, efficient, interesting and provocative. I’m going to make you think about something that you don’t think about that much but I think about all the time. And at the end you very likely may not buy this product but I guarantee you’ll be glad you spent this hour with me.”
As I’m writing this I’m thinking of more and more tips. I’ll post more of these soon.