There are a number of consistent flaws across a wide range of poor business presentations, says Joel Thomson. Here’s how to turn those backward presentations around.
Working with some of Australia’s biggest companies to drive, content creation, processes and sales strategies, I’ve consistently seen how presentation use and context defines the best and worst salespeople. In fact, democratising the best sales content in large organisations was a driving reason for founding SalesPreso. When it comes to the worst, however, there are some consistent flaws with the content presented to customers, and too many businesses are still living in the age of Powerpoint.
For a start, the conventional default presentation is the wrong structure for the contemporary customer.
Many companies still open their presentation by talking about themselves: ‘we’re the best, we’ve been around for 200 years, we’re the largest in our category in Australia’, and so on – it’s based on their belief that the customer needs them.
But with research from CEB showing 57% of a customer’s purchase decision is already complete before the customer meets with a salesperson, it’s clear that leading with your business’s supposed worth is the last thing they want. They’re already two steps ahead, having probably only contacted you because they’ve done their research and established you’re potentially a good fit for their needs. By the time the presentation moves from covering your business credentials to talking about the customer and their needs, it’s almost the over and they’ve learned nothing new.
Bad presentations also tend to use a lot more slides. The salesperson uses the presentation tool as a crutch rather than to augment their selling approach. The extra slides tend to be heavier on traditional sales storytelling features such as brand positioning, muddled statements and generic data – not much of which is valuable to the customer. Data shows that 65% of business buyers are likely to switch brands if a vendor doesn’t personalise communications to their company. So it’s no longer simply an outdated approach to sales content – it’s impacting the bottom line of your business.
The consistent issue with these presentations is that they’re simply not focused enough on the customer.
The best salespeople not only spend less time talking about why they are the best choice, they tailor the content to the client, give relevant insights to their client’s problem – backed by up-to-date, industry and customer-specific data – and spend more time with clients. When it comes to presentation content, our data has shown that on average clients favour an average of 8-12 data-driven, interactive and customer-specific slides over the 23-29 generic (and static) credentials slides used on average by their less successful counterparts – they put the customer first and make it as much about them as possible.
We believe (and we’ve seen this in practice with our clients) that presentations should start by finding out what’s important to the customer or prospect; proving you understand their industry, pain points and challenges. Only once you’ve understood everything about the client have you earned the right to suggest solutions or products. Only at the very end, and only if absolutely required, would you mention the company’s credentials or experience.
This level of customisation isn’t going to be feasible for every presentation every salesperson in a team gives – so in a future where selling will only become more personalised, automation is key.
The best salespeople are already tailoring their content to provide the best insights for the customer and own the conversation with them, but they are – on average – only 20% of the sales team.
Why not learn from their success and make that the standard for the whole sales team? And why not automate their winning approach so that every customer interaction is bespoke, but without any of the legwork? Leverage the wealth of customer, opportunity and pricing data in your CRM and ERP systems, coupled with industry insights from BI and external sources. Plug them in to empower all your salespeople to create customised, engaging presentations quickly and easily, enabling them to spend more time with customers, to deliver more genuine value and, ultimately, to win more business.
So to summarise, remember the following points when developing your company’s next presentation:
- Make it it customer-centric: use data and relevant insights to drive the presentation content,
- Lead with them, not with you,
- keep it short and impactful: only include slides that add context your customer doesn’t already have,
- earn the right to sell your wares, and
- learn from your best performers and raise the standard of the whole team.
Joel Thomson is founder and CMO at SalesPreso.