Sales Presentation Training: 10 Ways Your New Business Pitch Can Set Your Firm Apart and Win More Work (and Clients)

What can you expect from sales presentation training by yours truly?

Thank you for asking.

Let me ask YOU a few questions before I answer that question and share 10 of my favorite tips for more effective sales presentations. (Yes, you can scroll right down there lickety-split if you’d like.)

  • Do you, your firm or company compete for business with an in-person sales presentation or interview, typically using presentation software such as PowerPoint, Keynote or Prezi?
  • Are you in an industry whereby you make it to a short list of some kind and then have to assemble the team for the make-or-break, winner-takes-all client interview? (Such as architecture, engineering, construction (AEC), accounting, advertising/creative services, management consulting and the like.)
  • Are you the person in charge of herding the cats, developing the strategy, recommending or deciding the content, creating the winning presentation and then coaching the team on how best to deliver it? (Translation: you may not be there to make the presentation, but it’s your job to create it.)

Sales Presentation Training vs. Presentation Skills Training

If you answered “Yes” to any or all of my questions, keep reading. Because sales presentation training ala Terri is different from generic “presentation skills training.”

Yes, I do both; but I do them differently. Stay with me here.

When prospects ask me about presentation skills training, I always listen for whether they’re talking about delivery techniques or about the entire message itself. Because if the presentation skills need to be applied to a sales presentation, then the training needs to deal with content selection, strategic structure and then compelling delivery of the message.

Why listen to me about sales presentation training?

If you haven’t been to my Terri Who? Page, then this will be the first time you read that I’m the former CEO of a national ad agency and marketing firm that I started from scratch and grew large and profitable enough to sell to a publicly traded Big Boy. Here are three reasons I might be worth listening to when it comes to sales presentation training:

1. I know what it’s like to compete in a category where the client thinks everyone looks alike, does the same stuff, and mutters, “Just tell me your price.”

As an ad agency and marketing firm principal I know. . .

  • what it’s like to get an RFP that says they’re looking for innovation, creativity and the proverbial out-of-the-box thinking, yet in the next sentence they specify word count, type face, point size and a presentation agenda with fractions of a minute noted.
  • what it’s like to be the token minority-owned firm, the due-diligence local firm, the out-of-town hotshot firm, the incumbent in a don’t-worry-we’re-only-doing-this-because-we-have-to pitch and the naïve hopeful in a gee-I-thought-you-said-this-was-a-level-playing-field shoot-out.
  • how to win the pitch. I had to win a lot of them in order to grow the company way we did, and to be where I am today.

2. I know how to influence choice. It’s why people hired my firm—to help them attract more prospects and sell more products and services. And that we did, over and over, for the 20 years I’m willing to admit to.

3. I'm a Certified Speaking Professional—one of only 298 women in the world who have met the rigorous standards and five-year review process required by the National Speakers Association and the Global Federation of Professional Speakers to earn the credential.

That's a long way of saying I know how to craft and present a powerful sales presentation that gets the results you’re looking for, and I make my living helping you do the same.

If you’d like to explore whether my sales presentation training is a fit for you and yours, I’d enjoy having that conversation. Call (714) 894-0423 or send me an email.

Help Them Hire YOU! 10 Ways Your Sales Presentation Can Set Your Firm Apart and Win More Work (Including New Clients)

1. Get to the point.

When you’ve had your say, shown your slides and answered the client’s questions, what is the one thing you want them to remember? What do you want them to say about you when they compare you to the competition? THAT’s your point. “They could do the job,” or “They’re the perfect fit”? Your entire presentation should be built around bringing the latter point home.

2. Connecting trumps convincing.

Your credentials and experience got you invited. This meeting is not so much about deciding who can do the job as it is about deciding whom they want to work with. Clients have two reasons for hiring you: the real reason and the one that sounds good. The real reason will be based on how they feel about you--emotional; the other reason will be logical. If they want to work with you, people will come up with all the logical reasons they need to justify what is essentially an emotional decision.

3. A little goes a long way.

The more alike any two businesses are, the more important every tiny difference becomes in setting you apart. Why? Because the client is looking for them, just the way you do when you look at twins. You are looking for even the slightest thing to distinguish one from the other, and once you see it, it stands out like a beacon. Prepare for your presentation by anticipating what most other firms do, and then do it differently. HINT: Most firms start with who they are and how thankful they are to be invited, blah blah blah. What if you started off by talking about the client and their needs?

4. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

YOU are the No. 1 visual, not your slides. Slide transitions, builds and animations that bounce, sparkle, twist, turn and arrive with fanfare from outer space are not dazzling. They are distracting. Keep them simple and consistent. You want your audience wondering what you’re going to say or do next, not guessing from which direction the next slide will arrive.

5. Three-of-a-Kind beats boredom.

Sales Presentation Training Bored AudienceWhen you create your sales presentation slides, try to have no more than three slides in a row of the same style or treatment. If you have three with a big centered visual and caption, then the fourth would perhaps be two visuals, or one flush right with a quotation. Heaven forbid you have three slides in a row full of bullet points, but if you did, the fourth would have none.

6. Show some personality.

Preferrably your own. Your company has a personality, a unique “voice,” if you’ll let it come through. It’s the single most effective way you can stand out from your competition, and if you’re in a we-all-look-alike industry, it’s likely the only thing.

7. Teams can be tricky.

He or she who speaks first, also speaks last. Every team member present must say something during the presentation. When one team member is speaking, the other team members are watching the speaker, not scanning the client team for audience reaction. If you don’t want the boss to steal your part, make sure the boss has something important to say and knows you’re prepared to say your part well. Agree up front who will answer which types of questions; answer it once. Resist the urge for others to add their comments, especially the “oh, that reminds me...” tangent.

8. Bring your benefits to life.

Benefits attract. Features or attributes describe. A flower does not attract a bee with a long list of pollen attributes. Convert a feature into a benefit by asking “why is [feature] important, personally, to this decision maker?” And keep on asking it, until you have a list of wants and needs that mean something to the client. Short cut? When you cite a feature, add the words so that or which means, followed by the benefit to the listener. “We’ve done six mid-century student housing rennovations in the last year, which means we can hit the ground running.”

9. Mix and match your message.

You’ll have a mix of communication styles in your audience and on your team. Left brains, right brains, story tellers, skeptics, number crunchers and creative types. Your left-brained speaker will want to use plenty of bullet points; make her tell a story or give an analogy, too. Your right-brained creative person will go on and on about what’s possible; make sure he gives concrete examples and numbers, too.

10. Have the last word.

Sales Presentation Training Q&AHere’s the worst way to end a sales presentation (or any presentation, for that matter): “So, are there any questions?” If there are none, you’re faced with an awkward silence and “OK, bye” retreat. If there are questions, what if one is a zinger, from a skeptic or know-it-all? Will the client remember that or your presentation?

The time for Q&A is before you summarize. As in, “Before we close, we have X minutes for questions.” Your close should summarize and reinforce 
your point. Do not introduce new (or forgotten) information at the end.

And there you have it—a handy dandy collection of tips you can use to kick-start your own sales presentation training. Right now!