The Sales Presentation Paradox

Take a moment and think about how the typical conversation or meeting flows with a prospect? What does your presentation consist of? What do you talk about?

The basics — you may begin by giving some background on your company and who you are. You would probably talk about what it is you sell. You may even discuss what your product or services are, or what you do and how it could benefit them. And if you have some time, you might share some technical data, a PowerPoint, or some marketing materials.

With all of these various topics to address, only one stands out as your core objective and the primary goal of delivering a presentation. Here are the most common responses I hear:

  • To educate your prospect on who we are, the industry and the product I sell.
  • To get the sale.
  • To create rapport, build trust.
  • To develop your competitive edge and become your prospects’ vendor of choice.
  • To give each prospect a good reason for buying from me.

While these objectives are critical to achieve during a well organized sales effort, none resemble the primary objective.

To illustrate this point, let me ask you a few questions. Based on the five objectives above and your approach when presenting during a meeting with a prospect, are you able to answer these nine questions after you present to a prospect?

  1. What are their objectives?
  2. What are their needs?
  3. Who is responsible for making this purchasing decision?
  4. What information do they want to hear from you?
  5. What are their expectations of the conversation with you?
  6. What is their biggest concern that would prevent them from buying from you?
  7. How do they make a purchasing decision? What’s their process?
  8. What criteria do they need to evaluate to make a decision?
  9. Are they “sold” on you, your company and your product?

Unless you did a stellar job pre-qualifying them during your initial contact and this meeting or conversation is actually your second contact with the prospect, then the chance of you being able to accurately answer these questions simply by delivering your content rich presentation (or lack thereof) is pretty slim.

That’s why the primary goal when delivering a presentation is different from what you might have imagined. The core objective of a presentation is to uncover the information you need (through questions) to determine if there’s a fit and then refine your approach so that the solution you present is now customized to reflect the unique and specific needs of each prospect ­— zeroing-in on what is most important to them.

As a result, the prospect is now in the best position to make an educated (or impulsive) buying decision based on the selling atmosphere that you created or take action regarding the next step in your selling cycle (proposal, demo, next meeting and so on).

The information that a prospect wants to hear is not necessarily dependant upon the questions they ask, but more so on the questions that you ask. The only questions that you can control and ensure get addressed are the ones you ask. The nine questions I posed above are just a few essential discovery questions to ask during every sales call or presentation.

If you’re asking better questions up front, you may have noticed a change in the flow and direction of your meetings and more specifically, in the information you are hearing as well as presenting. You may have also noticed that many of the prospects you met with in the past were the same prospects that you now realize were not a fit, would never be a fit and you had no business ever meeting with or spending the time following up on them in the first place.