Learn what to ask your rep before they deliver a presentation or proposal.
- When was the last time you had to sit through a boring presentation? How many slides were in it? How much text was on each slide? And how many times did you have to pinch yourself just to stay awake? The truth is, most presentations are boring, horribly so. But now put yourself in your customer's shoes. You're having to listen to presentation after presentation all day long from salespeople, it is mind-numbing. There are three reasons most presentations are boring and ineffective.
Let's talk about them and how you can keep your reps from falling into these traps. First, the main reason most presentations are so boring is because they're about the seller, not the customer. So if your person is making a sales presentation, particularly if they're making it to a group, starting with your company's story is about the most boring thing you can do. The customer doesn't care about your story. They care about how you're going to help them solve their problems or achieve their goals. And so your presentation and your rep's presentation should start with that, whether you're doing it via slides or written proposal or verbally, the rep should summarize the customer's environment, their goals, and their challenges.
So before your rep makes a presentation, ask them, "What are this customer's objectives?" And I'm going to give you a little hint. The customer never has the objective to buy. You want your rep to be able to articulate the customer's true business objectives and they need to be able to do it before they make their pitch and then it needs to be included. If they're doing a written proposal, ask your rep to summarize the customer's goals on the front end and don't allow the proposal to be sent until the rep clarifies what is this customer actually trying to accomplish? You know, if you routinely ask these questions before your reps send out proposals, you're going to start to drive the kind of sales behavior that you want during the sales process, because the rep needs to know they're going to be uncovering business objectives because you're going to ask to see them when they show you the pitch.
You know, the second reason that most presentations are mind-numbing boring is because they just include endless facts. Think about it, listening to product specs and minute details is really boring. So if you want to create powerful presentations and help your reps do so you need stories. You need stories about how you helped other clients just like this one achieve their goals. You need stories about how your product affects the customers. The stories should include details.
They should be emotional, that's what will make them memorable, because you see what stories do is they help your reps prove that they can deliver on their promises. Stories breathe life into business presentations. Stories will make your reps human. So when you're coaching a rep, ask them, "Can you think about some examples "where we've done this before? "How can we tell that as a story?" Coach your reps to tell what I call customer impact stories. Ask them to describe the impact your solution has on customer and then ask, "How can we work that into your presentation?" You want your reps to practice those stories in front of you so that they can get good at it.
Now, the third reason that presentations are often so boring is because they're just a one-way monologue. They're one person talking and the other is listening, or pretending to listen. So you want to make sure, in advance, when your rep's giving an in-person presentation that they insert places to get the customer talking. So you want to teach your reps to ask questions like, "How would that affect you here?" Or, "Have you ever seen anything like this in your business? "How would that be helpful to you? "What obstacles might you foresee?" So if you're in the meeting with your rep, you can agree in advance that maybe you ask some of these questions.
You know, a lot of managers just review the pitch with the reps, but you want to go further. As a coach, you want to coach your rep on how to make it interactive. So, the three areas where you can coach your reps to make their presentations more compelling. Number one, expect them to put customer goals right up front and center, presentation or proposal. Number two, teach them how to tell customer impact stories. And number three, coach them to ask the kind of questions that will keep the customers engaged.
You see, your role as a coach goes way beyond just helping your team give a perfect one-way pitch. You want to help them connect with customers and you want to help them get the customers engaged in your value story.