Training Your Salesforce To Master Presentations

Guest Post by Don Matejko

Strong presentation skills are important for any sales professional, especially when the products or services being sold are complicated, expensive and/or unfamiliar to the prospect. Some salespeople are naturally gifted presenters, but most acquire their skills through experience and training. If you are responsible for training in this area, here are important tips to bring your salespeople along quickly in the art of sales presentation.

 

1. Establish a training knowledge base

Effective presentations require the presenter to be credible and authentic. No amount of pre-packaged text and dazzling imagery can cover up a presenter who doesn’t really know what he or she is talking about. In contrast, a presenter who exudes confidence and understanding can effectively turn prospects into customers even if the presentation itself is flawed. With this in mind, salespeople should have a very strong understanding of products, services, their company, and customers before tackling presentation-related issues.

 

2. Practice makes perfect

Many salespeople are quite comfortable speaking extemporaneously and underestimate the value of rehearsing the presentation. But just as great comedians rehearse and rehearse their jokes to bring them to perfection, great sales presenters practice and practice their delivery to maximize the impact and get the desired result. Some technology allows members of your sales team to record, review, and alter their pitches on their own. Watching their own development will boost their confidence in real-world situations. Fellow team members can also view and comment on each other’s progression over time, developing the team’s support structure. It could be a little uncomfortable, but less so than starting out in front of a major sales prospect. Practice can continue by making presentations in front of smaller-scale prospects. When the salesperson is ready, presentations can be made solo to top-level prospects.

 

Another excellent training technique is to record a video of the presentation and let the salesperson review it. Flaws in speech, posture and other presentation areas will become quite evident and probably spare the trainer the need to even point them out.

 

Finally, having a well-honed deck is only part of the equation for making an effective presentation. The best presentations are more like conversations, requiring that presenters can divert from their planned pitch on the fly and talk about what a buyer needs to discuss at the moment. Presentation technology must allow for dynamic navigation of content — and presenters must become adept at using it.

 

3. Drill on Q and A

Most presentations allow for questions at the conclusion, or even during the presentation. Thus, the salesperson must be as adept at fielding questions as in delivering the prepared information itself. Several areas should be addressed in this area, including:

 

  • Practice answering questions likely to be asked. Have the rep answer the question again and again until the answer is satisfactorily informative, easy to understand and brief as possible.

 

  • Practice answering questions that are hostile, confusing, poorly timed, and designed to trip the presenter. Unfortunately, such issues are bound to come up somewhere along the line — and if the sales rep is ready to handle them, his or her confidence will soar. Furthermore, adept handling of difficult questions enhances the credibility and persuasiveness of the presenter and may make the difference between a sale and a lost prospect.

 

  • In many cases, structuring presentations to suggest and elicit questions is preferable to creating presentations that are nothing more than long dissertations or speeches. When important points are brought into play by the audience in the form of questions, presentations become livelier, and also make the prospect feel smart for zeroing in on key points. For this type of presentation, rehearsing answers becomes even more important and detailed.

 

4. End presentations on a high note

Anyone who has sat through a hundred presentations or more will probably tell you the most frequently flubbed part is the conclusion. Instead of ending with a bang, many presentations just drift into outer space, leaving the audience feeling short-changed, confused and underwhelmed. Training the rep on how to end the presentation will go a long way toward making the entire presentation stand out as a success and more than compensate for any stumbles along the way.

 

  • Rehearse the wrap-up to make it as persuasive, relevant and compact as possible. If you can, include a comment or two about what the audience has gained by listening to the presentation. (If you have trouble doing this, it’s a sign your presentation needs more work.)

 

  • Make sure that contact information is visible in one of the closing slides.

 

  • Include a call to action or next steps to make the presentation become part of the sales process, rather than a mere form of knowledge transfer or entertainment.

 

  • Always thank audience members for their time and attention.

 

Show Your Training Results

Earlier we mentioned using video as a way to begin training sales reps in the art of presentation. An excellent follow-up to this is to record another video when the rep has become more skilled. When reps see their improvement, they come to see the value in presentation training and will most likely become hungry to improve even more. You will enjoy that situation far more than being forced to drag the team in for a training session.

 

Author bio: Don Matejko is Chief Revenue Officer at Showpad, the leading sales enablement platform for the modern seller. Showpad’s all-in-one platform empowers sales and marketing teams to engage buyers by integrating industry-leading training and coaching software with innovative content solutions. Matejko is responsible for scaling up Showpad’s revenue growth worldwide. His extensive SaaS experience includes building high-performance global sales teams and transforming companies such as SAP Hybris and Adobe into high-growth market leaders. 

Resources