Why Your Sales Presentations Are Bombing

By Debbie Flay, Founder and President, Bespeak Presentation Solutions LLC

Every day in boardrooms all over the country, innocent prospects and clients are being subjected to lousy, sometimes even torturous sales presentations. The perpetrators of these presentations are walking away empty-handed, befuddled and dispirited. Both sides have lost time and opportunity. Let's put a stop to this wasteful, useless practice, shall we? It's easier than you think. Simply stop doing the following:

1. Beginning with "All about Us": Are your sales presentations beginning with slide after slide of your organization; your executive team displayed in an awesome hierarchy graphic followed by the dots on the map boasting all of your locations? Do you then explain your mission, vision, overall awesomeness? Uh-huh. Well, I hate to break this to you, but you're boring the heck out of your audience. No kidding. They don't care about the depth of your executive branch, or how many offices you have nationwide. They care about one thing: themselves. You've just spent precious time doing absolutely nothing to show them that you know and care about them.

Instead, turn your focus 180 degrees, as we say at bespeak. Begin your presentation by outlining their world, their problems (specifically the ones that your product or service can solve) their goals (which your product or service can help them achieve). Now they're listening. Now they want to hear more. Now they're ready to hear your proposal. But be careful not to slip into the second common bombing phenomenon.

2. Babbling: Please do not undermine an excellent beginning by drowning them in industry and/or company jargon. You may think you're showcasing your knowledge, but in reality you're only confusing them. How can they buy your product or service if they don't understand what it is? Worse, speaking language your audience doesn't understand makes them feel stupid, and feeling stupid has a lethal ricochet effect. It goes something like, "I don't understand what the speaker is saying. That makes me feel stupid. Feeling stupid feels bad. I don't like feeling bad. Who made me feel bad? The speaker did. Now I don't like the speaker."

Remember, your goal is to connect with your audience. Speak in language they can understand. And one more thing, beware of -

3. Being in love with your sausage-making: I know, I know. It took years to develop your product, hours and hours to perfect your service. You want your audience to know. Call your mom instead. Audiences simply don't care about anything that doesn't directly relate to themselves and their own pressing issues. You may be enamored with how your product is made or whose research you studied, but your prospect only cares that their problem will get solved, that their goal will be met. The history of how you came to provide them with this solution is of no interest or relevance to them.

Remember to keep your presentation completely focused on them. Ask yourself; does this audience care? Be brutal in your assessment. If it's not important to them, leave it out. Instead, talk to them about the great things your product or service will do for them. Back up your claims with examples of other clients whose problems you've solved or goals you've helped achieve. These are the things that will convince them.

Bomb no more! Begin your presentation with your audience's picture rather than your own. Speak in language they can easily understand. Tell them only about your product or service as it has relevance to them and their problem-solving and/or goal-conquering. You'll be heard. (And you'll get the sale.)