Script Your Sales Presentation

I can’t say that I watch a lot of professional sports, but in the fall I have been known to take a Sunday afternoon and watch the Green Bay Packers play some football. In the late 90′s when they were winning a lot of games, commentators used to make a big deal about how the Packers would script out the first 15 plays of the game, and practice those over and over again. They felt the confidence it gave the team resulted in early success and set the tone for the rest of the game.

Scripting out your sales presentation can be hugely beneficial. Too many people see scripting as mechanical and rigid. If you’ve ever seen a good production of a Shakespeare play, you know that’s not true. Even though the actors are following a script, they’ve learned it so well that they’ve really made it their own. The script acts as a vehicle which allows them to express the emotions and ideas much more clearly and forcefully.

There are a few key places where scripting can really help in the sales process. By deciding what to say beforehand, and practicing (possibly even memorizing) it over and over, you are much more natural because you’ve made the words your own and can really put feeling and emphasis into what you are saying. By writing out just the first few sentences of the following sections, you will see a big jump in your confidence and your results

1. Script the very beginning of the presentation. There are many sales people who just show up to meet a customer without thinking about how they are going to start the conversation. You don’t want to hem and haw at the beginning of the sales call; this is when you want to focus on building rapport and creating a strong first impression. Know what questions you want to ask the customer right out of the gate and what information you want them to know from the beginning.

2. Script any major value propositions. If there is something that really makes your product stand out, don’t wing it. Make sure you have a solid delivery of this core material.

3. Script your close. The statements and questions you use when you close your sales should be clear, consistent, and confident. When you lack confidence in how you are asking, it is often perceived as a lack of confidence in what you are asking. Don’t let your clients misinterpret your stumbling for the right word for an inability to have confidence in your products and services. Another benefit of scripting certain parts of the sales presentation is that it allows you to be consistent. This consistency allows you to test, measure, and improve your results over time.

Just like a surgeon has a set method for performing open-heart surgery, you want to know exactly how your sales presentations will go. Obviously, because of the inherent nature of human interactions, it won’t go exactly as you script it (unfortunately you can’t script what the customer will say). You will find, though, that the process on your end becomes more fluid, more relaxed, more successful, and ultimately, a lot more fun.

Four Questions to Ask Before You Give a Presentation

In order to be an effective presenter you need to learn to be in the moment with your audience.

In order to do that you need to focus on these four questions:

1. Who will you be speaking to? Try to think like your audience.

HOT TIP: How to make sure you come from their angle not yours

Many times you will be asked to present at the last moment. This usually causes a flurry of panic as you try to think of all the information you need to share with the client.

You automatically think, “What information do I need to share with this client or what do I think they would want to know.” The problem with this approach is that it will cause you to “brain dump” everything you know and then some JUST to make sure you hit on any concern they might have. This approach causes your brain to search for what they need to know, why they need to know that information and how your product or service works. It is all about you and your company and then you relate it to them.

A better approach is to immediately think, “Why does this client need to know this?” This approach will cause you to focus on their problems and concerns, how you can help them and what you need to do together to make things work for them. It is all about them and their company and how you relate to their needs.

Now you have them riveted in their seats.

2. What concerns or needs do they have?

3. What are/could be their objections to what you have to say/offer? Address these head on and you can turn adversaries in to advocates.

4. How can you or what you are offering add value to them? Remember it is all about them not you! Keep asking, “why would that matter?” to get to the heart of your message.

Remember a presentation is NEVER about sharing information; it is about moving an audience to take some kind of action.

How Influential Are Your Business Presentations?

Just over a year ago I attended a large Sales Force Effectiveness conference and was attracted to attend for a number of reasons. Firstly, I like to keep up to date with progress within the sales industry, particularly within sales representation and sales management. Secondly, it gave me the chance to network and meet new contacts; and thirdly, as I have a very keen interest in the power of effective presenting, this would be a chance to learn from two days of watching a total of around eighteen presenters. The purpose of this article is to highlight that based on what I observed over the two days, I now believe that the level of influential presentation skill is not what it should be and to that end, I will offer a framework for sales representatives and managers to work with in order that they can develop their business presentations.

Of the eighteen presenters (all of them at a fairly high executive level in the sales 7 marketing industry) there were only two who I would consider to have above average influential presentation skills. One executive was excellent, spoke with passion and had me listening to his every word while the other, although not quite so passionate, presented in a very effective, cool, calm manner which had me engaged due to the stories that he related. The other sixteen were at best average and at worst totally ineffective.

The most common failures were:

o Too much data and information crammed on to unreadable slides.
o Talking too fast and rushing through the slides.
o No attempts to engage the audience.
o Death by Power-Point. One person attempted to go through over sixty sides in twenty minutes!
o Lack of preparation was very evident in some cases.
o Some presentations were almost identical to the previous speakers.
o Some presenters came across as ‘arrogant’ experts.

I was not impressed and wondered exactly why such senior executives were not able to present effectively. In my twenty years in the sales industry I attended numerous presentation skills courses and I felt that at the time that most of them were effective with the result that I was a good presenter. It has only been in the last few years that having to present for a living as a self employed consultant that I have realised my level of skill was not exactly what it should have been. This has been reinforced in that since becoming an elected member of the Professional Speakers Association and now having seen some serious professional speakers in action, I needed to develop further my skills. I now believe that perhaps the traditional approach to developing presentation skills may be slightly flawed. Let me explain.

On all the skills courses I have attended much of the focus of the training has been on the speaker or presenter themselves, in terms of their body language, voice pitch and tone. There has been a huge emphasis on the use of video so that participants can see themselves on the ‘replay’ and in ‘slow motion’. A coach or trainer will assist in the video analysis thereby reinforcing that the presenter has some unique ‘mannerisms’ that desperately need changed! The end result of this is that I believe the presenter remains focused on their various body movements or ‘mannerisms’ such as what they do with their hands or feet and as such this switches the focus away from where it really should be – the audience. The best presenters I have seen concentrate fully on the audience, engaging them with both the content, their energy and their enthusiasm. Some of the best presenters I have encountered would have been ‘destroyed’ by the video analysis in that their hands were doing this or their feet doing that! In terms of the excellent presenters, these ‘mannerisms’ were not picked up by the general audience because they were not evident to them due to the nature of the presenter’s content and the overall skill and energy that they projected. One aspect of presenting that every professional presenter agrees must be a priority is that of planning, preparation and practice. This is a must for anyone who presents and the old adage, ‘fail to plan, plan to fail’ is very apt! Planning, preparation and practice builds confidence and with confidence comes the automatic reaction of focusing on your audience and not on yourself.

I have developed my E5 Presenting with Influence formula and this I believe will give sales executives and managers a framework to base the preparation and execution of their presentation around, whether it is to a group of customers or within a team business meeting situation.

ENGAGE How do you engage your audience from the start and how do you keep them engaged?
How do you manage that engagement and still keep on track?

ENLIGHTEN What does the audience know about you?
How will you manage their expectations as to what you are going to present?

EDUCATE Does your content meet the needs of the audience?
How are you going to present new information?
What evidence do you have to back up your claims?

ENTERTAIN Even the most ‘serious’ audiences want to be entertained, perhaps not through jokes (dangerous tactic!) but through real life stories and anecdotes. Do you have real life scenarios to reinforce your key messages?

ENCOURAGE In every presentation you will want the audience to react in a way that is positive. If it is a sales presentation you want at the very least a follow up meeting to discuss the opportunity further, at best, a clear commitment to buy. Your presentation must deliver encouragement to act.

The best way to deliver presentation skills training is not to emphasise the use of video but to create a learning environment whereby a training course is based around regular practice in front of peers. The feedback from peers, in the role of the audience, is far more powerful than reviewing the video footage with a trainer or coach. Presenting is about planning, preparation and providing your audience with a powerful, passionate message that will make them feel motivated to act as you would like them to. So, if you have had feedback that you stroke your nose, twiddle your thumbs, or stand at the ‘wrong’ side of the stage then provided your audience is engaged, enlightened, educated, entertained and encouraged to act then so what!