In the world of business, good salesmanship isn’t the exclusive domain of sales professionals. Employees of various departments and specialists in numerous industries routinely have to do selling jobs of their own. The finance analyst has to sell budget plans to management. The marketing consultant has to sell marketing/PR/advertising plans to his clients. The recruitment consultant has to sell his talents to companies.
Whether within the company or outside of it, effective selling requires solid presentation skills, because no matter how well thought out your material is, whether it’s an advertising/PR campaign, an interior design plan, a budget proposal, or a sales initiative, you still have to do a good job of selling it. The following tips will help you make a good, impactful presentation.
Rehearse your pitch.
A good presenter knows exactly what he’s going to say without memorizing. It’s important that you know the main points of your presentation and present them convincingly. If you memorize your pitch like a script, it will show in your delivery. You have to come across as someone who knows what he’s talking about, and can talk about it spontaneously.
Check the venue beforehand.
If you’re going to make your presentation at a venue outside your office, ask if it’s possible to see the room about 30 minutes before the presentation. Get a good feel of the place. If you’re going to use PowerPoint, note the position of the screen, and where you’ll stand. If you’re going to use a flip chart, find the spot where it will get maximum visibility. Define the area you’ll be working with and plan your movements accordingly.
Give a clear intro spiel.
When it’s time for your presentation, start by stating your purpose. In doing so, state the overall immediate benefit that’s relevant to your audience. Be concise and straight to the point.
Speak with confidence.
As you make your presentation, speak slowly enough that your audience can absorb what you’re saying, but continuously enough that you project confidence. Pause only occasionally to emphasize important points.
Maintain eye contact.
Let your eyes travel to every person in the room as you speak. Don’t favour any particular individual. You have to let your audience know that each of them is important to you. Don’t make the mistake of looking at the wall behind the audience.
Tell stories to illustrate your points.
It always helps to share anecdotes to get your point across. Stories based on actual experience help concretize the theoretical, and make your presentation more interesting.
The accounting department of one company I serviced once experienced a major program crash. In a matter of seconds, they lost two gigabytes of data they had compiled over three days. With our new system, this sort of thing will never happen to you.
Emphasize the benefits.
Every time you highlight a feature of the product or service you’re selling, be sure to follow this with its corresponding benefit. Remember, your audience will want to know what’s in it for them. Don’t be too product-centric.
Our software is backward-compatible with the old version. This means you won’t have to reformat your old files to make them compatible with this updated version. You’ll have no trouble opening these files with the new software, so the transition will be seamless.
Answer all questions to the best of your ability.
When it’s time for the question-and-answer session, continue speaking with confidence. If you’re able to answer questions without hesitation, your audience will see you as one who knows what he’s talking about. As you gain more experience with presentation, you’ll be able to put together an FAQ list that will help keep you prepared.
Some additional tips:
When you’re at the supermarket or department store, observe the product demonstrators as they make their pitch. Be critical. Make mental notes of what works and what doesn’t.
Watch PowerPoint presentations on YouTube. The late Steve Jobs was a master presenter. He was one of the few who understood that his presentation software was meant to aid, and not be the focal point, of his presentation.
Understand that there are different types of audiences. The way you conduct yourself in front of a group of clients would be different from the way you present to your peers in the office. Know when you have to be formal, when you can be more laid back and casual, and even when you can spice up your presentation with a few jokes here and there.
Learn from your seasoned colleagues. Every office has its share of good presenters. Watch them in action, and see what makes their presentations click.
Never stop looking for new ways to make your presentation interesting. This is especially relevant if your job requires you to do a lot of presenting. Try not to establish a predictable “style.” Come up with something new each time. The element of surprise can be a powerful tool in salesmanship.