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Effective Sales Presentations: Advancing the Sales Cycle
By Steve Hoffman, President and CEO, Hoffman Marketing Communications, Inc.

Here are proven methods for ensuring that your sales team is armed with the content they need to win deals.

Effective sales presentations are at the core of a successful sales cycle, yet many presentations miss the mark in terms of appropriate content and flow. While presentation skills contribute to the success (or failure) of a sales presentation, presentation effectiveness also hinges on the value of the message and the quality of the content. Your sales team relies on you to deliver a solid presentation that they can successfully use in their selling efforts. Here are proven methods for ensuring that your sales team is armed with the content they need to win deals.

Taking Inventory

Before you begin creating a presentation, take inventory of the information you'll need to get started. This will serve as a checklist to ensure that you and your team are staying on course and creating a presentation that will hit the mark. Engage your sales representatives in creating this list-they typically know which messages resonate best with different prospects. They can also provide input as to how they intend to use the presentation, and what tactics and content have (and have not) worked in the past.

  • Identify the target audience and their business issues
  • Determine the goal of the presentation and its role in the sales process (e.g., to generate interest in learning more about your product or service, or to gain introduction to the decision maker?)
  • Determine the level of detail appropriate for the audience
  • List key messages for the solution (e.g., value proposition and key differentiators)
  • Enlist appropriate reviewers (e.g., sales, marketing, and pre-sales technical engineering personnel) to ensure full content accuracy as well as help establish interdepartmental "buy-in")

Think Outside the PowerPoint Slide

Many presentation writers try to brainstorm the story they want to tell while using PowerPoint. But crafting a story when you are limited to bulleted concepts can be difficult. Instead, try writing out the story you would like to tell. (You can leverage this to create speaker notes - more on this later.) By formally capturing your thoughts in a written document, you can craft your story faster and easier. Key reviewers may find it easier to provide critical feedback on your "story" as well.

For example, the following is a sample guide for an IT-industry presentation that can help you outline an overall concept and define what content needs to be included. An outline also helps the presentation team members consider "branch slides" that can help address a specific industry or audience member (e.g., a CFO).

Slide Title

Key Elements and Messages

0

Title Slide

(Self explanatory)

1

Agenda

Summary of content to be covered

2

Key Trends

If applicable, describe key industry or business trends in order to provide a context for the business problems/customer pain points described in the next slide.

3

Business Challenges/Pain Points

List the pains/challenges facing businesses/employees that do not have the particular solution being offered. The goal is to help the audience identify personally, feel the


Steve Hoffman is President and CEO of Hoffman Marketing Communications ( www.hoffmanmarcom.com ), a firm that specializes in developing white papers for leading technology companies around the word. He can be reached at 408.778.5664 or by email at info@hoffmanmarcom.com

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