Last week I sat in on a product demo by a company interested in gaining our business. The two presenters consisted of the CEO and one of her staff. Based on my experience, I will recommend four steps and three books that may mean the difference between making and losing a sale.
In our demo the two vendors were in the exceptional category for both product and prospect knowledge, but they lacked something when it came to presentation skills. Overall, I give them a B for the demo, but it was their presentation that may bring them up short.
1. Arrive Early And Test Your A/V Equipment
All 12 of our team were in the conference room before the either of the presenters arrived. Then they spent 15 minutes trying to get our A/V equipment to talk to their computer. They should have arrived early to test the equipment and to greet us as we entered.
2. When Co-Presenting, Be Like Rodrigo Y Gabriela
The CEO had her assistant advance her PowerPoint slides instead of using a remote or doing it herself. Perhaps she thought this would enable her to pay more attention to us, but several times the assistant was on the wrong slide. Nor did the two work together well. They didn’t make any major gaffes, but they could have been much more effective had they spent more time choreographing the presentation. When you’re co-presenting, work in harmony as do Rodrigo Y Grabriela, two phenomenal guitar players. That requires practicing together.
3. Seek Outside Help
When the CEO spoke, every tenth word was an “umm” or “ahh.” Although a minor distraction, it prevented her from elevating her presentation to the exceptional level. She should seriously consider investing in a professional coach or join Toastmasters. Either would eliminate that. Either might be the difference when competition is tight.
4. Your Presentation Skills Should Be As Cutting Edge As Your Product
Had this CEO and her assistant studied books written in the last three years such as “Made To Stick,” “The Exceptional Presenter,” and “Presentation Zen,” they would have learned how to shape their presentation so that it created within us a strong desire to have their product. “Made To Stick” would show them how to tell a story illustrating how their product could help us meet our mission and business goals. “The Exceptional Presenter” would show them how to prioritize their key points.” “Presentation Zen” would show them better ways to use visuals to support their key points.
Crafting a killer demo makes it easier to close the deal. Sales people usually focus on product and prospect knowledge. They should focus on their presentation skills even more. In my organization we have staff that work with corporations and are trained in product knowledge and how to prospect. I wonder how much time we devote to presentation skills.
What’s it like in your organization?
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