Most sales professionals believe that great sales presentations can make or break a deal—yet, for many, sales presentations are daunting, time-consuming, and an activity they detest.
Presentations are an integral part of a sales process and the fastest way to turn a prospect into a paying customer. Like public speaking, creating and delivering a sales presentation is essential for sales teams to master.
In this article, we’ll take you through the key framework of a successful sales presentation and share some valuable tips on hosting and follow-up, so your team can ace the process.
Let’s get started!
What is a sales presentation?
A sales presentation is a tool the sales teams use to move buyers into paying customers and is usually conducted in a small group, traditionally accompanied by a demo.
Well-researched presentations allow sellers to showcase the benefits of their products, educate buyers on why their offering is better than a competitor's, and satisfactorily answer any questions they may have—to say there’s no sale without a presentation wouldn’t be a big stretch.
Effective presentations have to reflect your brand, communicate your message, be personalized to the buyer's needs, grab your prospect’s attention and lead them to the desired conclusion— your product.
What is the goal of a sales presentation?
In a nutshell, a good sales presentation has one key goal—getting the prospective customer to move forward in the sales process and closer to a conversion. However, before a conversion, sales reps must focus on two essential ‘C’’s—convey and convince a buyer, i.e., the prospect’s company.
Let’s look at them in further detail:
The first and foremost step in a winning sales presentation is to convey the value of your product to the target audience and one where you talk about the benefits, the outcomes, and the results that they can expect from it. This requires some preparation and is not something that you should dive into blind.
Of course, you will have to think on your feet during a presentation, but it is also advisable not to leave everything for the last minute! Instead, invest time in gathering valuable intel during the research and discovery phase to build insightful questions ahead of time. This will give you enough context to adapt your answers when you deliver the sales presentation in person.
Convincing key decision-makers is hard—ask any sales rep, and they’ll tell you the same. Some sales reps jump into a presentation with the core idea of “selling,” but successful sales reps approach this goal differently.
So what’s different in their approach? Successful sales reps tailor their presentation to be more personalized; they invest in building rapport, nurturing relationships, and demonstrating their value much before the actual sale.
Moreover, they are empathetic and reasonable when having conversations and providing solutions. That being said, the expectation from the buyers at this stage is that sales reps can provide them with data, satisfy the use case, or offer valuable and unique insights that convince them to say yes.
The above steps require a tactical approach, careful research, and the ability to tell a compelling story. If implemented correctly, they will drum up excitement and ensure that your buyers sign on the dotted line quickly.
How to prepare for an important sales presentation
Preparation is key to a successful sales presentation and an essential step in closing a sales deal.
Prepare and practice
Preparing and practicing a sales presentation beforehand can work wonders for your team’s confidence and effectiveness. It gives you a chance to refine your message, anticipate potential questions, and ensure a smooth delivery.
Plus, with practice, you'll become more comfortable with the content, allowing your natural charm to shine through and leaving a lasting impression on your audience!
Research the audience
Well before you are scheduled to deliver your presentation, you want to make sure you know who will be in the room (or on Zoom) with you. If you’ve been working on this deal for a while, you may have met most of the key players, but when it comes to the big presentation, you might meet some new team members, including senior leaders.
Gathering intelligence on their positions within the company, involvement in the buying process, preferences, dislikes, personalities, communication styles, and reasons for seeking what you offer will enable you to be more persuasive and help you build rapport.
You might not be able to know with 100% certainty will attend the presentation, but doing your due diligence and knowing who the key decision makers are is critical to the success of your presentation and potential deal.
Review your proposal
Losing your buyer after the presentation is a definite risk if your sales proposal lacks excitement. The solution? Crafting an engaging sales proposal that captivates the audience in front of you even after you’ve said your goodbyes.
As you evaluate your proposal, review it with a critical eye— is your message clear? Does your design support or detract from your message? Is the design consistent throughout your document? Are the data points fact-checked?
Don’t whip up a proposal that does not reflect your offering in the best possible light or isn’t tailored to the audience. Need some inspiration? We provide a lot of tips, pointers, and examples, plus the reasoning behind each, in our 2022 Proposal Look Book.
Great presenters rehearse. Period. Rehearsing before the actual presentation will help you perfect your delivery and practice overcoming any objections that come up along the way. Instead of fumbling for answers, you (or anyone else on the team) will deliver them confidently.
This doesn’t have to be stressful; even a few minutes a day can provide a ton of value—you can practice your introduction during everyday activities like driving or walking. Additionally, allocate extra practice time to rehearse complex or technical sections of the presentation, delivering those slides out loud.
The “gospel of 10x” is a popular business philosophy on rehearsing by Larry Page of Google and one your sales teams can learn from. The crux is to be prepared to rehearse far more than you’ve done in the past and ten times harder than your peers if you want to succeed.
Make it a team activity
Is your company's sales presentations a one-person show or a team effort? If it’s something a senior salesperson leads, then it’s time for you to rethink!
A survey by Harvard Business Review found that a team pitch with good chemistry together is much more trustworthy than one senior person who does all the talking. So use your team to amplify your expertise in a pitch, not dilute it. Sales presentations can be a great learning opportunity for newer or more junior team members if their role is carefully defined and properly supported.
Enhance your presentation
When it comes to sales presentations, a little enhancement can go a long way! By sprucing up your pitch, you can captivate your audience, highlight the key benefits of your product or service, and ultimately increase your chances of sealing the deal. The best sales presentations, follow the tips below.
Keep it minimal
The biggest mistake salespeople make is turning a sales presentation into a powerpoint presentation (or Keynote for the Apple fans) with too many slides. Some do it to ensure the buyers have all the information, while others lean on this to stay the course.
Either way, it’s not helpful. Research by the team at Storydoc proves that much of it hinges on the first three slides (80% of readers who go through them read the deck in full), and people who bounce from a sales deck do so in the first 15 seconds.)
The average human attention span online is now eight seconds— so the best bet is to keep your slides minimal but engaging. A compelling headline and some bullet points go a long way.
Add wow moments to the presentation
People don’t remember every slide and every word of a presentation. They remember moments. The question is, how can you create these ‘wow’ moments and drum up excitement?
The best way to do this is through storytelling.
Let's say you are giving a presentation about a sales productivity tool that helps teams stay organized and manage their tasks more efficiently. You talk about the struggle of keeping track of tasks and deadlines, being overwhelmed and stressed.
You paint a picture of a cluttered desk, missed appointments, and the frustration experienced trying to juggle multiple responsibilities. You then go on to explain how your product could easily prioritize, assign, and track tasks- taking away the cluttered mess and leaving users with less stress and more time to do focused work.
Throughout your story, you highlight features such as deadline reminders, progress tracking, and collaboration tools to help sales teams streamline their work process and improve productivity, thus creating favorable emotional connections between yourself, your brand, and your audience.
But does storytelling works? As a salesperson, it may not seem like a convincing tactic, but the truth is that despite our desire to perceive ourselves as rational decision-makers, our ultimate decision is frequently influenced by our emotions.
For instance, if sales productivity is a challenge faced by your buyer, you have the opportunity to share how you identified a significant problem with a similar buyer, the steps you followed in devising an effective solution, and how your product helped them grow— chances are they are more likely to take notice than if you came in spouting off statistics and data points alone.
The value of humor in presentation is often underrated, but if used wisely, it can be a strong tool for connecting with an audience and differentiating your brand. A word of caution— use it only when you’re comfortable with it, it’s part of your brand voice, and you see your audience being okay with it. Making off-color jokes can alienate members of your audience and actively dissuade potential customers from working with you.
Add social proof
The value of social proof is unparalleled—83% of people buy based on word-of-mouth recommendations. So it’s crucial that your sales presentations carry enough social proof from existing customers in the form of testimonials, videos, and reviews.
If you need some, look at your organization’s most satisfied or longest-standing customers and ask them if you can use their testimonials in your sales presentations. Chances are they’ll be happy to help you.
Practice confident body language
Having confident body language helps to convey credibility, and enthusiasm, instantly capturing the attention and interest of the audience and helping you close more deals.
Make eye contact
No one wants to sit in a presentation where the salesperson is reading off a slide deck or their notes. I Making eye contact plays a crucial role in building trust and establishing a connection with potential clients, so don’t miss out on it. If you need to glance at your notes or look at the slide because you lost your place after someone asked a question, that’s okay. Just remember to look up at the audience (or the camera in a virtual presentation) as much as you can!
Talk firmly but slowly
Studies suggest that effective presentations are 38% your voice! By using a firm yet soft tone, salespeople can effectively communicate their message, engage their audience, and establish a sense of trust, ultimately increasing the likelihood of a successful sales outcome.
Smiling is a powerful weapon, whether it’s a 1:1 presentation, a large group meeting, or even on the phone. When presenting, ensure that your sales team is smiling when needed, as it can instantly put your audience at ease.
How to host sales presentations
As the seller or sales leader in the presentation, you’re also charged with being a gracious host! This means ensuring everyone is well prepared and has everything they need for a great experience.
Be proactive in sharing the sales deck.
In a usual setup, sales teams walk into a presentation armed with a sales deck keeping the contents a secret the whole time! But how about flipping the approach and sharing the sales deck with the prospects at least a day or two before the sales presentation? Some executives or members of your buying team might benefit from the opportunity to do a pre-read and come to the presentation ready for a robust discussion.
It shouldn’t be an expectation that everyone in the meeting will have reviewed the sales deck in detail, but if the buying team has some context, the benefits may outweigh any negatives. By now, you know that sales presentations have a lot of moving parts, and more often than not, there’s a lot of ground to cover.
As a sales team, your goal in the presentation is to highlight the most significant details of the pitch deck and show value when you share the contents beforehand, you are giving ample time for your prospects to review the pieces that are most important to them and come prepared for the session.
Encouraging them to share questions beforehand can also help you identify what caught their attention, and you can focus on that area at length during the presentation!
Pro tip: Create a short and long version of your slide deck. Send them the long version that covers the ins and outs of the entire presentation beforehand, and hand over copies of the shorter version highlighting just the key pointers during the session. This will help them stay the course without getting confused and overwhelmed. Of course, make sure that you use your persuasive sales words during the presentation to make an impact!
Focus on value
Acquiring a new customer is not just hard but also at least five to 25 times more expensive than retaining them. This is why most sales teams want to keep a customer for a lifetime. In fact, research by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company (the inventor of the net promoter score) shows that increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.
Long-lasting customers prioritize the value of a product more than just the product features. Can your customers see revenue benefits, or will using your product show prestige or provide them with a competitive edge? These are things that matter more to them from a business point of view. For this reason, high-growth sales organizations today follow a value-based selling approach (almost 87% of them, according to research).
For example, Todoist— a task manager and to-do list app, sells itself as a tool that helps customers organize their work and life and harps on mental clarity and simplicity as its value proposition. Similarly, Intercom—a customer service and sales tool, sells saving time and money as its value proposition.
This illustrates why it’s important that you’re showcasing how awesome your product or service is in a way that's super easy to understand and totally undeniable.
Be a master of data
It’s always nice to showcase how brilliant your product is, but without data, it lacks merit. That’s why having a sales team that knows their stuff and can back it up with data is a game-changer.
“Knowing how to develop and deliver a data-driven presentation is now a crucial skill for many professionals since we often have to tell our colleagues stories that are much more compelling when numbers back them”Researcher and Consultant Alexandra Samuel
Let's imagine you're vying for a major contract to provide customer relationship management software. The potential client wants to be confident that they're partnering with a team of experts, so whip out impressive case studies, metrics, pricing comparison graphs, and success stories to make them think, "These folks really know their stuff when it comes to analyzing data and driving results!"
But again, when presenting it to a wider audience, ensure that you can marry good storytelling with data, i.e., present complex data in a clear and comprehensible manner.
Ensure you’re adding enough data visualizations, such as graphs and charts, to help them perceive and interpret trends and patterns within the data that may otherwise be difficult to understand.
When showcasing data:
- Get it on the big screen! Ensure it's visible and easy to read for everyone in the room.
- Don't get lost in the weeds. Focus on the main points your data is illustrating and make them shine.
- Each chart should have one major point to convey. Keep it clear and straightforward for maximum impact.
- Labels are your friends. Ensure your chart or graph’s components are clearly labeled for easy understanding.
- Highlight those "Aha!" moments. Use visual cues to draw attention to the most significant insights in your data.
- Choose a title for your slide that reinforces the key point from your data and grabs attention.
How to successfully follow up a sales presentation
You and your team just delivered an excellent sales presentation. What next? Chances are, by the time you wrap, you want your prospect to be totally on board and excited to kickstart your business relationship together.
But that isn’t all that common, most teams need time to debrief and discuss what they heard, especially if they’re meeting with multiple potential vendors. Let’s look at some of the ways to successfully follow up on a sales presentation (without overdoing it)
Send a follow-up email
With a well-done sales presentation, you’ve got a foot in the door, so leverage this opportunity to the fullest!
First and foremost, send them a thank you email with a recap of the key points discussed in the presentation. Ensure you have a clear call to action in the follow-up email so they know what to do next. There’s a high possibility that you may have to follow up through email a couple of times (or even with a few phone calls or Zoom meetings) before the prospect finally signs the contract.
When following up, you want to honor the timelines shared by the prospect. Don't call them every day if they say they need a week to finish conducting meetings and reviewing proposals. Follow up again if you haven’t heard from them in a week.
Provide value with each interaction
Follow-up sales emails can often seem aggressive or even annoying. So, instead of following up for the sake of following up, you want to provide value with each interaction. This can be done in a couple of ways.
- If you remember the key challenges they mentioned during the sales presentation and ask them how they are going with it.
- Share an article or resource that may help them in their role. Tell them what you took away from reading the piece and see if they’ll share their thoughts with you
- Watch for any news about your prospects or their company. Send congratulatory messages for things like promotions, anniversaries, or closing a round of funding.
Remembering little things can strengthen the relationship and make the follow-up process seem less aggressive.
Surprise them with a value offer
Research has found that when consumers find a good offer, it actually changes the way they think and feel.
Providing a special deal to prospects may seem like a no-brainer, and it’s very tempting to offer discounts to get the customers in the funnel; however, this strategy isn’t ideal as it makes your business look untrustworthy, projects a lack of confidence and may seem like you don't have faith in your own product or service.
So what value offer can you provide your customers instead? You can offer them early payments or pre-payment, incentive or referral discounts, a bundle deal, or even additional services in lieu of a product, such as priority customer service, etc.
Pick up the phone
Most decision-makers have full inboxes and competing priorities, and even though they want to respond in time, know that responding to sales emails is often a low-priority task. If you aren’t getting any response, it may be time to pick up the phone and see if they have any further questions and if they are still keen on moving forward.
Again it’s all about the balance, and while it’s a sure-shot way to know whether the deal is worth pursuing, don’t overdo it. If you call a prospect ten times in two days, they’ll probably turn you down even if they were interested because of the sheer annoyance.
To avoid this, it’s worth checking if your CRM has the capabilities to add follow-up emails and calls in your sequence. This way, you can make a more data-informed decision about when and how to follow up.
Don’t give up on the follow-up
Did you know that 80% of sales require five follow-ups after the meeting, yet 44% of sales reps give up after one follow-up? So if you haven’t gotten a response, stay patient and don’t give up.
If you still haven’t heard from them, chances are that they aren’t interested, and it’s time to stop your sequence or manual follow-up process. After all, you can’t follow up forever!
What is the best structure for a sales presentation?
When it comes to crafting an effective sales presentation, following a well-structured approach can significantly increase your chances of success. Here are some key pointers for creating a compelling structure:
- Introduction: Begin by grabbing your audience's attention with a strong opening, such as a compelling story or a thought-provoking question. Clearly state the purpose of your presentation and establish a connection with your audience.
- Problem Identification: Clearly articulate the problem or pain points that your product or service addresses. Use relevant data, statistics, or customer testimonials to emphasize the significance of the issue.
- Solution: Present your product or service as the ideal solution to the identified problem. Highlight the unique features, benefits, and advantages it offers. Use visuals, demonstrations, or case studies to showcase its effectiveness.
- Competitive Advantage: Clearly outline what sets your product or service apart from competitors. Highlight any distinctive features, superior quality, or cost-effectiveness that differentiates your offering.
- Value Proposition: Communicate the value and return on investment your product or service brings to customers. Demonstrate how it can save time, money, or resources and positively impact their business or life.
- Objection Handling: Address common objections or concerns that your audience may have. Anticipate potential questions and proactively provide answers and reassurance. This step builds credibility and instills confidence in your offering.
- Call to Action: Clearly state the next steps you want your audience to take, such as making a purchase, signing up for a trial, or scheduling a meeting. Create a sense of urgency or incentivize action to encourage immediate response.
- Closing and Summary: Recap the key points of your presentation and emphasize the value proposition once again. End on a positive note, reiterating the benefits and reemphasizing why your product or service is the best choice.
Remember to keep your presentation concise, visually appealing, and tailored to your audience's needs. Practice your delivery to ensure a confident, persuasive presentation that effectively communicates your message and drives desired outcomes.
What’s the difference between a sales presentation and a pitch?
While both a sales presentation and a pitch serve the purpose of persuading an audience, they differ in key aspects.
A sales presentation focuses on educating and informing potential customers about a product or service, providing comprehensive details, and addressing their needs. On the other hand, a sales pitch aims to capture the attention and interest of decision-makers concisely and compellingly, highlighting the core idea and potential ROI.
Sales presentations are more detailed, long, and usually, a group effort, while sales pitches are brief and delivered within a short timeframe to make a quick impact.
How to make a virtual sales presentation appealing?
There are several ways in which sales teams can make virtual sales presentations appealing:
- Make it interactive: Invite your audience with interactive features like polls, quizzes, or chat functions. It keeps them engaged and allows for two-way communication.
- Keep it concise: Avoid information overload by focusing on the most important points. Keep your presentation concise, highlighting the key benefits and value propositions.
- Use visuals effectively: Visuals are powerful tools to captivate your audience. Incorporate compelling images, videos, or infographics that support your message and make it more memorable.
- Be authentic and relatable: Connect with your audience by being genuine and relatable. Share personal stories or anecdotes that help establish a human connection and build trust.
- Leverage technology: Explore different technology tools and platforms to enhance your virtual sales presentation. Use screen sharing, annotations, or virtual whiteboards to make the experience more interactive and collaborative.
- Practice and prepare: Don't underestimate the importance of practice. Rehearse your presentation to ensure smooth delivery and a confident demeanor.
- Follow up and provide resources: Follow up with your audience after the presentation. Provide additional resources, answer any questions, and continue the conversation to nurture the relationship.
See how Qwilr can level up your sales strategy
Get a tailored demo. No endless qualification calls
Mastering the art of sales presentations is a surefire way to win over prospects and close deals. By following the tips we've covered, you'll be well-prepared, confident, and armed with the tools necessary to make a lasting impression on your audience.
Preparation, hosting, and follow-up are key to successful sales presentations. By honing these essential skills, you'll be well-equipped to win over prospects and close deals with confidence. If you’re looking to capture your buyer’s attention with impressive sales assets, look no further than Qwilr. Use our powerful web-editor to create beautiful proposals & collateral.
About the author
Brendan Connaughton|Head of Growth Marketing
Brendan heads up growth marketing and demand generation at Qwilr, overseeing performance marketing, SEO, and lifecycle initiatives. Brendan has been instrumental in developing go-to-market functions for a number of high-growth startups and challenger brands.
- All articles
- Sales management
- Sales techniques
- Sales enablement
- Sales tech
- Customer success