Bridge the aspiration gap – win the sales presentation

Winning sales presentations

Winning sales presentations

A good sales presentation that fails to win the business is not good enough. Sales presentations must persuade customers to make a decision in your favor.  Yet, whether presenting to a buying committee or making a sales presentation in response to a request for a proposal (RFP) or participating in a competitive shoot out, presenting to a group of people is never easy.

A winning presentation is not a “product pitch” either. Unless you have a comprehensive understanding of the customer, you do not have the foundation for crafting a winning presentation.

So how do you present your solution in an engaging and compelling way? How do you persuade the customer that the status quo is not good enough? Why should the customer select your ideas vs. what your competitors are proposing?  Here are some ideas …

First, get on the customer’s side of the table. Since there are no generic customers, there are no generic sales presentations. At least there are no winning generic sales presentations. If you want to differentiate yourself from others, then every sales presentation must be customized to the customer.

Companies provide salespeople with some great PowerPoint slide decks. There is, however, a dramatic difference between a slide deck and a presentation. When building a customer presentation the talk track must be developed for that specific customer. This means talking about the customer’s specific concerns and the sales challenges.

Second, know who is attending. Half the battle for an effective sales presentation is knowing the unique concerns and issues of the audience.  If you cannot prepare based on knowing who is coming, it is likely that the presentation will fall flat, no matter how glossy the supportive materials nor how eloquent your words. Why? It is a pretty, polished presentation – but it does not address the audience’s concerns and issues.

So, in addition to the knowing the overall customer’s concerns and issues, it is important to learn:

  • Know who is attending the presentation
  • Know what is important to each of them

Third, bridge the Aspiration Gap. In a winning sales presentation the customer must see with great clarity how your solution can help them move from where they are – to where they want to be.  To achieve this, you must help the customer bridge the Aspiration Gap. Think about how you might do this when putting your presentation together.

One effective way is to begin a presentation by briefly describing the situation as the audience is experiencing it. This allows them to nod in recognition as you speak because you are telling them what they already understand. It creates a bond between you and them.

Notice – emphasis is placed on the word briefly. You do not want to spend most of your presentation time repeating what the customer already knows. This is a time waster for them and a disaster for you. Rather, keep it brief.

With the bond established, you can describe what you have learned about the customer’s vision for the future.  Finally show them how you, better than anyone else, can help them to make the leap from where they are – to where the want to be.

Fourth, sequence your presentation content based on importance. It is a good idea to sequence the order of the information presented relative to its importance – first things first. “Saving the best for last” is an excellent way to never get to talk about the best at all – salespeople often find their allotted time shortened during the actual presentation.

 

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©2012 Sales Momentum, LLC

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About Janet Spirer

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. Janet has followed two different, yet complimentary paths. First, as a B-School Professor she taught marketing, sales, and business strategy courses. She also managed a consulting practice focusing on sales productivity and marketing – working with a variety of clients ranging from Xerox to IBM. She translated those experiences into a book – “Parlez-Vous Business” – that helps sales people develop the business savvy to sell successfully. Since co-founding Sales Momentum® in 2000 with Richard Dr. Spirer received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, an M.P.A. from The University of Texas at Austin, and a B.A. in Economics from Brooklyn College. She holds the appointment of Professor Emeritus at Marymount University.
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