In sales as in life, failing to plan means planning to fail. When you bring a boilerplate sales deck to a meeting with a client you have never met and know little about, you are making the sale needlessly difficult. After all: what if the client’s needs are dramatically different than you anticipated? In the blink of an eye, that standard pitch is worthless.
Today, we begin a four-part series on creating and delivering a winning sales presentation. It all starts with casing the customer: performing a needs analysis first and letting that shape your pitch, instead of guessing.
Determining Customer Needs
Every sales relationship boils done to a client with a problem that a salesperson might be able to solve. This is a deceptively simple relationship however, and many salespeople make the mistake of jumping to the pitch before they fully understand the unique problems the client is experiencing.
Before you even think about giving your sales presentation at a client meeting, use the opportunity to ask a series of detailed questions that reveal the precise nature of the client’s needs. It’s alright to have a copy of your standard presentation at arms reach in case the client requests it, but you should otherwise hold off at this stage.
There is a good reason for this. No one presentation can be expected to speak to every client’s individual needs. Once you have a clear view of the client’s problem, you can build a custom presentation that speaks powerfully to them while demonstrating your organization’s proficiency and thoughtfulness.
Addressing Fear Persuasion Points
Contrary to common wisdom, emotions play just as big a part in purchasing decisions as do facts. In B2B markets, the dominant influencing emotion is fear. When creating this compelling presentation, be aware that you will need to face two distinct types of fear. These are:
- Aversion to risk on behalf of the organization
- Aversion to personal risk as the individual making the purchasing decision
Let’s explore how to address these fears.
Aversion to Organizational Risk
The first type of fear that your presentation will need to overcome is an obvious one — the worry that a poor purchasing decision will negatively impact the client’s organization. Since your working relationship is so new, the client knows nothing of your reliability, effectiveness, or ability to hit the deadlines you promised. Most clients will experience some trepidation on behalf of their organization’s best interest, especially if they are high ranking officers of the firm.
The good news is that this fear is easily mitigated by providing the client with examples of other organizations similar to theirs who have had exceptional results with your product or service. Seeing is believing, and nothing is quite convincing as social proof. Consider providing references for your work, or at the very least creating believable case studies out of your favorite examples.
Aversion to Personal Risk
The second type of fear is the more dominant, deeply entrenched emotion that must be carefully addressed in order to successfully close the sale. This is the aversion to personal risk as the individual who made the purchasing decision. No one wants to be responsible for a deal gone bad, which is why this fear plays an even bigger role in the engagement then organizational risk.
Different people have different reasons for experiencing this fear, but they typically revolve around job security and reputation. Overcoming this fear requires a presentation that not only demonstrates the benefits to the organization, but also the benefits to the individual.
Of course, these benefits will vary depending on the product or service you sell, but ask yourself questions like:
- Will the purchaser noticeably increase their productivity as a result of using your product?
- Is there an easy way for them to convey progress to supervisors or investors?
In general, any time your product or service can help the purchaser looks fantastic in the eyes of their peers and superiors, this is something you want to highlight. The social advantages of your offering count for just as much (and often more) as the purely technical or procedural ones.
How Fileboard Can Help
Presentations sent via Fileboard track slide views and allow you to make notes about questions on specific slides. You can view past presentations to get an idea of where similar clients have had questions or comments before.
Next week, we will explore best practices for constructing your slide deck to have the greatest impact on your clients.
More parts of this guide:
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