The deal was worth about £3500 in commissions for me and I was slightly nervous.
I had built great rapport with the main decision maker as he loved Formula 1. The background picture on his laptop which I was presenting from was him with his arm around Lewis Hamilton (one of my heros).
I got up, did my slideshow sales presentation and I thought I’d smashed it out of the park.
The decision maker was less impressed.
He put his arm over my shoulder, recreated the Hamilton photo and said he wanted me to come back next week and pitch again. He wanted to give me another shot after I’d taken on board the questions that his colleagues had asked this time around.
I was gutted.
I wasn’t deterred however.
I had a secret weapon up my sleeve.
A tool that would clearly show me what had gone wrong during the interaction so I could dramatically improve and come back swinging.
I had asked the sales specialist who was training under me to video the presentation and when I watched it back, what I saw horrified me.
It wasn’t that my message was off, my slides were boring or I hadn’t peaked interest with my content.
The reason the decision maker hadn’t leaped at the chance to work with me was because of my…
I’m 6ft 3inches and lanky as a street lamp.
I started ignoring my Mum when she’d tell me to “put your shoulders back” or “stand up tall” when I was about 12 years old.
Perhaps I should have listened.
During the presentation I was hunched over, eyes to the ground and not in any position to inspire confidence to my audience.
I was saying one thing (that had been over prepared, manipulated and rehearsed) but demonstrating with my body language exactly the opposite.
I looked like I didn’t believe what I was saying.
“our bodies change our minds, our minds change our behavior and our behavior changes our outcomes.” – Amy Cuddy
Thankfully this was a simple fix. I practiced the presentation a few times in front of a mirror and sorted out my posture.
Additionally this video helped me considerably –
I made the conscious effort to keep my feet slightly wider apart, my chin up and to look the prospects directly in the eyes.
The second time around I smashed the presentation and they loved it. Sold.
Having gave hundreds of sales presentations, here are a few more tips I’ve picked up along the way.
We’re living in the internet age. It’s very possible to close deals through the internet but there is no way this can be done through email alone.
When I’m selling remotely, I’ll often use ClearSlide (a partner of the Salesman Podcast) to launch a “Live Pitch” and present using a selection of pre-selected content.
It allows me to speak with the prospect reliably over webcam, draw on my screen to add emphasis to certain parts of my presentation and record the whole thing so I can play it back at a later date and refine my pitch.
The solution is seamless and it allows me to sell dynamically at the pace of the customer rather than a static sales process.
Has Anything Changed?
Before you start a presentation you need to ask a few questions –
“Has anything changed since our last meeting/phone call?”
You need to know your starting point if you’re going to deliver a sales presentation that has any impact.
Business doesn’t stand still. It certainly doesn’t wait for you to show up in your monkey suit and polished shoes to make a pitch.
“Where are you within the decision process?”
At worst you might have gone back a few steps as someone else has got involved and they might want to chat with the competition.
Best case scenario, you might not even need to present at all!
When Paul Zak Ph.D. joined me on the Salesman Podcast he explained that by leveraging stories, sales professionals can increase the levels of the hormone oxytocin in the brains of their audience.
Just stop and think about that for a minute.
When you tell the right style of story, at the right moment, you’re manipulating the brain chemistry of the people you are speaking with.
Oxytocin has the following effects –
- It promotes attachment to the people you are with when it is released
- It eases levels of stress
- It crystallizes emotional memories into your long term memory
- It improves social skills
- It fosters generosity
According to Zak, other than trying to inject your prospects with the hormone before the presentation, the next best way to increase their levels of oxytocin is to listen to the podcast and learn what stories have the biggest impact on it.
Present At The End
Sell first, present last.
Don’t walk into the room, plug your slide laiden USB stick into the computer and jump straight in with your pitch.
You need to seduce your audience a little bit first.
Before everyone is seated, make sure to walk the room and greet everyone personally. Shake some hands!
It’s far ruder to sit on your phone catching up on email when someone that you have a little rapport with is presenting vs some random sales guy that stormed in and wants to storm back out again to get to his next meeting before lunch.
Additionally this rule is two fold.
If you’re up against competition make sure you’re presenting last.
This allows you to ask the prospect what has been lacking from the other reps offerings and make sure that it’s talked about in your meeting.
Know When To Close
Finally, you don’t have to make it through all of your slides if the prospect is ready to close the deal.
You don’t even need to start the presentation at all if they are happy to move forward. You’re just putting yourself at risk that you’ll say something dumb or actually uncover an objection that the prospect hadn’t thought of before otherwise.
This is why the “Live Pitch” part of ClearSlide’s service is so powerful.
It allows you to pitch when the prospect is interested and engaged from your email communication, rather than on a date in the future when they’ve half forgotten what you’re selling.
You have the prospect in the palm of your hand at the perfect moment to ask for a commitment.
You’ll be selling at the pace the way the buyer wants to buy and they can’t ask for more than that.