When most people think of sales presentations, they think of a presentation to a potential customer aimed at getting them to buy a product or service. But a sales presentation could just as easily be about selling an idea to your own executive team. When that’s the case, your approach to the presentation should be different than it is with customer presentations, says Jim Kasper, president of Interactive Resource Group (www.salestrainers.com) and author of Creating the #1 Sales Force: What It Takes to Transform Your Sales Culture (Dearborn, 2005). Here are a few ideas that Kasper says he has seen work very well in executive presentations:
1. Survey the executive team before the presentation and ask them what they visualize in terms of length, participation and key concerns. You’ll find you have easier access to your own executives than you do to a prospect’s executives so you’ll get the answers you need to lay the foundation for a winning presentation. And by asking about these issues in advance, you’ll set yourself apart as someone who is prepared and professional.
2. Get the executive team to participate in presenting specific sections of the business case, if that’s possible. “Nothing is stronger than when it appears that the executive team is endorsing, or at the least contributing to, your case,” says Kasper.
3. Do not hand out the written proposal until after you have covered the major points with your PowerPoint presentation. But let your audience know at the beginning of the presentation that you will be providing them with copies of the slides and the written proposal.
4. Keep slides simple, uncluttered and few in numbers. This same rule applies to customer presentations as well, but it’s so important it bears repeating. Remember: less is more. The less you clutter up a slide – and the fewer slides you have altogether – the more effectively you’ll be able to make your point.
5. Don’t go head-to-head with an executive during the presentation. Remember that your presentation is the first time most of the executive team are seeing your figures. And since it’s an executive’s job to worry about numbers, an anti-advocate may rear his head in concern over the numbers being seen. If that happens, be patient and ask that person for some time after the meeting to address those concerns, says Kasper. “I once sat through a sales culture conversion presentation in which the presenter confronted an anti-advocate, an argument ensued and the whole management committee joined in,” Kasper recalls. “The result was not good and the conversion process ended right then and there.”
6. Schedule time with each key executive for some one-on-one selling time if a decision is not imminent at your presentation. And before the meeting is adjourned, set a date and time for the next meeting, if it’s appropriate. Otherwise, it may never happen.