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Sales Presentations — What You Need to Know

Posted Thursday, March 20, 2014 by Jules VanSant.

Guiding Sales Teams to Land Must-Win Deals

From Lisa Magnuson’s latest e-newsletter: Top Line Tips

If you sell, then you probably do sales presentations. If you do presentations from time to time, then you know about the many steps involved in creating a winning presentation. If you’re delivering winning presentations, then you’re obviously enjoying a much greater level of success than those who don’t. Success depends on your performance, and a great performance depends on having the knowledge and planning expertise needed to hit a home run whenever you step up to the plate. Let’s commit to delivering a winning presentation each and every time! (Polite nod to the book, ‘If You Give a Moose a Muffin’ by Laura Numeroff)

By focusing on both the strategic impact areas and the tactical essentials for each stage of the presentation process, we can ensure that not only is a home run hit each and every time, but it’s out of the park, and on any kind of pitch! Below are a couple of examples for each stage.

Prior to Presentation

Prior to the presentation, there are a couple of strategic ‘must do’ activities to get the process started on the right track. The first is to determine your win themes™ or those 3-4 key messages you want to convey as your overall objectives. These important ‘bullet points’ can be found at the intersection of your audience’s priorities and your strengths. Once developed, these give you your messaging framework, which translates into a more focused agenda and ultimately an impactful (and influential) presentation.

On the tactical side, a formal dry run, at least 1-2 days in advance of the presentation, will give the team time for critical review or refinement of the finished product. Have an objective person like a sales manager or sales coach attend to offer honest feedback, especially on win theme™ impact. (Trick: don’t tell this person what your win themes™ are, but ask them to tell you the top 3-4 things they remember most from the presentation. This will give the team an excellent gauge on win theme™ effectiveness.) One tactical mistake that I see over and over again is not allocating enough time for the dry run. If the team is large (I.e. number of presenters is more than 2 or 3) and the presentation complex, then figure on taking from 3-5 hours of final team practice for every 1 hour of presentation time.

Day of Presentation

Most of us already know many of the tactical essentials to have on stand-by on the day of the presentation. However, I’ve developed a comprehensive checklist as part of my Winning Presentation Prep Guide, which is available for the next 30 days on my web site. A few of the tactical essentials are less obvious, so the checklist should really come in handy. However, on the strategic side, there are a couple of tips to really enhance your presentation, starting with the introductions.

Of course, it’s polite to have the audience introduce themselves first, but when it comes to your team’s turn, have them frame their introductions around an impact to the customer. In other words, instead of simply stating your name and title, add your role or impact as it relates to the customer and their needs. Maybe you’ve been involved with the account for many years, helping in the background to secure important resources. This is an extremely impactful element to include in your introduction.

The second suggestion to enhance your presentation is to have at least one example or story per slide. The audience will really connect with stories, and by challenging yourself and your team to weave relevant examples, trends, and stories throughout, you will not only capture their interest, but hold it securely for the duration of the presentation.

Post Presentation

Lastly, there are some critically important items to consider doing once you finish your presentation that can often be forgotten in the aftermath. Follow up on action items, additional information and thank you notes is a must. In addition, circling back to your sponsor to ask them if the presentation hit the mark will yield valuable feedback and open the door for further interaction and opportunities. It’s also beneficial to schedule a post-presentation de-brief meeting with your internal team to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the presentation, including the delivery, and make any necessary adjustments while it’s all fresh in everyone’s mind. And certainly not least, for successful outcomes – celebrate!

We’ve covered just a few examples, for the full picture; go to to get your Winning Presentation Prep Guide. Presentations are always hard work so it makes sense to cover all your bases to hit it out of the ballpark each and every time. I’d love to hear your productive presentation success stories.

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Lisa D. Magnuson, Founder, Top Line Sales, LLC