Don’t Do These 5 Dumb Things in Sales Presentations

Often times knowing what not to do is as helpful as being told what to do.

Think about it. If you avoid the “not to dos” you’re that much ahead of the game, and closer to winning.

So here are five big things not to do in sales presentations. They’re listed in reverse order, and remember, please don’t do these things.


Referee & Coach by J Rosenfeld

#5 Don’t Argue an Attack

Occasionally you’ll be presenting to a group and one customer may have had a bad experience with your firm.

It can be trying when that customer shares their past experiences and opinions calmly and without rancor. You can respectfully listen, acknowledge their experience, and share how your firm has worked to fix the issues.

It’s not so easy to deal with a customer during a presentation who:

  • Holds a grudge
  • Feels obligated to share their opinions
  • Grabs attention whenever in a group
  • Falsely seeks to be seen as an objective truth-teller with “I’m just sayin’….(fill in an untrue, spiteful subjective opinion).”

So, while it seems logical not to argue an attack, the second type of customer listed above will test your patience and discipline. Don’t give in. Don’t argue back.


#4 Don’t Critique Customer Revisions

A real-time, in-meeting signal that a sales presentation is soaring up to the next level of success is when customers begin to revise your proposed solution, right there, during the presentation.

When it happens, it shows that customers have begun to visualize your solution in their world. They start to make your proposal into their reality. And this is a beautiful thing. It’s what sales people hope for.

However, sometimes customers may not fully understand the nuances of applying your solution in their world. They may get a part of it wrong.

Now, you need to correct them, if their misunderstanding is germane. However, the way you go about that is crucial.

First, praise their vision, their understanding of the parts they’ve got right. Then gently re-present the area needing correction but including whatever you can of the customer’s visualization.

Add their color and specifics to your retelling.

But for the love of a sale, please don’t criticize their unintentional, incorrect version of your solution in their work.


Bikers by Tom Check

#3 Don’t Talk to Strangers

Sometimes customers show up at the last minute to sales presentations. They rush into the conference room after the informal introductions and you don’t get the chance to find out who they are.

And there can be that sense, on the sales side, of not wanting to waste time by stopping and making those introductions.

However, don’t go down that road. It’s critical to your presentation’s success for you to know who’s in that room. Imagine this:

You begin your presentation without knowing who that last minute customer is who slipped into the room silently. She sits near the door and silently pays attention for the first 10 minutes of your presentation.

Then, respectfully, without distracting from your presentation, she gets up and leaves.

After your presentation has finished and you’re packing up to go, you ask your customer contact who that quiet mouse was. You’re told she’s the CFO.

But you hadn’t gotten to your in-depth, complex financial points until THE END OF THE PRESENTATION! After the CFO had already left.

Moral of the story?

Don’t talk to strangers. Find out everyone who’s in the room at the beginning.


#2 Don’t Face Bass Ackwards

Many presentations include some form of slideshow projected or viewed on a screen.

Your three dimensional self has two sides. Only give customers your best (hope that’s your front).

Enough said.


#1 Don’t Read On-screen Text

Here are several fatal reasons you don’t want to read your on-screen text.

Retards Customers’ Retention of Your Information

Cognitive load theory says that short term (working) memory is limited in the number of elements it can contain simultaneously.

For sales presentations it means that when the sales rep is speaking the on-screen words, customers aren’t listening to those words, they’re reading them.

And this makes it harder for customers to remember the info they’ve just read — forget about what the sales rep was talking about. Brains can’t process both simultaneously. One wins out over the other and its understanding and retention are diminished because of the load.

Customers’ Can Read Faster Than You Can Talk

Adults can read between 200-220 words per minute. While speaking rates vary widely, adults speak at from 100 words per minute up to just under 200 words per minute.

So, customers have finished reading what’s on the screen before the sales rep has finished speaking it. Waste of time?

Sales Rep Will Sound Less Intelligent

Lastly, repeating info that’s available on-screen doesn’t add anything to the discussion of ideas.

It just states the obvious. And, well, it does make one sound less than sparklingly intelligent.

On-screen text should be the headline to a spoken story the sales rep tells. That’ll get customers listening, and remembering.

But don’t speak the on-screen text, unless you want to lose your audience’s attention and respect.

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