How to create & deliver a presentation that wins the sale

Photo by the author Paul Krajewski

Communispond, along with their CEO Bill Rosenthal, have an interesting point of view on how to create a winning sales presentation. (Communispond provides communications skills training for interpersonal communications, management and sales.)

1. Put away your trusty old dog and-pony show and start learning everything you can about the prospects critical needs. […]

2. Create a unique solution to the customer’s critical needs. […]

3. Build the team, and organize the presentation. […]

4. Sharpen your team’s presentation skills. […]

5. Start selling before you begin.
Get to the presentation room early. Stand at the door and greet the audience members as they enter. Introduce your co-presenters and get into a dialogue with the prospect’s people. Make a mental note of some personal information, and cite this in your presentation.

6. Watch for booby traps in the Q&A.
Prepare for the Q&A in advance by anticipating the questions you’ll be asked, particularly the tough ones. Be sure the entire team agrees on how they should be answered. Plan replies that are concise, persuasive, and tie back to one of your major points. For example, if someone asks: “How can you justify such exorbitant prices?” you answer: “Our pricing includes all of the following services.” Then you tie back to the part of your presentation that described your cost-effectiveness. Address the group as you answer questions, but look back to the questioner occasionally to show courtesy.

7. Finish with a flourish. Explain how the information from the previous presenter relates to what’s coming up. Make sure the presentation isn’t dragging on too long. Pre-plan a visual clue that lets a speaker know when to stop. Go out on a strong finish. Look at the audience intently. Smile and express your feelings: “We’d love to work with you.” Pause and drop your hands to your side to signal that you’re finished. Lead your group out of the room smoothly to show that you’re a well-organized team. The final impression you’ll leave with the customer is one of confidence and conviction. You’ll also feel this way because you’ve out-performed the competition.

How Registration Forms are Killing B2B Software Marketing

On January 13, 2010 Kim Cornwall Malseed wrote ‘How Registration Forms are Killing B2B Software Marketing’:

“I’ve been reminded once again of what a mistake it is for B2B software companies to force prospective customers to fill out a registration lead capture form in order to view their marketing content.

Over the past week I’ve been researching project management software solutions to better collaborate with clients on marketing and PR projects, and as I was perusing various vendor websites, again and again I was asked to submit my information and “pay” just to read case studies, white papers, watch videos or listen to podcasts so I can potentially buy their product.

Instead of generating leads, these registration forms turn away the very prospects that you need to educate and engage with. Like most busy professionals researching software, I want to have a very good sense that a solution will work for my specific needs before I want to risk being interrupted by phone calls, emails, and direct mailings from people I don’t care to hear from.

That means removing the barriers to your marketing content in order for prospects to learn more about your software and see you as a trustworthy source, which compels them to contact you and willingly engage with your company. This is far more likely to result in a sale than not generating leads at all, or generating low quality leads because they’re still in the research phase of the sales cycle and probably don’t want to talk with you yet.

Survey Says: 75% IT Pros Won’t Register for White Papers

In an interview on the Savvy B2B Marketing blog with Jay Hallberg, VP of Marketing of networking monitoring software provider Spiceworks, he discussed results of a survey of users of their IT white paper community. (And yes, I do find it ironic that they are making people register for survey results report)

The survey found:

  • More than 75% of IT professionals DON’T sign up for white papers requiring registration
  • IT pros want to reach out to the vendor on their terms via their preferred channel, e.g. phone, email, or chat. Prospects don’t want the vendor to contact them. Period. If they want more information or to talk to a rep after they download a paper, they will contact that vendor.
  • Some IT vendors offer “free” white papers but require registration. If the vendor requires contact information, the white paper is far from free.
  • When vendors remove the registration wall, downloads go way up. One white paper that was offered without registration was downloaded 500 times in 3 days.

Lead Capture Forms Make Social Media Sharing Ineffective

One of the project management software vendors I checked out was recommended by someone on LinkedIn who provided a link to a white paper. Unfortunately, the link led to a registration form to download the white paper, which I didn’t do because I didn’t know enough about the vendor or solution yet. If the link had led directly to the white paper itself (or page from which I could download without ‘paying’) then I could quickly and easily have found out if I wanted to contact the vendor and engage with them. If I found the white paper helpful, I would have shared it with others via Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media venues as I know other marketing pros that need similar solutions.

By putting up barriers to your content, you’re missing out on effectively using social media to generate leads.

ReachForce Increases eBook Clickthroughs by 1600%

In a recent test by the marketing team of lead generation software provider ReachForce, they removed the registration form from an eBook they had created, and sent an email to a targeted list promoting the eBook, making sure to highlight that there was no registration required. Clickthroughs to the eBook increased by 1600%, and because ReachForce’s sales team could track who was clicking through, they were still collecting highly valuable information about prospects.

Registration Has Its Time and Place

Lead capture forms are effective and needed for some aspects of marketing, such as requiring prospects to sign up to receive a newsletter or attend an event, as you need their email address to send the content or event information. It is a good idea to offer a ‘bonus’ content piece such as an article, case study, video, etc. that the subscriber receives immediately in order to boost subscription rates, so in this case a registration form is appropriate.

One way to effectively use registration forms is embedding them into your content or placing a lead capture form on the same web page as your content, so prospects can contact your company if they wish, but can still view and share your content without contacting you.

Increase Lead Generation by Creating Quality Content

If you’re continuously creating high-quality content that educates and engages (and entertains in appropriate cases) your prospective customers, instead of an uninvited pest, you’ll be seen as a welcome guest who they look forward to hearing from.”

Analysis of Days in Sales Cycle Stage and Conversion Rates

Jeff Ernst (@jeffernst) wrote a blog post on a careful analysis of days in each sales cycle stage and conversion rates, on June 3, 2009:

“[…] We took a look at their sales cycles, and found that they were pretty good at getting leads into the top of the funnel, having initial exploratory conversations, and even getting late-stage deals over the goal line.  The choke point was getting folks who had shown interest in their product to convert to sales opportunities.

This type of analysis is not that hard to do. Lee Levitt, the [former] Director of the Sales Advisory Practice at IDC, has long been advocating a careful analysis of Days in Stage and Conversion Rates as a way to target areas for improvement.

So rather than continuing the broad brush approach to sales enablement, we decided to focus on improving that one conversion point.  We looked at what the most frequent objections they were getting in stalled deals, and not surprisingly, it sounded like this:

  • We have no budget
  • Our staff has no time for this right now
  • We’ve got too many other projects in the queue

This told me that we needed to come up with some messaging and tools to allow the sales reps to dig deeper into the “no budget” excuse to the root cause. We needed to arm them with tools to make the prospect realize that they could get started incredibly easily. And we even adjusted the pricing model to reflect the reality of today’s buying environment.

Look for the choke points. Give your reps what they need to improve the dialogue when buyers are going dark.”

From my point of view adjusting the pricing model might be the key.