Pitching a client on a new product, service, or strategy is a difficult skill to master. It’s also the cornerstone of how much, maybe even most, business is transacted. Getting in the door is the first challenge, but once the appointment is made and you’re preparing what you’ll present in the room, you must size up the challenges. First and foremost, you must be polished and confident in your presentation. You must demonstrate the value of what you’re selling. You must provide some sort of data, evidence, case study, or testimonial to show real world results. You must also be armed with answers to likely questions and be able to overcome objections.
It’s a skill and an art that great salespeople have trained themselves to do day-in, day-out. Those that are successful are well compensated and move up the ranks. However, many strong and talented sales people stall for a curious reason. It’s not that they aren’t professional, knowledgeable or prepared. It’s that they’ve tried to cram too much information into their pitch. As counterintuitive as it may seem, you need to learn the power of simplicity. You’re borrowing time from busy people. If you confuse them, they’ll be wary of signing on. If you take too much time, you’ll annoy them. There’s also a chance that you’ll accidentally include a piece of information that raises a concern or objection. Here are some tips to help you close the deal with the power of simplicity.
Start with an Outline
No matter how ready you are to dive right in and start right on the first slide of your sales presentation, you should start by taking a step back and use a tool you were first taught in middle school English: the outline. There are many ways to approach this skeletal structure. Some people like to think of it in terms of story-telling: have three acts, a beginning, a middle, and end. It may be helpful to start each section with a question your presentation sets out to answer. Perhaps the first is “What?” as in “What are you selling?” The second could be “Why” as in “Why would they want to buy this? What value does it provide?” The third can be “How” as in “How can we make it work for you,” or the literal call to action of “How to buy.”
Arrange your points in a logical order, to avoid redundancy, and to build to the big ask at the end.
Sprinkle in Minimal Jargon
Industry jargon is the natural enemy of simplicity. Think about how your dentist describes your teeth to their dental hygienist. Why can’t they say “front” instead of “anterior?” In a business sales presentation, you generally want to avoid jargon other than to sprinkle in one to three terms to show your expertise. The trick to doing this artfully and simply is to define these terms for your audience when you hit them. For example, and advertising executive may land on a slide that says “T.O.M.A.” You can explain that T.O.M.A is an industry term for “top of mind awareness,” and spend a moment talking about the value of this concept to your client. You may start by asking if anyone knows what it means already. If someone says yes, they’ll feel smart. If no-one does, you can crack a joke that no matter what happens today, they can say the learned something. Again, avoid more “inside speak” than necessary. Pick your spots to use it carefully.
Present Stats as Infographics
It’s often necessary to include statistics to show real world case studies or proven data. You have three basic choices of how to present it. First, you can rely on traditional charts and graphs and risk confusing or boring your audience. Second, you can spell it out without visual aids and risk taking up too much time or not showing enough. Third, you can employ an infographic which is easy to create, visually appealing and effective for retention.
Include Video (But Embed It. Don’t Link!)
“Show, don’t tell” is an axiom that applies to most walks of life, especially in the sales world. By all means, include video in your presentation, but make sure it is embedded and saved locally on the device you are using to present. Don’t leave yourself at the mercy of linking to an internet video…if you can’t connect to the Wi-Fi in the presentation area, you’ll be out of luck. Take the time to save it natively and test it out with your internet switched off.
When you think your presentation is ready, go back through it with one goal in mind: cut it to the bone. Edit out anything that is extraneous or redundant. If they ask for more information, consider that a good sign. You can always provide more, but never less.
It can be shockingly hard to stay simple, but once you’ve mastered the art of minimalism, you will be able to navigate your way through efficient, effective presentations day after day to great effect!