The Art of Making Sales Presentations
How to sell what you present and to present what you sell…
A profitable sale of an excellent product and a happy Customer are important ingredients of corporate success. To close a sale, it is necessary to understand your Customer and your product, and to know how to present a product. For that, you have to master the art of sales presentations.
Mike Adams, GeoQuest Business Development Manager, and former Marketing Manager, shares his secrets of a successful presentation – Schlumberger style.
R.P.: Where can you learn to make presentations?
M.A.: Schlumberger organizes two-day courses where people study theory and practice of presentations. Then their own presentations are videotaped and discussed.
R.P.: What is the key to Schlumberger sales presentations?
M.A.: First – do not be very technical. Second – enthusiasm, enthusiasm, and nothing but enthusiasm.
You have to understand psychology of the audience. Don’t say «I»; use «you» to show that you think about your Customer rather than yourself. Integration with the audience is useful when you indicate that you are one of the guys: you also know what it is like to freeze in Siberia in winter.
You use your voice to make points and body language to communicate your message to the audience. Voice is a highlighter: do not speak at the same speed and without pauses. Eye contact is essential to scan people in the room. It leads to the art of mirroring when you react to the mental state of the audience. If they show interest – slow down and give more details, if they are getting bored – say something dramatic to wake them up.
You tell the audience what you are going to say, say it, and at the end repeat what you’ve just said.
R.P.: How do you attract your audience’s attention?
M.A.: You use a grabber. It can be a word play (you explain the difference a Schlumberger product will make) or a number play. You can tell stories: people will remember them when they forget everything else about a presentation. A whole presentation could be built around a story: how a company lost all geological data on an oil field because it did not have a data management system. Props will make your presentation more visual. Once, a presenter wanted to illustrate enhanced oil recovery: he opened a can of beer, and said «imagine that this beer can is your reservoir, and you could only produce this much (drinks about a 1/3 of the can) – does it make sense to leave so much oil in the ground?»
Dramas are very effective. During a presentation in Sochi at the GeoQuest International Forum, there were 6 people on the stage impersonating oil company’s professionals, from geologists to economists. They demonstrated how this team worked on a project with the help of specialised software.
R.P.: And what is the best way to close your presentation?
M.A. The close of sales presentation is crucial, because you want them to say «yes». You emphasise that your product is unique, relevant and focused on the Customer’s needs. And then you ask the audience: «What do you think?» You pause for as long as it takes them to answer you. You need to get public positive feedback. Be innocent, curious, open – and listen. If they say «I like it» then time comes for a call for action, i.e. where do we go from here?
R.P.: You describe preparation of a presentation as a very creative process. What else is needed to make it successful?
M.A.: In addition to creativity, you need some basic economics. You sell a product at a certain price, but costs for the Customer are higher, because there are expenses of its installation, training of personnel, and so on. The Customer buys a product only if its value is greater than its cost. You cannot do much about the price. So, you have to increase value for the Customer and do it during presentation. You can describe different types of value, that is business, financial and personal (image). You can remind that cost comes only once, at the beginning, and value will stay for a long time. Many presentations fail because presenters are unable to show value.
R.P.: What about questions and objections?
M.A.: The number of questions indicates success of your presentation. Do not be afraid of objections: they mean that the Customer is interested. To deal with them you use reframing. Usually, people object that the price of Schlumberger product is too high. You restate the objection: «Do you really think the price is too high?» without getting on the defensive and explain pitfalls of false economy – would you like to fly in a plane with inferior but cheap landing gear?
R.P.: Do you use slides during presentation?
M.A.: Not if I can avoid it. Presenters often use presentation software as a crutch – a flipchart is better because an audience likes to watch you draw and write. Make PowerPoint slides only when you cannot do without them. They must be brief – do not put more words on them than you can put on your T-shirt.
And remember, your presentation will succeed only if you truly believe that you have an excellent product to sell (and you do have!)
Source: Russian Panorama (Schlumberger Quarterly Magazine)