April 2, 2007

How to start your sales presentation

Lots of nerve wracking activities aren't so bad once we get going. That's why it's important to have a clear idea of how to start when you are making a sales presentation.

How to Start your Sales Presentation

There are few places where first impressions matter more than in a sales presentation. The overall impact you create during the first two minutes will shade the audience's overall reaction to everything you say in the body of your presentation.

Here are some things you should NEVER do:


1. Don't apologize.
Starting with an apology creates a negative tone, if the apology is for your lack of preparation, qualifications, substance, and so forth. Never say something like, "I'm glad to be here with you. I just wish that I had had more time to pull together the material, because we're doing some very creative things in this area. But I'll just go ahead and share with you what I've got..." On the other hand, if you got caught in traffic and arrived late, go ahead and apologize.

2. Don't be long-winded.
Greet your audience, tell them who you are, why you are there, and why they should care. Then get on with. You don't have to tell jokes, act folksy, or try to impress them.

3. Don't antagonize or offend your audience.
I heard a saleswoman start a presentation to a group of managers from AT&T with the following joke: "When I was a little girl, I loved everything to do with Disney, so I asked my parents for a Mickey Mouse outfit for my birthday. So my dad bought me ten shares of AT&T." Needless to say, her audience was not very receptive to the rest of her message and the whole presentation became a debacle.

4. Don't use irrelevant material.

5. Don't start with "Today, I'm going to talk about. . . " or other clich├ęs.

6. Don't lead the audience to take a negative attitude toward your subject.

On the other hand, here are some things you should ALWAYS do:


1. Do get the attention of the audience first.
Start with a ho-hum crasher, something to get them focused on you and your message.
Some possibilities: A startling statistic. A quote from their CEO. A brief, dramatic anecdote. A compelling question.

2. Do act confident. Step up with confidence. Smile. Speak out firmly and clearly. Move with assurance. Sound authoritative, yet pleasant. Imagine yourself radiating positive energy.

3. Do get set before you start to speak. Once you've begun, you don't want to arrange your notes, adjust the projector, fool around with your computer, move the lectern, adjust the screen, look for water, or anything else. You want to speak

4. Do tie your attention-getter to the remarks of the previous speakers, other parts of the program, or the person who introduces you.

This may seem like a lot to accomplish with an introduction that comprises no more than 10-15% of your total speech. However, the introduction is critical. Your first job, when you begin your presentation, is to turn that daydreaming, distracted, diverse group of individuals into a concentrating, stimulated, involved, thinking, participating audience.

Most Important!Tell the audience what's in it for them. If you are looking for a way to start writing better proposals and RFP responses, check out our ProposalMaster and RFPMaster products. You can see and listen to an interactive, Web-based demo of them at our site, http://www.santcorp.com/.