How to sell more in 2020: Improve your presentation skills.


“Technology is a glittering lure.  But there’s the rare occasion when the public can be engaged on a level beyond flash.” — Don Draper

An expertly crafted, deftly delivered product pitch is one of a salesperson’s most important assets.  Yet it’s easy to forget that educating a customer and inspiring a customer to the point that they have to have your product are two very different talents–the former is common while the latter seems forgotten.  Why did this happen?  The most likely reason is that companies inundate their sales teams with so many “shiny new toys”– products, programs, services, incentives, quarterly plans, internal reports, and non-customer facing requirements–that sharing and selling became synonyms.  The pitch was lost somewhere between “People buy from people they like” and “Take ’em to the pain.”

Expertly pitching products and services is the smartest (and most elusive) answer to the parity problem.  Think about the last transformative pitch you heard.  Have you ever heard one?  Was it an ordinary “features, functions, benefits” effort–clotted up with mechanical language and poorly rehearsed?  Or, did it make you want the product to the point that competitive products disappeared (moreover, you’d regret buying a competitive product)?  If that’s the case then here’s why:

A beautiful pitch is based on a big idea.  Big ideas are magnetic, harder to object to, are inspired and are aspirational.  A big idea transforms the ordinary in to the extra-ordinary.

A pitch usually includes a story.  A well-told story does the job of conveying meaning without the salesperson having to overtly explain it.

A  pitch appeals to emotions.  A pitch that creates an emotional response connects with a customer’s deepest instincts for safety, security, belonging, and improvement, and the emotional that keeps every business owner pushing on: hope.

A pitch allows for multiple voices.  A harmony of ideas so to speak, lending itself to a broader audience and broader acceptance.

A pitch will rarely be exclusive to a slide deck.  The narrator shapes the path, the pitch, and the slides are simply icing on the cake.

Salespeople often bemoan the lack of differentiation among products as an impediment to their competitive advantage.  “We’re just as good as the other guys and they’re just as good as we are,” they say.  Competing on the  basis of sound levels, efficiency ratings, or fractional design differences increases the likelihood of a price bake-off.  The salesperson who wants to win will double down on his pitch and presentation skills (Note: I’ll be focusing intensely on the craft of the product pitch with my clients in 2020).  

“It’s not called the wheel.  It’s called the carousel.”

Published by Matt Plughoff

Exploring the next evolution of small business success.

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