A vital part of your mission as a sales presenter is to listen carefully and read your audience.
You need to understand their drivers, the problem they want help solving and the constraints they feel. Sometimes you can even help your audience understand their own problem. If all goes well the problem will turn out to be the challenge of living without your product or service, in which case the solution will be obvious.
So, how do you do this? Sales guru Zig Ziglar said if you get people to like you, they will listen to you, but if they trust you they will do business with you.
Here are eight ways to gain your audience’s trust:
Demonstrate your personal credibility
Know the product or service, and your company, inside out. And also be knowledgeable about your industry and relevant news.
Trust depends on your personal credibility. As we know the “small talk” before a meeting starts gives you an opportunity both to demonstrate your interest by listening to your client and also to show your broad industry knowledge as you contribute to the conversation. You need to be able to talk about your company beyond your immediate remit so you personally can be seen as a trusted business partner.
Start as you mean to go on
Help your audience to build the feeling of trust in you. One way to do this is to start your presentation with a question. This will show you are ready to handle whatever answers you get and that you know you have the skill to smoothly carry on to the first part of your presentation.
If you are introducing an innovative new product you may want to begin with a short interactive exercise. This will show that your style of presenting matches the innovative nature of the product.
If you are at an early stage with a potential customer you may want to ask questions that relate to the desired change the audience is seeking – knowing that your product or service is the solution. These should be bulleted on a flip chart and returned to at the end in order to create a link to the service/product you are offering.
Put your audience’s needs first
Focus on the audience and demonstrate your understanding of their challenges as they relate to the solutions offered by your product or service.
Throughout your presentation always showcase the value of the product in relation to your audience’s needs. This will mean your audience gains an understanding of the value with respect to cost, speed of solution, guarantees etc. and see the relevance to their specific situation.
Early in your presentation, it is important to give your credential statement. This is when you state your mission for them. You tell your audience what your product will do and how it is going to benefit them, in not more than two sentences.
If you can, end your statement with a twist that serves as a memorable word or phrase for your audience. Remember Steve Job’s brilliant introduction of the ipod? 1000 songs in your pocket.
Create a connection between your product/service and the audience
For example, give a live demonstration to show how the product works.
For services, very short video clips and testimonials showing results are very powerful. There is also nothing better than using real examples and any transformations you have witnessed.
Your audience will develop more trust in a product they’ve seen working or if they’ve heard credible testimonials from high-quality, believable sources.
Plan your visual aids carefully
As a rule, I do not like using Power Point slides. I prefer to use images and video clips rather than wordy bullet points. This is because psychologically they help to make a more immediate and strong connection. They also help your audience retain the information
However, you need to take account of the culture of the audience to whom you are presenting. If you are presenting a complex product to expert buyers you will need to have detailed slides available. Even in this situation some simple, strong visuals can make a memorable impact when used judiciously.
Keep your audience interested
Be animated. Use your voice effectively by varying your modulation. Without this a presentation can make the audience feel bored – even if the content is relevant and important. If you are using slides there is always a danger of reading them which tends to make your voice monotonous.
Avoid filler words such as ‘um, uh, so, like, you know, actually, literally’ etc. Too many filler words will create distraction, and compromise your credibility by suggesting a lack of preparation, knowledge and passion.
Rehearsing your presentation will help you to use your voice and words to best effect. Ideally watch yourself on video so you notice where you can improve. Your aim is to pronounce your words clearly, keep your focus on your audience not your slides, and demonstrate appropriate levels of enthusiasm and energy throughout the presentation.
Handle Questions & Answers assertively
Any good sales presenter will continuously build or maintain trust through the way he or she handles questions. Keep the answers brief. Answer the question that has been asked and don’t be tempted to go off on a tangent. That way you’ll maintain the energy of this vital part of your sales presentation.
If you genuinely do not know the answer to a question then promise to get back to them (and remember to do so).
You may have agreed that you will answer questions at the end of the presentation but it’s good to be flexible. If, part way through, you can see that a key decision maker is looking quizzical stop and ask if s/he has a question.
Close with care
How you end your presentation is very important. Your choice should be based on your understanding of your audience and where they are in their decision making process.
If you are one of several suppliers they are seeing, your aim is to get them to ask you back for a more detailed discussion. In this situation briefly summarise what you have understood from them and the positive way you can solve their problem.
If you are selling a product and an immediate sales is on the cards I like to use the
Indirect Close. For example, we could deliver the goods on Wednesday or Friday – which would you prefer? Confidence is contagious. Start by reminding your audience of the pain they will continue to suffer until they use your products. If possible offer an added bonus if they buy today.
Your knowledge of the audience will guide you to the appropriate close.
al part of the presentation is crucial to your goal – so if you want to make a sale, then practice your close in advance. On the day use your personal credibility and build on the trust you have established.
About the author:
Essie Rewane-Adjare is from Toastmasters, a non-profit educational organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Headquartered in California, the organisation’s membership exceeds 345,000 in more than 15,900 clubs in 142 countries. There are more than 300 clubs in the UK and Ireland with over 7,500 members. To find your local club visit: www.toastmasters.org