During the last 17-plus years I have been part of, or watched, hundreds of sales presentations. More recently, I viewed a series of sales demonstrations and all but one of the four sales team opened their presentation the same way.
Here are three openers you need to avoid using when starting a sales presentation.
Social chit-chatContrary to popular belief, spending time at the beginning of a sales presentation engaging the prospect in social chit-chat to create rapport is not a good use of time. You may think it’s important but your prospect doesn’t really care. They are busy and want you to get to the point—quickly—so they can get back to work.
There are two exceptions to this rule…
1. If you are doing a presentation for multiple people and you are waiting for people to arrive, it is perfectly acceptable to engage the others in small talk. However, once everyone has shown up, get started immediately.
2. If your prospect engages you in small talk then it makes good business to participate. Otherwise, don’t waste their time–or yours.
Thanking the prospectMost of the sales presentations I have observed start with the sales person(s) thanking the prospect for the opportunity to present their solution. This behavior diminishes your credibility and puts you in a submissive position. Plus, it doesn’t any add value to the presentation.
Talking about your companyThis is perhaps the worst mistake. The vast majority of sales presentations I have seen open with the seller talking about their company.
- How long they have been in business
- The clients they have on their roster
- The awards they have won
- The list goes on
First impressions are critical. And if you make the wrong impression in the first vital moments of a sales presentation you run the risk of losing that opportunity.
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Kelley Robertson is a specialist in sales training.
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