Thursday, June 5, 2008

12 horrible sales presentation mistakes

I've been to a lot of sales presentations lately, and nearly all of them bore, repulse, or annoy. I mean, I like the people who do the presentations, but their scripted, dry, corporate fluff is difficult to sit through.

It's kind of funny being a sales person and listening to a sales speech from someone else. You feel almost like a spy. You pay more attention to how the product is being pitched, than to what the product is.

Here are some of the most serious errors seen in recent sales presentations by companies trying to sell products and services to business people.

1. Pretending to care about us, but not asking any questions to better understand our business.

2. Making self-centered proclamations like "We're really excited about this new program" or "We're so happy to offer you these fine services". Who cares if they're excited or happy? That's totally irrelevant to us. They're certainly not making us excited or happy.

3. Vague testimonials from anonymous customers, but no real tangible benefits cited, no direct and proven connection between the product and increased sales, or whatever result the product supposedly provides.

4. No interaction between sales presenter and audience, just a pulpit pounding lecture, a list of heads, subheads, and bullet points -- through which sheer aggressive force of words, argument, and enthusiasm are expected to get us to open our wallets and give them our cash.

5. Presenting the material from the company's point of view, rather than basing it on the specific needs and interests of the audience.

6. Using a Power Point slide show as visual reinforcement of salient aspects of the speech, when all Power Point does is put people to sleep and distract the audience from what the presenter is saying.

7. Focusing too much on the history, credentials, and technology of the company, with no indication of how the whole mess translates into any benefits to the audience, aside from "benefit from our 30 years experience in the business of blah blah blah" which means nothing.

8. Assuming you can preach a sales sermon to a drowsy, captive, passive audience, then expect them to take a decisive action from that state of apathy and lethargy.

9. Trying pathetically hard to present the product, without making any effort to find out if the audience and the product would be a good fit.

10. Failing to provide any valuable, relevant, useful educational material that will be treasured by the audience and kept as a constant reminder of the company'a expertise and as a generator of good will.

11. Assuming that if they "polish" the superficial aspects of the presentation, and throw enough "information" at an audience, they're bound to get some sales out of it.

12. Asking, at the end of the presentation, if anybody has any questions, after the audience has been clobbered with a boring speech. Questions? The only one that comes to mind is "Where's the nearest exit?"

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