Great presentation skills are a powerful asset for a salesperson. Lousy presentation skills are a serious liability. Even if you have the best product, service, delivery, warranty and price, a poor sales presentation can shatter your prospect’s confidence in your company, causing them to run in the other direction.
If your presentation skills suck—or aren’t as stellar as you’d like them to be—use some of these strategies to get them up to snuff.
1. Study others
Watch and listen carefully to people who are great presenters. Pay close attention to what they do and how they do it. Notice also what they don’t do. Take detailed notes whenever possible. And if appropriate, ask them for advice.
2. Read books
There are hundreds of books on presentation skills. Browse your favorite book store or Amazon.com. Cash flow a little tight at the moment? Hit your local library.
3. Invest in audio or video programs
Audio training programs allow you to learn while you drive, bike or roller blade. They also enable you to hear examples of good presentation techniques. Video programs go a step further and show you examples of effective presentation visuals.
No amount of reading, listening or watching will make you a better presenter unless you practice. To be a better speaker, you need to speak. As much as possible, as often as possible. Build practice time into your schedule.
5. Get peer feedback
It helps to practice in front of a live audience. Especially if that audience contains other experienced presenters. Ask your colleagues, bosses and anybody else who has a stake in your sales success to listen to you and critique you.
6. Videotape yourself
Get feedback from your toughest critic: yourself. Record yourself and watch the video. You’ll be amazed, impressed and horrified by what you see.
7. Join Toastmasters
If you’re not familiar with Toastmasters International, it’s a non-profit organization with thousands of clubs around the world. You can develop your presentation skills at your own pace, in a supportive environment. For more details and to find a club near you, visit www.toastmasters.org.
8. Hire a coach
A presentation skills coach is a significant investment, but it can produce massive dividends quickly. A coach can identify your biggest problem areas and help you correct them fast. Because of the immediate impact coaching can make on your sales, your company may pay the tab. If not, your investment is still tax-deductible. And well worth it.
I’ve seen enough sales presentations to know that many—if not most—salespeople don’t do them well. Which means sharpening your skills can give you a huge edge over your competitors. Don’t risk another sales with a sub-par presentation. Boost your skills and you’ll boost your sales.