Small business and sales go hand in hand. Indeed, it is impossible to be a small business owner without learning a thing or two about sales in the process. But that said, it doesn’t always follow that making sales comes easy, because for some people it most certainly does not.
The good news is that sales is one of those things that, even if it doesn’t come naturally, can be learned with a bit of effort. This is especially true for those all-important presentations. Small business folks make sales presentations all of the time, whether it is a pitch to a prospective client, a sales call, a speech, or a PowerPoint and/or Prezi presentation with all the bells and whistles, all of which begs the question:
Are there secrets to giving a great sales presentation?
You bet. This is something I study a lot – not only is giving speeches one of my own profit centers but in my line of work I am fortunate enough to get to meet and interview some of the top speakers and presenters out there.
Here are some top tips from the pros:
Peter Handal is the president, CEO and chairman of Dale Carnegie Training. You probably have heard the name Dale Carnegie from the bestselling book How to Win Friends and Influence People (over five million copies sold!). Carnegie was one of the best public speakers ever and today the company that carries his name trains millions of people across the globe. According to Handal, there are several things that go into making a great presentation:
- Get to the Point: “Right from the start, state your main points in a direct way in order to best express your message.”
- Be Confident: “Whether presenting a proposal or speech, by simply being confident in your convictions you can ensure to make a positive impact on your audience,” he told me. (And I will add, if you lack confidence, fake it till you make it).
- Listen: “In order to become a great public speaker, one half of the battle is talking while the other half is being a good listener.”
- Know Your Audience: “When giving a speech, I always wander around the audience before a talk, or do research on them before I present, so that I know who they are and what they’re interested in.”
- Be Overly Prepared: “By doing your research and knowing the audience’s expectations, you will always be prepared to answer any questions they may have.”
And finally, here is a Carnegie tip that is worth its weight in gold: “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
One of the best presenters I have ever met is super nice guy Tony Little. If you have ever been surfing TV at night and come across a pony-tailed, highly-enthusiastic man selling exercise equipment, that is Tony Little. How good is he? Little’s infomercials and stints on HSN have generated over $3 billion in sales (yes, that’s with a B.) So when he speaks about how to make a good presentation, we should listen.
Here is what he says: “Enthusiasm sells!” By watching Little on TV, you know he lives by this advice. He’s highly enthusiastic, and while that is of course a big part of his personality, Little says it is also a big part of his success. He suggests that being highly enthusiastic is infectious and that it infuses people with the confidence to buy from you.
Another one of the top presenters of our time was the late, great Steve Jobs. Jobs did all sorts of things well, and one of those was making presentations. In fact, one of the best books you can pick up on this subject is The
Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs. It is chock-full of all sorts of good ideas, but two in particular warrant your attention right now:
- Don’t stuff your deck with words: A Jobs keynote was conspicuous by the lack of words and bullet points in his PowerPoint presentations. What you saw instead where pictures, and even then, just a few. This forced people to pay attention to what he said and not be reading the slide.
- Keep them in suspense: Jobs would always tease the audience and then say, “just one more thing” and then make the big pitch. Remember, a great presentation, like a great story, has a beginning, middle and end.
Which brings me to,
Tony Robbins. Somehow, some way, I ended up at a Tony Robbins event in the mid-80’s. At that event, he made me believe that I could walk on hot coals. And I did. To this day, I still don’t know how that happened.
But what I do know is that Robbins is a gifted presenter and salesman. Robbins says that a key ingredient to any great sales pitch is the story. “People love to hear stories,” he says, and if the story has a point relevant to the point you are trying to make, they will hang on your every word to hear the outcome.
And after that, they will end up buying from you (or maybe walking on 20 feet of burning embers) but either way, you will have made a great impression.
What your secrets to a successful presentation? Share them with the SBOC community below.
About Steve Strauss
Steve Strauss is one of the world’s leading small business experts. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. Steve is also the author of the Small Business Bible and his latest book is Get Your Business Funded: Creative Methods for Getting the Money You Need. A popular media guest, Steve is a regular contributor to ABC News Now and frequently appears on television and radio. His business, The Strauss Group, creates unique, actionable, entertaining, and informative multi-media small business content.