The Bad Sales Presentation: Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

September 27, 2013
The Bad Sales Presentation: Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

Being on the receiving end of a bad sales presentation is definitely and awkward, painful experience.

The other day I was using our website’s back end tool to update some of our content. As I navigated through the clunky menus, a familiar feeling of frustration swept over me. You know, the kind of frustration that comes from spending 30 minutes doing a simple task, knowing that it could take 5 minutes in a more intuitive environment. Yeah, that frustration!

Luckily, after frustration comes motivation. I was motivated to close our General Sales Manager on the idea of investing in a new website with better tools. Knowing some of the comments he made in the past helped me to jot down a quick list of pain points. From there, I developed some questions I would ask to guide him back to the aforementioned pain. My plan was flawless.

The General Sales Manager (GSM) and I meet on a regular basis to review data such as our website engagement, prospects, etc. I knew this would be the perfect opportunity for me to start asking some of the questions I prepared. Before I could even let my first question fly, the GSM looked over to me and said, “David, it’s time to move forward with a new website vendor. There is so much more we can do. Any ideas?” Well, so much for having to sell him on the idea.

As we met with prospective partners, we were treated to lengthy presentations where “salesperson” after “salesperson” bludgeoned us with technical jargon and other irrelevant facts. The first thing that popped into my mind is “why hasn’t anyone asked any relevant questions?”

Unfortunately, this is a trap some sales professionals in the technology field fall into. They assume that the sexiness of their product is more important to the client than than the need it addresses.

Before you whip out your laptop and start demoing your product, there are a few quick things to remember to ensure your presentation is a success.

Avoiding a Bad Sales Presentation:

  • Have a discovery meeting. Whether this is a phone call or face-to-face meeting, find out all the reasons your prospect is reaching out to you. Ask, ask, ask.
  • Before your demo, confirm your understanding of their needs. Send an e-mail summarizing your understanding of their needs and get confirmation. Never assume; get a response.
  • Customize your presentation. Once their needs are confirmed, develop an agenda, ensuring each point is discussed.

These simple steps can sometimes get missed during the excitement of a presentation. Especially when you know your product is superior and the functionality will blow away your prospect.

After sitting through four presentations, we finally selected a vendor. It wasn’t the flashiest, or even the one with the most functionality. It was the vendor that understood what we were trying to accomplish, addressed our challenges and made us feel as though they were our partner.

Have you ever sat through a bad sales presentation? What ultimately made one vendor stand out from the other?

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