There are many, many elements and attributes that contribute to one’s success in sales.
Solid presentation skills are table stakes.
Regardless of where you are in your tenure and career trajectory, you will never regret focusing on improving your sales presentation skills. Even if you only present once in awhile.
I’ve been in sales development a long time. I’ve coached hundreds, if not thousands, of sales professionals. And I’ve seen amazing presentations, horrible presentations and everything in between.
If you can’t communicate and talk to other people and get across your ideas, you’re giving up your potential. Warren Buffet
Regardless of whether you are presenting alone or with a team, rehearsal is vital to your equation. While rehearsing isn’t the only thing that matters, it’s a significant and controllable factor in the equation.
Almost all sales professionals and leaders agree rehearsal is critical…but…that doesn’t prevent many from making excuse after excuse as to why there weren’t many rehearsals, if any at all before a “must win” sales presentation.
Before we talk about improving skills, we need to determine the starting point. Are you already good and wanting to get better? Reflect on where your presentations skills currently stand. Are you an “A” presenter trying to become even better? A “C” presenter needing to jump all the way to an “A”? This short post might help you reflect on self-assessment as a good first input.
I can’t promise you that you will win more business if you improve your presentations skills, but I can assure you that mediocre presentation skills turn your deals sideways quickly.
Rehearsal Advice for Great Sales Presentations
Sometimes just saying over and over that rehearsal is important misses the mark. Everyone nods but more particulars are needed.
Here are three specific ways to rehearse with some commentary on tactical application included.
Don’t overthink the advice.
Taking the time to truly rehearse is more important than how you rehearse and where you rehearse.
Sitting by yourself and glancing over your slides and thinking about what you will say is not rehearsal. That is a preparation step before rehearsal.
These suggestions work for any type of sales presentation. Everyone together in-person, everyone virtual on video, or some hybrid experience.
1) Rehearse Alone
Rehearse alone. Ideally, in a location that mimics the presentation venue itself.
If you are presenting in a board room, consider rehearsing in a conference room of similar size in your own office, your dining room at home, or in a similar meeting space.
Stand where you plan to stand. Think through where key people might sit. What about technical support? Is there a screen? A laptop? Handouts? Just think through the entire experience in the space.
If you will be presenting virtually, will you stand or sit? Will you use your own background or one provided in the video chat platform? Will you use your laptop audio or dial in? AirPods? And on and on.
If you are part of a team, still rehearse alone – whatever part is truly yours. Over-clarify with your team (if needed) on how you will be introduced, when you will start speaking, and how you will hand it off to someone else.
2) Rehearse with Someone Else Watching & Giving Feedback
Rehearsing with someone else watching can be a little intimidating. It is critical you pick someone (or more than someone) whom you trust. It is just as important to pick someone who will give you honest feedback, and more importantly, help you improve.
Someone going on and on about your “um’s” and “ah’s” might be a frustrating experience for you, especially if the intent of rehearsal is to make your sales presentation better. What I mean is that if the um’s and ah’s aren’t that distracting to your audience and you are trying to improve your overall delivery, your body language, your persuasiveness and other key factors, it might not help to rehearse with someone who only focuses on that one element.
When rehearsing with someone else, block more time than you think you will need.
Stand up and present. Don’t just sit and discuss the slides. An actual rehearsal becomes like theater. You are the actor. The room is your stage.
3) Record Yourself Presenting (and make yourself watch it)
We all carry smartphones. No fancy equipment needed. And most video meeting platforms make it very easy to record, even when alone.
Here’s the kicker. Record yourself presenting (or have someone help) and watch the playback three separate times.
- Watch and listen to yourself presenting
- Watch yourself presenting with the audio on mute
- Listen to yourself presenting while not watching the screen
You will learn a lot from this exercise. Consider making some notes. Don’t get fixated on any one particular thing. Your audience will not have instant reply when you give the presentation live.
If you are truly trying to cultivate your craft, let some time pass between this first round of watching the video, and not only watch again, but in a day or two, re-record, and watch again. Like game film.
It takes one hour of preparation for each minute of presentation time. Wayne Burgraff
If you’ve not tried any of these three rehearsal suggestions before, start slow. Just pick one at a time. Build momentum.
If you and your team would like to discuss if a presentation skills workshop could be right for you, let’s talk.
Presentation skills improvement = success.