The most convincing sales presenters know this insight

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Whenever Show & Tell has been contracted to rebuild a sales or marketing presentation, we notice a consistent pattern. The presentations we get don’t make you want to buy what is being sold. Unless you are predisposed to purchase the product or service, it is of no interest to you.

These presentations tend to start with the brand’s credentials and then move on to talk about the product or service. While this approach makes logical sense, it fails to address one key element of any sales presentation i.e. that what you are selling may not be what your client is buying. You may argue that your sales figures would say otherwise, but with a better strategy your sales figures could be much higher.

So now you may ask, what is this “better” strategy?

Before I reveal that, let me try to explain why most people don’t use it. Oftentimes, we find ourselves rushing to make the presentation because we have invested a considerable amount of time in preparing the written proposal and the financials. This lack of time means that we need to throw together slides that focus on what we know (our business, product or service).

The problem is that your clients are not buying your business, product or service – even if they sign a contract and make the payments.

I know this sounds a little cryptic and what you could expect from the Cheshire Cat in Wonderland, but the fact remains that your clients are not buying what you are selling. The brand, technology, process or whatever else you profess to offer is not what they are purchasing. It is what the brand, product or service can do for them.

A popular analogy at Show & Tell is that of the doorknob. When you sell a doorknob, a customer isn’t buying a mechanical locking device that attaches to their door (no matter how revolutionary, unique or beautifully designed it is). The customer is buying safety for their loved one or a symbol to accentuate their wealth and prosperity. While your generic pitch would make the sale to the customer who is living in an area with an increase in break-ins or someone who is in competition with their neighbour for the fanciest house on the street, your generic pitch won’t sell to the unenlightened customer who does not see a doorknob as anything more than a doorknob.

Therefore, the better strategy – whether you are selling new technology, a better service process or an improved doorknob; is to enlighten the customer on what they are buying before you tell them what you are selling.

The challenge is that the emotion that you are sating is almost subconscious and most customers when asked would not be able to tell you why they made the purchase. Therefore, it is your job as the presenter to understand not just your business, product or service but also your customer. To capture that understanding, you need to be able to distance yourself from the ‘what’ you are selling and look at the presentation with fresh eyes to understand ‘why’ your audience really needs what you offer.