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NorthStar Performance Partners, LLC | Minneapolis, MN

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Many of us in sales use the presentation phase for educating the buyer about what we do and what we offer. Does that really make sense strategically?

We may be tempted to use the presentation as an opportunity to talk about everything we’ve done in our career. Everything our awesome product or service does, has done, or might do in the future. Everything our happy clients and customers have said about us. Here’s a question: How do you feel when you’re on the receiving end of a presentation like that?

Of course, you tune out. We all do. So, what we tell our clients is simple: Don’t do it.

Don’t give a presentation to educate. Don’t suffer from premature presentation syndrome. Don’t put your presentation early in the sales process because that kind of presentation does not actually help you close business. In fact, you know what it does? It prevents you from closing business.

Here’s why: When you present too early, there’s a seesaw dynamic going on. Are you moving the sale forward or not? It’s hard to tell because you don’t yet have enough information to make a powerful recommendation. Sometimes you’re focusing on why it makes sense to do business, but sometimes you’re playing catch-up, because you haven’t gotten the buyer to open up about everything that’s not working in their world. When the leverage swings back and forth like that, you lose momentum.

Early in the sale, you should be in the information gathering phase, tracking down as many relevant facts as you can. You need all the facts before you present.

When you present before you have enough facts to make a strong recommendation, you squander momentum. Why? Because you're presenting to something that you truly don't understand. You haven’t connected the buyer's pains to what you're presenting, and that connection is vitally important.

The key to a successful presentation is to understand the buyer’s situation fully, and then to prepare and rehearse. Most of us don’t do that – we show up cold, with insufficient information, and we try to wing it. So, we end up talking about what we’re most comfortable talking about: ourselves, our company, and our product or service. That turns buyers off, stretches out sales cycles, and shrinks our closing ratio.

If you want to take your game to the next level and maximize your odds of winning, save your presentation for late in the sales cycle. Get the information you need. Practice your presentation. If you’re in a team selling situation, get total clarity on exactly who is doing what, and when. Tie your recommendations directly to the pains you’ve uncovered. And only deliver the presentation when you have reason to believe that doing so will close the sale. Sell today – educate tomorrow!

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