Sales Presentation Outline

Sales Presentation Outline

Make your Sales Presentation Outline lead to the close

A good sales presentation is the one that closes the deal. To do this your client needs to both remember your presentation and take action based on its content. Sadly, too many presentations are so dull and utterly forgettable that the necessary action never happens. Even the best run sales campaigns can occasionally fall victim to the poor-presentation booby trap. 

Above all else, your presentation needs a consistent, well defined structure. This helps in two ways - it keeps you on track and it helps your client to remember what you're banging on about.  As you prepare your sales presentation outline make sure you keep the needs of your audience 'front and centre'. Focus on making the content useful to them by ensuring you answer their needs (as opposed to present features of your solution). 

Starting your Sales Presentation

I've sat through many business presentations - as I'm sure you have too - and I find that the overwhelming majority of them start in a rather dull and lifeless manner. And if the presenter doesn't hook me right from the get-go, they're unlikely to get a second chance: I've mentally 'left the building'.

You only get one chance to make a first impression. Most people will suspend judgement for about the first 90s, so it's important to use that time wisely. 90 seconds equates to approximately 200 words. Don't waste them on trivia. Your sales presentation outline should have an opening that you can easily commit to memory: this is not a time to rely on cue cards. Every word, pause and breath at this crucial stage of your sales presentation needs to be carefully scripted and delivered. eturning for a moment to the notion of not wasting words (especially at the start), I still occasionally hear presenters open with the classic, “Can you hear me at the back?” Rule #1 is: Be Prepared - and that includes doing sound checks before you walk on stage.

When you're creating your sales presentation outline the key question to ask yourself about your proposed opening is:

"Will this capture attention?"

Don't be in a hurry to tell them all about how good you are and how long you've been in business. They know that already - they've read your website, checked out your LinkedIn profile, scanned your Facebook page and been following you on Twitter for three months. Tell them something interesting. For more ideas on how to make your sales presentation outline more effective download a copy of our latest guide, Complex Sales Simplified

Guiding understanding and creating impact

Once you're up and running and have everyone's attention, you can move to the body of your content. You'll need to keep this engaging and interesting, as this is where attention can stand to wane. Here are some ideas to work into your sales presentation outline:

  1. Condense your presentation into 3 or 5 strong key messages. Your audience stands a reasonable chance of remembering this many points. By contrast, I sat through a presentation called "Top 10 Strategic Initiatives". Asking around during the coffee break nobody could recall more than two: what a waste of everyone's time.
  2. Use stories to illustrate your key messages. Stories get remembered. Use this characteristic to carry your key messages. If you successfully link your key points to relevant stories, you'll dramatically increase audience recall of your key points.
  3. Support your key messages with relevant statistics. Deliver them in an easily digestible form - focus on creating simple, bold charts that make the main point - you can fill in the details as part of your narrative.

Call to action and questions

Many business presentations close with questions. This is one of the worst ways to close, so please make sure it's specifically excluded from your sales presentation outline. The reason I don't recommend closing with a Q&A is that you run the risk of losing control of the presentation. This may well result in the last voice being that of a dissenter - not a smart move. Deal with questions as you go through your presentation and offer a final opportunity prior to your concluding remarks. I've found the following works well:

“I do have some concluding remarks ladies and gentleman, but now would be a good time to answer any remaining questions.”

You're making it clear that you haven't yet finished. You're preserving the final words for your call to action, ensuring that the audience leaves with this fresh in their mind.

Avoiding the biggest mistakes in creating a sales presentation outline

  1. Seek out and remove all bullet point lists. They're perfectly okay in handouts (and documents like this), but have no place on presentation visuals. The fact that PowerPoint makes them easy to create does not mean they're a good thing.  

  2. Make sure images are interesting, relevant and full-screen. Don't be shy: if you're going to use an image, fill the screen with it and then justify your action. There's nothing to be gained by pasting something the size of a postage stamp next to a bullet point list (as can be found in many templates). All the evidence speaks against this being effective. Link your images to your stories and you'll help people remember your key message. 

  3. Short and snappy wins the day. Keep it tight. If you can't summarise your proposal on one side of paper then it's a pretty clear indication that you don't understand your client's key problem. A well written executive summary doesn't need a one hour presentation of 76 slides to explain it. 

How to improve your sales presentation outline

Test your sales presentation outline with our unique Presentation Benchmark Tool.  The tool comprises 20 simple "yes/no" questions and takes only a couple of minutes to complete. You'll get an objective numeric score reflecting the effectiveness of you presentation.

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