Wednesday, March 28, 2007

12 horrible sales presentation mistakes

I've been to a lot of sales presentations lately, and nearly all of them bore, repulse, or annoy. I mean, I like the people who present and represent, but their scripted, corporate fluff assaults, not so much.

It's kind of funny being a sales person and listening to a sales speech from someone else. You feel almost like a spy. You pay more attention to how the product is being pitched, than to what the product is.

Here are some of the most serious errors we've seen in recent sales presentations by companies trying to sell products and services.

1. Pretending to care about us, but not asking any questions to better understand our business.

2. Making self-centered proclamations like "We're really excited about this new program" or "We're happy to offer you all these bonuses and benefits". Who cares if they are excited or happy? That's totally irrelevant.

3. Vague testimonials from satisfied customers, but no real tangible benefits cited, no direct and proven connection between the product and increased sales, or whatever result is desired from using the product.

4. No interaction between sales presenter and audience, just a pulpit pounding lecture in which sheer force of words, argument, and enthusiasm are expected to get us to open our wallets and give them our cash.

5. Presenting the material from the company's point of view, rather than basing it on the specific needs and interests of the audience.

6. Using a Power Point slide show as visual reinforcement of salient aspects of the speech, when all Power Point does is put people to sleep.

7. Focusing too much on the history, credentials, and technology of the company, with no indication of how the whole mess translates into any benefits to the audience, aside from "benefit from our 30 years experience in the business of blah blah blah" which means nothing.

8. Assuming you can preach a sales sermon to a drowsy, captive, passive audience, then expect them to take a decisive action from that state of apathy and lethargy.

9. Trying pathetically hard to present the product, without making any effort to find out if the audience and the product would be a good fit.

10. Failing to provide any valuable, relevant, useful educational material that will be treasured by the audience and kept as a constant reminder of the company and generator of good will.

11. Assuming that if they "polish" the superficial aspects of the presentation, and throw enough "information" at an audience, they're bound to get some sales out of it.

12. Asking, at the end of the presentation, if anybody has any questions, after the audience has been clobbered with a boring speech. Questions? The only one that comes to mind is "Where's the nearest exit?"


Paul Woodhouse said...

There be more money in telling people how to make money than trying to make money in itself.

I nearly lost the will to live at some bloody small business conference thingy not too long back.

All these '7 Point Plans To Wealth and Health' and other hopeless shit. Billions of hapless seminars and networking opportunities.

I honestly couldn't sell a fresh kidney to a guy on dialysis. But, I could tell him an entertaining tale about the previous owner. ;-)

Humour and last laugh said...

Sales presentations are the same everywhere, I suppose. You have pointed out the follies so well.
Here they are too much laced with emotions, some times associating the national pride while a customer buys a product like condom.
Ah the corporate culture!

steven edward streight said...

These sales presentations, disguised as "marketing seminar" or "innovation workshop", are styled after cults.

Using cult indoctrination techniques, the marketing firms, often accompanied or (even worse) merely introduced by the company, strive valiantly toward a whimsical "instant brainwash" result.

By being slick, "polished", rubbing the wrong way, high pressure, hard sell, command to action oriented, they sicken and disgust us who are paving the way for the Share Economy, Soft Sell, Whisper-Transmission Tantric Retail Revolution.

We cannot stomach such mentally coercive tactics.

We are consuming their message and ideas, and choking on its tough hide and sharp bones. All we get for our labor of focused attention? Throbbing gristle.

Chris Brown said...

I have to agree with you... but now I'm going to search your blog to find the 12 keys to an outstanding sales presentation. Hopefully I can find it.

It's much harder to explain how to make a great presentation and to do a great one than it is to do a boring one, right?

Chris Brown
Branding & Marketing blog