Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sales Skills For Group Presentations

Selling is just like playing chess—the rules are the same every time but no two games are just exactly alike. And it’s a good thing, too, since we’d all get bored pretty quickly if the games ever started repeating themselves. One of the variations many salespeople encounter is the need to make a presentation to a group rather than to a single prospect.

It may be Mr. Big and his assistant, a committee of decision-makers and decision-influencers, or even the board of directors. When you make a group presentation, you’re generally working in a different physical setting that can range from chairs pulled around the prospect’s desk to a conference room with a table the size of an aircraft carrier. You might even have to make your pitch in an auditorium complete with podium and sound system.

Regardless of the setting, the basic differences between a group presentation and a one-on-one call deal with the distribution and control of your written materials and handling the very different dynamics of large group meetings. It’s important to remember, though, that all the other good sales techniques remain the same. Your goal is still to gather information about the prospect, for example, and you should still follow the five-page presentation format I introduced in The Dynamic Manager’s Guide To Sales Techniques, including asking questions at the end of each page. Your stage presence and enthusiasm level are even more important when pitching a group, though, as is your ability to gain their attention and hold their interest.

Handling your written materials is actually easier in many ways when you are working with a group. The best tactic to control the pace of the presentation is to hand out one page of the presentation at a time. You never want to distribute the entire proposal at the beginning for the same reason you shouldn’t just hand it to a single prospect: they’ll turn immediately to the price and fixate on it. Instead, hand out each page in its turn. In a small room with a limited number of participants, you can handle this easily yourself—provided you can walk and talk at the same time. With a larger group you may need some assistance, which can be provided by the group members themselves. If you don’t have a helper with you, just ask the people nearest to you to “take one and pass them on” to the people behind them. Your goal is to see that everyone in the group gets a copy—but that none have any page in their hand until you’re ready to talk about it.

Dave Donelson distills the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for small business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, motivating personnel, financial management, and business strategy.

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