4 Silly Sales Presentation Mistakes Every Rep Should Avoid

May 13, 2014 | Brendan Cournoyer
4 Silly Sales Presentation Mistakes Every Rep Should Avoid

Why do some sales presentations fail while others succeed? Well… lots of reasons. But while not every factor for a successful meeting is under a rep’s control, salespeople can still stack the deck in their favor my steering clear of some of the most basic and common missteps.

Here are four sales presentation mistakes that the best B2B reps tend to avoid.

#1. Too much ad-libbing, not enough preparation

While stiff, canned speeches can pose their own problems during sales presentations, that doesn’t mean you should just wing it either.

“Preparation is the first step toward a better sales presentation,” writes B2B sales trainer and author Dave Kahle for Eye on Sales. He specifically cites the importance of having organized content collateral (slides, brochures, etc.) and practicing until you have it right – which seems pretty obvious, right?

While this might seem like common sense to some, Kahle says that going into a meeting unprepared has become an increasingly common – and unfortunate – trend with today’s salespeople.

“The world is full of salespeople who either have little respect for their customer’s time, no particular interest in doing their jobs well, or an over-inflated view of their own ad-libbing abilities,” he writes. “Any of these produces the sense that they don’t need to prepare, that on the spur of the moment, they will come up with the most persuasive things to say, in the most effective manner. That’s too bad.”

Read more: The 3 Biggest Mistakes in Sales Presentations

#2. Too many words, not enough value

A recent SiriusDecisions survey cited failure to articulate value as the most popular reason why most reps miss their quotas. While that flaw is a problem at all levels of sales communications, it can obviously be a disaster on presentation day.

“Presenting features and functions is like describing plastics used to make a telephone, rather than what that phone can mean to your life,” writes business author Geoffrey James for Inc.com. “What your solution IS and DOES has much less emotional impact than what it MEANS to them.”

He suggests cutting through the clutter of company details and product features, and instead focusing on no more than three relevant value propositions that are most important to the prospect.

“It is hard enough for prospects to make intelligent choices, so don't make it harder,” James writes. “If you cannot articulate and prove the difference between you and your competitor – how can you possibly expect your prospects to do so?”

Read more: 3 Reasons Most Presentations Fail

#3. Too much talking, not enough listening

This one is pretty closely related to the one above, but even if you’re focused on your value props, you can still lose the room if you spend too much time prattling on.

Part of being an authoritative presence in a sales meeting is being able to effectively answer questions while taking the time to make the audience part of the conversation. That means listening with both your eyes and your ears.

“Watch for physical responses. When your prospect has questions and you fail to answer them, they become turned off,” writes Mike Kamo for the Stride Blog. “People just want to be heard and will likely buy from you if they believe you understand their needs and are willing, and more importantly, able to answer their questions.”

Read more: Do You Make These Sales Presentation Mistakes?

#4. Too much facing the wrong direction

“Talking with your back to people – often seen hand-in-hand with looking back to read directly from your PowerPoint slides – is unprofessional at best, and outright rude at worst,” writes Colleen Francis, founder of Engage Selling Solutions. “Don't do it. Ever.”

She notes that sometimes the setup of the room itself can hurt sales reps if they’re not careful. For example, a table with a U-shape can put a rep’s back to half the audience if they wander too far into the center.

“[Sales presenters should] use the front of the room as much as possible, and move deliberately from side to side, turning slightly to face each side as you speak,” Francis explains. “And when delivering your most important points, make sure you're dead center of the table.”

Read more: The Top 9 Sales Presentation Mistakes – and What to Do Instead

These are just few common sales presentation mistakes reps make that are both easy to avoid AND easy to fix. What other presentation missteps do you think reps should avoid at all costs? Sounds off in the comments section and let us know!

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