Even Big Companies Made These Mistakes In Sales Presentations
Knowing how to engage people during your sales presentations is critical. I’ve just spent two weeks attending travel industry conventions, during which cruise lines, land tour operators, travel insurance companies and related businesses were pitching to travel agencies and independent agents, enticing us to sale their travel products to our customers. I saw so many costly mistakes made by cruise lines and tour operators as they presented their offerings to us – both from the stage and on the trade show floor.
Here’s 6 big mistakes to avoid in sales presentations.
- Don’t impress your audience, instead engage your audience. Preaching facts and figures doesn’t engage your audience emotionally and doesn’t help them get a vision of what selling your brand can do for them. As as example, one brand that touts itself as a luxury brand (they now operate a yacht for well-heeled travelers that was built for Princess Diana as one of their fleet) preached facts and figures and mentioned more than once how long she had been with the company (not long, and who cares?). She and her sales partner was so busy racing through how many new ships, their customer/staff ratio, and how many millions of dollars they have invested in their equipment that she didn’t even notice hands were raised because people had questions. She also didn’t notice that she was clicking through her slides while her audience was still trying to snap a picture of the information on their phones. She made the mistake of thinking that she could impress her audience with talk about how many dollars each piece of equipment cost. She kept hitting on how exclusive the cruise line was. She did nothing to foster loyalty to her brand from the agents in the room. It was a classic “how great we are” speech, designed to impress but not to engage.
- Don’t create a mismatch between your brand and your presentation. Crystal Cruises hammered how high end they were while making a presentation in a grayed-out dull room that looked anything but luxurious, and being so cheap as to not even offer up a free pen. No food, no water, no freebie gift, no beautiful flowers at the front to erase the dull gray room, no notepad for jotting down ideas. Not even a big colorful brochure was on hand. Contrast that to two unassuming French women who shared a presentation encouraging travel agents to send customers to Marseille and the south of France. They showed up with two tables full of French food, coffees and teas, and colorful brochures. They asked for your business card (one of the few presenters who did) and in return they held several drawings at the end of their presentation, giving away 3 hotel stays in Marseille to 3 lucky attendees (I won one!). They represented the mood and culture of their company far better than the much larger Crystal Cruise Line. They engaged their audience by engaging emotions and their senses. In contrast, Crystal touted exclusivity and luxury but showed up empty-handed other than two pieces of black-and-white copied paper as handouts.
- Don’t fail to gather and give contact information. I bet I’ve attended over 30 presentations in the last 2 weeks, and less than 5 asked for my business card when I entered. Yes, the convention staff did scan my badge. But that doesn’t indicate interest as much as “may we have your card” and asking, “Have you booked travelers on one of our trips before?” And, of course, you can use the cards to do a few giveaways that make people sit up and take notice. Believe me, if a few travel agents wins a 5-day tour or a cruise from you the word will get around, and you’ll have increased attendance the next time around. You want those cards for quick follow up – it might take weeks for the convention staff to give you the list of names from the badge scanner. Equally, give your own information on a card or easy-to-find object. Don’t just say, “Refer to your copy of the slide for my contact information.” How many people do you think will actually hold on to that handout and find it if they needed it?
- Don’t assume your audience knows the lingo of your company and industry. The first time you use an acronym please explain what it means. If you have nick-names for your offerings let your audience in on them. You might think it makes more sense to aim your presentation to those who already know you and book you, because they are the ones currently making you money. But it’s always smart to look for new partners. Take the time to bring newbies along. Give your audience a one-page list of your abbreviations, acronyms, and nicknames. Maybe print them on a mouse pad or “to-do” note pad. Make it easy for anyone in the audience to follow along and to understand you. (Not to mention, you've created a piece they will refer to when they are home – and it's got your name on it!)
- Don’t make a presentation that doesn’t exactly match your title. People are attracted to come listen based on your title – it’s your clarion call. If you promise to talk about 3 ways to sell more travel don’t turn it into a talk covering how many new ships or land tour your company is offering. If you are teaching how to sell cruises to groups don’t spend more than half your time talking about why anyone would want to cruise – that’s not the topic. Keep in mind that people have shut down whatever else they usually do to come listen to you. Maybe they have incurred thousands of dollars in travel costs to be sitting in the room with you. They signed up because of your title, so be sure you deliver exactly that at the least.
- Don’t wait for your audience to engage with you. You are the one who wants your audience to take an action. Speak up first. Extend your hand. Act like it’s the greatest thing on earth to meet the people who are in your room or who are walking by your table. Engage people with your eyes before they are even within speaking distance. Smile. Extend your hand with a little gift. Use an eye-catching prop that will make people want a picture of themselves with it. You want to get people talking – and not about how boring you are! In the trade show I saw that half a dozen fancy hotels had set up a booth. Every one of them had a woman sitting down behind their table, book in hand, head down. I actually went over and stood in front of one woman for about 20 seconds – she never lifted her head to acknowledge me. That hotel manager will no doubt say, “We didn’t even give away our brochures. No one was interested. What a waste of time and money.” Yes, it surely was! Engage! You are the one who wants to entice others to sell your product for you. Act accordingly. Staff your trade show with your very top sales person and be there yourself. Don’t hire someone for ten bucks an hour to sit there and rep you. That’s lazy trade show behavior and a total waste of money. It's disrespectful to the people attending the show to delegate this out to an underling or a hired hand who doesn't even know your brand.
The bottom line? You want to avoid being forgettable. You want to avoid acting like you are going through the motions but really wish you were somewhere else. You want your audience to respond and be all about you, so you have to be all about them. Do something memorable. Get your audience taking pictures, talking in the hallways about what you gave away. Be sharable on social media. Stand out. You’ll get more results from the time and money you spend to get in front of an audience. And after all, isn’t that what you want?
I critique sales presentations for you, including your talk, the videos you use, the background music for videos or slide presentations, slide decks, room setting, calls-to-action, and giveaways. I help you make sure that your presentations are memorable and effective. To set up a critique please email firstname.lastname@example.org.