The ability to sell your products and services is essential to the success of your small business.
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Even if you are fortunate enough to employ a sales staff, at some point you - the business owner - are going to be called on to pitch your product to potential customers and clients.
To close the deal, you're going to need to know how to put together a sales presentation that will knock their socks off. Here's how to do it:
Step 1: Know Your Prospect
The first step in preparing a successful sales presentation is to know who you are talking to ahead of time. If you are selling to another business, don't assume the person with whom you set up the meeting will be the only person in the room. They won't be. In fact, there's a good chance that you will be pitching your product to several people within the organization. Knowing this information in advance gives you the ability to determine which one is the decision-maker and to tailor your presentation accordingly.
For big sales, it's also a good idea to know something about the prospect's industry, company history, and organizational goals. Don't pretend to know more than they do, but let them know that you've done your research and help them understand why your product is the best product for their company.
Step 2: Prepare Top-Notch Materials
For better or for worse, the days of overhead transparencies and simple black-and-white photocopies are behind us. Today's sales-saavy entrepreneurs know that sometimes the sizzle is as important as the steak. Translation: You're going to need to put together a content-rich presentation that communicates your message in a straightforward, yet attractive manner.
Luckily, you don't have to spend a fortune to produce high-quality materials for your presentation. There are a multitude of desktop publishing and presentation options at your disposal. Color copies are a relatively inexpensive way to spice up your presentation, as are electronic presentations that can be projected on a transportable screen. Visit your local copy center to explore your options.
Step 3: Prepare a Closing
Ultimately, the success of your presentation will come down to your closing. After you've presented your product and the reasons why it's a perfect fit for the prospect, you need to ask for the sale.
Some products lend themselves to asking for a decision right then and there. But for larger sales and sales involving competing sales pitches, the prospect is going to need a little time before they are ready to announce their decision. However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't prepare a closing. In these cases, a good closing might be to ask them for a follow-up meeting in a week to talk about the next step.
Step 4: Practice Your Sales Presentation
So now you've researched your prospect, organized your materials, and prepared your closing. But you're not done yet. You still have to practice your presentation.
A couple of dry runs in front of the sales staff or a few key employees will help you identify weaknesses in the presentation and provide you with pointers about how you might better get your point across to the prospect. It might also bring to the surface key questions that the prospect may ask during the presentation.