Sales 2.0: Rethinking the sales presentation

One of the top three pressures on sales organizations, according to a new Aberdeen “Sales 2.0″ study: “the need to compete with increasing customer and prospect knowledge of products and competitive differentiators.”  Well, duh, of course. Prospects can do their homework very well today online.

What this means is that companies need to rethink the typical sales presentation and sales training. You can’t walk in and explain who you are, your clients, your product line and your competitors.  I sat next to a marketing exec of a big high tech company on a cross-country flight recently and watched him, for six hours, tweak a sales presentation that did exactly this — presenting the basics, most of which prospects could find on their own, in  85 slides.  Later in the flight I struck up a casual conversation  and he explained that he was going to California to train the sales force on a new sales strategy. Oh woe that that deck was it.

Sales presentaitons today have to provide VALUE to the prospect. Tell me something helpful that I don’t know. What trends do you see? What assumptions are misleading? What’s likely to change in 18 months, but stay the same for the next 24? What’s slightly different about my industry than others?

Almost all products today are viewed as commodities. People buy based on relationships and trust. To earn that trust, provide more valuable insights from the get-go. All those other facts, case studies, awards — put them on your web site and make it easy for prospects to find them.

According to the 210 companies surveyed by Aberdeen in Sept., the top pressures are:

  • 63%: increase top line revenue growth
  • 60%: improve sales productivity
  • 32%: compete with increasing customer/prospect knowledge of products and competitive differentiators
  • 24%: reduce sales cycles
  • 13%: connect a disperse and/or global sales force