First, in our industry, don’t call is sales. You’re giving a technical presentation and educating people. They will choose to buy what you are selling on merit as long as you actually communicate the value of your solution effectively. But just how exactly do you do that?
1. Be overly prepared – know your stuff and your customers
Do not insult people by not doing your homework. Know the people you’re presenting to, their challenges, their industry standards, as much as possible. It’s ok not to know everything, but being prepared is never a waste of time. By knowing your subject inside and out, you can pick the important parts and simplify them for your audience in language they can understand. Engineers and asset owners will appreciate that.
Let’s face it, nothing lulls you to sleep during a presentation faster than watching another human read word for word off of a PowerPoint slide.
2. Tell them how you’re going to help them with their challenges and be concise about it
Your presentation needs to be concise and visual. Do not clutter the screen with words. If you’re going to use text, it should only be reminders for you of what to speak on. You’re in this meeting to engage with potential customers or colleagues who are there to learn, you’re not there to speak at them. You can present equations to illustrate your process, but please don’t give a math lesson. Interested parties can follow up or read a paper, if applicable. Leave some room for them to ask questions and discuss how your solution can specifically address their needs. The best outcome from any presentation is engagement with the audience. Don’t forget to show them how your team will work their team by listening to their challenges and really hearing them so that you can address their real needs, not the needs you perceive them to have.
3. Relax – we’re all people
Seriously, we’re all humans. When you’re nervous, you stammer, people can sense it, and they are put on edge. People are not open-minded when they are on edge and they certainly don’t want to open their check book.
At the moment you are giving the presentation, you likely know more about your certain product or subject than anyone else. Could there always be that one person who slams you in front of everyone by asking an out of the box or slightly hostile question? Sure. But a good response is always, “That’s a great question, let’s follow up afterwards and I can give you more detail.” Or, “Let me check with my team and get back to you.” If the person continues then, it reflects more on that person than on you. So seriously, relax, we may work in a life or death industry but a presentation never is.