I recently observed a 30-minute presentation made by a technology sales rep to a group of 14 top resellers who happen to be my clients. These are the people who can provide him immediate access to multiple clients across North America. Any seller would agree that this was a fantastic opportunity.

And…he blew it.

Here’s how the 30–minute presentation proceeded.

After 10 minutes of idle “chit chat” the presenter launched into an unstructured information stream, accompanied by an unending series of busy slides that he appeared to be seeing for the first time. As he floundered through his presentation he attempted to maintain credibility through a weak show of empathy, “I’m sorry I’m jumping around a little but you get my drift.” We didn’t.

Twenty five minutes in, he knew he was running out of time. Rather than cutting to the chase to make his overarching point, he decided on a strategy of “talk and click faster” in order to finish his full PowerPoint deck. The audience, already struggling to follow, was now completely disengaged.

At the 30-minute mark, and now officially out of time, he shifted to the infamous “energizer bunny approach.” He just kept on going. Eventually the remarkably patient host stood up to call “time,” cutting the presenter off mid-sentence and putting this important audience out of its misery.

What a tragic waste of time, money and business opportunity for both the presenter and the audience.

You may be thinking that this is an extreme example. Professional sellers don’t do this. Think again. Professional sellers don’t intentionally do this. But sometimes, the busyness of life, the complacency of experience, and pull of habit cause us to act without thinking. << Click to Tweet

This was one of several similarly poor sales presentations I observed this past year. All were presented by experienced sellers to high–influence audiences. Each one bombed because the presenter failed to think deeply about this “once in a lifetime” opportunity.

Making an indelible impression with an important audience within a short time frame requires you to think deeply, in multiple ways, before you present.

Think: Other person’s perspective.

Be willing to kick off your own shoes and step into those of your audience. <<< Click to Tweet

Know what’s important to them and what they seek from this investment of precious time.

Think: Focus. Pick three key points you want to make in context of your audience’s interests. The resellers in this story needed three simple questions answered:

  • What customer issues does your technology address?
  • Why should our customers use your technology versus the alternatives?
  • What’s in it for me to promote your product to my customer base?

Think: Less is more. Cut your planned content in half. If you have a 30-minute slot, prepare 15 minutes of talk time, allowing for dialogue and the unexpected. <<< Click to Tweet

Eliminate “filler-fluff” so that every word counts and connect everything back to the audience’s interests. Share the details in a handout or follow-up document.

Think: Relevance. Arm yourself with a no more than a handful of simple relevant visuals that enhance, rather than detract from, your key points.

Think: Outcome. Open the meeting by articulating the “why, what and how” of this presentation. Close on time with a recap of the key points and a clear commitment to action from both parties.

Good selling!