Common Selling Mistakes - Poor Sales Presentations | Salestrong


Common Selling Mistakes – Poor Sales Presentations

poor sales presentations, common sales mistakes

Poor Sales Presentations – we’ve all sat through them.

Rather than engaging with the presentation, you clock-watch, check emails and generally spend the time thinking about all the more important things you could be doing. What should have been a valuable investment of your time has left you nothing but frustrated.

Sales presentations are easy to get wrong and have big consequences when they do, so let’s take a look at some sales presentation Do’s and Don’t’s:

Sales Presentation Do’s

  • Do Find Out Who Your Audience Are Beforehand. To deliver a great sales presentation, you need to know who your audience are. By this, we don’t just mean knowing that Bob, Maria and Tom will all be attending the meeting! Rather it’s about understanding exactly what Bob, Maria and Tom’s agendas and goals are, what’s important to each of them and what they’re looking to get from the meeting.
    We cannot assume that every stakeholder will have the same agenda, they won’t. Within any organisation, different people have different priorities and those priorities will drive their purchasing decisions. If you don’t know what those are, you cannot possibly know whether your proposed solution will meet their needs or not.
    Understanding the power distribution and influence across your stakeholders is also critical – which member has the biggest say in the final decision? A Stakeholder mapping tool is a great way of capturing how well your solution is aligned to each individual’s agenda, in addition to mapping out the power distribution.
    The other thing to keep in mind is who’s not in the room. It’s not always possible for all stakeholders to attend a sales pitch, but that’s not say that won’t still have a part to play in the final decision.
  • Do Clearly Communicate Your Understanding of the Customer’s Needs. Your sales presentation is your chance to show the customer that you have both heard and understood the extent of their challenges and needs. Given that only 13% of customers feel that a sales person can understands their needs we see how advantageous it can be to get this right.
    It’s also important to highlight the difference between having understood your customer and being able to demonstrate to them that you have understood. Fill your presentation with too much irrelevant detail, or get the delivery wrong and it won’t matter how well your solution meets their needs. Demonstrate how your solution solves the customer’s pain and/or delivers a significant gain, pinpointing where and how your solution brings value and ensuring you quantify that value.
  • Do Take your Customer on a Journey. Use careful structuring and storytelling to turn a bog-standard sales presentation into a compelling reason to buy. People are driven by emotions, the way something makes them feel. When it comes to making a purchasing decision, if you can move your customer away from thinking of it simply as a transaction and instead show them the journey you have been on together, with all its twists and turns, culminating in the good feelings that come from the benefits of your solution, they will be far more likely to buy. For lots more tips on storytelling, take a look at Why Sales People Need to be Great Storytellers and Top 5 Storytelling Tips for Sales People.
  • Do Agree on Next Steps. You should never walk away from a sales presentation without agreeing on what happens next. If the customer still has other pitches to hear, find out when the last one is and whether they need anything else from you to help them make a decision. Agree on a time/date on which you will contact them if you’ve not heard back. Conversion rates are much higher when a follow-up process is agreed upon.

Sales Presentation Don’t’s

  • Don’t Use Text-Heavy and Data-Heavy Slides. Boring!!!!! People typically opt for this approach because they have a lot of information they need to convey and are worried that they’ll forget it, or that the customer won’t take it in unless it’s in visual format too. The reality is that if your audience are sat reading your slides, they will not be fully hearing what you are saying. This is the last thing you want – you might just as well have sent them the deck and not turned up for the pitch.
    Your sales presentation should contain the most important things you want your customer to remember, so use a few strong visuals to create impact and provide them with any supporting information/data afterwards.
    The other danger inherent in using text-heavy slides is that you resort to simply reading the slides, this is so dull and draining for an audience, who want to hear from someone who engages and excites.
  • Don’t Include Irrelevant Information. If it’s important to the customer how many years your company has been in business, or how many sites or branches you have, they will already have looked it up. I don’t know how many sales presentations I’ve sat through that started with a company overview. If your customer has made the time to hear your sales presentation, they want you to get to the point. Put information like customer testimonials, sector experience, etc at the end of the presentation and when you get to that point, just let the customer know the information is there for them to read later if required – do not attempt to go over it in the limited time you have.
    Scrutinise your sales presentations to ensure the information you’ve included is relevant and is going to help the customer make an informed decision. Don’t be tempted to ‘fill’ the time with generic product/company information.
  • Don’t Go Unprepared. There’s a checklist of basics you should run-through before a sales presentation: How long have you got for the meeting? Does your presentation fit into the allotted time, whilst allowing for questions? Have you checked on the technical elements, i.e.; available equipment, wi-fi etc? Have you planned your journey and allowed sufficient travel time to get to your appointment?
    Don’t let the seemingly little things catch you out, customers will ‘forgive’ genuine mistakes but will not be so understanding of somebody who has just failed to prepare.
  • Don’t Turn Up Unrehearsed – It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve been in sales, or how many sales presentations you’ve delivered, you will always deliver a better presentation if you’ve practiced it first. Practice makes perfect.
    It is all too easy when you’re an experienced and busy sales person, to become a little complacent. Every presentation is important. Each one is an opportunity to win a new deal, perhaps even a new customer and, ultimately, get you closer to your sales target. The more effort you put in, the greater your chances of success.


If you’d like to talk to us about sharpening up sales presentations skills, or have any other sales training needs, please do give us a call to talk through your requirements. You can reach us on 01778 382733 or at

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