As a seasoned sales professional you may be used to working on the road, out of the office, and meeting in person with potential prospects and clients. Yet, in today’s current work-from-home environment, you’ll have to pivot to connecting with your sales opportunities remotely. The skills you use for giving a persuasive up close and personal sales presentation may not necessarily translate to an online medium. But with these key tips, you’ll be able to create a great sales experience for your prospects – no matter where you are or how you’re connecting
Online Sales Step #1: Do Your Homework
Being remote from your prospect can make the situation feel less pressing than if you were in the same room. But don’t let that affect how you prepare for your presentation. Personalization has a tremendous impact on sales presentation success. So don’t slack! Make it a point to research your prospect’s company, industry, challenges, and needs – just the same as you would for an in-person presentation – and sprinkle what you’ve learned, especially about how you can meet their specific needs – in your presentation. This builds camaraderie and goes a long way in impressing clients with your effort.
Online Sales Step #2: Build Consistent, High-Quality Visuals
It’s one thing to do your research on your individual sales prospects. But the best salespeople take things a step further by personalizing the visual content of their presentations to reflect the unique circumstances of each buyer. Taking this step often puts the onus of visual presentation development on salespeople. And, without proper guidelines on how visuals are created and displayed there runs the risk of:
- Slides lacking the company’s logo, brand colors or brand fonts, inadvertently diminishing the brand value that the presentation could otherwise benefit from
- Quickly thrown together slides that aren’t as well developed or visually pleasing as those produced by the marketing department
The Marketing department should be working hand in hand with Sales to supply consistent and relevant promotional materials. It’s also key to empower sales teams with customizable slides that they are able to manipulate on their own without breaking any branding rules along the way. And if you’re a salesperson, it’s important to keep the importance of consistent, high-quality visuals in mind when making changes or creating new slide decks.
Online Sales Step #3: Tell a Story
The best way to avoid underperforming visuals is for sales and marketing to work together to develop a central story that individual salespeople can adapt to their needs. In “5 Steps to Telling a Better Story in Your Sales Presentation” for Hubspot I review the four essentials to building a compelling story:
- Character. In a sales presentation, your customer is your “character.” Thinking about them in this way allows you to frame the circumstances they find themselves in as part of a larger story.
- Context. Good stories consider both internal and external elements, though establishing internal context is more important for sales-specific storytelling. Think about the background, setting, and current experience of your prospect as you frame their story.
- Conflict. What does your character need to overcome? What obstacles have they faced (or will they face)? Identifying your prospect’s core conflict is the key to positioning yourself as the ideal solution.
The final variable in this framework is “creation,” which encompasses how you construct and communicate your story. Experiment with different options – such as telling part of your story upfront and concluding it at the end of your presentation or vice versa, to see what works best.
Online Sales Step #4: Develop a Strong Opening
Starting with the introductory narrative of your story is one way to capture attention, but it isn’t the only one. Regardless of the approach you take, a strong opening is critical. As you probably know from experience, attention spans vary. But you can still safely assume that if you don’t command attention upfront you’ll struggle throughout your session to get it back. In addition to starting with a story, three other approaches to try out include:
- Open with your knowledge of the prospect’s biggest pain point
- Ask probing questions
- Introduce a case study from an existing customer that faced similar challenges
Online Sales Step #5: Test Your Tech
Technical glitches reflect poorly on you and your company. To avoid the frustration and embarrassment that can come with fumbling around at the start of the meeting, practice your online presentation ahead of time. Ensure you know the ins and outs of your conference solution. A few specific activities to practice include:
- Starting and stopping the conference session
- Adjusting your audio and video settings before the presentation starts
- Using the chat and file transfer features
- Sharing your screen
- Recording your session
Don’t assume that just because you’ve tested once, you’re in the clear. New features may be added to your plan or service that can improve your conferencing experience.
Online Sales Step #6: Set the Stage
While you’re testing your conference system, pay particular attention to what’s displayed behind you. Messy backgrounds or moving elements- such as other people in the room or a window to a busy street distract prospects from focusing on your sales message. Also, move any objects you’re likely to fidget with away from your computer. Fidgeting on camera during a video sales presentation makes it appear as if you’re not giving prospects your full attention.
Online Sales Step #7: Connect Face to Face
Whenever possible, use video conferencing with screen sharing rather than emailing a presentation in advance of an audio conference call. Connecting face to face helps to establish the trust that’s needed to forge an effective sales relationship. However, prospects aren’t always gung-ho about embracing video presentations.
Start your online meeting with video sharing set to on. This sends a signal to your prospects that they should turn theirs on as well. It’s a thoughtful gesture to give prospects a heads-up that you’ll be turning on video during the presentation so that they can be sure they look “camera ready” for your presentation.
Online Sales Step #8: Look Into the Camera
Most peoples’ natural inclination is to look at their presentation visuals or to avert their eyes from the camera. But when you’re remote, this makes you appear flighty or distrustful. Establishing trust is harder to do in general when you’re remote, so don’t compound the problem by failing to make regular eye contact.
One of the best ways to remind yourself to look directly into the camera as you’re giving your presentation? Attach a sticky note to your computer near your webcam that reads something like, “Eyes Up Here!”
Online Sales Step #9: Watch for Signs of Low Engagement
When you’re remote, it’s easy to miss subtle cues that indicate your prospect is losing interest in what you’re saying. These could include verbal cues, such as failing to respond quickly when you ask questions or giving an “mmm-hmm” response to everything. They could also include physical cues, such as looking away from the screen, leaning away from the computer, or being fidgety in general.
Low engagement in online sales presentations is especially common when you stick to a rote script. Don’t just plow ahead without checking in regularly to be sure your prospect is still engaged. Make it a point to ask questions throughout your presentation to ensure you’re still on the same page.
Online Sales Step #10: Know When to Stop
Just as it’s important that you watch for signs of low engagement, you should also watch for signs that your prospect is ready to move forward. Imagine that you planned to cover ten features in your sales presentation, but your prospect is ready to buy after three. Don’t make them wait while you wrap up. A few common signs of readiness to purchase include:
- Affirmative language
- Seeming to rush you along in your presentation
- Asking specific questions about payment processing or startup/onboarding
- Leaned-in body language
If you see evidence of any of these behaviors in your online sales presentation, ask your prospect directly whether they’d prefer to move on to licensing, pricing, onboarding, or logistics conversations.
We may be entering a period in which online sales presentations will become the norm, as more and more people turn to video conferencing solutions to conduct remote meetings, only to find that they appreciate the convenience they provide. How long the situation will persist – or whether any current behavioral changes will stick with us long-term – remains to be seen. But in the meantime, you can’t go wrong using these tips to improve your online sales presentations.