“Hello there. My name is Samantha Zurawski and I am here to tell you about presenting to buyers…”
Stop. Stop. Stop. Just writing that first sentence was physically painful. But we have all experienced the total agony of sitting through a presentation that started with “I’m here to tell you about [fill in topic here].” Maybe it was in a classroom, or at an an office, or at a convention, but if you’ve sat through one, you’ve sat through them all. A dull and poorly orchestrated presentation says a lot about your company and can even cost you clients. Most magicians never reveal their secrets, but I’m the exception. Here is a quick “how-to” on presentations and pitching to buyers.
1. Train Hard:
First things first, make a to-do list and be prepared, to be prepared. Before you even can begin to get ready to physically give your presentation. You have to ensure that all of your presentation materials are in optimal working order. First check over your sell sheets and price lists. Ask yourself “Is all my information accurate?”, “Is this what the buyer is looking for?”, and most importantly “Are my handouts saying the right things about me and my company?”.
2. What day is it? :
If you can answer all three of those questions accurately, you are ready to move into phase two of the operation. This step comes with arranging the meeting or confirming the appointment. Confirm the appointment time and location with the buyer, ensuring to account for time zone differences.
3. The Personal Touch:
Preparing for the meeting itself provides you with an opportunity to really go above and beyond to impress the buyer. Buyers want to know you appreciate them taking time to hear your pitch. Show buyers exactly how much you appreciate them! You can do this by providing refreshments for a longer pitch or simply by having a personalized name tag for them. But beware of misspellings if you decide to go the personal route. Your buyer will not be able to take you seriously if you misspell their name or list the wrong retail store.
4. Dressed, Impressed, & Success:
Another easy way to impress a buyer is to dress well. You’ll often times hear the phrase “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” However cliche it might seem, the phrase is entirely true. A buyer will take you more seriously if you’re wearing a suit and tie then if you were wearing jeans and a polo.
5. Ummm, like, what?:
This tip is my favorite because it seems like such a no brainer. P R A C T I C E. I’m just as guilty as the next college student when it comes to throwing a presentation last minute and “winging it” during class the next day. But that kind of behavior should be left in college, it just won’t cut it in the real world. Go through your pitch slide by slide and really evaluate where the meat is and what is “fluff”. Once you’re sure the material is completely solid, run through it repeatedly. The timing of a pitch is critical and it depends on the buyer. For example, if you’re in the middle of your pitch and you can visibly see the buyer becoming disinterested it might be time to throw in something interesting and wrap it up. But if your buyer is extremely animated and interested in your product, it’s important to have all the information to properly answer their questions.
6. Hi Mom:
Once you feel comfortable with the material, present it to someone else and no your dog doesn’t count. Teachers have been telling me to do this for years and I always avoid it because I’m embarrassed. But at the end of the day, presenting the material to someone else before the buyer is so important! Presenting to someone else ensures there are no holes in your presentation and that everything is extremely clear. If possible present it to someone else in your office or someone with experience in your industry. Someone who is familiar with the buying process is useful because they might be able to direct you on what your presentation is lacking.
7. The BIG Kahuna:
At this point, the presentation itself shouldn’t be too much of a struggle. You’ll feel calm and relaxed in front of the buyer because you’ve practiced *cough so much cough*. If you’re afraid you might choke during a critical moment, keep a single notecard in your pocket with keywords on it. That being said, never read long sentences off your presenting materials or your notecards. This is my biggest pet peeve as a college student. There is nothing that makes an hour and fifteen minute class drag on more than a professor that reads word for word off their powerpoint. Your buyer or any audience is literate and doesn’t want to just read your presentation, they want you to sell them on it.
Remember your basic speech skills when presenting as well. Avoid filler words such as “like” or “um”. Also remember to talk slow. When I give advertising presentations I am always critiqued poorly on my delivery. I have a terrible habit of rushing through my information. So don’t make my mistake, annunciate and don’t rush!
8. To Be Continued…
At the end of your presentation you don’t just shake hands with your buyer and cross your fingers, hoping for the best. Get in that crisp hand shake but afterwards clean up the presenting space, leaving it immaculate. Instead of just crossing your fingers, send the buyer a follow up email within 24 hours, thanking them for their time with an attachment of your presentation for them to view on their own time. Follow up again with the buyer after two weeks if they have not made contact with you again, a polite email or quick phone call will suffice. Then, finally, you can cross your fingers!
So that’s it. Presenting to a buyer in 8 easy steps… not so bad right? You know the drill! Leave me some feedback and give me a piece of your mind! And until next time folks, it’s Sam signing off!