Reading Time: 3 minutes

Over the past six months, you’ve worked to get in front of a new prospect. Six months of measured effort, follow up activity, and countless phone calls have finally paid off. Now, walking out of the presentation you worked so hard to land, you know in your little sales heart that you failed and all the hard work was for nothing. Your bad presentation killed any potential for a sale.

Every salesperson hopes their presentation will create a sense of “wow” in the mind of the prospect. So, when your presentation garners a collective yawn from your audience, it’s important to know why. Maybe the prospect was distracted or having an off day. Perhaps YOU were having an off day. After every presentation – especially one that doesn’t result in a sale (or at least a forward move in the sales process – it’s important to conduct a postmortem to understand what went wrong and what can be done to fix it. In that spirit, here are five reasons a presentation goes awry.

  1. Homework – Far too many salespeople have an inflated sense of their own presentation skills and figure they can just wing it. Before you set foot in your prospect’s conference room, it’s critical to know who you’re meeting with, can they make the buying decision, their budget, their business challenges that you will help them solve, their competition, etc. You’re a sales professional – prepare like one.
  2. Time – There are few things worse than a presentation that drags on longer than a family political discussion at Thanksgiving dinner. Do yourself a favor and know how much time the prospect has before you begin. It’s also a good idea to know in advance which parts of your presentation you can shorten or skip should the meeting get cut short.
  3. Overload – Presenting features and functions is like describing glass and plastics used to make a smartphone rather than how the phone can positively impact your life. What your solution is and does has far less emotional impact than what it means to them. Highlight the unique value(s) you and you alone can bring them.
  4. Engage – Unless you are Seth Godin, your audience doesn’t want to hear you drone on and on the entire meeting. Ask questions and keep the presentation conversational. The more give and take you have during your meeting, the stronger the engagement and the higher likelihood you’ll accomplish the goal of the presentation: closing the sale.
  5. Story – Those awesome statistics you rattled off about how often a promotional product is kept likely won’t be remembered five minutes after your presentation concludes. What WILL be recalled are the stories you share: a case history that solved a similar problem, how a promotional campaign was created from scratch, or how branded merchandise created the desired engagement. People buy stories, not statistics.

When sales presentations fail, it’s likely for one of the reasons above. It’s hard enough to get valuable face time with a sought-after prospect so don’t make it harder. Do your homework, respect time, don’t overload with features, be conversational, and tell your story. Following these simple steps will go a long way into creating the “wow” your prospect is seeking.

ill PetrieWritten by:
Bill Petrie // PromoCorner President

Bill is president of PromoCorner, the leading digital marketing service provider to the promotional products industry, and has over 17 years working in executive leadership positions at leading promotional products distributorships. A featured speaker at numerous industry events, a serial creator of content marketing, immediate past president of the Promotional Products Association of the Mid-South (PPAMS), vice president of the Regional Association Council (RAC) board, and PromoKitchen chef, Bill has extensive experience coaching sales teams, creating successful marketing campaigns, and developing branding that resonates with a target audience. He can be reached at