5 Crucial Things to Do in the First 10 Minutes of Every Sales Presentation
If you don’t like the first few episodes of a TV show, do you stick with it until the series finale?
Probably not. It’s unlikely you’ll suddenly start loving it, and there are plenty of other options out there. Unlike a show, your prospect probably won’t stop the sales presentation if the beginning doesn’t go particularly well. But the first 10 minutes can determine whether the entire meeting is a success or a failure -- which means you need to nail the opening.
Read on to discover the crucial things you should do at the beginning of every presentation.
1) Confirm Your Audience
It’s easy to tell who you’re speaking to when you’re giving an in-person presentation -- after all, they're sitting right in front of you. But when you’re on the phone or sharing your screen, it could be just your prospect on the other end -- or it could be your prospect plus several other stakeholders.
Knowing your audience is essential, since it lets you tailor your message to each person’s specific needs, goals, and involvement in the buying process.
Ideally, your prospect will let you know in advance if other people are attending. But don't count on them to do the legwork for you.
At the beginning of the sales presentation, quickly clarify who you’re talking to by saying,
“Is it just you and me today, [prospect], or do we have others joining us?”
If there are more people on the call than you expected, ask everyone to introduce themselves -- and pay special attention to their titles, since those will help you figure out their role in the deal.
Not sure why someone is attending? After they introduce themselves, say:
"Great to meet you, [name]. So I can make this relevant to you, is there anything in particular you're hoping to learn today?"
If you think there's a stakeholder who should be on the line, but isn't, consider speaking up. Not only will including the right people help you avoid internal obstacles and speed up the deal, but it'll show your prospect that you're experienced and helpful.
2) Build Rapport
Next, before you get into the nuts and bolts of the presentation, build some rapport.
Setting a friendly, natural tone from the very beginning is important, as it’ll make the buyer more engaged and interested. Plus, getting them to open up early on means they’re more likely to ask questions during the actual presentation, which could allow you the chance to handle an objection or concern before it derails the deal.
3) Set the Agenda
A presentation without an agenda usually feels like a string of unrelated facts rather than a tightly woven narrative.
Setting an agenda gives buyers a clear roadmap of where you are, where you’re going, and where you’ll end up by the end of the meeting. Not only will their level of comprehension skyrocket, but knowing the plan will make them feel more in control. Empowered prospects speak up -- so you'll get better insights into their mindset throughout the meeting.
Try the “Purpose, Benefit, Check” agenda:
4) Say You're Open to Questions
Your resentation should be interactive. Nothing makes prospects stop listening more quickly than when you throw an endless list of facts and numbers at them. Instead of lecturing your audience for 20 or 30 minutes straight, have a conversation with them. Make sure they know you're open to -- in fact, welcome -- questions. As an added benefit, encouraging them to ask questions makes you more likely to hear their objections while you still have time to resolve them.
A few good lines to use, ranging from funny to formal:
5) Recap What You Know
Looking for the perfect segue into the actual presentation? In one to three sentences, summarize your prospect’s pain and/or your current understanding of their situation.
Outlining their biggest challenges has a couple benefits. First, it focuses the conversation. Second, it sets you up to discuss your product’s features specifically as they relate to your prospect’s challenges, which will boost their engagement.
Here’s an example:
"During our last conversation, you shared a few things you were frustrated with or hoping to improve -- specifically X, Y, and Z. Does that sound right to you?"
Once the buyer has confirmed your overview, you can smoothly transition into the presentation itself by saying, “Great -- let’s walk through how [product] can help with those challenges.”