A sales presentation tries to persuade an audience to take the actions that the presenter wants, whether it is to buy something, hire someone, approve a project or adopt a policy. In such a presentation, the four topics that a presenter must address are the target audience, the proposal, the benefits and the competition. A description of the target audience includes its problems or goals. The proposal addresses the problems; the presenter then discusses the benefits and explains why competitors or competing proposals are less likely to have the same beneficial effects.
The Target Audience
Sales presentations have a target audience that the presenter maintains will benefit from the proposal. This target audience has certain problems or goals that the presenter identifies and characterizes. The presenter discusses the topic of audience goals and problems in a way that will make the audience view his proposals sympathetically. For example, if the proposal involves spending money, the presenter will emphasize the financial strength and resources of the audience. If it involves hiring additional staff, he will describe the existing workforce as small and overworked. If it is to buy equipment, he will explain how lack of this equipment is creating problems.
The most important topic of the sales presentation is the "Ask," or the specific proposal of what the presenter wants to do. Once he has created a favorable climate for his proposal by discussing the goals or problems of the audience, he will describe his proposal in terms of solutions to the problems and ways to achieve the goals. The "Ask" is the specific request for a decision or action by the audience members that will allow the presenter to carry out the proposal he has made.
Once he has described the problems and goals and made the "Ask," the presenter can move on to a general discussion of topics relating to what will happen if the proposal proceeds. This group of topics focuses on the effects the proposal will have on the specific problems and goals described under the first topic. These topics can include improved profit or revenue, reduced costs, better quality, increased customer satisfaction, better customer retention, increased market share and easier regulatory compliance.
The presenter must address the topic of competitors or competing proposals. Rather than describing the alternatives themselves, he must be familiar with them and discuss their characteristics. Ideally, the presenter will be able to detail those characteristics that will not have the same beneficial effects as his own proposal. This discussion is the closing of the presentation in terms of a final attempt to influence the audience.
Bert Markgraf is a freelance writer with a strong science and engineering background. He started writing technical papers while working as an engineer in the 1980s. More recently, after starting his own business in IT, he helped organize an online community for which he wrote and edited articles as managing editor, business and economics. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from McGill University.