Make Sales Presentations Your Specialty

Sales presentations take on many shapes and forms. They can be small and casual between a single salesperson and a customer, or they can be formal and elaborate, delivered by sales teams to corporate executives. Regardless of their size, they all share the same end goal: to make the sale.

True salespeople are to be admired. You know the ones I’m talking about: The people who can sell anything to anyone. They know how to tap into a person’s needs and desires. They’re a complete natural when it comes to connecting with people, and they make it look so easy.

But even the greatest salesperson will falter; no one can be on top of their game 100 percent of the time.  What trips up even the most seasoned sales professional? The same things that trip up the not-so-seasoned ones.

The Biggest Sales Presentation Mistakes

Every sales call, every sales meeting, every bid you submit is a sales presentation. These are opportunities for you to show your customer how your product or service will solve their problem, and they’re critical.

Have you been noticing your sales are stagnant lately? Do you find clients are not as responsive to you as they once were? Perhaps you’ve been sliding back into old sales presentation habits—making mistakes that are costing you money. Here are some of the most common ones (and what to do about them):

Showing Up Late. Showing up late for a meeting sends a very powerful (and negative) message: “I don’t respect you or your time.” No one likes to be kept waiting, especially busy business people who have day planners that are bursting at the seams. And if you aren’t serious about your meeting time with them, why should they entertain doing business with you?

How To Fix It: Great sales presentations start on time. Some people are always running behind, no matter what they do. If you’re one of them, enter your appointments 30 minutes ahead of their actual start time into your calendar. You may end up being 20 minutes early for your 2 o’clock appointment, but it’s better than being 10 minutes late.

Talking Too Much. Any great salesperson will tell you that selling is about the customer, not about you. Your job to find out what the customer needs. When you’re doing all the talking, you’re not giving them a chance to tell you what it is they are looking for. If you don’t have that critical piece of evidence, how can you pitch them a solution?

How to Fix It: Ask open-ended questions that demonstrate you’re interested in what the customer has to say. This is especially useful when dealing with clients who don’t think they need what you’re selling. Be the person who wants to help solve a problem they have rather than just make a sale. It makes selling a lot less sleazy and your sales presentation a lot more effective.

Not Being Flexible. At no point should you ever “just wing it” when it comes to a sales presentation, but you shouldn’t force your customers to sit through a sales presentation that doesn’t suit their needs, either. The whole point of your sales presentation is to focus on your client: What does he need? How can your product or service make her life better or easier?

How to Fix It: If your customer takes the lead and opens a dialogue that strays from your sales presentation (but is still moving the presentation forward), let it happen. Who cares if they haven’t seen all 20 of your Powerpoint slides? If five is enough for them to decide they want to work with you, that’s all that matters. Effective sales presentations are the ones where your audience is engaged, period.

Not smiling. Want to look unfriendly, unapproachable, and intimidating? Don’t smile (and watch your sales presentation tank).

How to Fix It: Smile. Look people in the eye and have a natural conversation with them. When you smile, people are attracted to you and feel comfortable talking to you. Plus, smiling is contagious and improves your mood. Everyone wins.

Letting Your Smartphone Interrupt. Smartphones are a technology marvel, aren’t they? No matter where you go, you have access to the internet, to instant messaging, and to a telephone. The problem is, so does everyone else, and they may be calling or texting you in the middle of an important sales presentation. It’s a huge distraction to you and to those trying to listen to you.

How to Fix It: Believe it or not, all smartphones come equipped with a button that turns the device off. Learn how it works. Your phone should never be on during a sales presentation (or staff meeting, or strategy session…). Not only is it one of the biggest sales presentation mistakes, but it’s very rude.

Not Asking For the Sale. You’ve probably heard the term “call to action” more than once, but it doesn’t only pertain to Websites. A call to action is any message that urges a person to take immediate action, and your sales presentation needs one.

How to Fix It: If you want the audience to work with you, tell them. If you want them to buy your product or service, ask them to. It may seem obvious—since you’re there giving a sales presentation—but including a call to action is important in any great sales presentation, whether it’s online, on the phone or in person.

Staying too long.  The last thing you want to do is linger long after your sales presentation is finished and overstay your welcome.  Your clients are busy and, quite frankly, so are you. And just like arriving late sends the message that you don’t respect the other person’s time, so does hanging around longer than you need to.

How to Fix It: Set a time limit for the meeting and stick to it. Make sure you’ve built enough time into your sales presentation to allow for questions and when the presentation is over, leave.

Effective Sales Presentations Close the Deal

Are you guilty of these sales presentation mistakes? Have you made others that resulted in losing a sale? Share your stories in our Comments section. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, too—join the conversation there or just stop by to check out our tips and advice to improve your presentation skills.


  1. Britanica says:

    Fantastic tips and advice. I know a lot of people who think it is perfectly fine to just get up, go at it, and WING IT! I also know that most people who do this, fail. Pitching a sale is about personality and timing. No one ever got anywhere leaving it all to chance.

  2. I hate when people show up late to a meeting! If I can be on time, why can’t they?

  3. Definitely guilty of a few. Especially of not asking for the sale. That’s a tough one!!

  4. Yes I have made plenty of those mistakes in my vocation.

  5. Jim Crawell says:

    Having fun in sales is one of the most important things to do I believe

  6. Good advice on not showing up late: it’s as simple as planning on arriving early. And if something crazy happens so that you are late after planning on coming early — well then you have a proper excuse.

    These are great tips — people don’t want to be talked at, or harassed for too long.

  7. Wendy Wilson says:

    Excellent advice. Great blog!

  8. Sam Anson says:

    I don’t know why so many people are afraid to ask for the sale. When that’s the point of your presentation, it’s pretty important.

  9. L. Lincoln says:

    There’s a right and a wrong way to ask for a sale. I think a lot of people shy away from it because they don’t know how to do it in a way that’s genuine (rather than sleazy).

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