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Sales presentation training unleashes “geek power”

Posted on August 19, 2010 by Leslie Dickson

Expand your technical sales force: empower your technical experts

A technical sale is, by definition, complex.  It can require a lot of man-hours and knowledge. You may want to add more sales professionals, but a tight economy is working against your budget. Here’s a frequently untapped resource to consider: your technical experts.
If you’re laughing or shaking your head because you think “geek squads” don’t know how to talk to clients, think again.
At VoicePro, we’ve helped organizations from multinational corporations to small businesses empower their technical staff, actually giving the companies a sales edge. Our TechConnect is a unique program that helps develop communication skills and presentation skills to make tech staff one of the greatest assets a company can have. It has as its core the Technical Presentation Triangle you see here. Let me touch on a few key facts right now.

Know your audience

They’re not techies, but assume they’re smart. Before you prepare your presentation, get a clear understanding of your audience’s knowledge about your area. You want to talk to them at the appropriate level. Caution: it’s as detrimental to talk down to an audience as it is to talk over their heads.

Know what matters. Top management might be interested in return on investment, while front-line users are interested in technical robustness, and the operations staff is focused on training issues. Your raw data may be the same, but you need to translate it into the message appropriate to the audience. In every case, think in terms of benefits to the audience, not just features of the product.

Be prepared to mingle. It’s easy for technical people to stand back and let the “business team” handle the meetings. That’s missing a great opportunity to build trust and personal connections that will serve you well. Before the meeting, introduce yourself and be ready to make a little small talk. Now, your presentation has already begun.

Know your material.

A presentation isn’t a data dump. Edit, edit, edit! Your audience will “zone out” in a long, unfocused presentation that includes every statistic, test result, performance graph and footnote. Imagine there are 3 points you want a listener to remember. Everything should support those 3 points.

Numbers don’t lie. But they can bore you to death. This is actually a subset of the previous point, but well worth repeating. Stick with the most important data that supports your most important points.

PowerPoint: friend or foe? Your business presentation should contain facts, but do you need 67 slides to do it?  And does each slide need 9 bullet points, each with 3 sub-points and a chart? You want eyes on you – not slide. By the way, a PowerPoint is never meant to have enough detail to be a leave-behind document.

Know yourself.

You’re not an “outsider,” you’re a magician. You know things, you can do things that no one else in the room can. When you think of yourself in the positive light, you’ll be able to open minds and open doors for your company.

You’re not a sales person. (That’s a good thing!) A technical expert delivers the “reason to believe” in a presentation. You can provide proof and depth that gives weight to the value proposition of your company’s product.

Everybody gets nervous. Breathe, relax, be yourself. Keep an open posture and breathe deeply. This will help you turn your nerves into a clear, strong voice and energetic delivery. Spread out and own your space, too. Personal geography is personal power.

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