Making a sales presentation should never be something you do on the fly. Good presentations require lots of preparation beforehand. For one thing, having everything set up ahead of time will give you a little extra confidence during the presentation itself. For another, you'll sound much more polished and professional if you're working from an existing plan. And here are a few more suggestions to power up your presentations:

Do Your Research

Study your prospect before the appointment, be it by reviewing his web site, checking his name on social media sites, or asking mutual acquaintances for details. The more you know about the prospect, the better you'll be able to target your pitch.

Look Professional

Appearance is a big part of sales, especially when it comes to first impressions. If you want your prospect to take you seriously you need to look like a serious person. For many sales jobs, that means wearing a nice suit any time you're going to meet with a prospect or customer.

Get There Early

Have your directions in hand and err on the side of arriving early. That way, even if you run into delays -- there's a bad traffic accident in the way or you spill coffee down your front right before you plan to leave -- you can still arrive on time.

Build Rapport

Check around for personal details about your prospect -- things like hobbies, causes he supports, even where he went for college. If you can identify something that the two of you share, like the same alma mater, it gives you an easy way to build rapport with him from the start.

Set a Time Limit

Let your prospect know how long your presentation will take when you set it up, and remind him of it at the appointment before you begin. Then stick to that time frame. If you find you're going to be longer than you expected, ask the prospect for permission before you continue. This shows that you value his time.

Stand Up

Always give your presentation while standing -- it helps your energy level. Moving around is good too, whether it's just doing a bit of pacing, writing things on the white board, or waving your arms around a lot.

Check Your Volume

If you're speaking to a large room, confirm that everyone can hear you before you start your presentation. Confirm as well that everyone can see your projection screen, white board, etc.

Start with an Agenda Statement

An agenda statement is a one-sentence summary of your presentation. It gives you control of the presentation in a friendly way, and makes a great first impression. An example of an agenda statement is, "Today I'm going to tell you about three of our products that can help you save time and money, and then I'll ask you for your feedback regarding those products."

Give Specific Examples

Don't just say "If you buy my product, you'll save money." Instead, say "Customers who use Model X save an average of $632 per month." If you cite a published article, bring along a copy or at least tell the prospect where he can find it later. The more solid material you have to back up your claims, the more believable you are.

Bring Case Studies / Testimonials

Arm yourself ahead of time with stories and testimonials about customers who bought from you and how well things turned out for them. Stories help the prospect visualize himself in the place of the characters, which puts him into a more receptive frame of mind. Once he imagines himself owning the product and gaining its benefits he's much more likely to buy it.
Wendy Connick
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Wendy Connick> all articles
My first sales position was a summer job selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. I continued through a variety of sales jobs ranging from retail sales for a storage company to selling bank products for a Fortune 500 financial institution.

As a small business owner, I now focuses on selling for my own company, Tailored Content, a website content provider. I write on a wide range of topics but my primary focus is sales and how to sell effectively.