Using PowerPoint as a Sales Tool

PowerPoint presentations are hybrid sales tools. These slideshows evolved from two well-established sales regimens: face-to-face selling, and sales presentations in the form of letters, flyers, brochures, and web pages.

With face-to-face selling, it’s easy for the salesperson to solicit questions and comments from the prospect. A prospect who doesn’t want to buy your product or service might raise a legitimate objection that is making her reluctant to say “yes.” Alternatively, she might fabricate an objection so that she doesn’t have to deal with the real problem. In either case, the salesperson has an opportunity to listen to the objection, and deal with it.

Crafting a sales brochure or a website product page, on the other hand, leaves very little opportunity for the salesperson to hear a prospect voice an objection. A prospect might phone you with a question. But the most effective printed or online sales presentations are the ones that anticipate all possible objections, and answer them as part of the write-up.

PowerPoint presentations have elements of both of these traditional sales methodologies. Because PowerPoint slideshows are usually delivered to a live audience, there are opportunities to interact with prospects and entertain their objections. Often, however, there isn’t an effective way for the presenter and the audience to have a conversation. When crafting a slideshow, it’s wise to anticipate the problems that people are considering, and weave the solutions into the PowerPoint slides.

PowerPoint as a Sales Tool

Here are the most common objections that salespeople have to deal with in face-to-face selling. It’s important to understand each objection, to analyze how the objection applies to the products and services that you’re selling to each of your target audiences, and to include answers to these objections in your slide show, and in the narrative that accompanies your PowerPoint presentation.

I can’t afford to buy what you’re selling

Even though it may be true, most buyers won’t tell you that they don’t have the money to buy your wares. This is especially true if you’re delivering your PowerPoint sales presentation to a diverse audience, such as the people who attend your presentation at a seminar or trade show. By contrast, if you’re standing in front of a smaller group of professionals from the same company, you may hear that the manager who needs to make the buying decision doesn’t have enough funds in her budget.

No matter how it is expressed, the underlying problem is that your price is too high. When a prospect compares the benefits that you’ve explained with the price that you’re asking, she may decide that she’s not going to sign the purchase order.

Your PowerPoint presentation has to justify the price of your product or service. Mention the high-quality components that your company uses to build your product. Compare your price with that of competitors who charge even more for a comparable product. Dollarize the price and express it in a cost-per-day or cost-per-week. Compare the price of your solution to the price that your prospects will pay if they continue with the status quo. Weave risk reduction and good will and customer support and other benefits into the discussion about price.

Don’t dwell on the costs that your company incurred to bring your product to the marketplace. Your prospects aren’t interested in the years of research and development that you performed. They don’t care that you had to retool your manufacturing plant to make the new products. They only care about the ratio of the price you’re charging to the benefits that you provide.

I have to discuss the buying decision with my spouse, my boss, my parents

Some prospects believe that they have to discuss their buying decisions with anybody who will listen. Remind your prospects that they do indeed have the authority to make a buying decision. Tell them that they buy much more expensive products and services every year, with no need to get special approval.

I want to study your competitors’ offerings

Deal with this objection by equating urgency with price reductions. Tell prospects that you’re offering a discount if they make the buying decision immediately. Explain why the items that you’re selling are superior to those that your competitors offer. Talk about the special support level that you’re offering to people who buy today. Mention the discount coupons that you’re bundling with today’s purchase, enabling prospects to save even more money when they buy future products from your company.

I have a specific problem with what you’re selling

The general objections discussed above are annoying and need to be dealt with. The specific problems, however, are huge opportunities for you to close the sale and walk away with a contract. You should do everything in your power to encourage prospects to voice these concerns.

It’s possible that somebody has a misunderstanding about your products and services. If they’re reluctant to buy because they have a misconception about what you’re selling, then this is an opportunity for you to explain the problem away. From a long-term perspective, you have a chance to change your PowerPoint presentation to include accurate information about this mistaken perception.

Your best policy is to encourage questions. Silence is your enemy. For every person who will voice an objection to buying the product or service that you offer, many more will sit silently and simply not buy. Or they’ll report back to their managers that your offering is flawed in some significant way. The only way to solve this problem is to encourage the people listening to your PowerPoint presentation to voice their concerns so that you can answer them in front of the whole group.

There’s always the danger that you’ll flub your answer to a question that you didn’t anticipate. From a long-term perspective, it really doesn’t matter. Do your best to answer the question today. You’ll be able to think about it tomorrow, and develop a powerful answer for your next presentation. And as Sergio Zyman said in his book The End of Marketing As We Know It, “You don’t have to win every round to win the fight.”

The bottom line

When crafting a PowerPoint sales presentation, anticipate your prospects’ objections and deal with them in your slides and in your narrative. Welcome questions. Deal with them as best you can, and learn from them. After every presentation, think through how you can tweak your slides and narrative so that you’ll increase your sales effectiveness the next time you deliver a slideshow to a group of prospects.

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