HBR study on why deals are lost – 3 takeaways for the sales presentation

Harvard Business Review came out with a very interesting study on why sales people lose deals. One of the key reasons was called “ineffective communication” and was directly related to the sales presentation.

There are three takeaways from this study for sales people who want their sales presentations to help them close deals.

HBR study on why deals are lost - 3 takeaways for the sales presentation

HBR study on why deals are lost – 3 takeaways for the sales presentation

The first takeaway is that successful sales presentations are not generic. Rather, they are customized to each prospect based on their situation and focused on showing the prospect exactly how their situation can be improved. To accomplish this a sales representative will spend the early part of the sales cycle understanding the prospect’s circumstances and identifying how his product or service can change those circumstances for the better. Whether that means, improving processes, reducing cost or making issues go away.   

Next, the winning sales presentation will have “compelling” reasons for buying the product or service, reasons that the prospect can relate to because they directly address their specific situation or issues. In other words, the presentation needs to be persuasive in its design. A sales person should use presentation tools such as statistics, case studies and customer quotes, as evidence to convince the prospect that they can in fact deliver the solution the prospect needs.

This quote from one of the subjects of the study perfectly captures what we need to accomplish with our sales presentations:

“We are a skeptical group, and they lost the deal during their presentation. They said they were different and much better than what we have, but they didn’t provide enough proof. What they said didn’t really apply to us.” —Chief Financial Officer

So in order for our presentations to help us close deals they must be customized and relevant to the prospect. Next, the presentation must feature evidence that proves to the prospect that we can effectively address their issues and needs.  

This brings me to the third and final takeaway – presentation matters! This study shows that an ineffective presentation can be the reason a deal is lost.

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