Try “chunking” your next sales presentation

I’ve written in the past about the importance of the rule of three in presentation (here) and the idea that, no matter how tempting it may be, we should avoid giving the prospect more than three reasons why they should buy our product or service.

I worked for a company years ago where one of the sales managers attempted to develop a generic presentation about our offerings that we could all use on sales calls (read why presentations must be customized rather than generic, here and here). He introduced the presentation to us at a sales meeting and somewhere around slide number twenty-seven I realized he was determined to tell us every single feature of every single service we provided.

Try delivering a presentation like that to a real live prospect.

The rule of three keeps us away from creating presentations that overwhelm the prospect with more information than they can possibly process.

But what if you must deliver more than three reasons in your presentation? What if there is no way around you having to deliver a half a dozen or more key points to the prospect.

In that situation we want to practice what’s called “chunking”, which means to group our key points into chunks for the audience. This makes it much easier for the prospect to process your content and remember your key points as our brains are just not very good at managing long strings of loosely connected information.

For example, you could break the presentation into two chunks, three key points about cost savings and three key points about process improvement. Sales trainer Terri Sjodin teaches that all sales presentations should have nine key reasons. That sounds like way too many based on the rule of three, but here’s how she structures the presentation: three reasons the prospect should buy your product, three reasons they should buy from you and three reasons they should buy it right now. That’s chunking.

Of course the symmetry won’t always work out perfectly as in those examples. You may find yourself creating a presentation that has three key points on cost savings, one key point on process improvement and two key points on ease of implementation. But that will still work fine because by grouping your reasons into manageable chunks, as opposed to providing a long string of reasons, you have made it easier for the prospect to absorb your content.

All that said, I’m still a big fan of the simplicity of just three key points but if you find yourself having to deliver several reasons for the prospect to buy then do some chunking.

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