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Practice Management > Building Your Business

Presentation pitfalls: 4 to avoid

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Here’s the scenario: You’re about to make a sales presentation. You have the right experience, the right products/services and competitive pricing. You’re an ideal fit for your prospect’s needs. This should be a winning sales formula. But all too often, it isn’t. Vendors end up making dumb mistakes during presentations and lose business.

As a marketing consultant, I often source professional services, so I’ve seen a lot of sales presentations. Some are great; most are not. I’ve watched many fully qualified vendors (even ones I was rooting for) miss the mark during their presentations and walk away empty-handed.

Here are four things to guard against when making your presentation:

1.     Lacking passion. The surest way to lose a sale is to seem like you don’t much care about winning it. Do you want the prospect’s business? Are you looking forward to a relationship with him? Show it in your voice and body language. Be eager and enthusiastic. If you’re not excited about working together, you can be sure the customer won’t be.

2.     Focusing on your business. Prospects care about your credentials, but only as it relates to their issues and concerns. It doesn’t matter how qualified you are. If your presentation is all about your capabilities rather than solving your prospect’s problems, you have no chance of being selected.

3.     Not knowing the prospect’s business. Arrive with a full understanding of your prospect and her marketplace. Listen carefully during the discovery process, study your prospect’s website and conduct searches online. You want to seem like you’re already a part of her team, instead of like a vendor who doesn’t take the time to go beyond the basics.

4.     Lacking strong presentation materials. The quality of your presentation reflects the quality of your work. A presentation which is poorly formatted, written or proofread does not bode well for your future performance. If you make mistakes like these now, what will you do once you’re hired?

Everyone makes mistakes. But if you’re lucky enough to get your foot in the door, you’ll want to avoid these tragic sale presentation errors.

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Jean M. Gianfagna is a marketing strategy expert and the founder and president of Gianfagna Strategic Marketing which provides marketing strategy and creative services to leading business-to-business and consumer marketers. Read her blog for more marketing tips at


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