Psychological Tips to Improve a Sales Presentation

By Toke Kruse  (CEO of Slideshop.com)

Of course the primary motivation behind any sales presentation is … yes, sales. No surprise there. Sales are the reason for all your research, preparation and practice. And when your presentation materials are put together, they should forward your brand and convince the audience to try what you’re offering. Unfortunately, though, even though making sales is the objective, some presenters come across too “salesy.” They’re so assertive or insincere that they give an impression of being superficial and self-serving. That loses an audience (and sales) very quickly.

So how do you deliver a sales presentation that makes a positive impact? One tip is to explore human behavioral studies that explain how and why persuasion takes place.

Who Said What to Whom

According to the Yale Attitude Change Approach, a study initiated by Carl Hovland, the three factors that come into play when persuading people are:

  • Source – As the source of information, you have to be knowledgeable, credible and attractive. Know your product well. Nothing is more frustrating than a salesperson who is clueless about his or her product. Make sure you look and feel good in front of your prospective clients. You only get to make a first impression once; make the most of it the opportunity.

  • Message – Don’t come across as being solely interested in selling. Your sales presentation must emphasize how your product and its features will benefit your audience, solving their problems and meeting their needs. Back your message with documented facts and figures. Remember to share customer success stories, too. They prove your product’s worth.

  • Audience – The nature of the audience is also a major factor affecting persuasion. Check into your prospects’ backgrounds. Know their age ranges, jobs, interests, priorities, common issues, and other anything else that gives you clues to how they think, what they need and want, and their priorities. Then tailor your presentation to reach and appeal to them. The more relevant your presentation is to your prospects’ lives, the more they will appreciate your product, and the more likely they are to buy.

Get Them at “Hello”

A study on credibility conducted by psychologists from three renowned universities shows that a person can judge another’s trustworthiness within a second of hearing their voice. Researchers observed that study participants based personality-related opinions on what they heard in a recording of a person’s voice within 300-500 milliseconds.

If this result is applied to sales presentations, it suggests you must be effective in using your voice right from the very start, if you hope to make a positive impression. For your listeners, it’s not just the content that matters; your manner of speaking counts, too. Your voice is a clue to your sincerity and your belief in the product.

Here are some suggestions for improving your presenting voice:

  • Start with a friendly “hello” or similar greeting. This small step can take you a long way.

  • Vary your pitch, volume, and rhythm. If you speak in monotone, you won’t be able to emphasize important points.

  • Add emotions to your words: use facial expressions and gestures to strengthen your message.

  • If you conduct a sales presentation online, spend some time listening to your voice on your headset’s microphone, and adjust your delivery as needed. (Hint: It may be even more effective to enlist someone else to listen and offer their impressions and suggestions. We are often over-critical of our own recorded voices.)

Do you know of any other psychological theories or techniques that might help salespeople in improving their presentations? Let us know through the comment box below.

About the author

Toke Kruse is the CEO of Slideshop.com, a leading provider of pre-designed PowerPoint templates. Toke is a graduate of Copenhagen Business School and has launched nearly a dozen companies since entering the world of entrepreneurship at the age of 18.