Selling for the Greater Good
Sales Effectiveness in the Digital Age

The Value of Presentations

1d912eeToday's blog post is by Jacco van der Kooij, sales strategy consultant at Future Of Sales Is NOW.



Attending, preparing, and giving presentations is a critical part of doing business. The big question is, what is the outcome of your presentations? How many presentations lead to measurable results? Selling Power and SalesOpShop recently conducted a survey of B2B sales professionals to get a better understanding of this subject.

How Much Time Do You Spend on Presentations?

Of the 170 participants in the survey, 76 percent indicate that they need presentations to do their job, and for 53 percent, this means they attend at least one to two presentations a week. The most prominent users are product managers, who attend several presentations a day, present once or twice a week, and together with marketing, spend as much as a full day in preparation. Sales, which accounted for 56 percent of the respondents, present less frequently and spend only a couple of hours in preparation.

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Q3-v21Q6-v2How Much Does a Presentation Cost? 

Let’s consider the example of a small company of about 50–100 employees and assume that a midlevel manager creates and delivers a presentation to 10 people in the organization:

8 hours to create (@ $65/hour)                                     $520
1 hour to deliver to 10 people (@ $65/person)              $650
The total cost for one presentation                           $1,170

This excludes the cost of a conference room, projector, technical support, and condiments for the participants.

The Costs of Presentations Are Staggering!

Similarly, assuming a company uses conference rooms for its internal presentations and inside and field sales representatives for its external presentations, it will find itself investing the following:

$273,000/year per conference room on internal presentations
$88,000/year per field sales professional on client presentations
$12,400/year per inside sales professional on client presentations

A company that employs five outside reps and two inside reps will spend nearly $1 million annually on presentations. If you want to estimate the amount your company is investing, use our online calculator.

What Is the Outcome of Presentations?

There is great value in getting people together at a set time to share ideas and conversation initiated by a thought-provoking presentation; however, in most corporations, the majority of internal presentations are provided by untrained people who deliver monologues instead of engage in two-way conversations. As you can tell from the results below, approximately one out of two presentations is considered valuable enough and leads to a measurable result.

Q3-how-many-were-worth-your-timeAs for external presentations, the results appear worse. In the sales industry, the monologue, one-way presentation is so commonplace that it is referred to as "a talking brochure." It is no surprise that a panel of buyers at the recent Sales 2.0 Conference in London rated only 1 out of 8 presentations valuable. When asked, "What do you fear the most?" the response was largely, "long and boring vendor presentations."

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How Can Presentations Be Improved?

How can we deliver a better return on the sizable investment in both internal and external presentations?

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These responses can be separated into a few areas of improvement:

  1. Prepare by researching your audience and develop a story line that matches the audience’s need.
  2. Make your content exciting. Base it on relevant, reliable data and add telling visuals.
  3. Improve your delivery by practicing, and with every practice shorten the presentation until it is between 12–15 minutes long.
  4. Integrate a way to engage and involve your audience early on.

For those presenting regularly, I recommend Duarte Academy and, in particular, its workshop Resonate. If you are presenting data, I recommend Edward Tufte and his class Presenting Data and Information.

Rethinking Presentations

The biggest opportunity for presentations does not come from improving the way we present. There is a far bigger opportunity with new use cases powered by the latest presentation tools. These emerging use cases operate at a lower cost and provide a more meaningful and measurable return. Here are use cases that will make you rethink presentations altogether:

  • The briefing presentation – pioneered by account executives in need of a presentation before the meeting to make room for conversation during the meeting, resulting in a shorter sales cycle.
  • The white paper presentation. White papers command the highest sign-up ratio of any online asset. Give your white paper exponential exposure with 100,000 views and 1,000 likes to drive lead generation.
  • The client road map presentation – developed by a product manager who wanted to let the client drive the discussion using double tap and swipe, resulting in a more productive conversation.
  • The online sales pitch – pioneered and developed by inside sales teams based on its efficiency and effectiveness. This includes desktop/application sharing for instant demonstrations.
  • The Starbucks experience. Conversations are moving from a conference room into a coffee shop, where you sit side-by-side and use an easy-to-navigate presentation tool to spark a conversation.

As you can see, a presentation no longer must take place at a set time and location, with a lean-back audience being asked to listen intently and ask questions at the end. These new use cases take aim at a lean-forward audience, and its goal is to drive conversation. For more examples, visit my Website at www.futureofsalesisnow.com.

How Do You Capitalize on the Opportunity?

If you want to capitalize on the opportunity, contact me at Jacco@FutureOfSalesIsNOW.com.

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Lucas Davis

Some really great information and advice. I never realised the staggering cost of presentations and it is even more shocking when you realise just how many presentations are made every day. I really like the tip about shortening the presentation when you practice. Do you think the use of PowerPoint has an influence? They almost restrict audience participation although there is some weight on the speaker to get the audience involved.

Greg Hobbs

OMG, don't get me started on prsentations. As previously stated, everyone is always selling whether they realize it or not, right?

Internal presentation by a product manager. Dosen't the product manager have to get the participants to "buy into" what he is presenting? You said, of course he does, right?

Isn't the old paradigm, do a presentation, overcome objections and close, close, close? Unfortunately, aren't the vast majority of sales people still doing just that or some slight variation of that? You said yes to that, right?

If a presentation looks like a presentation, sounds like a presentation or feels like a presentation, then you did it wrong, didn't you?

The best presentation you will ever give is the one the prospect never sees. Can I get an AMEN???

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