Here’s something to ponder – even great presentations can be let down by what precedes or follows them (or, more commonly, by what doesn’t precede or follow them).
Of course, presentations are incredibly important – the preparation and investment in structure, content, message and delivery are all key to increasing the likelihood of the desired outcome – but even with an excellent presentation, salespeople are fighting with one arm behind their back if other critical elements of the sales process are neglected.
The B2B sales process is getting longer and more complex, with more stakeholders involved than ever. According to HubSpot, the average amount of stakeholders in any B2B decision is 6.8. As a result, salespeople need to think of the sales process as a chess game – you need to plan a series of moves to get to the win.
To look at it another way, while presentations remain the main event, even the best shows need a decent warmup act and a great encore. That’s where a Communication Toolkit comes in. The Toolkit is there as a hub of resources and practices that help with every stage in the sales engagement cycle.
At Eyeful, we believe in the power of viewing the sales engagement as a 3-stage process:
What comes before the presentation? Which stakeholders could you be reaching out to before your pitch? What could you share with your audience ahead of time?
This could be in the form of a “Read This” asset, such as an infographic or a document, or perhaps a “Watch This” teaser video. Something that prepares the audience for the presentation, increases their time thinking about your business and excites them for what they’ll learn when they meet with you. This is more likely to encourage more stakeholders’ attendance and piques their interest more before you pitch.
The presentation itself. How do you engage your audience? What information is relevant? How do you structure it? What action do you ask for?
What comes after the presentation? How do you keep the relationship warm? What are the follow-up procedures and next steps?
According to a recent study, 80% of sales require five follow-up calls after the meeting. Who are you calling? When? How do you reach them? This should be considered in advance. Understanding the stakeholders ahead of time gives you a clearer follow up process, knowing how many people and specifically who to connect with after your pitch presentation.
Have no doubt – the B2B sales landscape has changed. According to Salesforce, the average lead to close length is now 102 days. B2B sales teams need to rethink their strategies, optimising every aspect of their sales process. Having a Communication Toolkit that you can go to for the three major phases of your sales process, Connect (preparation), Communicate (pitch) and Sustain (follow up), is much more likely to increase chances of success from your sales process. Relying on the power of the Communicate stage alone may be hampering your opportunities, leading to dead ends, longer sales cycles, and wasted time.
Which poses the question: what elements should you add to your pre-and post- presentation process to improve your sales results?