Imagine the following two scenarios:
1. You're invited to a friend's house for dinner. The family is there and you expect an enjoyable evening. But that thought quickly changes as the husband and wife argue incessantly, the teenage daughter seeks attention throughout the dinner, and the son rudely leaves the table to go to his room and turn his stereo up to the point that table conversation can barely be heard.
2. You receive a similar invitation from another friend, only this time the atmosphere is warm and friendly. Family members seem to enjoy each other's company. The conversation is genuine and laughter abounds. It makes you think, "I want to be a part of this family."
These two different scenarios could be accurate representations of team sales presentations.
A poor team presentation often makes clients feel uncomfortable, like guests at the dinner from hell. The impression clients often get is that if you were actually awarded the business, you probably wouldn't work well together to achieve the best result.
But, like the pleasant family dinner, a well-executed group sales presentation will make clients feel almost envious that they aren't part of such a great team.
When bidding for that major contract you may need to pull together vendor, VAR and specialist consultant team members into one cohesive and persuasive team. Each person probably brings a different technical, business or industry view, each one no doubt relevant to your end-user client. Managing these extra dimensions well will ensure your team has the best chance of winning the business.
So, what does it take to get the team sales presentation right? Here are a few ideas:
Pick the right team members. Too often, the people on the presentation team may not be the ones who will be working on the business. If clients prefer to see the people they will ultimately be working with, send them to the pitch and leave the boss at the office.
Clarify team members' roles. Each team should have a leader, who may not necessarily be the most senior person. The team leader sets up the sales presentation, delivers the opening remarks, introduces other members and runs through the agenda. The leader also closes the presentation by delivering a succinct summary and conclusion. The other team members present on their areas of expertise. At the conclusion of their sections, it should be clear to clients why each member is on the team, because they've presented it clearly.
Ensure smooth transitions between team members. There needs to be a logical verbal and smooth physical transition between the individual presentations of team members. Ideally, the transitions should pull each part of the presentation together and make the entire pitch more cohesive. This also shows you care about your other team members well enough to understand their areas of expertise.
Clear away your materials. After you've presented, leave your other team members a clean space in which to work. It sends several messages to your audience: it shows you are professional; it indicates you are organised and efficient; and, perhaps most importantly, it demonstrates that you have consideration for your colleagues. A messy presentation implies that you'll deliver the business in the same way.
Pay attention. Nothing looks worse to clients than team members not listening to their colleagues who are presenting. If you don't bother to listen, why should the client? Even if you've heard your team-mates rehearse a dozen times, you still need to listen to what they're saying, to show you're interested, and in case you're asked a question later.
Manage the Q&A. Even when a sales presentation goes well, it can collapse like a house of cards if the question and answer session is handled poorly. One team member should field the questions and direct them accordingly. If a satisfactory answer can't be given at the time, admit it and tell the client you'll get back to them later. And never contradict a response that another member of your presentation team gives to a question.
Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Rehearsal is the time to determine the best seating configuration for the team; the order of presenters; and what comments, if any, will work between team members in the actual presentation.
Jeff Sheard is sales director for Asia-Pacific of Rogen International. Reach Rogen at: http://www.rogen.com.au