How to woo your customers with effective sales pitches

How to woo your customers with effective sales pitches

Forget the canned slides, the boring bullets, and the techy talk. Instead, use professional public speaking tricks when you give a presentation to customers, users, your company's management, or your peers.

IT professionals at all levels must be able to deliver presentations, says Dave Pearson, director of IT infrastructure at a US publication.

''You are trying to convey a technical idea to people who are not as technical, but you want to engage them,'' Pearson explains.

The first step is to know your audience and match your presentation to its specific business needs. You should think carefully about what your audience will gain from the idea you are proposing.

Ann Strine, assistant vice chancellor for information technology at Pima Community College, has used her presentation skills to help secure approval for multimillion dollar technology upgrades.

''Know whom you are talking to and what their concerns are, and match the language,'' Strine suggests.

''Know your audience and show in the simplest way the benefits of what you are trying to sell,'' says Phil Goldwasser, manager of information systems at Polakoff and Michaelson, a CPA firm. For example, show how faster processors will improve work efficiency, or how a dial-in modem pool will let more people work from home.

If your presentation or sales pitch is aimed at a non-technical audience, make sure it doesn't have too much technical detail.

Refer to practical examples that your audience can easily understand, but never talk down to your group.

Strine tries to avoid both simplistic terms and overly technical language by discussing, for example, the need to manage network traffic rather than using technical language about routers and switches.

Be careful about overusing fancy software presentation capabilities. Many different fonts and typefaces within a presentation can ruin the overall impact. When you are speaking, don't talk in a monotone or just read your notes or slides.

''Get feedback from the audience by watching how they look, and then respond to your audience,'' Litchko adds.

After your formal presentation is finished, you may want to use a question and answer period to reinforce your talk. But remember that this is for clarification only.

Although ridding yourself of sweaty palms and polishing your presentation skills involves a lot of hard work, it is worth the effort. Good presentation skills can help you get a raise, obtain budget approval, move up the IT ladder and make that sale.

The keys to success

-- What good presentation skills can help you accomplish:

-- Obtain budget approval

-- Make the case for a project

-- Get ahead professionally

-- Stand out from the crowd

-- Show leadership ability

-- Promote your organisation or group

-- Build your self-confidence

-- Demonstrate your knowledge

-- Make a sale

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