The Best Sales Presentations Tap into Audience Expertise

BY Tim Londergan
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During your sales presentation, you are the undisputed authority. You’re confident that no one in the audience has the data or depth of knowledge you have about your product. Further, as the speaker, you control the flow of information and may choose to invite open dialogue with onlookers.

However, consider the frightening circumstance where members of your audience have more experience or credibility on the subject than you. Nobody’s likely to call you out. And perhaps you can turn this uncomfortable situation to your advantage.

Enrich Sales Presentations by Facilitating the Discussion

It’s terrifying to realize that your audience may be more qualified at presenting the topic than you. And certainly, it helps if you can identify those in the audience who are the experts. Yet, once faced with this situation you have two choices:

1. Be intimidated by these seasoned professionals, or…

2. Leverage their knowledge and expertise to benefit the group’s learning.

The smart choice is to manage your ego and choose the second option. Realize that you know a lot, but you cannot be expected to know everything. Shrewdly, this is the time to abandon your agenda and pivot your role from presenter to facilitator.

Facilitator Skills Will Enhance Every Sales Presentation

Learning these skills can help each aspect of becoming a better salesperson. And facilitator skills closely parallel those of a highly effective seller. Facilitation First outlines a facilitator’s top 10 characteristics and here are a few for you to consider.

Well-​honed communication and active listening skills.

Different groups have different needs. Engaging those who are willing participants and encouraging those who are reluctant is a fine art. Further, being able to summarize and acknowledge themes and trends helps to organize group dynamics and maintain order.

Paraphrasing and summarizing requires you to listen, ask for clarification and provide a brief interpretation of what you heard. This practice moves the discussion and provides closure as well. Similarly, this creates a safe environment that encourages quieter members to speak.

Keen observation skills.

Small gestures, facial expressions and body language communicate many underlying thoughts and ideas. Critically, you need to be aware of what’s happening in people’s minds and ascertain their feelings. Calling out mixed messages and differing opinions about your sales presentation can bring resistance to the surface.

Authenticity, neutrality and objectivity.

Be authentic and you will connect more easily. Treating everyone equally without bias and detaching from personal opinions is key to remaining neutral. When it’s time to draw conclusions, it’s easier to guide the group to consensus when you are seen as trustworthy.

Emotional intelligence and flexibility.

Relating to participants with empathy and engaging with an appropriate tone is key to managing group dynamics. Being open to change, adjusting plans based on group needs and innovating solutions on the fly is a challenge. However, these skills are worth practicing to further your sales career.

A great facilitator values and respects the power of the group. If your sales presentation has gone off the rails you must pivot and pick up the pieces. Realize that better ideas and better outcomes may come from leveraging the intelligence of the room.

Positivity, patience and well-​crafted questions.

If you are faced with unexpected audience expertise, you must adapt. Your new goal is to be accommodating to those with more experience, defer to their expertise and maintain your credibility.

Remarkably, an optimistic, calm and positive demeanor will rise above any disagreements or tensions. Additionally, you will find that your patience will be rewarded, and your audience will learn more. 

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