If you’ve ever seen figure skating, you know what a pleasure it is to follow the skaters on the ice because they move so gracefully from one step into the next, seemingly without effort. They don’t move in a jerky, disjointed fashion; if they did, you wouldn’t want to watch them.
Much the same can be said of winning sales presentations. You want to tell a sales story that moves gracefully and persuasively from beginning to end, that builds excitement from point to point, and that flows naturally to a conclusion and next steps. To change metaphors, you don’t want the presentation equivalent of “Chopsticks” or Muzak. You want a presentation that hits buttons, that rocks ‘n’ rolls with advertisers, that moves them like jazz, that gets them all revved up to advertise with you.
How do you do that? Assuming that you’ve got the right content, a large part of the answer is by using well-thought-out transitions. Transitions are links, bridges, or phrases that connect the various parts of your presentation into a seamless, compelling story. What follows are transition examples to move sellers and their messages easily and successfully from “Hello” all the way through to the closing step. (You can use these as is or tailor them to fit your style and situation.)
The Hardest Transition
Let’s start with the very beginning of a presentation, often the most awkward moment in a sales call. Number one below has no transition; number two does. Notice the difference in effectiveness. Buyers always do.
- (Weak) You: “OK, enough about the weather. Uh, let me tell you about XYZ web site.”
Buyers think: “Oh, Lord. Save me from another self-centered, clueless rep!”
Transition phrases like those below get the presenter, the presentation, and the buyer into the same groove right away. Simply begin by stating the advertiser’s objectives and business situation.
- (Stronger) You: “The purpose of our meeting today is to help you drive traffic to your site” or “What I wanted to talk to you about today was an idea to help you… “
“As you told me, you’re facing… [fill in the background facts of your advertiser’s situation]” or “Last time we spoke, you said… [background facts]” or “As we both know… [background facts]” (A confirming question is a good idea here. For example, “Is that right?”)
Buyers think: “This rep is on the ball. He (or she) actually knows something about me and my business! I think I’m going to like this.”
Lead to Your Recommendation
Next, bring your buyer deeper into the presentation by using a setup or framing question to bridge from the advertiser’s world to what you are selling or recommending.
You: “Given this scenario, how can we help?” or “So, the question is, ‘What is your best option?'” or “With this background, how does XYZ add value?”
A bridging question creates a sense of anticipation in your advertiser for what is to come. Then, answer the question with a brief overview of your recommendation or idea. For example, “The answer is… ” or “There are three reasons to use XYZ… ”
Use a reinforcing transition to link back to your buyer’s objectives. For example:
You: “…which will help you meet your objective” or “As a result, you will see many more visitors to your web site.”
Buyers think: “Great! Tell me more!”
Move Into the Supporting Details
A simple phrase takes you and your advertiser into the body of your presentation.
You: “Let’s begin with… ” or “The first thing we’ll look at is… ”
Create Momentum and Excitement
Typically, you have three to five major blocks of information to present, each usually with more than one visual or point. Let’s say you are presenting these major blocks of information:
- What your site and/or service is/does
- How it does it
- Your competitive advantages
- How you would work with this client
Selling advertising and web services is often more complex than selling other kinds of media. Many web presentations are quite long (more about that in next month’s column). It is very easy for buyers to become bored, lost, or both in your many PowerPoint screens. To minimize that risk, use connecting phrases like these to move from point to point within each block of information.
You: “In addition… ” “Moreover… ” “Another benefit is… “
Buyers feel: a growing sense of excitement and the appeal of your message.
Double That Momentum
Couple the transitions within blocks of information with transitions between blocks of information.
You: “So, again, XYZ web site is the fastest growing in its category. And the story gets even better when you look at how much visitors to our web site spend. (Click. You’re onto this next block of information.)
“So, you’ve seen how popular XYZ is and how responsive our users are. Now, what special advertising opportunities will you have?” (Click. You’re onto this next block of information.)
Buyers see: cumulative benefits and are increasingly caught up in the possibilities of your web site’s story and what it means to them.
Ease Into Your Summary
Summaries are always easy when you use a simple client-centered lead-in transition like either of these:
You: “In summary, you want to (drive more traffic to your site)” or “We started by saying you want to… ”
Buyers: silently agree.
Then, restate your recommendation. Add a final linking transition,
You: “As a result, we will help you increase the traffic to your site.”
Buyers think: “Yep, that’s what I want. What’s next?”
Move Naturally to the Next Step(s)
Don’t disappoint them. Lay out the next step(s) with one of these phrases.
You: “To get these benefits, the next step is simple. Just… ” or “Going forward, all that’s needed is for you to… ”
Transitions in Action
We began by saying that you want presentations that move easily and persuasively from beginning to end. Strategically placed transitional bridges and phrases create that flow.
- They draw your advertisers into your message.
- They keep attention and build excitement for your story.
- They make you a better presenter.
The result will help you get more advertisers saying, “Yes,” more often to your recommendations.
Going forward, the next step is simple: Incorporate transitional thinking into your future presentations and enjoy the results!