Good habits in sales presentations that will wow your clients

May 24, 2017: Can there be anything more doomed to failure than delivering a sales presentation that doesn’t win business one week, then delivering exactly the same presentation the following week?

Yet this is what an enormous number of salespeople do, says communications consultant Andy Bounds, who delivered a thought-inspiring webinar for the Association of Professional Sales today on how to Wow Your Client By Speaking With Impact.

The lesson here is that we are all guilty of falling into bad habits that are not serving us when we deliver pitches and proposals. Rather than correct them, we unconsciously repeat them.

Bounds demonstrated by subjecting his web audience to the worst sales presentation he could devise. The dreary monotone, the reliance on reading off slides were all bad, but the most annoying thing was that he was talking about himself all the time – his business, his track record, his aims.

“The best selling points you will ever have are the ones that have the word ‘you’ in them,” he advised.

“Customers are interested in their own future. They do not want to hear about your company’s past… Nobody wants you, they want the afters of you. As the great Harvard marketing professor Theodore Levitt once wrote: ‘People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole’.”

Bounds divided his talk into four, focusing first on the right mindset for a sales person making a pitch – a mindset that sees things from the point of view of the customer’s goals.

“All the best presentations start by saying: this is what you want from your future,” he told the international webinar audience.

“If you’re an accountant maybe it’s paying less tax, if you’re a lawyer maybe it’s staying out of jail, if you’re a consultant maybe it’s getting into Belgium or generating new leads.

“Slide number one in your presentation should be about that goal. Only then do you say: we can help you achieve that, because we have done it before.”

Second, Bounds looked at presentation content.

He suggests a simple ABC trajectory: first, explain the ‘Afters’, or benefits of doing business; then Build certainty, by telling stories that illustrate how you can help the customer get to their goal; and finally Close – let the prospect know that as soon as they say Yes, they will be on their way to what they want.

He recommended using a PowerPoint slide to show a timeline of getting to the customer’s goal, setting out what your business will do, and what the client needs to do. “Customers love this, they get total clarity about what they’re getting from you,” he said.

Third, Bounds advised sales people to take a hard look at the visuals they use in presentations. Change the title of each slide to something that benefits the client, reduce the word count and make the layout more visually appealing, he said.

Fourth, he advised, include in your delivery the things that you know clients like, such as interactivity. Spend more time preparing questions to ask your client than labouring over your slides. To maximise your chances, ring the client the week before and ask what they particularly want included in your presentation, Bounds suggested, to make yourself seem most relevant.

Finally, but very importantly, entrench your good new habits so that the old bad ones don’t creep back in.

In the words of US author Octavia Butler: “Forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable – it will inspire you whether you’re inspired or not”.

“I advise you to go through your last sales presentation with a highlighter, pick out the places where you are focusing on the ‘afters’, and rearrange your presentation to bring them right to the front,” Bounds advised. “Then change your template so that it stays that way.”

Watch Andy Bounds video tutorials on better sales presentation at, or sign up for his tips email at Contact Andy at

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