It was my second day at work with a new company and the owner asked me to come along with him to a sales meeting. It was a capabilities presentation with about 15 people, including the key decision maker. Knowing how difficult it can sometimes be to get in front of that many people, especially with a key decision maker, I was looking forward to the opportunity and to see my boss in action.
Amazingly, the meeting started pretty much on time, which I took as a good sign. After introductions, my boss began his presentation while seated at the conference table and immediately dove in with our company’s background information. After about 10 minutes of his reading word for word from each slide, the key decision maker interrupted, stating that they were pressed for time and asked if my boss could address some specific questions.
At that point, my boss told the decision maker that he’d get to those questions, but first he wanted to go through the rest of his slides.
There were 98 of them.
Guess what happened next? Shortly after being rebuked by my boss, the key decision maker excused herself and left. Not surprisingly, her staff also started to plan, and then execute their escape. In a matter of just a few minutes, there ended up being three or four people who just stayed for the free lunch we provided. And they were definitely not key decision makers.
Following the sales meeting, my new boss asked me how I thought it went. After an awkward silence, I mentioned that it would’ve been a good idea to address the key decision maker’s questions when they were asked. In return for my sage advice, I received a stare as if I had two heads.
My boss did everything possible to sabotage the presentation and lost any chance of getting business from this prospect.
So, if you too would like to sabotage a sales meeting, make sure you make one or more of the following blunders.
1) Don’t rehearse.
By not rehearsing your presentation, you are virtually guaranteed to miss key presentation points and get confused when someone interrupts with a question.
2) Ignore presentation physics.
Tons of research has been done that proves standing during a presentation in front of large groups is the most effective way to establish credibility, gain trust, and be viewed as a person of authority. Of course, if you are looking to fail, by all means, remain seated.
3) Have a ton of boring, self-centered slides.
If you didn’t lose your audience with the first two points, a sure-fire path to failure is to have a ton of slides loaded with text (in a tiny font size and typos too). Then read from them word for word like my boss did. And definitely be sure to talk a lot about yourself upfront, and ignore the prospect’s needs. That always goes over big.
4) Be arrogant and condescending.
Above all, dismiss closing clues and opportunities to address pivotal questions when they’re asked. Especially when they’re asked by the key decision maker. This will ensure your audience will disengage (and as in our case, leave) and you’ll never be invited back again.
5) Avoid doing any follow-up.
With the four key steps to failure solidly behind you, you can also avoid sending any follow-up materials, like condensed and annotated PDFs of the slides. However, if you do send something, you could end your correspondence with the ever-popular “Call me if you have any questions.” That way the follow-up becomes your prospect’s responsibility, not yours.
By doing the above five things, you too can pretty much be guaranteed lost sales opportunities.
There are a lot of other negative things you can do during a sales meeting. And, if you’d like to see more, along with some corresponding positive things to do, I’ll be happy to send you those too. Just email me at Bob@streetsmartbizdev.com.
Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on LinkedIn. It is published here with permission.