Group of colleagues in a conference room with one giving a presentation.
Giving a sales pitch is much more involved than just rattling off a memorized list of facts and figures. You have to address your customers' specific needs and priorities. — Getty Images/jacoblund

Your sales pitch presentation is a work of art, part performance and part conversation. An effective pitch meeting deepens your relationship with the client and convinces them to invest. However, a poor experience can cost you the sale and damage your reputation. But what differentiates an excellent pitch from a poor one?

Several factors affect your sales pitch presentation, including your body language, terminology, and listening skills. Hone your talents by avoiding the five things that kill sales.

Not understanding your product or prospect

Walking into a virtual or remote meeting unprepared is a mistake. LinkedIn research found that “79% of decision-makers are least likely to engage with sales professionals who lack knowledge about their company.” People can sense when you don’t grasp the subject matter well. Even if you know your product or service inside and out, your prospects will have questions that can trip you up.

But it’s not only about your product and brand. According to Salesforce, “73% of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations.” Tailoring your presentation to your buyer’s area of interest and focusing on their top priorities is essential. Avoid impersonal interactions by emphasizing with your prospect’s pain point, then establish your credibility.

[Read more: 7 Online Training Tools to Empower Your Sales Team]

Using jargon or complex terms

Unfamiliar words and acronyms can confuse your audience or come across as condescending. However, you also don’t want to be vague. Business-to-business (B2B) buyers comparing several vendors may only spend 5% to 6% of their journey with one sales rep. Use your time wisely with descriptive, concrete language.

Work with your marketing and customer service teams to identify the terms or phrases your audience uses. Also, deliver your sales pitch to a coworker, friend, or family member. Can they understand what you’re talking about without an explainer?

Unlike listing features and benefits, purposeful narration evokes emotion and illustrates outcomes.

Sharing too much information too quickly

Time constraints can lead to salespersons cramming as many details as possible into their presentation, both verbally and visually. However, Zoom reported that buyers “remember, on average, only 10% of your presentation after 48 hours.” Sharpening your 10% message (key takeaways) and using repetition increases memorability. A slower pace also lets your prospect digest information and ask questions.

The data-insight-question (DIQ) method is a compelling way to make the most of your time. Corporate Visions suggested starting with a statistic or data point to establish credibility. Next, personalize your data insights to your prospect’s situation. Then, ask a relevant, provocative, buyer-focused, and action-oriented question.

Lastly, ensure your slide deck focuses on your 10% message and isn’t stuffed with decorative images and data points. Use animation to share details piece-by-piece and avoid overwhelming your audience.

[Read more: How to Close the Deal Using a Strong Sales Pitch Deck]

Feature-dumping instead of storytelling

Rattling off a list of features or benefits doesn’t deliver results, especially since this method often fails to address buyer-specific concerns. Instead, use a problem-solution approach that focuses on your value proposition. According to HubSpot, you should consider your buyer’s pain points and “try to match them with success stories from past customers who solved similar problems using your product or service.”

Unlike listing features and benefits, purposeful narration evokes emotion and illustrates outcomes. It provides social proof, addresses a specific issue, and demonstrates verifiable improvements.

Ignoring nonverbal cues

Salespersons often record and listen to their pitches to improve their public speaking skills. Yet they fail to understand how their body language could undermine their goals. Nonverbal cues can make you appear standoffish or rushed. Likewise, your prospect’s body language reflects their engagement level.

LinkedIn reported that 42% of buyers want salespersons to have active listening traits. But all too often, salespeople stick to the script even when nonverbal cues suggest a change of pace or content is needed. Instead, practice active listening. It involves paying attention to body language and conveying openness and friendliness with your mannerisms. Active listening also means paying attention to what your customer says without interruption and tailoring your response to them, not your script.

[Read more: 8 Personality Traits That Make a Great Salesperson]

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