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Peer Review

Sales Presentation Techniques



Overall Numeric Rating:

4.25 stars
Content Quality: 4 stars
Effectiveness: 3.75 stars
Ease of Use: 4.5 stars
Reviewed: Mar 30, 2013 by Business Editorial Board
Overview: Sales Presentation Techniques is an e-book by MTD Training (Sean McPheat)and available at no cost on The book is downloaded as a PDF file; you are required to sign up for a newsletter in order to receive the free e-book. Subsequently, you will receive e-mails from from time to time about other e-books that are available (you e-mail information is not shared with 3rd parties, as stated on the site). In order to keep the cost at $0, the e-book is filled with ads. The book is 53 pages long, and outlines the basics of sales presentations. It consists of 7 chapters, with chapter 8 covering additional resources available. Chapter 1 (Introduction) covers the basic definition of a sales presentation, including written, telephone, and face-to-face. Chapter 2 (Understanding the Sales Process) presents the general sales process, along with a description of how sales presentations have changed over the years. Chapter 3 (Skills that Effective Sales Presentations Require) includes an overview of research and interviewing skills, listening skills (including a discussion of how to be a good listener), communication skills, solutions to problems (including using 5 why questions to get at problems), organizational skills, interpersonal skills, self-,motivation skills, and perseverance. Chapter 4 (Basic Sales Presentation Techniques) provides information on the appropriate language, getting past the gatekeeper, and sales presentation structure. Chapter 5 (Written Sales Presentations) provides greater detail about written presentations, including tips for structure, headlines, demonstrating credibility and relevance, writing how and why statements, writing action and follow-up statements, and concluding the presentation. Chapter 6 (Telephone Sales Presentation Techniques) provides greater detail about phone presentations, including appropriate preparation, questioning, maintaining objectivity, listening and interpreting, informing and educating, involving and coordinating, and staying in charge of the call. Finally, Chapter 7 (Face-to-Face Presentations) deals strictly with face-to-face calls; it recommends creating a sales presentation checklist, editing, being aware of your own behavior, reviews the presentation process, and identifies presentation killers. I have reviewed two chapters: Chapter 2 (Understanding the Sales Process) and Chapter 4 (Basic Sales Presentation Techniques). Chapter 2, Understanding the Sales Process, presents the general sales process and describes the sales funnel. The book notes how the number of prospects decrease as you move through the funnel, due to a mismatch between product and customer needs, an inability to find the decision maker, etc. It also discusses how sales presentations hav changed with the advent of technology. A table offers a comparison between "traditional sales" e.g., "seller knows product," and "modern sales," e.g., "seller knows the prospect and his needs." Essentially, "traditional selling" has a focus on acquiring customers, whereas "modern selling" has a focus on delivering value to customers. The author also notes that the sales person may not be the only person in the sales organization dealing with the prospect. He notes the need for different types of sales presentations depending on where the prospect is in the buying process. In Chapter 4, Basic Sales Presentation Techniques, the author discusses the 5-second rule: you have 5 seconds to get someone's attention. He encourages the presenter to be scripted, and choose words carefully. Use vocabulary the buyer is used to hearing and be careful with jargon. He suggests using the Internet to gather information about prospects (their own sites and independent sources), their competitors, and your competition as a way to identify pain points. Ideas for getting sales materials past the gatekeeper are offered (e.g., demonstrate results of interest to the decision maker) and follow the AIDA model (awareness, interest, desire, action) when putting together the presentation. Finally, the author suggests enhancing Power Point slides with other media, and offers ideas such as interactive whiteboards, video conferencing, and shared workspaces as alternative means for giving presentations. Generally, the book is a pretty easy read and provides a very basic understanding of sales presentations.
Type of Material: open Textbook
Recommended Uses: This book could be used as additional reading material in an entry-level sales class.
Technical Requirements: Internet browser such as Explorer or Firefox; PDF reader
Identify Major Learning Goals: The primary learning goal is for the reader to develop a basic understanding of written, telephone, and face-to-face sales presentations and how they can be delivered effectively.
Target Student Population: This book would best be used with undergraduates or MBAs with limited work experience. It seemed to be written for someone who has no sales experience. The topic itself lends itself to an upper-level Personal Selling or Sales Management course.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: A basic understanding of the personal selling process would be helpful, but not required.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: The content is presented in a very straight-forward manner, and covers the basic aspects of sales presentations. Good, common sense recommendations are provided. Key skills are covered, with important topics like listening skills expanded upon. For interested readers additional resources are offered. At 53 pages in length, this text is presented as a short training manual to improving sales presentations. It highlights the sales process, the skills needed for effective presentations, basic techniques, and focuses one chapter each on the various types of presentations, i.e. written, face-to-face, and telephone. The accompanying references appear well-diversified, and with a 2010 copyright, the information is seemingly recent and relevant. All topics addressed are central to a sales course, and are explained in an understandable, enjoyable to read, way.
Concerns: Although the coverage of content is relatively thorough, the book is thin in some areas. I would like to see coverage on leaving a voice mail, since roughly 75% of the time sellers attempting to make phone presentations will get voice mail the first time. Suggested exercises or discussion questions would make this more useful for the classroom. It would be nice if the book followed its own advice and incorporated some interactive media. I have found that the best way to teach students how to do sales presentations is to show videos of good and bad presentations. Instead of having this book as a downloadable PDF, perhaps it could be a true online book with links to videos showing examples. Podcasts of good phone calls could be included, along with examples of good written proposals. This would enhance the content tremendously. In a classroom setting, the text would need to be supplemental material. The document is not laid out like a traditional textbook, and is missing chapter summaries, discussion questions, cases, etc. that often aid student learning. Additionally, the text is very focused on effective techniques and the “how to,” but is missing concrete examples (either companies, situations, right vs. wrong examples, etc.) that may assist in the learning process. Lastly the sole review of the text has given it a three out of five stars, despite stating that it contains “fresh ideas on presentation.”

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 3.75 stars
Strengths: The author has covered quality topics important to making effective sales presentations. The book has a greater potential to be effective with an adult learner who is more motivated, as compared to an undergraduate who is less motivated to read and digest material. As supplemental reading to a course, this document is well-developed. It breaks down the need-to-know information in superb (overall) summary form, and takes the reader through the process from start to finish, giving helpful suggestions and tips. Students using this resource would cover a lot of information in a relatively short period of time, and would grasp the major components of the sales presentation process. The information is nicely organized as a “refresher” text, and would be ideal to accompanying a training seminar.
Concerns: Students will only pick up so much from reading. More interactive elements, such as those mentioned previously (e.g., discussion questions, videos, podcasts), would enhance the potential effectiveness of the book. An instructor using this as the main reading resource in the class would need to provide many additional resources. Traditional text resources are missing (learning objectives, significant detail, questions, cases, etc.), but primarily the text lacks examples which students often need to fully appreciate the techniques. Additionally, there are no accompanying instructor resources such as powerpoint presentations, notes, activities, etc. so much would need to be developed to support this text. Lastly the promotional claim is that this text would help one to deliver “high impact” presentations, yet the advice and techniques do not appear to be different than other texts on the market.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: The book is very easy to download, and it would be relatively easy to write your own discussion questions for the topics. The textbook itself is nicely laid out with understandable language, graphics and good design style. There are some advertisements scattered throughout that make the “free” cost possible, however these are not overly distracting to the material.
Concerns: I dislike having to sign up for the newsletter to get the book; it's one more unwanted e-mail in my inbox. Though not a huge concern, the reader should note that several questions/newsletter sign up is required prior to downloading of the text, and Adobe Reader must be installed. Additionally, there is nothing interactive about the text – one simply reading the text would find it difficult to practice and/or envision how a “real-world” situation might develop.

Other Issues and Comments: Overall, I think the book has potential.