So how do you build trust? Essie Rewane-Adejare from Toastmasters International suggests eight ways to gain your audience’s trust during a sales presentation:
Demonstrate your personal credibility
Know the product or service, and your company, inside out. Be knowledgeable about your industry and relevant news. Trust depends on your personal credibility.
Start as you mean to go on
For example, start your presentation with a question. This will show you are ready to handle whatever is thrown at you. If you are introducing an innovative new product you may want to begin with a short interactive exercise. This will show that your style of presenting matches the innovative nature of the product. Or, you may want to ask questions that relate to the desired change the audience is seeking – knowing that your product or service is the solution.
Put your audience’s needs first
Focus on the audience and demonstrate your understanding of their challenges as they relate to the solutions offered by your product or service. This will mean your audience gains an understanding of the value with relevance to their specific situation.
Create a connection between your product/service and the audience.
Your audience will develop more trust in a product they’ve seen working or if they’ve heard credible testimonials from high-quality, believable sources.
Plan your visual aids carefully
Where possible, use images and video clips rather than wordy bullet points. This is because psychologically they help to make a more immediate and strong connection. However, you need to take account of the culture of the audience to whom you are presenting. If you are presenting a complex product to expert buyers, you may need to have detailed slides available.
Keep your audience interested
Be animated. Vary your modulation. Avoid filler words such as ‘um, uh, so, like, you know, actually, literally’ etc. Too many filler words will create distraction, and compromise your credibility by suggesting a lack of preparation, knowledge and passion.
Rehearsing, and ideally videoing, your presentation will help you to use your voice and words to best effect. Aim to pronounce your words clearly, keep your focus on your audience, and demonstrate appropriate enthusiasm and energy.
Handle questions and answers assertively
Keep the answers brief. Answer the question that has been asked and don’t be tempted to go off on a tangent. If you genuinely do not know the answer to a question – promise to get back to them (and remember to do so).
If, part way through your presentation, you can see that a key decision maker is looking quizzical stop and ask if s/he has a question.
Close with care
How you end your presentation is very important. Your choice should be based on your understanding of your audience and where they are in their decision making process.
For example, briefly summarise what you have understood from them and the positive way you can solve their problem. Alternatively, if an immediate sales is on the cards I like to use the Indirect Close. Remind your audience of the pain they will continue to suffer until they use your products. Offer a bonus if they buy today.
Your knowledge of the audience will guide you to the appropriate close.
This final part of the presentation is crucial to your goal; if you want to make a sale, then practice your close in advance. On the day use your personal credibility and build on the trust you have established.