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How to Derail "Send me the presentation."

“Send me the presentation.”

As a salesperson, these four words are equivalent to the kiss of death for a burgeoning business relationship. In my experience, this request is (polite) code for, “I am remotely interested, but not wowed enough to take this relationship further.” Or perhaps, “There are some good things here, so I’m going to email your presentation around the office. Once we’ve gleaned all the information we want, the file will be placed in a folder and we’ll forget all about it (and you).”

Too often I’ve seen potential relationships fizzle out when a well-meaning salesperson gives in to a request for an electronic copy of the deck used in a meeting. How do you break this pattern? It starts by understanding your role in the sales process.

A sales meeting should have a specific agenda, set by you, the salesperson. Prior to the meeting, you and your colleagues must determine the answers to two critical questions:

  • What are we asking of the prospect?
  • What commitment or action do we want in response?

The ball is in your court. At the beginning of the meeting, you lay out the agenda.  At the end of the meeting, ask your prospect for their thoughts. Listen. Answer questions. Don’t sell. If what you offer is right for the prospect, you’ll know it. If both you and the prospect agree your solution is viable for them, you define what subsequent actions each of you will take. This is when you ask for the next interaction, if necessary, making sure to include all interested parties.

When you’re in control of the sales process, the odds are on your side that you’ll avoid the kiss of death. Sometimes, however, people in the sales process are new to working together, roles are not clearly defined, or the team finds themselves on the defensive. You may also discover that the prospect has their own way of moving, which will alter the flow of the meeting. I’ve been in situations where I’ve held back so I could better understand the prospect’s dynamics or keep them from feeling overwhelmed, thereby sacrificing some control.

In such cases, when the dreaded presentation request cannot be avoided, honesty is the best policy.

“Sure, Ms. Prospect. I’d be happy to send over the deck. My one reservation is that when we’ve done so before, it is difficult to keep the conversation alive. So, if we send it, can we also agree to set up our next interaction, be it a call or in-person meeting, to keep the ball rolling?”

People like a straight-forward approach. It’s polite and is not a dishonest sales tactic. It feels like the truth — because it is — and a good prospect will be comfortable with the truth. Moments like this show the prospect you can be trusted, you want the business, and you expect to move forward. Building trust allows you to resume control of the conversation.

Do you need help avoiding or navigating the kiss of death? We’re available to help you win new accounts, improve your selling skills, and implement best practices that will positively impact your selling process.

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