5 Presentation Mistakes When Pitching for Business

Speaking is the new competitive advantage. What makes your product or service stand out in a sea of commodities is your presentation. Don't lose out because of these presentation mistakes:


  1. Rambling Elevator Speech. If you can't say what you do, for whom, and how they benefit in one minute, your message is too long. The buyer doesn't want to listen to a story. Once your listeners tune out (and they will), you will lose the opportunity to close the sale. The key to a good elevator pitch is focus.
  2. Thick PowerPoint Deck. Unless you're writing legislation, your PowerPoint deck should take 15 minutes to deliver. The reason it takes longer is that there are too many pages and you're probably reading the slides. Summarize what's on the slide and tell the story behind the numbers. You'll fail to win business if all you do is read a list of numbers on a page.
  3. Failure to Listen. More than anything else, listening is the key to winning business. You learn the customer's needs by listening. You develop relationships and show you care by listening. Listening helps you to ask the right questions. Too many people try to pitch rather than question and listen. Use the 70/30 rule. 70% of the time the customer is speaking and 30% of the time you're speaking.
  4. Speaker-Centered.Being speaker-centered is related to the failure to listen and this presentation approach happens before you meet the buyer. Too many pitches and presentations are organized from the speaker's point of view. Nobody cares about your product or service. They care about their own self interests. So create a listener-centered presentation that leads with what the buyer cares about and how your solutions will solve their problem. Talk benefits, not features.
  5. Lack of Confidence. A great pitch deck with amazing visuals won't win the sale if you don't speak with conviction, enthusiasm and confidence. When you walk into the meeting do you own the room? Are you confident enough to go where the buyer wants to go or do you rigidly stick to the script? Research demonstrates that confidence trumps competence. Prepare and practice. Acknowledge your expertise, breathe, relax, and relate. Remember, the first sale is to yourself.