Nail Your Sales Presentation

Turn prospects into eager clients with a clear, well-organized presentation.

By Tony Parinello • Feb 10, 2003

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Q: I am aone-person-show with a great product. I've got a new prospectcoming to our office for an early-morning presentation. What'sthe best way to ensure I make my best first impression and get thesale?

A: The fact thatyou are the only person involved in your presentation works in yourfavor. You'll have total control of what gets said and,therefore, the outcome of your presentation. Here's a helpfulchecklist that I've used time and again to make sure everythinghappens on schedule:

Room Setup
The look and feel of a room has an extraordinary effect on humanbehavior and attitudes, and that means it has an extraordinaryeffect on the way your prospect will perceive your presentation.Before you even begin to think about where to put the table andchairs, you should work your way through the following meeting-prepchecklist:

  • Make sure the room you'll be using is well-lighted.A poorly lighted room will affect the internal clock of yourprospect, and perhaps even cause him or her to tune out you andyour message. Do not use an overhead projector or any otherpresentation tool that requires that you dim the lights. If theroom has windows, tilt the blinds to obstruct the view. Youdon't want anyone daydreaming during your presentation.
  • Keep all noise during your presentation to an absoluteminimum. Unplug all phones in the room and turn off anyoverhead speakers, cell phones and pagers. If the room you'llbe using has adjacent neighbors, make sure a sales rally won'tbe taking place during your presentation.
  • Remove all clutter. Get rid of boxes, piles of papersand anything else that's not directly related to yourpresentation.
  • Arrange for refreshments. No need to go overboard here,but make sure you have on hand a nice assortment of beverages tochoose from. If possible, give a coffee mug (featuring your companylogo) to each attendee as well as a pen or pencil fornote-taking.

The Presentation
Once you're rolling, bear these important guidelines inmind:


  • Set clear starting and ending times.
  • Use topic index cards or some other written cue cardssummarizing your key points to keep you on track and ensure thatyou don't miss anything.
  • Consider using more than one presentation tool, such as flipcharts and an overhead projector. It's more interesting andengages the audience.
  • Gain and maintain visual contact with every single member ofyour audience. Learn to scan the room with a sequence so youdon't miss anyone.
  • Keep a pitcher of water handy for yourself.
  • Count to 10 after you ask any questions. And try this:"What questions do you have?" instead of "Are thereany questions?"


  • Read statements from your notes verbatim.
  • Talk while you are facing away from your audience.
  • Interrupt people when they are talking.
  • Continue to hold a pointer or marker after you've used it.The risk that you'll engage in a distracting nervous tic isjust too high!
  • Carry change in your pockets.
  • Exceed 60 minutes without a break.

When you're done with your presentation, you have twochoices to wrap it up:

  • "So, ladies and gentlemen, you've seen what I have tooffer. What do you think? Shall we get your service started on the29th of this month?"
  • "So, ladies and gentlemen, you've seen what I have tooffer. You've been very generous with your time and attention,and I appreciate that. You'll need some time to think overeverything you've seen and learned today. Shall we set a timeon next Thursday to discuss what you want to do next?"

I prefer the second approach. It has a better chance of gettinga more direct response from your prospect. Lots of luck with yourpresentation!

Tony Parinello is the author of the bestselling book Selling to VITO, the Very Important TopOfficer. For additional information on his speeches and hisnewest book, Secrets of VITO, call (800) 777-VITO orvisit

The opinions expressed in this column arethose of the author, not of All answers areintended to be general in nature, without regard to specificgeographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied uponafter consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney oraccountant.

Tony Parinello

Tony Parinello has become the nation's foremost expert on executive-level selling. He's also the author of the bestselling book bearing the name of his sales training program,Getting to VITO, the Very Important Top Officer, 10 Steps to VITO's Office,as well as the host of Club VITO, a weekly live internet broadcast.

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