Hear, See and Discuss: Are your Sales Presentations High Impact?

Posted on 04/22/2014 in Sales Presentation Skills

You can improve the impact of your sales presentations if you design your presentation to maximize the retention level of the audience.  One of my favorite communication studies measured retention rates for three types of presentations:

 Presentation Type  Label  Audience Retention Rate
 One-way information flow,
no visual aids
 Hear  10%
 One-way information flow,
well designed visual aids
 Hear and See  20%
 Two-way information flow,
well designed visual aids
 Hear, See and DIscuss  40%

If a customer passively listens to you (meaning, only the salesperson is talking) and you do not use any visual aids, the customer is hearing you but it is not very impactful.  Retention is 10% or worse if a salesperson simply speaks to a customer.   Avoid this at all costs! 

The retention level doubles to 20% if you use visual aids so that the customer sees something in addition to hearing you speak. Never make a presentation that doesn’t use some visual aids.  Be creative and use appropriate visual aids that fit your sales objective and the customer. 

Key tip!  The visual aid should be "visual” – pictures, photos, well-designed charts, and so on are much better than content-heavy PowerPoint slides, which are not much more impactful than hearing only. 

Retention doubles again, this time to 40%, when the conversation becomes a two-way discussion rather than a one-way presentation.  In other words, make it interactive. 

Interaction works wonders for the audience and the presenter. The audience becomes alive — you can literally feel and hear the energy level in the room increase when a sales presentation is interactive.  From the sales presenter's point of view, interactive presentations provide accurate assessments of the customer's reaction to you and your sales message.   

Even better, interaction almost always lessens the nervousness of the presenter because it makes you feel as if you are speaking with the audience rather than to the audience.  You might find our Teaching Tips Webinar helpful because we provide details to help sales managers improve their skill and comfort level regarding interactive techniques.