Whether you are cooking a meal, planning a vacation or making a sales presentation, it is the preparation that determines the relative success of the outcome. The more time you put into preparing your sales presentation — what you will say and how you will say it — the more likely it is that you will get the order.
Your presentation to a corporate buyer, media producer or book distributor is not about your book, it is about how your content can solve your prospects’ problems. The corporate buyer wants to increase sales. The producer wants a good show for the audience, and a distributor wants to keep the pipeline to retailers full and flowing.
Every prospect for your books is different, with individual needs. Therefore, the preparation you do for a major presentation should be different, too. Do not have a stock pitch in which you simply change the name of the “catcher” and make a few minor changes. Each presentation should be built from the ground up, customized for the decision maker and opportunity at hand.
Decisions are made on emotional and rational criteria. You can simply show up at a meeting and spontaneously tell people about your book and answer their questions. Doing so makes rational points but the result is that you will not sell many books.
Your presentation must also connect with people emotionally. Prepare for each presentation so your prospects feel that their success is important to you. Demonstrate that you are a professional businessperson come to deal with other professional businesspeople on equal footing to consummate an important deal.
One thing all presentations have in common is human interaction. They are part of a process, a course of action during which “me” and “them” become “us,” working on the same team. Use your presentation to form positive, sincere relationships where mutual respect and trust overcome questions about the viability of your proposal. People buy from people they like and trust. Your sincerity and belief in your proposal can establish those feelings.
Your sales presentation as an overview of what you believe is the best course of action based on your research. It is your stake in the ground that sets the starting point, stimulates the discussion, frames the ensuing conversation and focuses on your book as the keystone of the solution.
The result may or may not look anything like what you first proposed, and that is not bad. In fact, it is good. When people see their contribution as part of the final decision, they are more likely to get behind it to make it work.
Preparation gives you flexibility during your presentations. It reveals your confidence as you divert from your prepared script to lead your prospects on a different trail towards your goal. Your mental agility will serve you well as conditions change in real time.
The best way to be both flexible and spontaneous during any presentation is to prepare. The more you know about what you will say the more secure and relaxed you will be. You will speak effortlessly and answer questions confidently. And you will sell more books.
Prepare each proposal with your prospect’s needs in mind and practice it diligently. Remember that practice doesn’t make perfect — it makes permanent. So, practice the right things. And don’t just practice until you get it right, practice until you can’t get it wrong.
Brian Jud is the Executive Director of the Association of Publishers for Special Sales (APSS – www.bookapss.org), and the founder of Book Selling University (www.booksellinguniversity.com). He is also the author of How to Make Real Money Selling Books. Brian offers commission-based sales of books to buyers in non-bookstore markets. Contact Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.premiumbookcompany.com.