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The Essential Sales Presentation Checklist

Bored executives at YOUR sales presentationSales presentations to large groups of people are tough to do well. Here's a quick way to assess whether your sales presentation will really close the deal, based upon conversations with presentation guru Terri Sjodin and Harvard psychology professor Stephen M. Kosslyn. Get out your most recent sales presentation and answer the following questions as honestly as you can:


  • Have you prepared by thoroughly researching the customer?
  • Are you enthusiastic about the message you're conveying?
  • Are you confident that the presentation will win business?
  • Have you prepared yourself to answer likely questions?
  • Have you rehearsed the presentation until you're comfortable?
  • Have you selected a slide background that's unobtrusive?
  • Does your cover slide correctly identify the customer and the event?
  • Do your slides use color fonts and boldface only to highlight what's important?
  • Are your graphics understandable rather than confusing?
  • Does each slides contain less text than your audience can read 30 seconds?
  • Did you use a simple font that's easy to read?
  • Can every detail of every slide be read from the back of the room?
  • Have you eliminated ALL UPPERCASE, underlining and italics?
  • Does your opening statement capture attention?
  • Does your presentation persuade rather than lecture?
  • Are ALL your statements supported by evidence?
  • Have you removed the biz-blab and jargon?
  • Will the presentation use the time effectively?
  • Are your anecdotes or analogies vivid and memorable?
  • Is there a clear close or call to action?
If the answer to more than two or three of these questions is "NO" then the presentation will fall flat. It's as simple as that.

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By the way, Sjodin's book is New Sales Speak: The 9 Biggest Sales Presentation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them (Wiley, 2006) and Kosslyn's book is: Clear and to the Point: 8 Psychological Principles for Compelling PowerPoint Presentations (Oxford, 2007). Both excellent.

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