bad meeting

5 Takeaways – How Not to Do a Sales Presentation.

By Chris Lott | Sales | 7989 Views | 7 Comments    

I walk into our conference room and the visiting presenting manager, salesman and sales engineer were waiting there to give us their “dog and pony” in hopes of my organization partnering with them. I know all of presenters from a previous life. All very professional and successful in their own right. What happened next was incredibly short sighted on their part however. Below are my 5 takeaways from this experience.


RELATED  Sales Leads Appreciation.


1.) Assumed that we were all “buddies” and took personal liberties at my expense immediately in front of my boss. Also took on a very condescending tone. An “I will school you” approach.

    a.) Made fun of my social media prowess. I update LinkedIn regularly and am very active with this product. It has helped me with credibility, sales, hiring, and marketing.

    b.) Commented on me personally about my age and looks. “Wow, Chris, your picture must have been taken some time ago on LinkedIn because you look a lot older in person”. You could have heard a pin drop after that comment.

As the strong influencer in the decision of whether to take on this product, or not, I was not impressed and quite honestly ticked off. With that said I continued on and took one for the team in an effort to help my company make a good decision. Now with a very critical eye however.

2.) Didn’t fully understand our needs and our market. The sales presentation went on with a powerpoint on their laptop. I’m thinking to myself at this point, why did they fly in to see us when a webinar would have been the same?

At first glance the product looked impressive but as in all products there were shortcomings. I made note of them of course (evil laugh). One big shortcoming was that we were looking more for an entry level product and they were presenting a more advanced product. Calling them out on this… they now had to scramble and try to show their other offerings that might be a better fit. Kludge at best and it appeared they had pretty limited product knowledge of these alternate products. Not all that confident inspiring.

3.) Didn’t address the competition that they were given a heads up about previous to the meeting. My boss had told them that I would need to be convinced as I had been pushing another product for some time. During the presentation I had asked if they had different specific features which they could not address. These were features that their competition had that I really liked. Disappointing.

4.) Didn’t bring any live product to show. While PowerPoint presentations have a place in the sales process seeing the product work live is ALWAYS better. In their defense they were willing to come back out and show the product live. Again… Why didn’t we do a webinar first?

5.) I will school you approach. Not sure why they took this approach as on my side of the table were over 60 years combined experience. Not really open to being schooled on anything.

With a little more homework and professionalism and a lot less casual and assumption, this meeting could have gone so very different. Have you found yourself in a similar circumstance? How did you feel?

Make sure you always put your best foot forward with professionalism and class no matter what the relationship is/was with the potential client. You would expect no less and neither do they.

© 2006-2018 SalesBlog! | Photos courtesy of 123RF | Posted on


Chris Lott has this crazy creative side that motivates him to design websites and write articles. He's a disruptive technologist and is passionate about sales, family, and anything related to technology. See what others are saying about his work!.


7 thoughts on “5 Takeaways – How Not to Do a Sales Presentation.

  1. Thanks for sharing this personal example. It is a great reminder to all that even if you have a relationship with a potential client outside of the current sales meeting, you need to put that aside and prepare your best presentation. It sounds like these folks missed the boat on several counts and their attempt to be playful and likely show “hey, we already know Chris really well!” backfired.

    Then on top of that they were not on their A-game for the rest of it either. Hopefully it is a good learning experience for them! Did you share this article with them (kindly :)) to offer constructive feedback? They could really learn from it as we are reading it. 🙂

  2. An interesting story, albeit a sad commentary on the presentation you describe.

    I work for various clients in developing new customer prospects, and with the time and expense involved with travel and personal visits, the last thing my clients want to do is open with a live presentation at the prospect’s office. We do a lot of spade work, including phone conversations with prospect in which needs are clearly identified, then an online demo, which may lead to a live presentation, if there is a fit.

    By denigrating you and presuming upon past acquaintances was about the dumbest thing I can imagine, except for the lack of prior communications about what your company needs.

    Survival of the fittest eventually kicks in, and bad salespeople have a way of eliminating themselves.

    This is a nice subject; I hope a lot of (sales)people read it.

    Brandon Rigney
    Dallas, TX

  3. Great job, Chris. I have spent some time lately thinking about the sales process… Not that I am a sales person. I own a company and I get pitched a lot and my sales people hopefully pitch a lot also. Here are the things I love… When they already know about me because they invested the time. With the Internet and social it is pretty easy. When they are on time, look professional, and understand that my Personality is not necessarily like theirs and they take the time to look at my surroundings to gauge how much time to spend on social. I like to spend 5 minutes or so in get to know you… Don’t rush me. Some things I hate are presumptuous arrogant “I know what’s best for your company” attitudes and my biggest pet peeve and what I say about it repeatedly is “the world does not need yet another power point presentation that you are going to read to me”. How’s that for long winded?

  4. Great article, Chris. From start to finish, it doesn’t look like they had paid any attention to what your needs actually were. I have come across this with a few (usually inexperienced) sales reps who got too excited about the prospect of closing a big deal and managed to miss important details prior to the presentation that could have sealed the deal for them.

    I find it hard to believe that there are sales professionals out there that believe that being condescending to their potential client would reap any benefits. I do believe that these individuals either need some additional training or should consider another career.

  5. Chris,

    Very interesting read, and I may reference it as I continue to expand my freelance presentation/sales training business. What you really experienced was the direct result of poor sales process. I am always amazed that organizations will send sales staff to expensive sales training, then not follow up to implement these teachings. I can understand, and have made a decent living, at pointing out how many may follow sales process, then use remedial presentation (i.e. PowerPoint) techniques to present. There is no alignment between their sales training, and their presenting. This is also what started out as a freelance/interest business 4 years ago has become a good part of my income (and while I am still looking for a more permanent position – I am at the point where I may run with this full time).

    You aren’t alone in your feeling, I’ve seen it with colleagues, I’ve heard about it from others (my father was a Corporate V.P. at Motorola in it’s heyday), and it is one reason there are so many sales training companies advocating “solution selling” (but one needs to realize there are different presentations for different reasons along the process).

    So the question now is, have you shared your thoughts as an observer with your own companies sales staff? I think it would be a great service if sourcing/purchasing/finance departments would have people from their own sales teams attend a presentation to see how others are doing it.

    Interesting stuff, and thanks for pointing out how ineffective even “friends” can be 😉

  6. Chris,

    Thanks for speaking up for those of us… that continually hear a poorly prepared presentation filled with assumptions, and no real concern for what we are looking for.

    I am sure with all your experience you have some ideas on how to present to those who are buying, not selling. It sounds like you were interested in buying, and they could have cared less about building a long term relationship with your company.

    I think you would have a great deal to offer our members of PCDVR – Personal Communicators Develop Valuable Relationships. I am a late starter in the LinkedIn game, but I value the people I have good relationships with, and am enjoying meeting new people through this “Personal Media” medium.

    The very second step in our process after introductions, is to meet Face to Face (F2F), and see if we even think we would like to get to know each other, in or outside of work. I said that to say this…. FootBlitz is the way we used to meet interesting people and build solid business relationships. The OLD FASHIONED way still works.

    Thanks for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *