Back to blog list

How to Blow a Sales Presentation by not Understanding the Communication Process


by Roger HB Davies

A few weeks back we ‎were pitched on a proposition that would have been worth hundreds of thousands to all concerned.

But the presentation simply failed because the sales team didn’t take into account the communication preferences of their audience.‎ They didn’t understand the communication process.

This process is easy to master. We know this because we’ve been researching this process for over 25 years. This research shows that we all use three distinct but linked communication styles. 

The research also shows that all three styles are needed to make communication successful and productive.

The three styles simply put: analytical, visual and interactive.

And each of us tend to have a default style, which we use most of the time.

But if you rely on your preferred style and ignore the other two styles, your communication will likely fail.

This means that if you want to communicate effectively, you need to decide where to lay emphasis in your communication. I.e., if you believe that you are communicating with an analytical audience, then you need to slant your communication  in a more analytical mode. E.g., give your audience sufficient details, numbers, and something in writing . 

But you need to include facets of the other styles to “complete” the communication.

That said, we recently had a perfect example of what not to do, from an organization that wanted our buy-in.‎

The supplier (name withheld to protect the guilty) put together a presentation. They turned up with three of their staff, to pitch to four of our team.

To cut to the core, it was quickly apparent that the supplier had done no assessment of our communication preferences.  Not enough details for the analytically inclined. Not enough feel-good information, not enough painting of pictures. Moreover, not enough meaningful audience involvement due to a lack of clarity around the proposal.

In fact, the presentation was so unsuccessful we chose to ask for a more comprehensive presentation, with more details, more conceptual  information, more clarity.

So what  were the true costs to this miscommunication?

1.   Reputation cost, credibility was lost immediately.

2.   Time cost for seven people involved –  between the preparation, and the presentation twice.   Probably over 26  hours in overhead costs.

3.   More significantly perhaps, the supplier blew a multi-million dollar sale!

Had the supplier made use of our research they would have thought about who would be in the room and what their needs were.   This is the basis for the best presentations: Know your audience.

‎To find out more about on-the-job, and practical, applications of our communications research, consider attending our one-day public workshop LINKS™.

Leave a Reply