Management Retail Service

Points of Presentation: It’s All About Power, Perception and Persuasion

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Points of Presentation: It’s All About Power, Perception and Persuasion

It always helps to close a sale when a customer has gained understanding, and the customer is only going to understand if they are the recipient of a well-executed presentation. To deliver a well-executed, customer-satisfying presentation requires that we understand how a customer hears, processes and comprehends information. Presentations matter.

When looking up the word “presentation” in the dictionary, the ancillary words used to describe, aid and support the “act of presenting” are very interesting, words like “power,” “perception,” “persuasive” and “cognition.” The point of this article is presentation matters, especially product presentation and product representation.

When an industry presents products such as tires, we must remember that many customers are tire agnostic; they don’t really understand tires. Because customers don’t understand tires, the differences and nuances, their perception of our representation is askew; it’s not straight. In others words, they hear what we’re saying, but they often don’t understand. A well-executed and timely presentation not only helps close the sale today, but sets the table for additional related sales both today and in the future.

First impressions matter

Let’s talk about two different and very important points of presentation along the pathway to purchase. First impressions are now made online through your website. How you present your products and your company online matters. Secondly, presentations at your location matter, in the showroom and at the sales counter. It’s been said that first impressions matter and, of course, they do. You only get one chance to make a first impression; however, I’d like to suggest that the closer a customer gets to the purchase point (usually in your store), the greater the importance of the presentation.

If you have been nurturing a customer across the pathway to purchase, and they finally arrive at your location, this is the worst place to lose the sale due to a poor presentation. A good, basic presentation is first and foremost a presentation that leads to a sale. There are plenty of opportunities to improve on a good, basic presentation that differentiates the best retailers from the rest. Remember, we are retailers.

Proof positive — or not

Note the photos of three online product presentations. If you look at these three and consider the words “power,” “perception” and “persuasion” in light of how the human mind receives information, then it’s obvious which image and presentation makes for the best representation and is most likely to persuade a customer along the pathway to purchase.The “No Image” is certainly a poor presentation, but consider presenting 127 options to an agnostic consumer. The average presentation is less than satisfactory because it basically serves up industry data with little information that is helpful for consumers. The third presentation looks fresh and reads well; the language is much more consumer friendly.

The lift-and-twist method

The next critical point of presentation is your showroom floor. Again, the closer the customer is to the final purchase decision, the more important the presentation.

Last week while doing a research survey in a brick-and-mortar 4WD store, I witnessed the now famous lift-and-twist digital monitor presentation. During my research, I met an eager counter sales person who was happy to recommend three good options for my lifted Chevy Silverado. He dug into his system and furiously assaulted his keyboard to find three recognized brands to recommend.

After he had these tires pulled up on his screen, he grabbed the monitor off the desk and lifted it to the top of the sales counter. He then twisted it around for me to view and began enthusiastically toggling back and forth from screen to screen showing me my best choices. The images were about 2.5-inch squares on the screen.Picture this: The cables prohibited him from placing the monitor in a good viewing position, so the monitor straddled the counter; I’m six-foot tall, and the top of the counter was almost nipples high. The counter person was using the only system provided him by ownership/management.

As I drove away, I was thinking they could have displayed the three choices mounted on black, off-road wheels near the counter. I realize that’s an investment, but that company sells a lot of these types of products.

If you’re currently using the lift-and-twist method for presentations, there are other options to consider; rotating bases is one.

When the words “lift and twist” are used with words like “presentation,” “perception” and “persuasion,” you can understand the mismatch. The following day I witnessed a counter person that bypassed the lift-and-twist method and simply spoke words into the air filled with features, benefits and near meaningless recommendations. I’m sure he later complained about the internet and business conditions.

We’ll look more into presentations in upcoming columns.   ■

Wayne Williams is president of ExSell Marketing Inc., a “counter intelligence” firm based in La Habra, Calif. He can be reached at

To read more Counter Intelligence articles, click:

We Are Retailers: We must Keep an Eye on the Details in Retail

Simple Truths in Retailing that Never Change

I Got Schooled by a School Teacher

Customer-Service Revolution: How the 'User Experience' WIll Trump Price by 2020

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