[Public Speaking] Fear Not!

Features - Business Strategy

Asked to speak before a local civic group? No worries. Simply follow these 8 tips for a successful pest control presentation.

December 28, 2012
Ted Snyder

Picture this: you’ve been invited to give a presentation on pest management to a local civic group. You’re so excited at this opportunity to show the world how great your pest services are that you’re whipping through PowerPoint, putting together the greatest presentation ever, pulling out your best marketing materials, maybe even enlisting the help of your marketing team, if you have one.

And you’ve just blown the presentation … before it even starts.

Why? Sales people who are good at giving sales pitches don’t automatically give good public presentations. And marketing departments too often just see it as an opportunity to get the company’s name out in hopes of generating some name recognition.

But here’s the big problem.

You weren’t asked to speak so you could give a sales pitch. You weren’t asked to speak so you could generate marketing exposure for your company.

You were invited by someone (remember this — the group didn’t invite you, in fact, they might not even care who you are — one person in the group championed you) to give advice on pest management.

In addition, most of the people attending these types of events aren’t buyers.

Are you getting less excited? Good. Now you can begin working on your presentation and figure out how to do a good job. And increase your chance of getting a sale. Based on my experience, there are eight basic rules for giving an effective pest control presentation:

1. Don’t Sell.
I know, it seems just wrong. You want to generate more sales. That’s why you’re giving up sales opportunities or giving up an evening of watching TV or a weekend of sitting around the house. But, just like with dating, the other person knows when you are trying too hard.

2. Give Them Something They Can Use.

If you’re lucky, they came to your presentation to learn. If you’re not lucky, they came to socialize. Either way, give attendees advice they can use to help control pests.

This goes against the grain for most sales people. They say, “If I tell them how to control pests themselves, they won’t need me!”

No. Remember earlier — most people there aren’t buyers. Give them some advice on how to control pests themselves and they’ll be happy. The people who are buyers won’t be dissuaded from purchasing simply due to “self-help” tips.

3. Don’t Put Down the Competition.

What if someone there uses the competition? If you talk down the competition, then you are talking down their choice to use the competition. And that’s just insulting. Not a good way to create a relationship with a potential buyer.

4. Teach Them How to Purchase Pest Services.
Sales people complain that the lowest price often wins over quality of service. Of course it does — people by and large don’t know how to pick a quality pest service. Take some time during your presentation to show them how to recognize a quality company. One way of doing this is to build into your presentation what they should expect when they hire a professional.

5. Know Your Audience.
A good presenter tailors the presentation for each audience. I don’t mean fiddling with the PowerPoint slides, if you even use those. What I mean is knowing who you are talking to and talking about points relevant to them (see #2 on the previous page). If you are talking to a group of housekeeping executives, then bed bugs may be a good topic. If you are talking to a group of restaurateurs, then cockroaches would be a better topic.

6. Don’t Talk Over Their Heads.

This is related to #5 — Know Your Audience. Does the term “anticoagulant” really mean anything to your audience? It might to a group of QA managers from food plants, but it won’t be relevant to a group of real estate agents. You need to sound professional, but don’t lose your audience by throwing jargon at them.

7. Limit — or Eliminate — Product and Service Plugs.

Nothing ruins a good, educational presentation like frequent references to your product or service. Everyone there knows what you sell. Be respectful. Don’t rub it in.

8. Be Knowledgeable, Respectful and Helpful.

When you agree to give a presentation, you are agreeing to step out of the traditional sales role and become a consultant. Listen to people and be respectful to them. Be available for questions afterwards. Answer questions and help people, even if they don’t appear to be buyers of your services.

Conclusion. A public presentation isn’t a traditional sales presentation, but done right, it can be a great way to generate new sales. Just because it isn’t a traditional sales presentation doesn’t mean that sales aren’t an important outcome of these public speaking activities. Once you get up to give the presentation, however, put all thought of sales out of your mind. If you give a presentation to sell, then the audience will be able to tell and your intention will poison your presentation. If you give a presentation to educate, then you’ll have an opportunity to make some sales.

The author is a Board Certified Entomologist who works out of Milwaukee, Wis., and Tokyo, Japan. He can be reached at tsnyder@giemedia.com.