Conducting a pre-scheduled sales presentation.
Prior to the meeting let your prospect know how long it will take and what you'll be discussing.
Goal of the presentation = Decision. I say decision and not sale because not everyone is going to buy. The prospect's goal is also to get to a decision too by the way. There, you now have a shared goal!
It's not a chess match where there must be a winner and a loser. Instead, think of it this way, if a decision is made, you both win, if no decision is made, you both lose.
Where to Begin
Start the presentation off on a fast pace, jump into the show and tell portion just for a minute before you ask your standard qualifying/drill down questions. While questions are a necessary part of the presentation keep in mind your prospect is there to learn something, not to be interviewed. Entice them with some of the more interesting features just for a moment, maybe tell a very short story if it's entertaining and relevant, before switching to question mode.
Sprinkle in questions throughout the presentation, this creates a more natural flow and keeps your prospect engaged. You will notice that further into the presentation you get, the more prospects elaborate in their answers. This indicates they are more comfortable and you've built rapport.
Kinds of Questions
On a basic level the purpose of your questions is to find how if/how your product can solve their need. We all know this. But instead of plainly asking your questions, considering a short anecdote that demonstrates the value of your product/service at the same time. For example. instead of asking "What is your budget for search engine marketing?" try "One of the roofing companies we work for was telling me the other day that they really didn't have a handle on their SEM spend. Have you thought much about your budget in this area?" Prospects like to hear about other business in their industry, and including a short anecdote in your question will encourage them to open up with more detail, which is what you both need to come to a decision.
Knowing that you're going to get more detailed, more honest answers toward the end of the presentation arrange your questions from least important to most important. The exception would be If your prospect opens up right aways and is very talkative. In that case I would move the important questions up because you may run out of time otherwise. Let the answers to those important questions dictate what parts of the product to show and tell.
Finally if you think you have enough trust built by this point consider asking what other products/services they are considering. Remember the goal for both of you is to make a decision, and part for their decision making process includes other options.
Rapport Building Misconception
Rapport building is not small talk, your prospect is not there for small talk. Rapport building is when your prospects learns to trust your expertise, or if you connect on a personal level about about something which usually happens organically and can't be forced through small talk. Think of small talk as getting in the way of rapport building.
Mirroring your Prospect
People tend to like and trust others with whom they have something in common. In the context of a sales presentation there isn't much of an opportunity to discover those commonalities. But there is a short cut, matching your prospect's pace of speech. If they like to talk fast, pick up your pace to match, etc.
What's more, to a fast talker, a very slow talking is kind of annoying, and to a slow talker, a very fast talker is kind of annoying. Remember this if you find yourself trying to speed them up or slow them down, the worst thing you can do is go opposite of them. Instead pace them at their speed, then incrementally slow your pace down or speed your pace up and you'll find they will actually follow you.
Show and Tell
There needs to be the show and tell part of the presentation. Rather than go from feature to feature use this as another opportunity to mention other businesses you work with and how they use and appreciated and benefit from those features.
Furthermore, think about the really important features/benefits and consider leaving out the rest unless it pertains directly to something they reveal from those questions.
Decision Reaching Questions
To conclude your presentation ask choice-eliminating and decision-reaching questions. With your prospect you will rule out options with them and to help them narrow down their choices. Ideally this will lead to your prospect thinking through the decision making process out loud with you. If that does not happen you may need to lead the way by talking through the pros and cons, before handing off the baton by saying "what do you think?"
If additional information is need before a choice can be ruled out, either provide that to them, or make a plan for one of both of your to find that out and report back.
If a decision cannot be reached at the end of your presentation, there is more work to be done. While you may end the meeting, don't think of the presentation as being over at this point, think of the presentation as being interrupted by the need for further digging and to be concluded at scheduled time in the near future. You don't want to hear, "let me think about this and get back to you", you want to "hear let me find out and get back to you, and please find this out and get back to me" etc.
A good presenter practices their presentation many times in advance. Like actors in a live play, they would be doing their audience a disservice by being unrehearsed. Would you pay to go see that?