Bringing your “A” game means not only being ready with relevant and well-researched information for your sales presentation, but also coming to your client’s office with your best attitude and best abilities. Whether it’s playing soccer or some other sport (or work), your coach always tells you to bring your “A” game, meaning if the game was graded it would be an “A.” What grade would your most recent presentation receive? The characteristics and keys to success of an “A” game presentation are fairly straightforward:


Like anything in life, things truly come together when you want it—really want it. This desire to excel and succeed is the seed of success. If you can visualize yourself as winning and being on top, then you have the beginnings of bringing your “A” game. That desire is critical; without it you’re just going through the motions and you’re not really committed.


Knowing your limitations and level of expertise is critical. This knowing creates your authenticity. Trying to be more, or speak about subjects on which you have limited experience will show through and tarnish your credibility. Interestingly you can increase your knowledge in areas where you struggle through education, research and study, and it’s a never-ending process.

Know in advance the setting in which you will be meeting with your client. Will you be standing or sitting? Will you be required to bring samples? What type? Will you be required to do your presentation electronically; e.g. a PowerPoint? Will you need handouts of your presentation? Will it just be you and the client or will you present to a team of people, perhaps a committee?Nothing is more nerve-wracking than to show up for a presentation thinking one thing and being faced with another. Even when you ask questions in advance, this can happen but it’s better to ask up front to minimize surprises.


Being completely organized in what you are going to say, and when, will help relax you because you more confident. Knowing your competition and knowing your clients thoroughly is imperative. This means research and digging down where others won’t, by developing a plan, developing your presentation, honing that presentation and then rehearsing it.


Rehearse your presentation over and over again until you know the materials flawlessly. Have you uncovered every FAQ that you can think of? Do you have the answer? Is your presentation perfect?

You want to be like an athlete who practices relentlessly to get it right. Consider for a moment that an Olympic diver will practice eight hours a day, seven days a week making on average of 75 dives a day for four years—that’s 109,500 practice dives—to make one gold-medal dive that will take less than three seconds. Now that’s practice. Additionally, visualize yourself delivering the best sales  presentation ever.

Be prepared to take questions, and when questioned listen intently and repeat back your understanding of the question before you respond. If you don’t know the answer, own it and say you will get the answer and get back to them at a specific time. You’ll never go wrong with an honest approach.

Tips For ‘A’ Game Presentations

The best presentation advice I have ever heard was to make it about them. This point was recently repeated to me at a National Speakers Association (NSA) meeting where the speaker, Gary Rifkin, CSP, spoke on Passion for the Platform.

While his presentation was about public speaking, the tenets of his talk can certainly apply in our sales and marketing presentations. When you get in front of a client or clients, that is indeed your platform. Rifkin suggested keeping these four questions in mind when developing your presentations:

• What does my audience (client/prospect) already know about my topic (industry/company)?

• What does my client need to know about my company or offerings?

• What does my client want to know about my company or offerings?

• What do I want to tell them about my company or offerings? If you can make it about your clients first, then you’re off to a great start.


When you come to perform you must be totally in the zone. Are you focused? In the moment? Are you leaving it all on the table? When I speak at events, I am totally spent when it’s over—like an athlete, when the game is over I experience total exhaustion and ultimately have to rest. When you’ve given it your all you just know it. It feels right, it feels good; win or lose, you know that you’ve given your all.


Even with a win, the “A”-gamers review what they can do to improve and lift their game. They take criticism. They understand that to be at their very best they just listen to others and be open to the possibilities that those suggestions may make for a better performance next time. So be open to review, and accept any criticism with an open mind.


Be accepting when you fail at a presentation. When you are not quite on your game, point the finger inward and be introspective. I’ve always admired Michael Jordan, even more so after I heard him as being quoted as saying, “I fail every day of my life and that’s what makes me great.” He accepts that he fails and fails often, but he learns from each of those mistakes and builds on those failures for the betterment of his game.


After doing all of these things, and perhaps falling down, missing a point or not getting a deal, you get up, look back, dig down and intensify that desire. You prepare, practice, hone your performance, review, be open and accountable and then do it over again.

Finding Improvement

I really enjoy practicing my face-to- face presentation skills. You may want to consider recording yourself (look into video software for your laptop, or use the video feature on your smartphone) and review the presentation or share it with someone you trust to give you positive feedback. Another idea that I have done and highly encourage is joining Toastmasters International™. This is a safe environment where you can practice your presentation skills and get critiqued by others—I really love this option.

Bringing your “A” game to presentations is a process. You must want it and realize that success comes from your desire to win, exceed, excel and achieve. Before your next presentation try some of these tips and strive for that out-of-the-park A-game presentation! You know you want it; you can feel it. So where does a winning presentation begin? Ah … with you!

Cliff Quicksell, Jr., MAS+, serves both as a consultant and acting director of marketing for distributor iPROMOTEu. He has been in the promotional industry for more than 30 years in various capacities. Additionally, Quicksell is president of his own international speaking and consulting company, speaking, coaching and consulting on ways and methods that companies can grow, expand and prosper. He has helped and spoken to audiences in more than eight countries and has published two books and more than 900 articles on sales, marketing and creativity. He publishes a weekly blog, “30 Seconds To Greatness.” Contact him to subscribe:, 301-717-0615 or via his LinkedIn profile.

Three Proven Steps To Avert Prospect Silence

In sales, there is nothing more frustrating than waiting to hear back from a prospect. We’ve all been there—spent time researching a potential client, had great meetings, agreed on next steps and then nothing, nada, just silence. Rather than dealing with prospect silence after it happens, try preventing it in the first place. Here are three strategies which can prevent prospect silence:


Secure a date and time for every step of the sales process. Lock it in before the meeting ends. Don’t settle for “Let’s connect sometime next week.” Try saying, “How is Thursday at 10 to review the proposal together?” Decision makers often agree to a date and time if you ask for one during the meeting or call. After the meeting or call, all their other priorities take over and their attention is gone.


Schedule a 10-minute check-in. Your prospect may push back on a next meeting, or it may be inappropriate to have a full meeting as the next step. Let’s say your prospect agrees to a second meeting, but needs to invite a colleague. Without the other person’s calendar, committing to a date and time is unrealistic. That’s when the 10-minute check-in call is perfect. Try saying, “I understand you need to check with Tom about his availability. Let’s put a 10-minute check-in call on the calendar for Thursday at 10 to see where we are with scheduling. If I hear from you before, we’ll just take it off the calendar.” I have found prospects easily agree to a 10-minute call. And, the call often prompts him or her to do whatever was promised.


Ask questions that uncover urgency and use that information. Asking when a prospect wants to start or complete a project can help you discover priorities and urgency, which can be used as leverage to keep the sales process moving. Sometimes I’ll ask, “If what I’m describing is Nirvana for you, how soon do you want to get started?” A good follow-up question is, “Why is starting this project at that time so important for you?”

Using the prospect’s exact words as the reason to keep progressing is very effective. After all, you’re just helping the prospect achieve his goals. For example, “You told me you want to start next week. Because today is Monday, I will send you the contract by Wednesday. If you could turn that around by Friday with an initial payment, we can schedule the work to start next week. How does that work for you?”

By employing these three strategies, you can shorten your sales cycle and eliminate the frustrating and time-consuming chase. Remember, your prospects are busy people. They act on and respond to suggestions that make their lives better.

–Caryn Kopp, Chief Door Opener® at