TALKING SALES 127: How to present to a diverse group of decision makers

John Smibert


          "Presenting to a diverse group requires skill, preparation and practice" - Discussion with John Smibert.

Selling B2B means you will have a number of joint decision makers - average 5.4 according to CEB - that you need to convince and get their consensus.  Often you will be asked TB Pic 300x300 Sept 2015to present to the the group. This is a great opportunity but also daunting and full of risks.  I asked expert Tony Bonanno what he saw as the underlying issues in doing a good presentation, and advice on how to succeed.

Tony explains that when we present to a group we need to recognise every individual is different. They will have a dichotomy of views and opinions. Each receives and processes information differently and each has a different set of behavioural characteristics.

Tony goes on to explain how to prepare and conduct a presentation where you engage directly with each individual and influence each member to support a positive decision.

How? Tony explains how in this discussion. View or read the interview below for the answer.  


Tony Bonanno is a thought leader in sales management, sales growth and behavioural change

See more of the 'TALKING SALES' series here


John: Tony, I know you've got a lot of expertise around how to do presentations, particularly sales presentations. I know a lot of salespeople really struggle when they're presenting to a decision group, or a decision maker influence, etc., as a group, there are a whole lot of different people in the room. Have you got advice on explaining what the real issue, underlying issues in doing a good presentation, and advice on how to give a better presentation?

Tony: Yes, that's a great question, John. Let's look at it firstly from the one on one perspective. If I'm giving a presentation to you, I can develop a rapport with you, I can understand you, I can get some sense of your communication style and how you process information, and I can present to you in a manner that works.

John: And I'm not saying that's easy, but it's certainly easier than when you've got five people with a dichotomy of views and opinions and so on.

Tony: Yes. And the reality is, if you're presenting to a group, there is a significant chance that the people in that group receive and process information differently to other people that are in that audience. If you follow the DiSC model, and I call it the bull, peacock, lamb, owl model because it's a bit easier to understand than D, I, S and C in most cases.

John: Right.

Presentation 1Tony: You've got bulls and peacocks and lambs and owls in the room. The bulls are interested in something that's quick and direct, the peacocks want all the visuals, the owls want the fine detail, and the lambs are interested in making sure that everybody's got what they need. If you don't have some way of addressing everybody's need for receptivity, then you're going to find that you've probably singled out the key decision maker, you're presenting to that person alone, and the other people feel a little disenfranchised as a result.

Presentation Bull Lamb etcJohn: I think it's a very good point. I've seen some very good sales presentations done, where, yes, they use a DiSC model or whatever, it does mean you've got to do a lot of research ahead of time, and you've got to know your audience very well before you walk into that presentation, each individual, right?

Tony: Yes, absolutely.

John: So, obviously that's a recommendation that work needs to be done. I've seen great sales guys, and you see them going through the presentation, talking almost individually to every person in that room, and that's what you're talking about.

Tony: I'm saying we need to take it even further, you need to name people in the room and have different behaviours that you display. For example, you have something up on your presentation screen that is about outcome and result factors, and you know that there is a bull in the room who is switched on to outcome and result, I would turn to that person and I'd say, "Well, Mark, can we see how this is going to get the ROI that you're looking at?" and now Mark has his attention focused at that moment on the part that is related to him.

John: So you don't just look at Mark, you actually name him.

Tony: Engaged, fully engaged.

Conducting training

John: Fully engaged, okay.

Tony: And over there I've got an appendix which has got all the fine detail on it, and Mary, who's the owl in the room, is going to be interested in the fine detail but mindful of the fact that not many other people in the room want to spend another half an hour...

John: So you'll turn to Mary somewhere through the presentation, saying, "Look, we've got the manual of all the detail here which I'd like you to take away after the meeting."

Tony: I'd actually walk over to Mary with that appendix and say, "Here's an appendix which you can disseminate and share with the rest of the group as you see fit," and now that person feels fully engaged in the presentation. And when the colourful charts are on, there I'm talking to Peter who's the peacock in the room, and so on.

John: And you're going to show the peacock in the room how they can look better.

Tony: Precisely.

John: Yes, okay.

Tony: So, it's about going the extra mile but really thinking about what that extra mile means to those people, and choosing words and actions that support that presentation.

John: Great advice. I'm just sitting here, thinking a lot of salespeople would say, "That's going to take an enormous amount of preparation!" But we've had previous discussions about, for example, discovery and the importance of discovery. If you haven't done that preparation or you haven't done that discovery, which means understanding all the individuals, then don't even try and do the presentation.

Tony: Precisely. Discovery isn't just about finding the facts that the customer wants to reveal; part of the sales process is about fully understanding that business as if you were sitting in the chair yourself.

John: Okay. And of course lots of other things that you need to include in the presentation, and one of the things I would say is the presentation's all about them, not us; it's not about our product and our company, it's all about them and what's of value to them and what's going to change their business for the better, or individually what's going to change them for the better.

Tony: And every good presentation has those elements, and a great presentation has that in-depth personalisation that goes with it.

John: I'm talking to every single individual in the room and hitting their hot buttons, making sure I'm engaged with them specifically.

Tony: Precisely.

John: Great advice, love it - look forward to the next time we talk, Tony!

Tony: Thanks again, John!


More interviews with Tony Bonanno:



Your Invitation: I invite you to join the Sales Leader Forum group on LinkedIn where you can experience informative discussions with your peers and sales thought leaders on subjects like the one we have discussed here. I also invite you to subscribe to the

   - Sales Leader Resource Centre here

   - Sales Leader YouTube channel here (300+ sales leadership videos)

Please Share: If you valued this article, please share via your Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook social media platforms. I encourage you to join the conversation or ask questions. So feel free to add a comment on this post - I promise to respond. If inclined please follow my LinkedIn post page here.

Want to touch base? If you have questions please feel free to contact me - email: john.smibert(at), Phone: +61 404857893 or Skype: john.smibert

Your B2B Sales Library

Need resources to help you sell or manage more effectively?

Ever wished you could find a wide range of B2B sales Resources in one library?

Check out the library here

It's packed with articles, videos, keynote speeches, Tools, templates, training materials, eBooks and eGuides.‚Äč

Subscribe to the Library Here


European Peer Group Chair Wanted

We have a number of new enquiries from sales leaders based in the UK, Europe and South Africa who are looking to join a peer group.

We need a Chair to facilitate this new on-line group. This is a valuable role that will be rewarded.

If interested read "Is a Forum Role for you?" and if the answer is "yes" please Contact Us


A Sales Leader Forum provides you with the opportunity to connect with your peers and create a support network of like-minded individuals to learn how they have dealt with the same challenges, issues and problems that you’re facing.



1000's of sales articles, videos and sales tools.  Sales leaders and their teams can access most of it free - simply subscribe.

This site brings you some of the latest expert thought leadership content on business to business (B2B) sales from specialists, sales leaders and sales professionals.