For the purposes of this article, we will assume only one goal in delivering client presentations, and that should be to drive your sales, the bane of most SMEs. Whether you’re in a new world business such as technology, or digging trenches to lay cables, if you are presenting your company to your client, it should be to generate new or additional revenue. The slide presentation should be a specific milestone in your sales methodology, thus merely representing a slice of the entire process, alongside the other activities such as researching the requirements of your potential client or conducting a full competitor analysis.
The slide presentation should therefore be viewed merely as a tool for you to pitch your business either to a new client to win their business, or to an existing client with the objective to win further business from them. The topic this week takes a broad look at your sales strategy, with some key insights required before you can embark on building your slea presentation.
1. Know your Client
Before we proceed with the slide deck itself you, as your company’s de facto sales person, need to conduct some preparation well before you even construct your first slide. As mentioned above, you need to have a thorough understanding of your client. This includes having an understanding of who is your client, meaning that you know who the person is who will make the final decision. It may not be the person you are presenting to at this particular stage of the process, especially in large corporations that have extensive procurement procedures and employ large procurement departments.
Understand who your final client will be and tailor the message in your slide deck accordingly. What often happens in large companies, is that the person you deal with has to then “sell” your proposal further up the chain of command. In that case, be prepared to equip them with as much information required for them to do your sales job for you. This may mean you’ll need to share your presentation with them so exclude sensitive information that may expose your margins or IP. This will also force you to keep your slide deck as simple as possible.
You will need to speak the language they speak, meaning that, if you are selling to the IT department, you need to speak IT language and have an understanding of the market/s they serve.
2. Know your Product/Service
This is about your elevator pitch on steroids.
You need to be passionate about your product or service. So much so, that your client becomes just as enthused as you are, but do not be dismayed if they don’t. They will have seen plenty of presentations such as yours and they are merely “doing their job” whereas you are probably pitching your life’s passion to them.
Your value proposition should be tailored to suit your client’s requirements, and they need to understand why they should buy from you instead of your competition. You should therefore establish what your particular differentiator is that will distinguish you from your competitors. Understand as well that, if you are presenting to a procurement department in a large corporation, they will inevitably have to consider more than one quote. So, if you thought you did not have competition, think again, no matter how unique your product or service may appear to you.
3. Know your Competition
If you have not yet conducted a full competitor analysis, do it. There is plenty of material available on the Web to guide you. An important distinction to make is to consider your competitor set. The likes of Coca Cola talk about “share of throat” when they conduct competitor analysis, hence the rise in bottled water sales across the world once they realised that their competitors are not only fizzy, sugary drinks manufacturers.
You will need to know what your competitor’s unique selling proposition will be so that you can counter it with your USP. This will entail you focusing on your strengths, and highlighting differences in your product, especially where you are better than the competition.
Their pricing strategy is also important to know so that you can price your product competitively, and to enable you to construct a discount strategy as this will probably be required somewhere during the sales process.
Also research from their clients where they have had successes and failures so that you can learn from them. Conduct a quick research into their marketing from the client’s point of view so you understand the perceptions you client may have in mind when they interacting with you.
While you are presenting, you may get asked questions about your competitors, so you need to know their unique selling propositions compared to yours, their pricing policies, their strengths, and especially their weaknesses for to raise in your presentation.
We need to understand that sales is an emotional process, because people buy from people, and that is where you come into the picture with your slide deck. People hate being sold to – we have all received those dreaded calls from unknown people with strange accents trying to sell you something that you already have. However, everyone loves to buy, even the guys. Their buy decision will be based on need, for their company, or their want, based on their individual requirements when shopping for something for themselves. You need to get your client into that “want” buying mode for your product, based on emotion. They will need to justify their purchase decision with logic to their respective principles, so furnish them with the facts they may require to rationalise their decision, such as facts of where your product is superior to the competitor product.
Understanding that it is people applying emotions who make the buying decision is an important realization, regardless of their position in the company. Focus on their pain point by asking a lot of questions about the problem they need to solve, and try to gain an understanding of their proposed solution. In other words, you need to know your customer and your competitors.
Sales are conducted based on value. People want to be able to justify their purchase decision and to expect a return from their purchase will be a key consideration in this process. Risk aversion is one of the biggest drivers of behaviour in organisations, especially where management rules by fear. You will therefore need to be able to eliminate potential reasons for your client to use a competitor product. By asking the questions, you should be in a position to know what those fears may be before you present your solution to the client.
A further emotion that drives the behaviour of corporate citizens, is that of fame. If you can show your client how your product will build their career or land them a big incentive bonus, you will break down many potential barriers in the purchase decision. People will always remember how you make them feel, so make sure they will be the hero at the next company end of year function.
Note that we have not made mention of your slide deck yet, as the presentation itself is but one cog of your sales process. Your sales strategy, preparation and interaction with your client should take precedence before you even start compiling your slide deck. We will continue at a more tactical level on this topic in the next newsletter.
To conclude with this very brief overview of your sales strategy, sell your passion, not your logic. Understand that two emotions drive people’s behaviours in large companies, fear and fame (or greed), and that you will be selling your product to emotional people.
We need to understand that the sales process is about helping people to make a decision to buy something they need, from you. In the next newsletter we will look at constructing that all important client presentation to assist with your sales process.