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The Prospecting Presentation….

by David Brock on June 14th, 2022

I was recently asked to review the “first meeting” presentation for a large technology organization. As a disclaimer, this organization’s presentation was no different than 100’s of these that I’ve seen from other organizations, or pitches that have been inflicted on me in first meetings with potential vendors.

But, it’s interesting to look at this as an example of how we “connect” with customers.

Some observations:

  1. This presentation was intended for initial meetings with prospective customers. As an aside, I have a basic aversion to any PowerPoint presentation in a first meeting. It seems to me the meeting should be more about questions we might ask, a discussion with the customer, perhaps some insights about the issues. A presentation skips over all of that.
  2. The presentation was 16 slides. All professionally done, great pictures, etc. But visually, I struggled with the 9 point font and the 100 plus words on several of the charts. Apparently, all this information was deemed so important to present, they reduced the font size to be virtually unreadable.
  3. The title page foreshadowed everything that is wrong with these types of presentations. The title was, “Company X Overview.” There was a nice picture of some of this company’s employees. There was a subtitle, “Who we are, what we do, and how we have helped our customers….” The presentation had nothing to do with the customer, the company’s understanding of the specific issues or challenges the customer faced, but was all about the company and their products.
  4. In 16 pages, the word “customer” or “client” or “you” appeared 6 times. Everything else was about the company, who they are, what they offered.
  5. The third and fourth pages were the obligatory company glamour pages. You know what I’m talking about, it’s filled with logos of customers and partners. In addition, the 12th chart had the obligatory customer quote, “This Company is the best thing since sliced bread….”
  6. The remaining charts were all about the products, services, expertise of the company. Yet, no data about results these produced for their customers, value customers got. Nothing about, “we’ve helped organizations like yours achieve these results…..”
  7. Chart 16, the final chart, probably should have been a “Thank you for your time, we look forward to the possibility of working with you…” Instead, it was a final product pitch chart. I hope the presenters were coached to thank the prospect as they closed the presentation.

Again, my point is not to critique this company or their services. In fact, they are a leader in the products and services they provide. They address some very important challenges their customers face.

But it was all wrong!

And this presentation is typical of virtually every presentation I see.

When are we going to learn these opening discussions must be all about the customer?

The customers don’t care about what we do in the first meetings. They don’t care about our claims about how great we are in the first meetings.

They have consented to the meeting because they’ve done enough homework to know we might be able to help them. But they don’t yet care about our solutions.

Our customers care about what they care about–their business, their challenges, their dreams, their goals, their jobs. Our customers want to make sure we understand what they face, how they feel, what they would like to achieve.

Or they may be uncertain, they may be uncomfortable, they may think they are missing something, but they want to learn. They are concerned with: are they missing something, what are others doing, what are the emerging issues/trends they should be paying attention to, what questions should they be asking themselves …..

They want to learn, but about their business, markets, customers, disruptions or major challenges, how they more effectively achieve their goals.

They want to learn why they should consider changing, what might happen if they don’t change, risks they may face.

None of this is about our products and services. Our products and services help them address the issues they may be facing, but until the customer understands the core issues, they don’t care about what we do. Until the customer knows that we understand the issues they face, the things they want to achieve, they don’t care about what we do.

I know I sound like a broken record, but it is always about the customer! Even when we get to the point of presenting how we can help them, we only present those things in the context of what the customer cares about, not what we care about.

Until we and the customer have a shared understanding about them, what they want to achieve, why it’s important to them; they don’t care about what we do.

And this is what we must initiate in our initial conversations with the prospect/customer, reinforcing through their entire buying cycle.

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