October 18, 2010

Redeeming The PowerPoint Presentation

It’s Not About You – #4

Yes, I hate the word Presentation. But at the right time, structured the right way, a killer sales presentation is one of our most powerful weapons. And a killer presentation is a lot more about the prospect and their issues than it is about you and your solution.

We’ve all suffered through awful PowerPoint presentations… on both sides of the table. We’ve been puked on and we’ve been guilty of puking on others. But PowerPoint itself isn’t evil. It’s what we do with it that’s a sin. It’s when we decide that our presentation should be a monologue – a long monologue, about us, our people, our processes, our perfect solution.

In response to my painful boardroom disaster, I made this declaration:

No one cares how smart you are or how great you think your company is. Therefore, presentations shall not be about how smart we are and how great our company/solution is (and for good measure, let’s leave out the pretty pictures of our buildings too :))

Two-Slide Recipe for Redeeming The PowerPoint Presentation:

Slide 1:  Why Companies Turn to Us

Chief Marketing Officers (insert appropriate position or company type) look to Acme Transformation, Inc. when…

  • facing major pain / problem / challenge 1
  • are frustrated with pain / issue 2
  • feeling pressure to reduce / increase / grow challenge 3
  • looking to achieve huge initiative 4

Opening the presentation with the Why question positions us as client-focused problem-solvers. It shows the audience that “we get it” – that it’s not about what we do, but what we can do for them. Furthermore, leading with the pains we remove and the problems we solve engages the prospect and brings them emotionally into the conversation.

Slide 2:  Our Understanding of Your Current Situation

This is where we transition from the general and broad to the specific. It’s our opportunity to show-off the excellent discovery work we’ve done thus far.  This is when the relationships we’ve built with various players and constituencies in their organization bear fruit. As my friend and coach Anthony Iannarino has written, it’s where the hard sales work of the Plow Horse trumps the glitz of the Show Horse.

Use this second slide to show the prospect what we’ve learned about their situation… what we believe matters to them (their goals, initiatives, challenges, potential obstacles, wish list, etc.). And after putting up this slide, do the unthinkable…

Turn this presentation from a monologue into a dialogue.

Ask the prospect to speak into your observations. Have them rank or prioritize the list on the slide. Allow them to see you as their partner – at the table, working on their business with them – not presenting at them. Open it up for them to guide you. What you hear could be hugely valuable as you tailor the balance of your presentation.

Sure, a third slide is a good place to outline what we actually do/sell – the offerings clients buy.  And a fourth to share our differentiators – why we’re a better choice. Maybe slides 5 through 7 to sketch out a few relevant case studies or success stories. But I truly believe those first two slides are where the game is won or lost.  That’s where we should focus our attention, and it’s certainly where we can set ourselves apart and demonstrate that It’s Not About Us.