The one question a sales presentation must answer; Issue #258 April 3, 2012

Presentation Tip: The one question a sales presentation must answer

Last week I was reviewing a sales presentation someone sent me. They are pitching their services to a major prospective client and they know that their competition will be strong. So how do they start their presentation? With slide after slide about their firm, with text and graphics copied from their web site. In this article I want to talk about why this type of presentation will likely fail, and what a sales presentation must answer in order to be successful.

The presentation I describe above is typical and it suffers from the one problem that will doom a sales presentation to failure: not answering the one question a prospect absolutely needs to have answered. What a prospective client really wants to know is, “Can you solve the big, hairy, ugly problem I have?” Until you answer that question, they don’t care about the rest of what you have to say.

You may argue that they need to know first about how great your firm is so they will trust you to solve their problem. I don’t think so. Trust doesn’t come from hearing how great you think you are. Trust comes from seeing proof that you understand their problem and can solve it. Your capabilities and experience only matter as a support for your claim that you can solve their problem.

Here is how I suggest you structure your next sales presentation. Start by showing that you understand their problem. Demonstrate that you know how much that problem is costing them in dollars and reputation. Confirm with them the source and level of pain. Now that you understand their pain, you can outline the solution you provide and how it solves their problem.

Next, use case studies that show how you have solved similar problems for others in the past. I will talk more about including case studies in my next newsletter. The only reason to include an example or case study is to demonstrate experience with the type of problem they have. Select these examples carefully so that they address the specific issues that this client is having.

Only after you have shown proof that you have solved these types of problems in the past should you start talking about your firm. And when you do talk about your firm, it is not to brag about how great you are. When you include information about yourself, it should focus on the skills, experience, expertise, capabilities, machinery, facilities, etc. that you will use to provide the specific solution to their problem. They only care about what will help solve their problem.

After presenting a clear understanding of their problem, a summary of your solution, proof that you have solved similar problems for others, and how you will bring your experience to solve their problem, you can open up for further questions and discussion.

Don’t make your sales presentation all about you and your firm. Make your sales presentation about how you can solve their problem. Only include information about you when it relates to proving that you can provide a good solution to the problem. Structuring a sales presentation in this way would improve a large percentage of the sales presentations done each day.