March 31, 2015

Don’t Lead With A Presentation On The First Call

boring-presentationIsn’t it time that you stopped using your standard corporate capabilities presentation?

The standard corporate capabilities pitch. Almost every company has one. And too many salespeople use one. A slide deck full of detailed information about your company, your management and the products, services and solutions that you sell that is almost guaranteed to invoke a sleep response in your audience. (Whatever you do, don’t dim the lights!)

I saw this recently on a ride along with salesperson for a new client. The salesperson, Eric, had just spent the previous three months trying to get a meeting with an executive, who I’ll call Mr. Smith, the CEO of a local company. And then, when Eric finally got in a room with Mr Smith, he spent 30 minutes of Mr Smith’s limited time boring him into submission with his corporate pitch. (Which was largely full of information that the prospect already had read and on the client’s website.)

Eric violated so many rules of good selling that it was hard to keep track:

  • Don’t waste the customer’s time. Customers are really busy. You can’t afford to waste a single minute of the customer’s time.
  • You must deliver value in exchange for the time the customer gives you. If you don’t give them something of value in exchange for their time, then they’re not going to give you any more of it.
  • Sellers must deliver value on every single customer interaction, no matter how large or small. Value in sales is any information (questions, data, insights, case studies, etc.) that moves the prospect at least one step closer to making a decision.
  • Don’t waste your time. Maximize the value you receive from the customer’s time. In the course of the average sales cycle/buying cycle, you will only have a small number of meaningful sales touches with the customer. You can’t afford to waste a single one.

Try these alternatives to make sure that you have a productive first interaction with the customer:
1. Set an agenda for the meeting that doesn’t include a presentation. When you get a customer commitment for that first substantive interaction, get their agreement to an agenda that is focused on discovery and coming to a clear understanding of the customer’s problem/requirements.

2. Send your standard capabilities presentation to the customer in advance of the meeting. When you set the agenda for your first call with the prospect, tell them that you are going to send your presentation to them and ask them to review it and prepare their questions ahead of your meeting. (Be sure to provide that deck using a sale engagement app like BuyerDeck or Yesware that provides analytics about how the prospect is engaging with your content.)

3. Record your standard presentation as a webinar and send the file, or a link to the file, to the prospect ahead of the meeting. Ask that they listen to it before the meeting so that you can jump right in to talking about their requirements when you meet.

4. Provide some of your key discovery questions to the prospect ahead of time. Part of your job is to help the prospect quickly navigate through their buying process to make an informed purchase decision. Your questions should provide a context for the customer to think deeply about their requirements. By giving them a guide to prepare for your meeting, you increase the probability that the prospect will see more value from their investment of time in you.

There’s no need to waste the customer’s time during that precious first call presenting “generic” information about your company and product that they can easily read on your website or review in advance of your meeting. It doesn’t help them. And it doesn’t help you.