Mick is the Marketing Director of a multinational company who has been invited to make a presentation to a potential client that could become a key account for the company. On the morning of the presentation he checked the email confirmation of the presentation and noticed that he had been given 30 minutes to make the presentation. He realized that this might be a bit of a problem because the official “Company Presentation” was about 150 PowerPoint slides and was designed to cover every possible question. He finally decided that during the presentation, he would skip over the slides that were not important. Soon after starting the presentation in front of the Management Committee and some of their advisors & senior managers, he noticed that some of the audience were not really paying attention to him. After about 15 minutes, people started slipping out of the room. After about 35 minutes, a senior manager started signalling that he should speed up his presentation. About 10 minutes later he finally finished. After a couple of desultory questions, the whole group very quickly left the room. Mick realized that something had gone wrong, but he did not know what! A week later he discovered that the contact had been awarded to a competitor and, even worse, his bosses blamed him!
What were Mick’s problems:
You only get ONE opportunity to achieve your communicative objectives. You either succeed or fail: If you fail, you do not normally get a second chance in business.
The purpose of a “Company Presentation” is, generally, supposed to be to “sell” the company & its Products or Services by showing the potential client how successful the organization is in terms of clients, financial results, world-wide headcount, etc :
– Nowadays, potential clients tend to investigate possible new suppliers using the internet & Google. This means that they probably know a great deal about the organization from the web page. It is ridiculous to assume that it is necessary to include all this information in the presentation.
– It is too long, with too many slides which are badly designed, etc. (see my BLOG article “How to kill a presentation in three easy steps”)
– There is excessive and redundant information. For example, the whole history of the organization from the day it was founded to the present day….!!!??? With the C.V. of the founder, etc! What is the real relevance of this information for the client?
– A majority of the content is unrelated to the client’s needs, wants or lacks.
– There is an expectation that the client will know what he wants and be able to identify what is relevant for him so that he can then “choose” the services / products that he needs. Basically offering a buffet to someone who might, or might not, be hungry instead of finding out what they really wanted!
– The objective is to try to convince the client by showing the size of the organization; the wide range of top quality clients; the number of ambitious, complicated / sophisticated projects they have carried out internationally, etc. Frequently, this is seen by the clients as “oversell”: a small company does not normally need or want the same services or products as a multinational organization. More often than not, they want easier, simpler, cheaper & less “exotic” solutions than those proposed by the presenter. (you can predict how people will buy. See my blog article “Selling Products or Concepts: You CAN predict how people will buy”.)
– The presentation is not specifically personalized (or only cosmetically) for the audience or organization which the audience can normally see and implies that they only deserve a Standard presentation because they are a standard client.
The Results of these problems can often be:
– The Audience becomes bored, easily distracted, start having parallel conversations or using laptops, Ipads, mobile phones, etc. Frequently, the power(s) / influence(s) in the audience prefer to leave rather than waste their time listening to something that has little practical use for them or will not solve their particular problems.
– At the end of the presentation, the client will often very politely tell the presenter that they will contact him later, but often do not. Goodbye potential client!
– Obviously if there are no future meetings, there is no contract or future profits for the company!
– The perception of the presenter & his organization can be adversely affected because of a time-wasting, boring presentation.
– More experienced or better-trained Presenters often dislike using the traditional “Company Presentation” but the senior managers often insist that they MUST use the designated presentation – even if it is a boring, tedious, long-winded, experience because it is “Company POLICY!”. The senior managers NEVER seem to learn from the experience of not gaining a new client because of a bad presentation, they always tend to blame the presenter, not the material.
The real OBJECTIVE of any Company sales presentation is very simple to define, it is:
To identify and propose possible ways to solve the client’s problems.
– This requires a detail investigation of the company and the identification of problems that commonly affect it, and possibly other companies is this field.
– During the presentation, The presenter MUST Show a clear understanding of:
– The Client organization & current working practices.
– The Client’s possible problems and their causes & effects.
– The Possible options available to the CLIENT to resolve their problems. One of which, obviously, should be the presenter’s organization.
– The presenter should always make a Proposal which can be discussed and modified on the basis of the real circumstances. The word “Solution” should NOT be used as it implies psychological imposition which results in the listeners automatically starting to think of other possible solutions: If that happens, they stop listening to the presenter.
Admittedly, there are situations when a “Company Presentation” MIGHT be useful: when looking for new investors in the company, for example. however, the structure used in this context is totally different from a presentation where the objective is to sell. I suggest that is time for innovative managers to rethink their communication strategies!
NOW is the time to improve your company presentations before you lose any more clients and, please, stop blaming the wrong people if your traditional company presentation doesn’t sell!
(c) Ian Brownlee, July, 2012
Bilingual web page: http://www.brownlee-associates.com