04/03/2013 | Skills
I recently sat in on some training for a client that involved helping the sales team become better at presenting their offer at the end of the sales process. You know the sort of thing, making better use of PowerPoint, not reading the slides verbatim and trying to inject some enthusiasm into proceedings. Whilst admirable in its endeavours I was struck by the complete lack of focus on the most important part - how does all of this manifest as something the prospective customer might actually see the value in and therefore want to commit to?
We see dozens of proposal documents that equally miss the same point. They may have pages of technical information and often explain in great detail about how the proposed benefits will be delivered. What they rarely do however is set out the key reasons to make the purchase on page one ; the particular issues/challenges that the prospect is facing (in their words and with the degree of importance that they expressed because that’s the way the questioning was carried out in the earlier and crucial part of the process), the potential benefits of addressing them and how this particular offer is the most suitable way of doing so. This last point is a direct function of having analysed in detail what it is your business has to offer potential customers, how strong it is compared to the competitors (including the one often forgotten which is ‘Do Nothing plc’) and what the various outcomes might be for those who might pay for it.
Armed with this information we can then take each customer issue in turn and link our specific strength to it, illustrating precisely how it will help. This process takes only 3 or 4 pages for even the most complicated of solutions and the rest of the supporting documentation can then be organised via appendices or supplementary sections.
The process is exactly the same for presentations - start with their issues NOT your 12 slides of your company background, history and credentials. Then you can explain how they will be affected positively by the specifics of your offer and only then add in the slides that provide the proof of your claims through case studies and/or key features of the offer.
The common practice of adding in all of the other great things (when seen through your eyes at least) that you can do without reference to how they help with particular customer issues is entirely pointless, often confusing and in the worst cases, suggests that the customer may well be paying for an awful lot that they see no value in.
Whilst slightly different from a presentation made to educate or entertain an audience, if you use a standard proposal approach or hope to close a sale with a fantastic slide show, just check that they don’t represent a victory for style over substance and that the reasons to actually buy from you are crystal clear and right at the very beginning.
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