Updated: Sep 7, 2021
We all know our favourite topic and the challenge is to manage it so we do not lose our audience, Whether in a social setting or business one we have all come across those who have no filter and think that by continually talking about themselves they are interesting, entertaining and amusing. From being on the receiving end of such an experience what we are thinking is probably something quite different. In fact we do our best to get away from such people as quickly as possible. However, if they were to make the conversation relevant to us and allow space for a two way flow of information then we may feel more included and engage with them.
Business is no different and yet when asked by a potential client to engage with them either as an exploratory meeting or to discuss a particular project it is fair to say that many see this as an opportunity to talk about themselves, how great they are and why the prospective client should hire them all packaged up in a boring PowerPoint Presentation. The only difference between this and the social version is that PowerPoint now replaces the holiday slides.
Can I suggest a different approach.
Let's look at why you were invited to meet with this client.
They have a specific need and you have been referred to them.
They saw an advertisement that interested them.
They read a blog that you posted that resonated with them.
They did a trawl of the internet and you were one of the names that came up.
You are local to them.
Would it be fair to say that once they found you they did some research to see if there was a fit. Will they have visited your website and/or social media pages? It is highly unlikely that they called in everyone they came across in a mass trawl so they have a specific interest in you and what you have to offer. In fact they probably have a good idea of what you have to offer and are now wishing to find out more.
Ask them is there anything in particular they would like to know and would 20 minutes be sufficient to allow. This has a phycological impact, tells them that you are not going to bore them with a long presentation and is likely to attract someone senior to attend. If they are interested they will give you the extra time. Please remember this is not a sales meeting but an engagement one.
Now we need to do some homework on them and their sector. What are the main challenges companies like this face that relates to our service offering. What are the impacts of these challenges on these organisations. What are the pain points and have we solved them for others. Is this a new sector for us and are there are lessons from other sectors we have worked in that can be applied.
What type of language does this organisation use? This will be seen in their blogs and on their website. Who are we meeting and what type of language will they be using, CEO big picture, CFO figures, CTO technical etc.
With this information we are in a position to make our presentation more engaging. Remember we said 20 minutes so you are restricted to very few slides. For example the opening slide could say something along the lines of 'typically we find these are the three main challenges organisations in your sector face, are you seeing the same thing'? This invites them into the conversation and at the same time shows you took some time to understand their sector. If they nod you can ask which ones in particular or if they say none you can ask what are you finding as your greatest challenge. Now they are engaged which allows for a two way flow of information. Keep the questions open and don't forget to let them talk about their successes, their history or anything else they are keen to include. Remember everyones favourite.
The next slide could talk about a case study, problem, pain point, solution and outcome. Tap into the emotional side of the problem as it often brings home the real impact. The CEO may be working late every night, is not getting to see his/her children at an important stage of their life, is under stress. This was the problem you solved by installing your solution which in this case was as follows etc. Explain how you addressed the problem, created the solution, the immediate impact and the long term impact which was more family time, reduced stress and increased productivity. This is a simple example but should steer you in the right direction.
You may have one or two other slides but these are seldom needed unless there are some visuals necessary to explain the solution/outcome but make sure they are relevant to the audience on the day. Less is more and allowing sufficient time for questions will be more beneficial.
Finally, if you keep saying to yourself, this is not about me it is about my audience then you will have better engagement and hopefully a lot more business.
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