One go to market strategy issue many organizations face is how to create a winning sales presentation. Often times when organizations embark on creating a sales presentation they fall into the bad sales rep trap of talking too much and only about the products that they sell rather than engaging in compelling sales conversations. It may be hard for some organizations to hear but prospects today are much more interested in speaking with sales reps who provide value and a sales presentation is a great forum for a sales rep to establish credibility. Prospects are not interested in educating a vendor, relying on hope as a strategy (I hope the product works like the rep said it would) or engaging with the love them and leave them sales rep (a rep who disappears after the sale). Prospects today want a sales rep that understands the market, is knowledgeable about industry workflows, proactively communicates alternatives, provides ongoing consultation, helps navigate land mines and issues and helps to drive desired outcomes. Now, ask yourself, is your sales presentation designed to engage with today’s prospects or do you lead with a picture of the headquarters building, the number of customers, company revenue and then the product architecture? Sales representatives are an expensive resource and have to be set up for success for your company to succeed.
A sales presentation is a medium used to deliver a message. One example to make a sales presentation meaningful, relevant and actionable is to communicate the sales presentation in the form of a story, as good stories are memorable and create great impact. And, it should go without saying, an effective sales deck will need to be constructed to be visually appealing, to have a solid structure and it will need to be professionally designed. Below is a sales presentation example that may be leveraged to create a sales pitch for your organization that will be engaging and support your go to market strategy.
Go to Market Strategy – Story board
The flow to a story is paramount and the bridges between thoughts are critical to keep the audience engaged. To build an effective sales presentation, it’s important to leverage the mechanics of good storytelling. But, before outlining the story, it’s crucial to know the ending and “reverse engineer” the story in a choreographed script to lead the prospect to the desired final destination. When crafting a sales presentation, resist the temptation to jump into PowerPoint and bang out an outline or drag and drop slides in randomly form sales pitches used in the past. Instead, start with the end goal in mind and identify the key acts and bridges that will lead to your final goal. Below is a sales presentation framework that works well in developing effective sales presentations for complex technology sales.
Go to Market Strategy – Frame the Problem
Describe, at a macro level, what is going on in the industry. This demonstrates knowledge and insight, and allows a prospect to acknowledge that “you get it.” One way to do this is through a compelling story/use-case that may be real or fictional. This story/use-case demonstrates knowledge of how opportunities and threats are evolving in a particular market. Or, headlines, industry statistics or market research reports can be used to convey this message. The goal is to bring value and insights to the prospect that they were not aware of. At this stage the presenter is really more of an educator or consultant with no ties to a company or a product. The presenter is simply a subject matter expert sharing relevant and meaningful knowledge in a face-to-face setting with the prospect.
Go to Market Strategy – Key Challenges & Opportunities
This slide requires the rep to do some “homework” about the prospects’ business, drawing upon information in the earnings call, press releases, interviews, 10-K, surveys, analyst reports, etc. Document key initiatives for the company and reiterate the company’s desired state or the relative competitive state. This is where best practices, benchmarking data and customer anecdotes may help to drive home the point. The goal is for the prospect to perceive that you are “walking in their shoes” and that you “get it.” Not everything presented may be applicable to the prospect, but there should be something on the page that draws them in. Be careful not to make this slide a laundry list of everything conceivably possible, as that tips your hand that it is a fishing expedition. Typically, this information should be documented in a strategic account plan template.
Go to Market Strategy – The Twist or Hook
While the issues in the industry may be well-understood and prospects may be familiar with typical approaches to embrace particular challenges and opportunities, this is where it pays to differentiate. Lead the prospect down the path and let them share how they would address these challenges and threats. Then, offer a new, innovative approach that opens eyes and yields the “I did not think of that” response. This is the tough part because it is innovative. The key is to offer the prospect a unique perspective on their business by elevating the problem or opportunity or to address it from a new angle. Again, the focus is not on the product and what it can do; it is simply how the prospect can compete more efficiently and effectively in their market. This can take the form of jujitsu but it really is best captured with two words – Think Different. Of course this all has to be choreographed because there are going to be people in the room who have always done it the old way. However, the goal should be to connect (have the light bulb turn on) with the decision-maker or the champion in the organization who gets stuff done.
Go to Market Strategy – Help Them Internalize
Now, quantify (dollars) the impact of successfully addressing the opportunity, not addressing the opportunity or the threat to the business. At this point, do not perform a cost benefit or ROI analysis offered by your company as no solution has yet been presented. Here are the questions to pose: How much revenue is potentially being left on the table or how many dollars are being wasted each year, month, week or day? What happens when the management team, the Board or the Street finds out? What if competitors act first? A level of uncomfortable tension has to be created around the negative or positive impact on the business in order to generate the energy needed to set a project in motion. There is an emotional element to a sale and it’s important to tap into that emotion and turn it into passion.
Go to Market Strategy – Introduce Technology
Here is where the landscape slides come into play. The first landscape is designed for the prospect and usually leverages the same parameters of an adoption curve (innovator to laggard). In short, it is the crawl, walk/run slide that provides a clear path and options for a prospect. The next slide is that of the competitive landscape. There are choices and it is a mistake to assume there are not. Remember, the prospect is not your company’s R&D team — they are exposed to what the customers, analysts, influencers and the company itself says about its product, regardless of whether it is what your company’s R&D or founder believe to be true.
Go to Market Strategy – Differentiation
Here, establish the criteria in the mind of the prospect, that should be reviewed vis a vis any technology solution purchase to solve their business problem. Think of the Consumer Guides Report to buy a dishwasher, car, etc. Basically, there is a relevant set of criteria that is critical to evaluate to make the right purchase decision. Make sure that the core differentiators are front and center in the prospects’ mind so that when they do make a decision they will evaluate vendors on those criteria you have planted in their mind. It’s important to note that not all differentiators will be unique to your company, although some should be. Some differentiators will be important to a prospect, but from a competitive point of view, they will most likely be a table-stake or something that every major competitor offers and that is acceptable Also, differentiation may be derived from a partnership that your company has established that other competitors have not.
Go to Market Strategy – Your Solution
This is where it’s important to introduce the technology solution. The level of detail should be tailored to the audience: technical for the IT folks and business-oriented for the Line of Business folks. Ideally, the solution is presented in the framework of the use-case that is relevant to the prospect—i.e. the business problem trying to be solved. It is also important to communicate a strategic and operational cut of both the IT and business aspects to the solution. And, a role-based perspective is useful for a prospect to internalize the solution.
Go to Market Strategy – Credibility
Now comes the time to bring out the NASCAR slide of the companies that you have worked with. Caution needs to be taken as some industries are so competitive that if a prospect sees prior work with a rival they likely will not work with you. Also, if the logo is shown, be prepared to follow-up with a prospect to provide a reference call. One way out of this issue is to provide the generic version of a company (“Fortune 500 retailer on the East Coast”) or select several key customer anecdotes and sprinkle them throughout the presentation – preferably using a crescendo slide.
Go to Market Strategy – Process
In this section, outline how your firm works with companies by summarizing key deliverables across a timeline. This slide is typically a high-level macro view of all the things (5-10) that should be done to reach the desired state. This slide is not an estimate of what you will do for the prospect, but a conceptual representation of what the recommended best practice approach would be to tailor an approach for the prospect.
Go to Market Strategy – Who Are You
Yes, this slide or slides belong in the back of the presentation. Even if your firm has a brand that compels prospects to automatically contact your company for inclusion in any purchase decision, prospects are not interested in hearing companies pound their chest. It’s appropriate to have the company fact sheet slide (complete with timeline if need be) in this section of the presentation. If the story has been well told, these slides are immaterial unless financial, ethical or political issues are in play.
Go to Market Strategy – Final Analysis
Your go to market strategy will hinge on how well your sales team can deliver the message to your target market. Make the investment in creating a sales presentation deck that will resonate with approvers, decision makers, influencers and recommenders. In short, an organization will have to do the home work of understanding the market, competitors, technologies and the intricacies of a customers business, in order to bring insight to prospects that is valued. Separate your organization and create a winning sales presentation.