Archives For presentations

One issue that repeatedly comes up in sales coaching sessions is how to write an effective proposal.  A few comments before you write anything…

… you should be clear about what a proposal is.  Marketing groups and managers have done a disservice to their sales team by creating mammoth documents, unreadable terms and conditions, and a format that looks more like a legal will than a friendly agreement to buy.  What is a proposal?

  • Think marketing!  This is the final marketing piece.  You might have delivered one-sheets or data sheets, presentation material, or perhaps a findings document, and hopefully you had marketing in mind.  Your documents should have been professional looking, easy to read, and pleasing to the eye.  What about the proposal?
  • A summary of everything you’ve agreed to.  The deal is done, now we are just agreeing in writing, so this should clearly reflect all we have discussed and agreed to.
  • Boundaries of scope.  The proposal outlines what we did agree to, but also clarifies boundaries to stay within.
  • A contract.  This is your written agreement, so it should clearly state what you will deliver and how.  There should be no question.

 

The proposal is not:

  • Another selling tool.  The deal is sold at this point – but the agreement is only verbal until this is signed.
  • Ideas, guidelines, or negotiation.  You should have already agreed to a scope at this point, and the fee has been established.  If there are fee changes, there will be scope changes.
  • A time to be clever – writing esoteric pros.
  • A competition to see who can write the longest document.

Take steps to make buying from you easy to do…

© 2011, David Stelzl

Advertisements

Here’s  a great question on Getting Your Message Out – becoming an Adviser, from this week’s Making Money with Security workshop (Virtual).

Question:

You gave some excellent information on what to say and do when you are in front of the executives/asset owner…when communicating by email and by other electronic means…

You mentioned that sound bites alone are ineffective and how you throw most of your marketing mail away. I agree with both of these statements, so with that said, do you have any suggestions for what I can do to increase our chances of getting our marketing messages heard/read?

Answer:

Content is the key.  When your goal is to sell, people feel sold.  When your goal is to educate, people feel helped.  The key is in finding things that are helpful to the buyer – the asset owner.  Most asset owners are not technologists, so educating them on products, or anything technical, sounds like an opportunity for demotion.  Expect to be delegated back down to IT.

Sound bites, or statistical data may be somewhat interesting, however it must be presented from a source they care about.  If the Wall Street Journal publishes it in their daily paper, chances are it appeals to business people.  However, statistics, as we stated in class, lead to judgmental thinking, not emotional buying.  So while, sound bites do build credibility, don’t expect them to lead to a sale.  Use them as attention grabbers only.

In my book, The House & the Cloud, I talk about “Idea Emails”.  These are ideas that I present to prospects to create knowledge gaps.  “I have some ideas I’d like to share with you on how to make sure your employees are not stealing company secrets”.  Idea emails are one example of creating curiosity through a knowledge gap that potentially helps a client/prospect with something they would care about.  Other messaging might be “How to” posts on your blog – how to educate the organization on safe data handling or presenting “Seven things your employees need to know before traveling with company laptops”.  This type of education can be written to appeal to asset owners in a non-technical, business format.

In summary, create content, use knowledge gaps to generate interest, and then educate with your content.  This education should lead to action using services your firm provides.  As an example, my wife was reading a document on the harmful effects of amalgam fillings (dental).  The document began describing all kinds of symptoms people complain of every day.  The article went on to explain the importance of removing these fillings using a special process that prevents serious side effects including possible fatality from poisoning.  The doctor writing included several case studies showing how patients had been improperly diagnosed and treated for major diseases including MS.  He described the procedure for removal and then recommended using other synthetic metal-free materials.  Of course, both my wife and I had the metal removed from our mouths.  While we did not use the doctor who wrote the article, we would have, had he been local and had he called on us.

© 2010, David Stelzl

Photo by David Stelzl

The purpose of a sales presentation is to sell; to convince the prospect that you have a solution to a problem that they in fact have, and that you are the best problem solver around.  The fee in turn, must be commensurate with the value delivered.

But here’s the problem:  First, 95% of the possible prospects in your territory don’t necessarily agree that they have a problem – or at least have a problem that you specialize in solving.  Second, most presentations are informational, offering no compelling value.  They are not centered on solving a known problem.   The other 5% of the people out there admit they have a problem, but have no reason to believe your solution is any better than the next guy.   In this case you lack differentiation.

Since most presentations look pretty much the same, the client’s propensity is to continue doing business with the known quantity unless in incumbent’s price is severely undercut.   Don’t overestimate your brand or uniqueness based on things everyone has, or at least say they have.  Start treating your presentation as a commercial, or perhaps an infomercial.  Put more time into making a great presentation and you’ll waste less time on unqualified meetings.

© 2011, David Stelzl

Presentations have the power to create business, proposals don’t.  Leads are great, but what do you say when you make the call, and if you get the meeting, do you have anything of value to present?

Company overviews and product data sheets are, in my opinion, a waste of time.  No one needs this stuff until they clearly see a need, and make the connection; you are possibly the person to meet that need.  Take a look at your presentation materials.  Look at what you present by phone, and then, what you bring to that first meeting.  Does it educate prospects on something they really need, but don’t really understand?  Does it interrupt their thinking, causing them to be alarmed by what they missed?  Does it create an urgency that reprioritizes their week?  This is the making of a great sales call.

P.S. I now have dates posted for the Virtual Program: Principles of an Effective Value Proposition – Don’t miss this!  (CLICK)

© 2011, David Stelzl

Illustrations by David Stelzl

Do you create business or just fulfill it?  Look at your pipeline…where do your deals mostly come from?  Referrals?  Referrals are good, however, there just aren’t enough of them.  When the economy is weak, companies cut back on expansion, decision making moves higher up the ladder, and sales cycles lengthen.  Only those who are able to create business can experience long term success in this type of market.

The 5% Rule

Michael Bosworth, back in 1995, wrote, “Assume 5% of the people you might call on are in the market for some new thing (in our case,  new technology), the remaining 95% don’t perceive they have a need” (Paraphrased of course).  But they do have needs, they just don’t know what they are, or feel they are impossible to solve right now.  The average sales person is going after that 5% group, and it’s crowded!  The competition is fierce.

Creating business

Creating business means, going after the 95%.  The creative sales person gains access to buyers who don’t know they have a need, and then demonstrates that need with compelling justification and a track record to prove they can fulfill what they’re talking about.  Security is just one area that is predictably needed in every account.  Most companies are doing the wrong things, and security issues are going unaddressed.  But how do you find these people, and what does it take to move them forward?

The Value Proposition

We’ve been lied to.  We’ve been lulled into thinking people want great technology features; the latest gadget (Unfortunately, the latest gadget sells for about $500 and is made by Apple, which you probably don’t sell).  But they don’t.  At least the economic buyers don’t (well, maybe they do want an iPad).  They want strong businesses, profitable businesses, efficient businesses, and secure businesses.  The “value proposition” must focus on real business value, and that means you’re addressing real business issues.  As you’re planning for next year, start thinking through your message, your selling strategy, and what you say in your meetings, especially those early meetings while introducing your company.  Is your message unique? Compelling? Interesting?  And are you getting in front of people who can make a decision?  Are you getting demoted back down to non-decision makers after a first meeting?  Be honest with yourself.  If you’re answers are, “Not very unique” and “Not associating with higher level managers”, your messaging and positing are likely central to the problem.  From there, you need a way to reach the 95%.  And that means getting the message out.  Events, social networking, educational presentations,…there are numerous ways to do it.  So, bottom line; first you must have a message built to stimulate action, then a means to take it to market.  This is the foundation of your 2011 sales strategy.

© 2010, David Stelzl

I’ve just arrived in Dallas to kick off the week with BMC partners and a workshop on great messaging – here are some thoughts from my young entrepreneurs just before heading out…check it out: