There is a saying: “The devil is in the details.” Preparation is about making sure the details don’t bite you in the ass when it’s your time to shine. The power of preparation is in mastering the details before it’s time to explain them to others.
You’ve been granted an audience; honor that
Recently, I was granted a third opportunity to present our solutions to a prospective customer. This customer committed the time of four senior managers to my two-hour presentation. That is no small investment on their part. If you also consider my travel cost and the value of my time, you could say there was a big investment by all parties.
The incremental cost of the six hours of preparation time I spent before the meeting seems small when added on top of the already significant investment. I decided to view the preparation time like I would when preparing for a speaking engagement. I wouldn’t dream of getting on stage or presenting a webinar without sufficient preparation. Why walk into a sales presentation any less prepared?
Knowing your stuff vs. knowing their stuff
Sure, I know my software and solutions backwards and forwards. What I don’t know without doing a few dry runs is how our solutions are going to mesh with the client’s needs. In this case, I’ve been working with the prospective client on and off for about three years. I know what their needs are and decided to see how well our solutions really fit.
By working through a couple of dry runs, I was able to prepare a demo that met their expectations. I created an agenda that stepped them through our solution from their point of view and not mine. From my point of view, our products and services are technology. From the prospective client’s point of view, they are solutions to their problems.
Present the solution and let the technology sell itself
I walked the prospective client through a solution to a problem I know they have and understand. While I was presenting that solution with our technology, the reality is other technology products out there could also solve their problems. A canned demo of our technology would have done nothing more than confuse them and raise more questions.
Instead, I had a four-step approach to solving their problem that happened to be presented using our technology. It’s too early to know if I sealed the deal, but I do know I walked out of that meeting in a stronger position than I had when I had walked in.
Now I have a small favor: Take a moment and leave a comment about how taking extra time to prepare for a presentation (or anything for that matter) has helped you be more successful.