The ABCs of a Qualified Presentation

You arrive for the presentation. You set up your materials. You stand and deliver one of your best presentations ever. The prospect nods in agreement throughout. You get positive feedback to all of your trial closes. You feel like the sale is a sure thing. You ask for the order and the prospect says “It’s a great presentation. I need to send it to the Director of Procurement for their approval.”

You instantly realize you’ve just wasted one of your very best presentations on someone who can’t say “Yes” to your proposal. You desperately try to recover and ask if you can see the real decision maker. You are politely told that they are busy but don’t worry, your presentation will be delivered to them with a glowing review.

A few days later, the prospect calls you back and tells you that they’re not interested. You ask why and they tell you an excuse you could have easily answered if you could only have some face time with the real decision maker. You ask for an appointment but you are told the company has selected another vendor.

As you hang up the phone you start to think how to avoid this rejection on your next presentation. You instantly realize that you didn’t have ALL of the decision makers present for your presentation.

You arrive at your next prospect’s office fully prepared with your flip chart and supporting materials. This time you made sure that all of the decision makers are present. The prospects nod in agreement throughout the presentation. You get positive feedback to all of your trial closes. You feel like the sale is a sure thing. You ask for the order and the prospect says “It’s a great presentation. We just don’t have it in our budget right now.”

You instantly realize that you’ve just wasted one of your best presentations on someone who doesn’t have the budget for your proposal. You try to probe for when a budget will be available and they just tell you they haven’t made any plans yet.

As you leave the office you start thinking how to avoid this rejection on your next presentation. You instantly realize that you didn’t determine in advance whether or not the prospect had the BUDGET for your proposal.

You arrive at your third prospect’s office really prepared this time. All of the decision makers are present. You’ve ascertained that they have the budget for your proposal. You give your finest performance to date. The prospect nods in agreement throughout. You get positive feedback to all of your trial closes. You feel like the sale is a sure thing. You ask for the order and the prospect says “It’s a great presentation. We’re just not doing anything until the third quarter.”

By now you’re really feeling low. You’ve made three dynamite presentations with no success. You start thinking how you can avoid this rejection on your next presentation. During this presentation you learned that the prospect didn’t have a COMMITMENT for what you were offering.

As you review your performance you realize the in the first presentation, you didn’t ensure that ALL of the decision makers were present. On the second call, the prospect didn’t have the BUDGET for your proposal. During your third presentation you realized the prospecting didn’t have a COMMITMENT for the services you were offering.

Before you know it you start to see a pattern. You begin to realize that your closing ratio would have been dramatically better if you had only done a better job in your preparation. You could have ensured that ALL of the decision makers were present for the meeting. You would have known whether or not the prospect had a BUDGET for what you were proposing. You would have known whether or not the prospect had a COMITTMENT for what your service could provide.

If only you had followed the ABCs of Qualified Presentations, ALL of the decision makers are present, the prospect has a BUDGET for your products or services, and they have a COMMITMENT for the benefits your help can provide, you could be dining on caviar and Champagne instead of rice and beans.

There is a direct correlation between the quality of your sales performance and the quality of your preparation. You sell better when you prepare better. Regardless of what you call it, the Pre-call Diagnostic or the Customer Needs Analysis, the more research and discovery you do with your prospect before the presentation, the higher your closing ratio will be.

While there may be many more key factors to learn about the prospect’s needs than just what the ABCs of Qualified Presentations require, the ABCs are certainly among the top bits of information you need to know before you proceed with a presentation.

When you have this critical information, your presentation appears to be much more customer focused. If you do a good job of interviewing the prospect about their needs and wants, the prospect feels more connected to your solution because you are addressing their most important needs exactly as they feel they should be handled. In other words, the proposal makes sense to them. It fits nicely into their paradigm.

Your interview with the prospect should be so complete that you could summarize the meeting in a way that gains initial agreement to proceed. You might say something like; “From what we’ve discussed, you and Mr. Jones can make this decision, true? Your top priority is to increase your inventory turn from two to three times per quarter and you have allocated $15,000 per quarter to drive new sales, is that true? And is it also true that if you found a solution that felt good to you, you would be willing to get started right away?”

If you can’t get an affirmative answer to those three questions then you are not ready to proceed with a proposal. If you do, you are committing the classic error of Ready Fire Aim. You don’t even know what target you’re shooting at.

You may feel confident enough to barge forward and make a presentation in hopes of hitting the mark but you risk damaging your chances with that prospect for a long time if your presentation creates the wrong perception of what you and your company can do for them. They may feel as if your company doesn’t have the right answer for them even though you may very well have the best solution.

There’s nothing wrong with telling the prospect that you want to make the very best proposal possible so you’re going to devote some more time to researching the problem.

There is one final component to the ABCs of Qualified Presentations. In addition to ensuring that ALL of the decision makers will be present, knowing that the prospect has the Budget for your proposal and that they have a Commitment for taking action, you need to make sure you can get a Decision within a reasonable time frame. Set your own personal limits. If you don’t get a firm decision, yes or no, at some point in the future, you have to assume the answer is no and it’s time to move on and reset your efforts with that prospect.

When trying to establish yourself as a serious business consultant, being known for what you don’t do can often be more important than being known for what you do. Your prospect may ask you what you are currently working on and thereby make a judgment based on what you say.

Slow down and do a thorough job of preparation. Do some research but don’t try to impresses the prospect with a bunch of quickly learned facts about their business. They don’t care how much you know about their business until they know how much you care about their business.

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