In a World of Changing Decision Makers – How Can You Win Business When it Matters Most?

If you’re serious about winning business, you should be serious about your customer presentations.

But doesn’t that go without saying? You’d think so, but I can’t tell you how many companies I’ve met with to discuss their presentations and the first thing I’m usually told is: “This is what we’re using at the moment. I’m sorry, it’s rubbish!”

Many companies believe that having a presentation that does the job and no more – i.e. good enough – is good enough, but today it’s just not if you’re serious about winning business.

Why?

Well, for starters, the behaviour of B2B buyers and decision makers has changed dramatically. They do their research, and their expectations throughout the buying process are high; they expect a consistent level of communication and professionalism.

The problem is, the majority of companies haven’t gotten around to changing their customer presentations to match – which means it’s often the missing link standing between you and your customers.

So, what can you do about it?

Well, as an interactive studio who specialise in developing customer facing presentations, I’m going to highlight seven considerations you must take into account about decision makers before your next meeting.

1. They’re more informed

Buyers already know about your solutions and competitors and have an informed idea about you before they even approach you.

According to research by B2B Marketing, before making a detailed supplier evaluation, 79% of buyers are already aware of at least three potential suppliers, and 86% already have a preference.

What does this mean?

Well, this is great if you’re already one of those preferred suppliers – but what if you’re not? It means you’re going to have to work twice as hard to win ’em over. This means doing a little bit of homework in terms of working out why they favour one of your competitors and answering those objections (or push backs) directly.

Addressing concerns or objections means you’re leaving no room for doubt that you’re the right partner.

Recommended action

Focus on their needs specifically; the challenges they face, and the opportunities you’ll create for them. Challenge their assumptions, and position yourself as a strategic partner whose able to highlight the value you’ll add to the relationship by working together.

2. Face-to-face time is in short supply

The time you’re able to spend face-to-face with potential customers is getting shorter and shorter, so a good presentation/first impression is absolutely vital in order to win business.

What does this mean?

Essentially, you now have a much narrower window of opportunity to impress. This means that no matter how complex your solution, you must be able to articulate it and the value and opportunities it brings, in a concise, persuasive and memorable way.

You no longer have the luxury of time to make a good second, third and fourth impression – in many cases, you’ll have to nail it first time.

Recommended action

Make the most of your time in front of your potential customers. Be ready for their questions. Your presentation should be interactive, so you can skip to the parts they’re most interested in hearing about. That way, you can start a two-way conversation that is based around them.

3. The decision maker might not even be in the room

Who are the key decision makers you need to impress? Knowing your audience is vital, but more often than not these days, decision-makers might not be present – and the buying committee is gradually getting bigger. According to the CEB it now requires 6.8 stakeholders who represent 3.7 different functions to make a decision.

What does this mean?

The committee you need to impress might now consist of Finance, IT, Operations, HR, Marketing, C-level or Legal; each with their own requirements, issues and agenda.

Can your presentation directly address all of these competing needs – or will you have to prioritise just two or three?

Recommended action

If this is the case, one generic message isn’t going to work. You’ll need to be flexible with your messsaging, allowing you to address each person directly.

And if they’re not in the room? You’ll have to present a clear enough picture so that those in the meeting are able to relay the value and opportunities to those other key decision-makers.

TIP: You can test this out by reading out your presentation to someone and then asking them to repeat your argument/key points back to you. Ask yourself: Have you made it clear enough? Could you simplify any of your points? What could you do to make it even more memorable? Would a visual or story help?

4. They may not be an expert in your field

In fact, if you did come across a key decision maker who was an expert in your area of specialism, you’d be extremely lucky. Key decision makers often have no or little expert knowledge of your particular field – or in some cases, the problem their company has that you’re trying to solve.

However, all is not lost. 

What does this mean?

It means you need to make it as easy as possible for them to understand exactly what you’re proposing; including the problem you’re solving and the opportunity you’ll bring to their business – as well as for their own area of expertise.

Recommended action

Similarly to point 2, you must be able to articulate your story in a simple yet persuasive way, to help ensure it will resonate with everyone. Just keep it clear, concise and memorable – the more you bombard people with complex information, the less they’ll be able to remember later on when repeating it back to other stakeholders.

5. There’s no such thing as a USP anymore

Regardless of how different you like to think your business is to your competitors, it’s really not.

What does this mean?

It’s not just about focusing on your product or service to ensure you stand out anymore; it’s about positioning yourself as a trusted, invaluable partner. It’s also about reassurance, and being consistent and confident in your approach.

Recommended action

Consider how they’re thinking. It might be something along the lines of:

“Can I work with these people – can I trust them? If what they’re telling me is clear, to the point and easy to understand, then this is how the relationship will continue. I’ll be able to sleep easy at night knowing I’m in safe hands.”

6. The margins of winning are small

Even a small advantage can tip the balance in your favour – or someone else’s.

What does this mean?

Everything you can possibly do in order to make the customers’ decision easier, is to your benefit. You have to make it easy for them to make that all-important first step with you, and say ‘yes’.

Recommended action

A clear, professional and persuasive presentation can go a long way to helping them reach the decision they need to make, by allaying all of their fears, objections and worries, whilst visualising what success will look like for their business.

7. The creative bar has been raised

We’re now exposed to brilliant design and messaging in almost every aspect of our lives. In other words, we’ve come to expect great things, so presentations that may have looked impressive even five years ago probably won’t stand out anymore.

What does this mean?

Poor design is no longer an option, and there’s really no excuse for it. Presentations are no exception, and gone are the days where you could get away with presentations that are text-heavy, packed full of bullet points and focused entirely on your products – rather than how they’ll benefit the customer.

Recommended action

Clear, concise, and personalised visual stories that cut to the heart of the message and resonate with your customers do work. Telling a story is a winning formula that’s worked for thousands of years – and if you can tell it in a way that helps people to visualise it, there’s more of a chance it’ll resonate with them and stick in their memory. Our clients can say it better than me…

“We came to POPcomms because we wanted to tell a story. When presenting to customers you have to find the heart of the message and deliver it in a visually impressive and memorable way – and POPcomms do just that.” Andrew Davidson – Head of Marketing, Hosting, Network & Security – Fujitsu

One key takeaway to remember

Hopefully, this article has given you plenty to think about, but let me leave you with one last thing:

The very same B2B Marketing survey I mentioned above also cited that the most influential factor in a B2B buyer’s decision making was ‘meeting with suppliers’.

So, if you’re only going to get one chance to make that vital first impression to impress, what are you going to present at your next customer meeting? 

If you have any questions about how to develop a visually compelling presentation that engages customers and ultimately wins business then don’t hesitate to drop us a line using the handy contact form below. We read and reply to every message we receive!

POPcomms | Damjan Haylor | Managing Director

Damjan Haylor
Creative Director
damjan@popcomms.com

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