Your Corporate Presentation is the one you bring out to dazzle new prospects - but what if you're competing with global players with deeper marketing pockets and more impressive client lists? How will you excite prospects to engage with you and not them? We show you 15 hacks to make your presentation unforgettable - regardless of your marketing budget.
First impressions are critical
presentation must make a lasting impact; you want prospects to remember the key points when they sit through your competitors' presentations.
This post is about what you present to convince prospects to take the next step with you,; we assume that your presentation skills are in good shape. At this stage, your singular goal is to stay in the game and move to the next stage.
Your corporate presentation is often part of your first in-person meeting with the prospect's organisation, and the audience is typically a small group. You want to make an impact in a short time, so aim for 10-15 minutes, and allow 45-50 minutes for the meat of the meeting. Your presentation is just the appetiser to get them hungry for what follows. It’s not the reason for it.
Here is how to make your initial corporate presentation exceptional.
1. Start at the end
What do you want prospects to feel at the end of presentation? Ideally, impressed, excited and keen to know more about your company, products and services.
The initial presentation should give the audience a glimpse of what’s possible for them - and encourage questions about how you can help them. You want to answer these there and then.
Questions are buying signals, so don't discourage them. To make the best of the opportunity, you should know the prospect’s industry and typical problems - as well as the specific problems the organisation has, what solutions they tried, and why they didn't work.
You won't know this unless you've had a targeted qualification call beforehand; that's a big reason why a face-to-face meeting should never be your first contact.
The reason we suggest starting at the end is this: you want to be clear on the actions that follow the meeting, so you can gain positive agreement on these. If you miss this step, you may find it hard to get back in front of this group - especially if a strong competitor is in the bidding too.
The next step should be a logical one, not a huge leap of faith from ‘who we are’ to a 'let's do a Proof of Concept'. Read more in How to Win Product Trials and PoCs.
2. Step into their shoes
Most of your prospects won't fall for killer slides or flashy videos. They've seen hundreds like them, especially from the big players. They’re only interested in two things: Their problems and how to solve them.
These are the burning questions they want your corporate presentation to answer:
- Do you understand us and our problems?
- Do you have the right solution (product/service/people)?
- What results have you achieved for companies like ours?
- Why should we consider you ahead of other providers?
- How easy are you and your team to work with?
- What is the next step?
Your slides should build your story step-by-step, and keep your prospects fully engaged. Confirm at each stage that all of the audience is following and agreeing, and note any questions along the way.
3. Establish your credibility
You have to establish your credibility ‘right up front,’ says Michel Theriault at Forbes. The most effective way to do this is to focus on the audience, not you, from the beginning.
That definitely means not showing how many offices you have, how long you’ve been in business for, how big or successful you are or what industry analysts say about you. That is exactly what your competitors do.
Instead use your corporate presentation to show upfront that you understand their problems and what it takes to solve them.
It’s the fastest way to establish your credibility, because it shows that you’ve done your homework and that you’re thinking about their company, not yours. It's really simple: ’When you show the problem,’ marketing guru Seth Godin says, ‘selling the solution becomes easier.’
One of our clients is a specialist in Oracle Fusion Middleware, a critical element in Oracle enterprise software deployments. Its customers are major organisations with complex Oracle deployments, such as governments, banks and major retailers. To grab the attention of enterprises with similar problems right upfront, they use a slide that shows the complexity in a typical banking environment (see at right).
Even if you don’t understand the terms, the numbers clearly show the complexity.
4. Prove your results
Their next slide shows the results of using our client's product to automate the deployment of Oracle environments:
The numbers must speak for themselves. You don’t need to know about Oracle environments to be impressed. That’s the whole idea. You might want
to add a customer quote to your corporate presentation here, one that will show that these figures weren’t plucked out of thin air.
Whatever your technology, you’ll have ideal customers (size, vertical, complexity, applications) whose problems can be visualised - and results that show a dramatic, positive change. Use them upfront. By the way, if you have clients whose names can’t be shared in print, this is the ideal time to mention them by mouth.
Another reason to do your homework before presenting is to select a client example that best matches the problem you know the prospect organisation has. That will really grab attention.
5. Show your experience
Once you’ve shown you understand the problem and the impact of your solution, then you can slip in a slide with a bunch of instantly recognisable client
This slide will tell the audience: ‘We’ve done this lots of times for companies that you know.’ Very compelling. If your clients aren't that big or well known, use the logos of those you have. There's no need for dozens; 5-10 will be fine.
6. Define the problem
Now is the time to define the problem in terms that are relevant to your audience.
If we use our client example again, the problems in complex software deployments are shown in the graphic. These all point to 3 things: major cost blow-outs, project slippage from the contracted target dates, and serious embarrassment for the client.
Just imagine a bank releasing a new initiative which it has advertised for months, and it fails on day one. It does happen and not just in banking. And, in the case of our client, the cause is always human error: humans building or changing vital Oracle environments by hand, and not leaving clues to where and when.
7. Frame the alternatives
At this point you'll have the audience’s attention, if these problems are theirs, the pains they cause are familiar. Now it’s time to talk about solutions - but not yours yet.
This slide is where you show the alternatives and their pitfalls, but be objective and brief and don’t name and shame your competitors. Make it clear that these are common ways of solving the problem, and why they don’t work. Cite external references if you can, and add them to the end of the presentation for validation.
Back to our client example: the pitfalls of one alternative solution - DIY - are shown below. There are 3 other options which they present in the same simple way.
When you present all these slides, use fewer words and more graphics for impact, and provide the detail in spoken words. As Seth Godin says : ‘Slides should reinforce your words, not repeat them.’
While the slide showing alternatives is up, you could talk about specific customers who tried the alternatives that didn't work. Then you can show how you solved the problem, using the slide to reinforce your success story.
8. Use industry validation
The claims you make are never as powerful as those made by industry sources who support your stance. The next slide in your corporate presentation is where to use the most powerful sources you have.
In our client’s case, it was a quote about the critical role of automation in ensuring consistency, and it was made by a recognised industry expert.
In favour of our client are two goals that most of its prospects want to achieve, and both depend on automation:
- DevOps - alignment and co-operation between Development and Operations teams
- Continuous Delivery – rapid, repeatable, reliable software updates.
Showing all of these three ideas on 1-2 slides makes a strong case for automation, validated by others, not just claimed by you.
9. Introduce your solution
By now the audience has felt both the pain of the problem and the added pain of choosing the wrong solution. For our client's audience, this means big costs and wasted time; these are significant sources of business pain. Now is the time to show how your solution:
- Solves the original problem
- Avoids the pitfalls of the alternatives
- Supports industry-leading opinions.
Our client has 2 solutions:
- Automation tools for DevOps and Continuous Delivery – for organisations that have Oracle expertise in-house
- Automation tools for DevOps and Continuous Delivery + whole stack Oracle expertise - for organisations that don't.
Note the orderly alignment of the solutions on the slide, compared to randomness of the problem and alternative solutions. The choice of colour is deliberate too: green for 'go' and grey for 'undefined'.
This won’t be enough on its own, but it shows how the problem is solved, relieves the tension, and leads to the next slide: how your solution works.
10. Show how it works
This is the ideal time to show in words what your products does, with a link to a simple, short video (a minute or 2) that shows how your solution does it. If you can’t do this, use a slide with simple bold graphics.
In our client's case, the words are simple but compelling:
Their solution is astonishing when you consider the complexity of the technology behind the simple words. From a single dashboard, Oracle Project or Environment Managers can create, duplicate, combine and deploy Oracle environments in minutes. They can also troubleshoot and fix them in real time.
Without automation, creating one complex Oracle environment can take months, and fixing defects in real time is risky due to possible outages and downtime, not to mention potential trashing of reputations if things go wrong.
11. Validate with testimonials
By now you've demonstrated your understanding of the problem, the pros and cons of the alternatives and the unique capability of your solution.
Now it’s time to present the people side of your company, answering the ‘how easy are you to work with?’ question. This is especially so if you have competitors who're global players but offer limited or non-existent support in your region. When the tech experts they’ve flown out to impress your prospects have flown home, local support comes into sharp focus.
In your corporate presentation, it’s vital to have quotes about people and not just results. For our client, they had both: brilliant quotes from customers that did a great job validating the quality of their people and their technology.
Our client has customers who are publicity averse, so we had to attribute some actual quotes (and case studies) to fictitious names to protect privacy. Where that had to be done, it's made clear and states that these clients can be contacted directly. This says to prospects: ‘You know our clients; they’re big and they don’t like being named but if you’re serious, they'll talk to you’.
12. Call for action
This is a very simple but important slide in any corporate presentation. It compels the audience to think and, if you’ve done your job correctly, it will lead to productive discussions straight afterwards.
And you just leave it there (inserting the company name for 'you') and ask for any questions, because questions are buying signals. Don't assume that few questions mean you’ve made a great corporate presentation. Most likely it means the audience disconnected at some point, and you need to ask questions that help you uncover where that happened.
If it feels natural to answer standing up, then do so. If not (and this is usually a better option), black out the screen and join the others around the table, eye to eye, to explore the opportunity further. This will build a comfortable, co-operative, workshop-style atmosphere, assuming that both parties have several people in attendance.
13. Set expectations
During the discussion, the prospect team will probably ask about next steps, which goes back to point 1: 'what is the next step in engaging with you?' You need to be ready with this and it must be logical and feel natural to do. Your slide could show:
- A graphic of the stages in the process (e.g. guided trial or sandbox followed by Proof of Concept) so long as it’s short, not a 10-stage process. (See below.)
- Graphics showing your Guided Trial or SandBox or PoC process on one or several slides, depending on complexity.
Below is our client's process, which explains the logic of each step.
This is a slide you’d bring up once you’re comfortably huddled with the prospect team, and you can both look up at the next steps together.
You might introduce next steps with a question like ‘This is what most clients ask us to do next. How does that fit with the way you work?’ and make sure you note their body language, not just their words. If all are in agreement, then set a date for the next step. If not, ask ‘is there anything we haven’t covered?’ and don’t be tempted to gloss over the answers. If you ignore an objection, that person could torpedo the project once you’re out of the room.
Another useful question is ‘Who needs to be involved in this next step? Is it just this group or will others be involved?’ If others, see if you can get an introduction to them (even if only by phone, while you are there). Keep up the momentum.
14. Give contact details
You might want to leave a copy of the corporate presentation, so make sure it shows all your contact details, name of presenter, company name, website URL, email address, fixed and mobile phone. You can add LinkedIn, Twitter and other links, so long as you have high quality recent material there. There is no need to show this slide.
This is another reason not to use the names of sensitive clients in print. Mention them, use their logos with permission, but don’t use individuals' names
in the presentation. You never know who may share your presentation with others.
15. Be ready with answers
From experience, you’ll know what questions prospects normally ask, so make sure you have the answers ready on slides or, if the answers are complex, on a USB stick. It really shows your preparedness and professionalism - which sends a subliminal message about your performance as a provider.
Place these answer slides after Next Steps (slide 13), in case you don’t need them. You want to leave on agreement with next steps, not dive deep into
technical details which might raise unexpected issues or create diversions. In any case, technical discussions are sure to slow momentum and that's
the last thing you want to do at this point.
Remember, the presentation is to establish trust, gain clarity and help the prospect take the next step with you. Nothing else.
Like to make your corporate presentation unforgettable? Contact us.
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