We all know about the 7 Ps – “prior practice and preparation prevents p***-poor performance”. And we’re comfortable with the fact that this is even more true when getting ready for a major presentation – even if it’s “just” an internal meeting.
Whether you’re presenting to your own CEO or your customer’s, or if it’s a room of channel sales guys or the main stage at TMF, unless you’ve prepped to within an inch of your life, you will be plagued with sweaty palms, high blood pressure and eyes that swim as you look desperately at your smudged hand-written notes.
But what’s probably even more challenging than a major presentation is a short one.
President Abraham Lincoln was reported to have once said, when asked to deliver an impromptu five-minute speech, that he had no time to prepare for just five minutes, but that he could get up and speak for an hour at any time.
Now I’m certainly not a presidential candidate, but I can see that Abe was definitely a trusted advisor to many smart people during his life, even before becoming POTUS.
So how could we use some of Lincoln’s smarts and gravitas and become trusted advisors to our customers?
One of my early mentors introduced me to the concept of the “half pint presentation”. This was back in the day when you could entice your customer out for a beer at lunchtime – something that rarely happens nowadays in English speaking countries, but is much practiced in other cultures.
This type of presentation is useful for when you’ve bought the first round of drinks and ordered up some sandwiches, and then the customer says something like “so how are you guys planning to use big data to deliver new services”.
His question means that you have to speak - while he gets to quench his thirst.
To remain relevant, punchy and more importantly allow time for you to drink your beer, your presentation should take no longer than it takes your customer to sink the first half of his – hence the half-pint name.
Now, you’re expected to know everything about your own products and have elevator pitches for all of them, but my mentor challenged our sales team to prepare 20 different presentations on current technical topics that were adjacent to our main market.
With these well prepared, preferably with a diagram for each that you’ve practiced sketching out on a paper napkin, you can demonstrate that you have knowledge about issues that concern your customer even if you have no specific solution for them.
You’re on the way to becoming a trusted advisor…
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Methodical ramblings after twenty-five years in Sales, Marketing and SalesOps.