If you want to start giving the kind of sales presentations that win business, get rid of the “dog and pony show” and deliver a solution-oriented pitch.
A solution-oriented pitch sounds like an insightful, personalized business analysis that is highly valuable by itself. It’s a presentation that demonstrates that you are well on your way to solving the client’s key business challenge.
Place a Dumpster in Your Client’s Driveway
A solution-oriented pitch is like the blue dumpster that a building contractor left in my driveway one April afternoon.
Let me explain.
My wife and I were planning a major renovation for our house. We obtained bids from three contractors. Mark was the highest bidder by about five percent. One day, I came home from work and in the corner of my driveway was a huge blue construction waste dumpster. I was stunned.
My wife didn’t know anything about it. I called Mark and asked if he knew anything about it.
“I put it there,” he said.
“But we haven’t selected you,” I told him. “You’re higher than the other bidders.”
“We’re always a little higher,” he said. “But you’re interested in getting this project completed by the end of August before the kids go back to school. If you’re going to do that, you’re going to have to get started right away. I put the dumpster there so that as soon as you pick me, I’ll be ready to start demolition right away.”
“If we don’t pick you, what happens with the dumpster?” I said.
“I’ll haul it away and pay for it myself,” he said. “I’m taking the entire risk there. I just want to get started. And if you pick me, I’m starting right away.”
Maybe it was a pressure tactic. However, my wife and I saw it differently. We thought Mark was showing us how badly he wanted the business by expending resources for our benefit before he actually had the job. He was working at solving our problem before he was even hired. He got the job.
Demonstrate That You’ve Expended Resources to Solve the Client’s Problem
A great pitch should be like the dumpster in the driveway. It should be a demonstration of how you have expended resources and begun solving your prospect’s problem before you’ve even been hired.
Of course, just expending resources for your prospect isn’t enough. You need to show that you understand your prospect’s problems and have a good plan. That takes work.
The best pitches present solutions so detailed and compelling that they make the prospect think, “Wow you guys have really thought through this problem and have come to us with some substantial work demonstrating a commitment to solve it.”
Get your prospects thinking that way, and it becomes very hard to turn you down.
Let’s say that you sell medical supplies and an outpatient surgical center has asked you for a presentation on your gloves, masks, gowns, and other sterile garments.
What would a poor seller do? He would show up and give a presentation going through all the various products that his company offers, talking about the features and benefits. Then he’d end the presentation by asking for an order. This is a standard “dog and pony show.” The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t show any sense of familiarity with the client’s business challenges.
Before Pitching, Seek a Chance to Analyze the Prospect’s Business
A good seller — a seller interested in using a solution-oriented approach – would accept the invitation to give the presentation in the following way:
I’d love to give you a presentation. But before, I come, I’d like to take a tour of your facility, speak to some nurses, and your purchasing agent. That will allow us to give you a presentation that will best meet your needs.
If a full tour were not possible, the good seller would at least ask for the chance to speak to a few decision-makers prior to the presentation. He would seek any information possible to allow him to present a solution-oriented presentation.
Armed with detailed information about the key business issues, the good seller would then be able to position his presentation as a solution to some key business problems. That would position him to lay out a solution-oriented pitch.
During the Pitch, Lay Out the Client’s Business Problem. Then Propose a Solution
The model for a solution-oriented pitch is simple. You begin by detailing the client’s business problem. Then you detail a solution that should stand on its own as a valuable piece of consulting work.
Just like Mark our builder, you’re putting a “dumpster” in the client’s driveway. Don’t spend any time talking about the history of your firm. Don’t talk about how many offices you have worldwide. Don’t talk about your revenues. Who cares?
Don’t even talk about your credentials. Your credentials will be apparent as you talk about your solution and how you’ve implemented similar solutions for other clients. Focus the presentation solely on what the client really cares about—a solution to her business problem.
The presentation might go something like this:
Over the last week, I’ve done an audit of how you’re using various operating room supplies including gloves, masks, and gowns. We think you’re probably spending 10 percent too much. We also think your infection rates are unnecessarily high. And we think that we can improve the safety of your team members.
First, let’s talk about costs . . . .
Second, let’s talk about infection rates . . . .
Third let’s talk about improving the safety of your team members . . . .
Instead, of sounding like a typical salesperson hawking products, the good seller’s presentation sounds like a consultant who has identified a business problem and has started working on a solution. That’s called putting a dumpster in the prospect’s driveway.
And that’s the kind of sales presentation that wins business.