“Be sincere, Be brief, Be seated.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt
Do not bring a twelve page deck to a meeting. Just don't. Nothing will make your audience resent you more than putting a copy of Moby Dick in front of them. "Does this jerk really think I'm going to follow along with this?"
Chances are you can say everything you wanted to say in a five page deck. Better yet, put the three topics you want to discuss on the first page (the agenda) and have three following pages dedicated to the topics you would like to discuss. BUT make sure you have two very important words written at the top of each slide:
Don't write them at the top of the pages you are going to show to your customer, just on your copies. This is a practice I learned from a great salesman named Neil that I worked with. It must be a trick that works because Neil was a consistent top performer and Presidents Club member, sales trainer and a BIG TIME earner.
As you may have guessed the "So What" is a reminder to finish each slide of your deck with your value proposition. SO WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU MR/MRS CUSTOMER IS.....
Let's say you are meeting with a brick manufacturer and your are attempting to get them to use your payment reconciliation software. Perhaps the second page of your deck is about how much faster and secure your software is. You have established that cash flow is important to them and that they are in a growth phase, opening new brick manufacturing plants in the northeast. After you go over your softwares ability to get them their funds faster and more securely you want to go to the "SO WHAT" part:
So what this means for you... is not how you want to phrase it. The "so what" is just a reminder to include a value proposition. Use your own words tailored to the customers needs:
Salesman: As you can see, our software will provide you with funds up to three days faster. What could you do with three extra days? What would speeding up your cash-flow by three days, seventy two hours do for your business? Do you think perhaps it puts you one step closer to opening that new manufacturing facility in the northeast?
-That's a powerful "SO WHAT," right there. There's nothing that businesses need more than more time and money.
Speaking of time, one other pointer; don't be overly thankful for someone you are meeting with's "time." Your time is just as valuable, never forget that. The minute you are overly thankful for someone else's time you devalue your own. They're lucky to be sitting with you, you are an expert in your field and bring a tremendous amount of value to the table. That said, be mindful of the timeline you asked for. If you said, "I need 15 minutes of your time," and it's 13 minutes in to the conversation and they're asking a lot of questions, pause and say, "I want to be mindful of your time, we had allocated 15 minutes, how are you doing? Do we need to schedule another meeting to wrap up or can I proceed?" -This is just basic professionalism and it will set you apart from the less polished people they see time and time again.
So remember, keep your presentations short and to the point and make sure that with each slide of your deck you write the words, "So What" at the top. Eventually, you'll no longer have to do this, it will be second nature but for those of you just starting out, I highly recommend doing this.
Good luck out there!
Enjoy a song that kept creeping up in my head as I thought about this post: