How to Make Memorable Company Presentations

Let’s talk about company presentations for client meetings: the only reason for you to be presenting your company in a “live” meeting is if you have a complex offer or you need to identify the client’s needs and issues. Here I am first and foremost talking about this type of situation, but the approach would also apply to online presentations, for instance.

Why do company presentations bore clients?

Most clients don’t pay any attention to company presentations, because they know what’s in them before they even see the first slide. In fact, the vast majority of company presentations prepared by communications and marketing departments using PowerPoint or Keynote are all the same. They are all predictable, and they all make the same mistakes.
Before a company starts its presentation, we expect the classic presentation:

  • Who we are: the company was founded in such and such a year (variation: we have been in business for xxx years); we have offices in all these countries (variation for national companies: we have offices in all these cities); we are a major company with xxx employees.
  • We have xxx clients; here are the names of the major ones.
    These are their challenges, and how we help address them. We help them develop and grow their business.
  • Here are the products and services we offer.
  • We have the best partners you could imagine (variation: we have the best network of distributors).
  • And we also have values: here is the list.
  • These are our advantages, what we are really good at.

Sure, all this is undoubtedly true. The big mistake is that it is nothing more than an uninteresting display of facts. A display of facts has two drawbacks in the context of a “live” presentation:

  • The human brain, and specifically that of your client, has a poor capacity to memorize new facts that are alien to it: there is therefore no point in presenting clients with so much information in so little time, because they won’t retain it. What they need is a document where they can find the information when they need it: either printed, in pdf or on the website, which is well suited to this.
  • It is information that is so standard and expected that it carries no surprises or emotional impact. The client expects you to say who you are, that you are the best in the world, etc. Everyone does the same thing. There is nothing to capture the client’s attention and make your company memorable. Worse yet, there is nothing that excites the sales rep, and therefore no way the presentation can be exciting.

At the end of a meeting where you make this type of presentation, the client wonders (to himself): “OK, so… what do they have of interest to tell me… that might interest me?” And in fact that is where the “live” company presentation should start, and that is what it should do: interest the client.

How to structure a company presentation

A “live” presentation should be storytelling: lively and memorable. Because a story is memorable. And because the whole point of the presentation is for the client to remember you. People remember stories, and when clients remember the story, they’ll remember the beginning, the end, and everything in between, as well as who told it, and even the tone. Storytelling is much more effective and memorable. That’s why the best company presentations are those that apply storytelling principles, those that follow at least an S flow (James Bond-type flow; see the article i will publish soon on sales presentation flow for more on this topic).

  • Start with the basic problem that this type of client – the one sitting in front of you –encounters, and you know how to solve. Yes, that’s right, I said the one sitting in front of you: Because what’s the point of a “live” meeting if you deliver a standard message that applies to everyone? You may as well put it on the Internet, it costs less! I am not saying you should have a custom-made pitch for each client, but at least for this type of client, in this industry, with this distribution system, for the type of problem they face. And be able to concretely describe the types of problems that this sort of client encounters, and how they arise. When you can describe the problems the client encounters, the client will assume that you have the appropriate solution. And be capable of illustrating the problem with a real client case: “One of my clients had this problem, and these were the consequences…”
    The trick at this stage: to gain credibility, you need to talk about the clients’ problems, not your solutions.
  • Then, you need to tell clients how you would solve their problem, as though you were telling a story. And take the opportunity to highlight three or four of your products or services, but not more. Watch Steve Jobs in a presentation: he only presents three or four key characteristics of his products, out of a possible 2,000: this means switching from “what can I say” to “what do I want the client to remember?” And clients won’t remember more than three or four key ideas. If they remember three or four, that’s already huge!
    The trick at this stage: Using this concrete example as a basis for generalizing about the criteria that make your solutions work is an excellent way to make sure you have targeted the client properly. Don’t be afraid to try: “We work with this type of client, on these types of budgets, etc.
  • Conclude with the type of investment and return on investment that they can expect if they work with your company. Mention that you would need to better define their needs to properly calculate the investment and return on investment, which would require further investigation, assuming, of course, that the client sitting across from you is indeed faced with this type of problem.
    The trick at this stage is related to the goal of the presentation: the goal of a presentation is to get clients to agree that they faces this type of problem, that they wants to solve it, that it’s urgent, and that your claim that you have a solution is credible: in fact, if clients don’t have a problem that the sales rep can solve, then the sales rep has no legitimate reason to be there.

In the end, the advantage of such a presentation is to see sales reps who are proud to present how their company can solve their clients’ problems. This pride puts a gleam in their eye, enhances the conviction in their voice, and fills them with excitement that makes their presentations more exciting for the client. Because you can’t be exciting if you yourself aren’t excited!

Company presentations & Steve Jobs

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