Chances are you’ve been part of a sales pitch – a meeting to demonstrate your product or capabilities with a potential buyer. In my career I’ve been involved in many – both as the discussion leader, as I would prefer to call it, and as the audience. Several months ago I was part of a call with a social media technology vendor that went badly. Very badly. I captured my thoughts on Twitter at the time, and a recent similar experience caused me to go dig these up. Due to karma, Murphy’s Law and several other corollaries my next presentation is likely to flop, but I still thought this was worth capturing. All of these measures actually happened in one meeting.
Ten Business Development Tips from the Master of the Obvious
1. Don’t focus on previous clients that barely used your services many years ago. Lead with the best examples and case studies.
2. If you’re new to the company and the one delivering the presentation, don’t play the “I’m new” card every other sentence.
3. If you have multiple product or service offerings, don’t open with the ancillary ones – focus on the meat first, especially if it is the foundation for the others.
4. If you are a software vendor and include screen shots, don’t put in ones that are blurry. A live demo is usually better anyways even though it can be more challenging to arrange.
5. If you are a software vendor don’t ever say the phrase: “I’m not sure what this does.”
6. Here’s another phrase to avoid: “We haven’t found a client who likes this yet.”
7. When you share a recent example of client work, don’t start with what went wrong on the project.
8. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know, but I’ll get back to you.” It’s way better than making up an answer and the follow-up opportunity allows another contact or inquiry. I’d rather hear a confident “I don’t know” with a follow-up than a wishy-washy explanation.
9. When sharing who your business partners are, don’t start listing partners you are no longer partnering with. (Wow)
10. When you schedule a software demo (aside from screenshots mentioned in #4) have someone available who knows the product. Either be that person or have an engineer on the call.
Thanks for listening to me vent – we all learn lessons the hard way sometimes. Any other tips the Master of the Obvious would be proud of?
Photo credit: bonkedproducer via Flickr