Mar. 2015

Finals Presentations: The Art of Winning

The stage is set. You’ve been working on this potential client for weeks or months, and the potential has narrowed the field to two or three finalists. You have built the relationship. They have properly stalked you and most of your team on LinkedIn, and they’ve seen and experienced all you can throw at them. The white papers were delivered, the lunch went really well. The big due diligence meeting went smoothly, even with the awkward members of both teams. Why the heck don’t they just pull the trigger today?!

Depending upon your industry, the full decision process may have someone beyond your reach orchestrating it. In asset management, it’s the consultant or a board, as it is in many industries. It is their job to make sure that the final committee can’t make a large mistake, regardless of which firm they decide to engage with.

But we are “sooooo much better,” says almost every client we counsel. The problem is getting so many players to embrace your differentiation.

As we all know and understand intellectually, like battles, all finals presentations are won or lost before they are fought. The question is, how do you optimize your chances of success?

Here’s arguably the hardest part – reconnaissance. Don’t be afraid to use this weird device called the telephone. Call the client and ask them who will be in the room, what their function and contribution is to the process, and if you don’t already know them, what their hot topics and key buying motivations are. Last, ask what has changed functionally or spiritually for the team since the process began. You are searching for insights. The worst that they can do is not share, the best they can do is overshare.

In the actual finals presentation, the first step is time management. How much time are you allotted? How will you use it for strategic advantage? You probably have 30 minutes.

What three points do you want to make? Any more than three will be lost. Differentiate and put them at ease, oh and be likable, no one allocates capital or buys products from people they don’t like. The playing field is relatively equal. To stand out, three points can deliver clarity and focus.

How many people on your team will present? Does anyone not speaking belong in the room? How much time should be left for Q&A? There are egos to manage on both sides. Who speaks on what point and for what duration? What SME (subject matter expert) is there for Q&A? Who for window dressing (don’t bring them unless they will add to the close)?

Be memorable. This practices the Goldilocks method – don’t come on too strong, but don’t be afraid to leave an impression. Keep in mind that your potentials are people. And between close competition, people will ultimately choose based simply on who made the best impression and is memorable. So get creative, and differentiate yourself amongst the industry, using your audience’s needs, wants, and perspective, not the gut feeling of your boss.

Literally, ask for the order and concisely explain why you want their specific business. If you want to close, this is necessary and you won’t win without it.

Take the meeting a step further, by making it personal. Not only does this add to your memorability, it solidifies or bridges a relationship between you and your prospect. Needless to say, this makes all the difference, and you’ll be at the top of their mind in the decision-making process. Everyone wants to know who they’re doing business with.


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