13 November 2006
Linda Fisher
Linda Fisher

Prep before you pitch! What does the corporate buyer respond favourably to? Tips from the corporate pros!

In this first part of a four-part series, we discuss the topic of delivering effective presentations to corporate buyers of creative services. What exactly are they looking for? What do they respond favourably to? Linda Fisher has the information you need to make the best presentations to your key audience.

In business, it is often said that nothing happens until something (read: a product or service) is sold. Truer words were never spoken. The 'how' and the 'why' of making that all-important sale, generally hinges on making a persuasive presentation. The difference between making the sale, initiating some kind of action and forming on-going partnerships with clients, or missing a window of opportunity, goes directly back to the quality of the presentation. The way in which design firms present to qualified, perspective corporate clients is critical for both the success of these design businesses and the presenters.

Mom always said: "Do your homework." How right she was!

Corporate buyers of creative services complain: "How can design marketers come into our corporate headquarters without any knowledge of our business? How can they possibly know what our needs are?" A note to design marketers: Prep before you pitch!

When invited to make a presentation to a corporate buyer, access all of the information you can get about the company. Know as much as you can about them, their mission, their products or services, and their needs. Every corporation has a website. Study, study, study!

Draft your proposal based on all of your research. Plan to keep your presentation to less than an hour. Write up and polish the verbiage so that the language sounds smart and professional. Don't use colloquial or trendy expressions. Learn the key words and expressions that corporate buyers use--so that you can speak to them using the terminology they are familiar with.

Ask not what your prospect can do for you. Ask what you can do for your prospect!

When making a corporate call, be a few minutes early. Make your presentation clear and concise: get to the point. Do not waste your prospect's time. He or she doesn't want or need to hear about all of the cool projects your firm has done, and about all of the awards you've won--they can read all about these things in your brochure. Potential clients only want to know one thing: What you can do for them?

As you are making your presentation, make it interactive. Ask thought-provoking questions, some rhetorical, and some that will require an answer from your audience. Let the prospects know that you are thoroughly versed in their company, and you know what their needs are and can meet them! Urge them to act; you can either create an atmosphere of enthusiasm and excitement, or bore the buyer.

Prepare your presentation in advance. Do a run-through of the presentation in front of an audience. Get their feedback. Tape yourself, and play back your words. Make necessary adjustments. Time yourself. Leave enough time to enable the buyer to ask questions, comment and give his/her observations. Stand in front of a mirror and deliver your polished presentation. Do you let your enthusiasm show? Do you smile? Do you make eye contact? Do you let your personality sparkle?

Closing the sale

At Design Management Resources, we are constantly surprised by corporate buyer feedback from design marketers' presentations. We can't tell you all how many times buyers have said: "Great presentations, but the marketers neglected to close the sale". It seems that for many of you, your confidence flags or you think it's too pushy to "ask for the order." Our answer to that: Get over it!

If this is a weakness for you, address it and work on it. You must always finish your presentation and let your potential buyer know that you are eager to get started on his or her project. Ask: "When can we get started? I am very excited about this project, and eager to come back with some innovative concepts, which will attain the objectives of the project. When will you have your budget? When will your time line be ready? My staff is ready to go when you give us the signal!"

Remember: These are the observations of corporate buyers. Take it to heart. Tap into the power of making great presentations.

In the coming Feature articles:
Part 2: What Is Your Body Language Saying in Your Presentation?
Part 3: Business Language and Communication
Part 4: Adapting Your Presentation to the Corporate Buyers' Needs

Stay tuned!

Linda Fisher
Linda Fisher is founder and president of Design Management Resources, Inc. She forms strategic partnerships with her clients by consulting with design firm principals to define their mission, position and business goals. Ms. Fisher is a regular on the speaking circuit and conducts intensive workshops to educate design firms about sound business tenets. She has written numerous articles for internationally recognized publications, including How Magazine and Communication Arts. She also writes an international newsletter, "Marketing and Public Relations Tips Exclusively for Design Firms," which is currently read in over 32 countries.

Design Management Resources, Inc.
Design Management Resources provides strategic consulting for design firms who are global leaders - or aim to be. The company specialises in:
- Living Marketing Plans
- Public Relations
- Positioning: Differentiating Strategies to Compete in the Global Marketplace

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