13 November 2006
Linda Fisher
Linda Fisher

Adapting Your Presentation to Meet the Corporate Buyer's Needs

It's Not about You. It's about the Client
As we stated in Part 3 of this four part tip series: "Remember: it's all about them." Ask yourself this question - and answer it truthfully - Do your clients perceive that you deliver the greatest value for their investment dollars? Prepping before you pitch doesn't mean that you show three story boards for a new product package in colors and typography that you think are cool and trendy. It means that you have thoroughly researched this corporation, its mission, its positioning, its family of products, etc. It means that your firm can deliver a presentation that directly targets the client's needs with real solutions.

Be prepared. Show a real interest in the prospect's company. Read the annual report, magazine or newspaper articles about the prospective client's company. Ask intelligent questions and listen carefully to the answers. Then, begin your presentation. When you show your portfolio, only show projects that are relevant to this prospect. Or, if you have creative solutions for an unrelated business that clearly demonstrate your firm's advantageous proprietary process, show this as well. Convey pride in your work and always refer to your design staff as 'we' not 'they.'

After making your presentation, take some time for questions/answers. Answer questions thoughtfully and truthfully. If you don't know some of the answers, say so. However, promise to research the answers and get back to the prospect quickly, and do so. Never leave abruptly. Demonstrate that you've enjoyed this meeting and appreciate the opportunity you've been given to be considered for the prospect's project.

If you are asked for an approximate figure on the cost of a job, or a delivery time, do not commit yourself yet. Let the prospect know that you must fully analyze the project back at your office before you can determine these things. As soon as you return to your office, write up a 'call report' for your database. Reports are necessary in order to recall all of the points that were discussed in your meeting. You will also need to record all of the phases of the project, as well as any commitments you have made to the prospect.

Do not forget to follow up with your prospect with a 'thank you' letter. Write a brief outline in the letter, reminding the prospect about what was discussed. If a cost estimate and timeline were promised during the meeting, enclose this with the letter. Close by letting the prospect know how much you look forward to working on his or her project. Always keep a copy of this correspondence on file.

Unless this prospective client makes a quick decision, stay in touch by phone or letter. Do not overdo this, but do stay in the picture. Sending an occasional note, and enclosing information about some of your firm's excellent current work will reinforce your level of expertise to the prospect.

It's All in the Positioning of Your Firm
Whether you are in the process of presenting to potential new clients, or renewing a working relationship with a former client, you must position your design firm as an invaluable resource to them. Opening your presentation with a smile, eye contact, self assurance - and the right opening statement - will make the corporate buyer say: "This design firm understands EXACTLY what I need and knows how to deliver it. I think I can trust him/her."

If you make your pitch all about YOUR product or YOUR service, or all about YOUR award-winning firm, guess what? You've put yourself into the same arena with all of your competitors. But - if you make it all about THEIR product or THEIR service, all about THEIR NEEDS - you have positioned yourself with differentiation, and shown real value to the corporate buyers whom you pitch!

The Differentiating Value to Clients
That attention-getting opening statement? How about this: "Thank you for this opportunity to make this presentation to you. We help our clients achieve their goal of increased sales and profits, as well as a better Return on Investment. We are able to do this because we have a thorough grasp of this industry, and have studied your business. Therefore, our staff is able to work on projects like yours with increased productivity, reducing costs." (we said reducing costs - not price!) "We work to create category and industry leaders."

Now the prospect sits up and takes notice. You are speaking his or her language. You are acknowledging that your firm's creative services are oriented to achieving business results. You are making yourself a business partner. Sales. Profits. Return on Investment. Competitive advantages for your clients. Does this make your firm a value to them? You bet!

Let's examine this more closely.
1. Sales and Profits. You are confident that your firm's knowledge of the client's industry and company, will enable you to deliver creative solutions that will deliver sales and profits - thereby adding great intrinsic value - to their product or service.

2. ROI. You show that the expertise of your firm, and the proven track record you have in this industry, makes your hire a great return on investment for the corporate buyer.

3. Competitive Advantage. If you can state, and prove, that your firm creates category leaders, this message resonates with corporate buyers.

4. Increased Productivity. Show the client how your firm's proprietary process is efficient, saving time, and how your additional services save them money, since they need not outsource to additional firms. If one of your firm's strengths is the fact that you offer extensive consumer research, say so. That is a strong selling point, and a huge point of differentiation for your design business from your competitors!

5. Reduced Cost. Again: we do not suggest that you lower your prices. Show in detail to the prospect that even if your fees are higher than your competitors' - your firm's knowledge, thorough understanding of their industry and category competitors, indicates that your firm offers greater results than any other firm.

The Value Proposition
Your goal is to be perceived as a valuable partner to your clients, because you can help them to achieve their goals. When giving a presentation, it is up to you to prove that you are their best resource to achieve those goals. You must show that your firm can give them what they want - when they want it - in the way that they want it. Real value constitutes a real return on the prospects' investment. When your presentation demonstrates that your firm is more information oriented, more industry knowledgeable, more service oriented and that you can provide other critical assets (strong communication, better technical services, a proven proprietary process, additional production services, etc.) better than anyone else - it doesn't matter what your quoted price is for your services. Remember: it's not about your price. It's about your value.

For more information, contact:

Design Management Resources
Post Office Box 423
Thompson, CT 06277
T: +1 800 230 3603
F: +1 860 923 3800

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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