As you are developing–and more importantly refining your presentation in response to feedback–you want to keep the following things in mind.
- What criteria led you to select this prospect? Why did they agree to be your audience? Why do you believe, before you start your presentation, that they have a problem that your product addresses. Start out by confirming this before launching into a description of your solution.
- How does the prospect describe the problem? Listen carefully to how they respond to your problem statement. Start with a description of a few key symptoms, as perceived by the prospect, before offering your diagnosis and prescription. Pay particular attention to how they describe the problem, if they substitute different terms to describe the problem, or restate it form an entirely different perspective. You are not there to win an argument over whose nomenclature is correct (the customer’s description has the right of way).
- What data are they willing to share about the problem (and how they will know you have made it better)? As important as their verbal description of the problem, actual data that they are willing to share with you constitute the “facts on the ground.”
- What is the next step? A serious prospect will be able to outline at a high level what’s involved in the evaluation and purchase of your product. At the same time you need to be prepared to outline the process you would like to follow. If the prospect says “This sounds great, how do we get started?” your answers are not “Cut us a check” or “No one has ever said yes before, we weren’t really expecting to have to answer that today.” Have your own plan of action prepared to be able to demonstrate real results even if, and especially if, this is your first real interested prospect.
- Are You Wasting Their Time? People, especially in Silicon Valley, are much more willing to forgive you if your product doesn’t work as advertised on their problem (at least initially) than if you waste their time. If it’s clear it’s not a fit or you cannot help them today, politely cut the meeting short with a promise to return when you are confident you can help them.
Being an engineer, here a flowchart of the process:
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