Getting Started With PresentationsTomChilders
Presentations & Proposals, in landscaping? Yes because you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression and in this industry, this is an area we don’t spend a lot of time on. Maybe it is because we view our end product or service as the ultimate presentation or presentation enough. Who knows, but whatever the reason, this is an area worth spending some time on.
For starters, presentations can have many different objectives and purposes. They can be to train, inform, share info, move a deal to the next stage or close a deal, and the list goes on. For this section, we will focus on presentations used for proposals and sales and it will be big picture – think conversion and close in the selling process. We will not get into which specific tools and design elements you should use but we will share a few broad guidelines and some additional resources. Also, look for future posts on these topics as well.
How many times have you heard to start any presentation by telling people what you are going to tell them, then tell them, and then conclude by telling them what you told them. That is great order and sequencing advice but don’t overdo it. Keep it short, on point and moving.
Make sure the content is about the prospect’s situation, for example their pain points, needs, and wants. Focusing on the pain points and their situation will capture their attention and keep their interest. A bad practice many follow is starting a presentation with self promotion and hyperbole on their awards and other business accolades. You can use that opportunistically later in the presentation when it is appropriate to discuss your company and your qualifications and accomplishments.
Use any final presentation process as an opportunity to make sure your needs assessment is accurate (remember this from the sales process). And yes, that means the presentation should be interactive. After you state the customer’s problem or desires, ask did I get it right? If so, keep moving. If not, explain what might need to change in the proposal. For example, the prospect says we did not have the budget for this large of a scope and you respond with something like, “if you can help me understand the budget constraints better and what the priorities are, we can redefine the scope accordingly. In fact, if it’s ok with you, we can start that process as we go through this proposal.” Then, proceed accordingly.
As you go through the process, hopefully you are adequately addressing needs and meeting objections. Ultimately, you will attempt to gain the commitment and when you do, be clear and concise. Let’s say things went great and you concluded with a big thanks for their time and consideration. Next, do not say call me if you have any other questions or to let me know when to start; rather, have a strong call to action such as sounds like our proposal meets your needs so if ok with you I would really like to sign the contract today. That way we can get this on the schedule as proposed today and get started for an on time completion. Then do as any presenter would do, hush and wait for the order! A long silence or pregnant pause is typical here so, again, stay patiently hushed.
A special note if you are one that still gets nervous in these situations. Remember practice makes perfect and mirrors, friends, and family are great to practice on. Ask them to give you feedback on eye contact, facial expressions (smile sometimes but not too much), tone, body language and more. In these situations, it is what you say and how you say it – so practice. For more on this specific topic see “Its Not What You Say It’s How You Say It…Right!”
How you present and what tools you use are ultimately your call but with today’s cost effective choices you should have a good and professional system. For example, PowerPoint, Word, Excel, preformatted and printed forms, and the like are all acceptable. Always keep it practical and don’t overdo it. Don’t go into home or a general contractor’s site trailer carrying a pull down screen, laptop, projector unless of course that’s what they asked for. Walking through a hardcopy or laptop presentation should be more than adequate. Also, depending on the size of the proposal and presentation, you can ask the prospect how they would like it presented.
While formatting is largely a matter of choice and taste, here are a few cardinal rules. Use large and clear headings and subheadings and adequate white space. Use bullets for talking points if presenting but don’t read or list everything you are going to say. Using good high quality images and photos can go along way in our industry but don’t overdo it. Stay away from flashy, busy and overly distracting graphics. If you want a very thorough guide and checklist see this link from ProjectionNet.
Proposals and presentations are tools that we can use to help us really establish our capabilities and professionalism. At the same time, you can overdo it with these tools if you are not careful. The key is making sure we keep the prospect at the center of it all by demonstrating that we understand what they want, how they want it, when they want it, and why they want it.