Death by Corporate Overview – A Never Stop Learning Article

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What’s in this article for you?

  • Why corporate overview presentations are a bad, costly habit.
  • Two terrific solutions.
  • One adequate solution, if you can’t let them go!

I often hear the question, “How much of our company’s corporate overview should we include in prospect meetings?” 

The answer: As little as possible!

Many sales and presales staff feel most comfortable opening a demo or discovery meeting with a “brief” overview of their company. Most prospects refer to this as “Death by corporate overview”!

Why? Because at the beginning of these meetings, the prospect is not interested in the vendor’s history, revenues, or mission statement. The prospect wants to see if the vendor can help them solve their problems and address Critical Business Issues (CBIs). Making the prospect wait, watch, and wallow through a pile of corporate overview slides is just cruel!

It’s also a waste of valuable time with your prospect and puts you at risk of your prospect tuning out or leaving the meeting early!

Consider:

  1. Would they have agreed to a meeting if they hadn’t already vetted you as a vendor?
  2. Did they ask for a corporate overview, or was the prospect’s expectation that they would see a demo or invest in a discovery conversation?
  3. What else could you have done with the time consumed by the overview, and what might that have enabled?

Kustomer/Forbes found that only 14% of sales reps’ time is spent in customer meetings – that’s about one 1-hour meeting per working day. A 20-minute corporate overview consumes nearly one third of that limited, extremely valuable time!

So, don’t do corporate overviews. Just don’t. They are not needed; they are not wanted; they are a wasteful, bad habit!

Solution One

Start the meeting with a Great Demo! Situation Slide.

If you haven’t yet done discovery, use a Situation Slide for a Vision Generation Demo (see Chapter 11, page 238 in the Third Edition of Great Demo! for details on this terrific approach).

If discovery is complete and you are presenting a Technical Proof Demo, your Situation Slide simply summarizes the discovery information gathered previously. You present:

  • Your prospect’s job title for each major player.
  • The CBIs, Problems/Reasons, and Specific Capabilities needed for each player.
  • The Delta (the Value) for each situation (plan on a Situation Slide for each major player or department involved).
  • The Critical Date by when your prospect needs a solution in place.

The Critical Business Issue (CBI) is a goal or objective that the prospect sees as important enough to invest resources to address or achieve. It is best to use the prospect’s words, such as, “I’m concerned about our ability to achieve our forecasted revenues this year”, which might come from a VP of Sales. In your Situation Slide, you would re-phrase this as:

Job Title/Industry: VP of Sales, Acme Software

CBI: Concerned about achieving forecasted revenues

Problems/Reasons are what make it hard to achieve the CBI. In our example above, typical Problems/Reasons might be expressed by our VP of Sales as, “The reason I’m concerned about making our numbers this year is that we are having difficulty closing the technical sale – discovery is rarely sufficient and the resulting demos are simply not getting the job done!”

Your growing Situation Slide now looks like this:

Job Title/Industry: VP of Sales, Acme Software

CBI: Concerned about achieving forecasted revenues

Problems/Reasons: Not closing the technical sale, insufficient discovery, uncompelling demos

The Specific Capabilities are the capabilities your prospect needs to solve their Problems/Reasons and address their CBI. Our VP of Sales might say, “We need fresh methods and training to improve the team’s discovery skills and to enable our demos to really connect with our prospects.” Your Situation Slide reflects this:

Job Title/Industry: VP of Sales, Acme Software

CBI: Concerned about achieving forecasted revenues

Problems/Reasons: Not closing the technical sale, insufficient discovery, uncompelling demos

Specific Capabilities: Effective discovery skills and demonstrations training

The Delta is a tangible measure of the value of making the change. Specifically, it is the difference between the way things are today vs with a solution in place. In our example, the VP of Sales might share that, “Right now we are going to be $1.5M short of achieving our annual quota.” Your Situation Slide now shows:

Job Title/Industry: VP of Sales, Acme Software

CBI: Concerned about achieving forecasted revenues

Problems/Reasons: Not closing the technical sale, insufficient discovery, uncompelling demos

Specific Capabilities: Effective discovery skills and demonstrations training

Delta: $1.5M increase in annual revenues

The final element of information on your Situation Slide is the Critical Date, defined as the actual date your prospect needs to have a solution in place along with the driving force. Note that this is not the end of your quarter (that’s your Critical Date!). For our VP of Sales, the Critical Date is clearly the end of the fiscal year, but there needs to be sufficient time between completion of training and the end of the year for the additional revenues to be generated. 

Accordingly, your complete Situation Slide might look as follows:

Job Title/Industry: VP of Sales, Acme Software

CBI: Concerned about achieving forecasted revenues

Problems/Reasons: Not closing the technical sale, insufficient discovery, uncompelling demos

Specific Capabilities: Effective discovery skills and demonstrations training

Delta: $1.5M increase in annual revenues

Critical Date: Complete training by end of Q3 to enable full Q4 sales cycles

Situation Slides enable you to “recall the facts” and start the meeting with your prospect’s issues. It’s all about your prospect – what a delight!

By presenting your Situation Slide(s), you can confirm that:

  1. Your understanding of your prospect’s situation is correct, and
  2. Determine whether there have been any changes since your last contact.

In the case of an initial meeting for a Vision Generation Demo, you would use the same format for your Situation Slide, but use an informal success story about another, similar prospect’s situation and how your capabilities enabled that prospect to solve their problems and achieve their desired outcomes. This enables a discovery conversation to move forward smoothly.

To learn how to successfully execute Vision Generation Demos, do superlative discovery, and deliver engaging, compelling, conversational demos, consider:

Solution Two

When should you present corporate overview info? Only when your prospect asks for it!

Later in a discovery call or demo meeting, and particularly once you have communicated that you have capabilities that can help your prospect address their challenges, yourprospect may ask questions about your company. Then, and only then do the answers have relevance!

For example, if your prospect is contemplating deploying solutions into multiple countries, they might ask, “Do you have support serving North America, Germany, France, Japan and Korea? Most of our team in North America and Europe are comfortable with English, but we need local language support in Asia Pacific…”

Your answer could be a crisp, “Yes.”

Pre-answering this at the beginning of the meeting makes no sense and can actually hurt your cause, particularly if your standard presentation describes sales, support, and services offices in 104 countries around the world, but your prospect is only concerned about the five regions above. You put yourself at risk of buying it back!

Most corporate presentations are entirely vendor-focused. As an exercise, review your corporate overview presentation from a prospect’s perspective. Ask yourself, “What information really captures my interest?” It is likely that the answer will be, “Very little!”

Interestingly and sadly, some overview presentations include a handful of customer success stories and use cases, which might be the most valuable of all overview content, and of highest interest to your prospects. The sad part is that these portions of the deck are often cut out “in the interest of time…”!

Solution Three

For those customer-facing teams who simply must start with a corporate overview, reduce it to a single slide or statement that communicates:

  1. How long you have been in business.
  2. How many customers you have.
  3. A brief description of what you do.

For example: “Hi, I’m with Great Demo! We’ve been in business over twenty years, serving hundreds of customers and thousands of successful practitioners around the world. We enable teams to execute competitively advantageous discovery and deliver compelling, engaging, and brilliantly successful demos. But enough about us, let’s talk about your situation…”

That’s it!

Summary

Focus on your prospects’ interests and enjoy the rewards of crisper sales!

Copyright © 2005-2023 The Second Derivative – All Rights Reserved.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Peter Cohan
Have you ever seen a bad software demonstration? Peter Cohan is the founder and principal of Great Demo!, focused on helping software organizations improve the success rates of their demos. He authored Great Demo! - how to prepare and deliver surprisingly compelling software demonstrations. Peter has experience as an individual contributor, manager and senior management in marketing, sales, and business development. He has also been, and continues to be, a customer.

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