My word, if I get one more spam from someone claiming to help outsourcing providers "get outsourcing leads" through delivering dodgy webcasts (which are probably only attended by other equally desperate outsourcing providers, with similarly deficient sales capabilities), or get invited to take part in a workshop to improve the "velocity of my sales pipeline", where a paltry $10,000 investment can help my firm meet its $1,000,000,000 target, I think I may throw my Mac out the window and join the Occupy Wall Street demonstration rumbling on down the road.
So let's save you nice outsourcing providers the time, trouble and expense of getting advice on how not to sell yourself, and give you all the advice you need, right here, right now - and for absolutely nothing. Plus, you can re-invest that time you just saved by filling a bag with foam pies and hurling them at unsuspecting investment bankers.
Esteban Herrera, along with most of the team at HfS, has gone way further than "Death by PowerPoint" on so many occasions that we can now prescribe your very own Exhumation after PowerPoint... over you, Mr H:-
An open letter to Outsourcing Providers: It's time for your exhumation after PowerPoint
We love you. Without you there would be no outsourcing industry and we would not have jobs. More than anything, we want to see you succeed. Why, oh why, must you insist in compromising your own success by practicing death by PowerPoint on your prospects?
I’ve come to believe that business, and our business in particular, really wants audiences to tune out. Through thousands of “orals” and analyst “briefings” I’ve concluded we actually want to put each other to sleep. We don’t care if the audience retains anything we’ve said, and thus bombard them with a slide per minute. Of course, almost none of us talk that fast, and almost all of us leave the good stuff until the end so we rush to it when nobody is paying attention and everyone is bleary-eyed and exhausted.
In my view, providers are the worst offenders, especially when attempting to woo new clients in competitive situations. The presentations and styles often do exactly the opposite of what is intended: they frustrate and alienate potential clients. In the last fifteen years, I’ve seen lots of sales pitches, some very good, most not so. In an effort to help our industry and keep my sanity during my next round of orals with a buyer client, I’ve put together a few tips, which I am sure most of you will ignore.
- Ditch the PowerPoint. Clients are so used to “slides” that what will stick out in their mind the most is someone who came to have a conversation with them, not talk at them. In a recent set of orals, one provider had three of six speakers not use slides at all. They finished an hour early of their allotted time, to everyone’s delight, and communicated just as much as anyone else. Engagement, discussion, and relationship-building banter ensued. To say they won the day would be the understatement of the year. More importantly, everyone in the room, including this jaded advisor, remembers them and their story. If you know what you are talking about, you don’t need the damn slide. Plus, you know all your competitors are going to attempt PowerPoint murder, so why not stand out in the crowd?
- Ditch that innovation funnel slide. You know which one I’m talking about. Everybody has it. Everybody claims it as their own. And nobody believes it. Kill it.
- Start with the “answer.” How about this simple message to start the session: We are going to save you $X million per year, starting in June, while maintaining or increasing all your existing service levels, while absorbing x% of the risk. If your FIRST statement/page/slide doesn’t follow that pattern, you’ve squandered your best opportunity to differentiate and create a lasting impression. Whomever taught this “build-up” to the punch line method of presenting should be sued for malpractice.
- Ditch the sales person. Don’t get me wrong, salespeople play a critical role in any pursuit, but they should be seen and not heard. Clients want to speak with subject matter experts and content people. At an intensely competitive pursuit I led last year at a global manufacturer, the sales guy never spoke during presentations, and wasn’t even in the room for the last round (he was outside the door). But I knew he was quarterbacking the effort every step of the way. His team won. I’m sure he didn’t mind being out of the room when his commission check for a $125 million TCV deal came through.
- Slides are aids, not crutches. If you must use slides, you should be able to speak at least five minutes per slide. They should help tell the story, not remind you what the story is.
- Bring a Customer. That’s right, there is no more powerful marketing than what an existing, happy client can say about you. Persuade one of your happy clients to come and speak on your behalf. Nobody else is going to do it. Fly them first class and put them up for the weekend at a great resort nearby. The good will in the existing relationship alone is worth it. But how impressive will it be to the prospects? Priceless! And existing clients, before you dismiss this thought, think about the favor you will be able to cash in when you need it! This is a win-win and I don’t know why more buyer/providers don’t do it. Sit your customer down in the middle of the room and let the prospect ask questions. Let the customer answer honestly. Your prospect will remember it forever, and probably hire you on that alone.
- Engage. These meetings are opportunities to converse. The more one-way the communication, the less likely you are to be successful
- Personality counts. One of the most successful providers we see in the market has the uncanny ability to match their delivery/account manager to their prospective client very well. Their delivery capability is no better or worse than anyone else in the market, but prospects tend to fall in love with the lead, and more often than not, buy because of that individual.
I have lots more tips, but eight is a good number to start with. I did not want to be critical without offering some suggestions! I genuinely hope you find these helpful. I’m no presentation coach, but I’m happy to recommend a great one (thanks, Ron D.). Remember, we love you, and we want you to win. And if you don’t curb these bad presentation habits you are going to start losing.
Esteban (and the HfS team)