Last week I was asked to evaluate a sales presentation that a resort developer in Mexico made to a group of American investors. I found myself saying the same thing I often say to small business owners back in the States – you spent way too much time talking about your passion and not enough time giving your audience the “what’s in it for them” content.
The man who made the presentation was educated both in Mexico and the U.S., earned an MBA from Harvard, and is a very successful land developer with a stellar track record. He’s smart as a whip and has a passion for bringing sustainable, upscale development projects to Mexico that provide employment for hundreds of his country’s citizens. He’s a visionary, and I liked him very much. But the 30 minutes he had in front of 40 foreigners who had flown in to listen to him was a disaster. He lost the opportunity to make over a million dollars in sales to a very warm market, and that’s not all.
- He decreased his know, like, and trust factor. In this case, his audience wanted to trust him, but his poor presentation and failure to give them their bottom line eroded their ability to see themselves as investors in his development. The audience lost their faith in him as someone expert in what he does because he didn’t talk about the factors they were most interested in hearing.
- He bored his audience. I watched these investors literally put down their pens once they realized the salient points they needed to know in order to run numbers and decide about investment amounts weren’t forthcoming. Warm audiences get bored really fast. They are listening for the specifics of benefit to them – in this case, the cost to get in, the time factors, and the potential return on investment.
- He lost credibility. By not hitting on the key factors his listeners were aching to hear, he gave them an opportunity to think “this guy’s not as smart as I was giving him credit for. He’s wasted my time and failed to sell his deal. Wonder what else he misses in his business?” When you blow your presentation you put your credibility into question.
At the postmortum later that day, I recommended that the presentation be changed so that he leads with what his investor audience most wants to hear. If he had started out with “I have such faith in what we’re creating here that I’m confident you’ll double your investment in 3 years and I’m going to show you why and how” not a pen would have been put down. The passion this man has for sustainable developments, bringing good jobs to his fellow citizens, and positioning Mexico as safer than Detroit could have followed as supporting evidence to the reliability and validity of his investment proposal.
It isn’t bad to talk about your vision. What’s bad is leading with vision before you tell someone why they should care – what’s in it for them. After all, your vision is YOUR vision – it isn’t their’s. Their vision is to create an international portfolio that brings a high rate of return.
One of the things I love doing is evaluating presentations and re-working them to make sure they hit their mark. I spent many years honing that ability and bringing home quarter and half million dollar deals when I was in the corporate world. You can email me if you need this kind of help. In just a few hours, we can make sure what you say perks up your audience’s ears and provokes them to want what you have to offer. Meanwhile, remember to keep your passionate vision to yourself, bringing it out at the right moment to bolster your income.