‘Everyone is a genius at least once a year. A real genius has his original ideas closer together’ Georg C Lichtenberg
Where has all the creativity gone in presenting and selling?
Given the economic turmoil of the past year, there appears to have been such focus on the rational measurement of business such as head count, expenses, cost of sale, salaries etc that this spreadsheet mentality has crept by osmosis into sales teams, stripping them of much needed creativity.
When all you hear is ‘where’s your forecast, your pipeline is narrow and by the way there is no bonus and commissions are halved for next year’, it is understandable that the vibrant, creative gene that lives in every BDM, Sales Manager and Channel Manager lays dormant.
It is now time to wake it up.
In research conducted on senior decision makers, they actually want creative solutions, not the robotic quotes and PowerPoint prattle.
Here are some creative examples of themes and ideas we’ve used with clients to help them win the attention of clients.
Bedroom Poster Treatment
We all had giant posters in our bedrooms of Shane Warne or Johnny Depp or Brad Pitt, Halle Berry, U2 or AstroBoy/Ben 10 (insert gender/age preference here)
We connected with that image and its visual power over us.
One pitch theme is to plaster the walls of the presentation room with a combination of large AO or A1 size visuals including:
- Testimonials from clients with photos
- Key outcomes of your solution in the client’s language, not yours eg Reduce Head Count, Increase Production Capacity by 30% for Zero Cost, Transfer our expertise to your staff in 3 months.
- Theme Visual eg Ferrari for speed to market, Huge photo of a Judge for governance/compliance
Now, some of you are thinking ‘gimmick’. If it is a single image, then you’re right because it looks like a cheap afterthought. If it’s an entire room –it’s a powerful visual image that definitely resonates with clients when they leave.
Make it Real
We worked with a company pitching retail oriented technology.
We actually borrowed a guy who used to work at Bunnings for the presentation. He came suitably attired with overalls, beard and paint stains to present how easy it was for him to use this technology and how customers responded favourably. Of course a site visit can have a similar result, but it’s still not as impactful as a live person in the room at the pointy end of the sales cycle.
Pick up your PowerPoint presentation, kiss it gently goodbye, say ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ and dump it.!
One of the most successful pitches I’ve seen recently for $2.1M in professional services was where the sales team stood up after 3 months of diagnostic research and wrote on the white board ‘ Current State and Future State’.
They spent just 7 minutes facilitating and checking they had the right information and understanding of the client’s current position and desired outcomes and then without a slide in sight started dialogue about how best to get there. This included having the courage to resist pushing a methodology and asking the client to step up to the white board with pen in hand and write down their preferred way of using these professional services. The client shared ideas that hadn’t previously been uncovered and they sold themselves on how best to engage that company.
It was interactive, engaging, real, persuasive and all the vendor had to do was say ‘yes, we can do your preferred way’
It is so easy to just ramp up the laptop, go through the motions and hope it still works, but it’s time now to re-activate the creativity gene and differentiate your bid.
In the words of George Bernard Shaw ‘You see things; and you say, “Why?” But I dream things that never were; and I say, “Why not?”
If you would like to share your stories of how creative pitching has helped you succeed, please email me email@example.com
Written by Elliot Epstein, CEO, Salient Communication
Elliot has trained and coached over 3000 people throughout the Asia Pacific Region and is a sought after keynote speaker on Sales, Negotiation, Leadership and Presentations.
© Salient Communication