I once had a very wise boss who reviewed a presentation I was working on. I was pretty proud of it. He gave it a thumbs down.
“You missed the most important thing,” he said.
Huh? I was pretty sure I hadn’t missed anything. I’d really done my homework. I’d visited the prospect’s plant, talked to everyone from the CEO to the folks on the loading dock, reviewed their strategic plan, talked to their stakeholders. I understood their business problem. I knew exactly what they needed and was sure we could deliver it.
“But you didn’t give them options,” my boss said.
Well, sure. I’d presented one solution — because I knew it was the right one. I figured the prospect was looking for a decisive recommendation, not a lot of wishy-washy talk.
My boss explained to me why I was wrong. When you give prospects one option, no matter how good, it’s your solution, not theirs. When you present multiple options, you give them an opportunity to create their own solution.
So I went back, retooled the sales presentation and came up with three options for my buyers to consider. When we presented to the prospects’ management team, an amazing thing happen.
They never even discussed whether to buy. They just discussed what to buy. They liked parts of Option 1 – my original recommendation. But they also found some appealing things in Options 2 and 3. They rolled up their sleeves and started switching things around. We just sat back and watched.
By the time they were done, they loved what they’d created. And so of course they bought it.
Sales presentations work when they’re about the prospect, not the presenter.
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