We are a traditional equity manager in the U.S. public markets. I am sure we are not alone here, but it has been really difficult getting meetings with prospective clients. When we do, I want our presentation to be at least memorable and at best interesting enough to keep the relationship alive. My problem is when we do finally get a meeting, the presentation seems so flat and actually boring. What can we do about this?
How can we liven up sales presentations?
Let me be the first to assure you that you are clearly not alone in having difficulty getting meetings with prospective clients, and you are certainly in “good company” when it comes to making boring presentations. Some questions you should ask before you walk into the room include:
- Who and how many will be in attendance?
- What is the room configuration like?
- How long do you actually have to make your “formal remarks”?
- Would they prefer to entertain questions as you go along or is there an “official” Q & A period at the end?
- Whom from the firm are they expecting to be there or whom do they want to be at the presentation?
- What presentation medium is preferred: Flipbooks, PowerPoint, handouts, or nothing?
Each one of these questions is important in its own right and requires some thoughtful planning, positioning and execution. But today, I would like to concentrate on the presentation itself.
I will assume that the prospect wants you to be there as you are the one who established, developed and maintained this important relationship with this asset owner. Second, I would include your chief investment officer and perhaps a portfolio manager, if one is to be specifically assigned to manage this account. If it is a final presentation, you might want to include the CEO if you think his/her presence is required to show commitment and to discuss the firm's culture and direction. If a final, I would also include the relationship manager on the account, assuming it's not you, as it will be this person who will interact with the asset owner once you're selected.
The key is that every attendee from your firm should be an active participant in the presentation. You can make the introductions, outline what the team will be presenting and then turn it over immediately to the CIO (if a final, pass the baton to the CEO). If not a final, the CIO should briefly review the history of the firm, the investment philosophy, the strategy, the team and outline the decision-making process. The CIO can discuss the interaction between research and portfolio management.
The portfolio manager can discuss how the portfolio is actually structured, the relationship with trading and the metrics used to ensure the portfolio reflects the best thinking of the team of investment professionals.
Throughout this short part of the presentation, you have to ensure the audience is understanding what is being said and if some critical piece of the process or strategy is missing, you have to interject and make sure your team is not only accurate and thorough but that it is apparent their comments are registering with the prospect. Make the presentation as interactive as possible and don't be afraid of asking from time to time if there are points they would like to be further discussed at a more granular level.
You have to keep it interesting, lively, informative, flowing and even entertaining in, of course, a constructive and professional way.