Focus on your client, not your deck

In business, the term deck, is referring to your presentation materials. What you show the client either electronically or in print.

The title of the blog is – focus on your client, not your deck. This means that whether you get hired or not is very rarely ever based on how good your presentation materials were. I have never heard a client say, “I hired you because you had the best presentation materials.” People almost always hire based on one of the following reasons. They like you, they trust you and or they believe in you.

One of the best presentations I was ever a part of consisted of me and one other person. We told client that we didn’t prepare some presentation with special effects and some big, beautiful power point handout. Oddly enough, this made the client (unconsciously) sit back and listen to what we said rather than a handout presentation. There was unfettered eye contact throughout the pitch and the trust was established (I believe) because of that. What do people do when you hand them a presentation? They focus on the presentation and flip through the pages with very little eye contact and you have just missed the best opportunity to connect with the client.

I am not saying we shouldn’t prepare nice presentations. Far from it, but the presentation doesn’t need to the thing the client is focusing on. He/she is deciding if they like you and trust you. This (in my opinion) only happens if there is a personal connection. A personal connection only happens when the client’s guard is down, and they have a face-to-face conversation.

Many times, I will prepare a presentation handout but only give it to them when we leave. I tell them upfront at the start that we will leave behind the materials and presentation and more times than not, they accept this, and the pitch goes far better than if we are following a handout. I liken this concept to one meeting (I didn’t get hired) where we had three people in the room and one on speaker phone, I unconsciously focused on the speaker phone instead of the people in the room. I never made that mistake again.

So, if you are competing against some other companies, try the handout when we leave approach, and you just might be viewed better than your competitors who gave the handout upfront and followed the outline. KT

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