You are carefully prepared: great outfit, warm smile, solid slides, good knowledge of the needs and how to parallel them with your material. But wait: who, exactly, are you presenting to? And how do you know the members of the Buying Decision Team are present? or if what you are presenting will fit with the non-need-related elements of their buying criteria? After all: resolving a need has many elements that don’t apply directly to the problem or solution, and without the full complement issues managed, buyers can’t buy regardless of the efficacy of your solution.
I believe sellers present their product data far too early in the buying decision cycle and buyers really can’t effectively use all of the data offered. Remember that before buyers can finally buy, they must go through a wide array of behind-the-scenes change issues and decisions that affect their people and policies, relationships and market issues. When you stand up to present your solution, you have no idea what is going on internally, nor where they are in relation to getting the buy-in they need to make a change or a purchase.
Sadly, not only do you not know exactly where your buyers are in their decision cycle or how your buyers will buy, they don’t either. And because they haven’t completed their internal journey yet, they don’t actually know all that they need from an external vendor, nor do they know what they don’t need. It’s far, far too early.
WHO IS IN THE ROOM? HOW ARE THEIR DECISIONS WEIGHTED?
Additionally you don’t always know who is in the room. Invariably, one or two extra people show up. Sure, we have their business cards and know their titles, but we have no idea how their political capital is weighted in the room. Do they have history with other vendors? Do they represent an in-house solution? Are they seeking to make points by picking apart your presentation later? You have no way of knowing.
What makes it even scarier, is that you may not know the underlying choice criteria of the folks you DO know in the room:
- What criteria are they using to choose you over the competition?
- What will they be evaluating your presentation on – your knowledge, your solution, your professionalism, or how your material fits with their buying decision criteria?
- How will you know, as you prepare for your presentation, which points to stress, which to omit, which to have a group discussion around?
How can you show the prospect that you want to match your solution with their buying criteria if they haven’t yet figured it all out themselves? After all, their specific need that your solution can manage is only one aspect of all of the issues that must be resolved alongside of a new purchase. How can you design a presentation that will match their need and your solution in a way that ensures that your solution can enter their environment with little disruption?
MANAGE BUYING DECISION CRITERIA BEFORE YOU PRESENT
Here are a few recommendations I have to help you present in a way that manages a buying decision team’s Buying Decision Criteria.
- Before presenting anything, ask the folks in the room what they hope to take away from your time together. Wait for several responses and begin a dialogue with the room. Help the people get into agreement, so they all are viewing your presentation from the same viewpoint. That proves that you are a leader and care about them as a team, rather than having them care about your solution.
- Help them uncover their buying criteria, separate from resolving their need. Make sure they all know that they are ready, willing, and able to use an outside vendor rather than a familiar one they’ve used before, or an internal solution. Make certain they know how to bring in your solution in a way that will create buy-in. Until they know all this, they will only use your material to give to the other vendor.
- Create presentation material that will address how your solution will manage each element of their buying criteria. It must be based on their buying patterns, not your selling patterns. The next vendor will be as professional, caring, and smart as you. But if they are focusing on their solution details rather than the buyer’s criteria, they will lose to you.
Make certain that you create the right audience, the right materials, and the right collaboration environment to help buyers choose you.