The Right Presentation

Rick Davis
May 1, 2009
COLUMN : Building Sales | Sales & Marketing

If you have ever become lost or nervous in the midst of a presentation, you’re not alone. Giving presentations is a scary proposition for many people, but with a little practice and preparation, you can confidently deliver engaging, impactful, and insightful messages. The key to delivering a high impact presentation is to deliver the “right message to the right audience at the right time.”

Consider the use of the last automobile brochure you received from the dealership. It was probably a shiny, high gloss oversized tool that provided images of attractive car drivers in the beautiful auto that was being promoted. The use of this type of literature is so obvious that you probably never stopped to consider that a bad salesperson could just as easily have given you the highly detailed, black & white owner’s manual that describes every detailed nuance of the car. Of course you realize that his would have been a bad sales decision and hardly advanced the buying process.

Salespeople that mismanage the use of manufacturer’s product literature are guilty of the bad salesmanship you would recognize from a car salesman promoting a new car with an owner’s manual. You should recognize that window and door manufacturers produce a vast array of literature to be used strategically with various audiences within the supply chain.

For example, an architectural detail manual is obviously created for the designer that is making decisions during the design phase of the construction process. A glossy two-page brochure that lists superficial benefits of window aesthetics, cleaning ease and warranties would be better suited to a homeowner in the product selection phase of the process. Imagine the futility of giving the homeowner an architectural detail manual during the product selection phase. Besides the obvious waste of an expensive sales tool, the effect would have been worthless.

Thus, when you are preparing your presentations, it is imperative that you think first. You should consider three key factors when preparing your presentations:

  • The audience. The homeowner, designer, contractor and the re-seller all have very different priorities when selecting windows and doors. Obviously a contractor is interested in lower prices, but even more concerned about lower overall costs of installation. A homeowner would be interested in aesthetics, re-sale values, service and warranties. A designer is interested in ease of application, performance specifications, design flexibility and access to local sales representation.
  • The timing. The factors that influence decision differ during various phases of the construction process. The Construction Specifications Institute breaks the construction process down into various phases–e.g. planning, design documentation, construction documentation, bid, construction and occupancy. You should consciously strive to use literature that impacts a specific decision-making phase of the process. Thus a contractor would be interested in an installation guide and rough opening chart during the construction phase. Prior to that, you would be wise to provide literature that identifies ways for the contractor to increase its return on investment to the builder.
  • The medium. This is the 21st century effect of electronic media. You should recognize that some of your clients are very electronic savvy and might prefer links to Web site pages while others are still interested in receiving promotional tools in a conventional manner. It is often assumed that architects prefer to load CAD files to work with although, in reality, many architects find them cumbersome and prefer to work from a simple catalog while being provided easy access to the specific computer files when they are required.

You should know by now that the complex world of communication requires salespeople to adapt presentations to the specific attention span and interests of clients and prospects. Your ability to modify your presentation for the right audience and the right time will be the factor that differentiates you from your competition.

Rick Davis is president of Building Leaders Inc., a Chicago-based sales consulting company, and provider of the DriveTime Diploma Series of Audio Sales Training. He has written the book "Strategic Sales in the Building Industry" and gives sales and sales management presentatios nationwide. He can be reached at 773/769-4409 or