Updated: Sep 12, 2020
Even when potential clients ask you to talk about yourself, don't. Always focus on the client and "what's in it for them".
In the direct response, consumer marketing world, there is the 90/10 rule. That is, 90% of what you write should focus on your customer’s challenges and 10% should talk about you. However, a lot of B2B marketers and sales folk would find talking about the client for 90% of the time ridiculous.
The approach is, we have this great product or service and we need to tell the client all about it.
In the case of selling technology the ‘me, me’ approach is more pronounced. The thinking is, “we sell really complex technology so we need to spend a lot of time explaining it to the client.”
However, if you read most B2B sales material – from short pitches to multi-million dollar proposals – almost all organisations (small or large) start by talking about themselves.
It’s a big mistake and it’s endemic. Even today, when we should know better.
Somehow we’re stuck in this misplaced reasoning that by introducing our company’s credentials and listing its achievements upfront, we will impress the client. Also we think that doing it this way is prepping them to be more open about the product or service we’re going to offer.
The Client Wants You To Talk About Them First
From the client’s perspective, introducing your company first is just boring corporate guff.
They don’t care that you’ve been in business for 100 years (yawn), or have 100,000 employees (yawn) or have won awards (yawn) or hey, we’re in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant (more yawn). Now, I’m not saying these things don’t have merit but they’re not as important to the client upfront.
I'll Say It Again: The Client Wants You To Talk About Them First
The client wants you to talk about their problems, their business objectives or their vision of where they want to take their company. They want to see if you ‘get them’. They want to see if you understand the disruptions in their industry. And they want to see if you have some insights into this and how perhaps their competitors are overcoming similar challenges.
The Client Wants You To Talk About Them Mostly
I know I’m repeating myself, but it’s deliberate. We’re in this automatic mode of talking about ourselves first. And then we go on and on and on. It’s not only bad manners, it’s bad business.
So How Do You Mostly Keep Talking About The Client?
Once you’ve covered off that you ‘get them’ the next step is to present the sort of product, technology or service that could help them. Even better, don’t mention that your company offers this product or service. It’s about demonstrating how a business innovation is helping other organisations.
This will naturally get the client to ask you to talk about yourself. Then you can introduce your company’s products and services.
Of course, this scenario fits how an initial or early sales presentation would go.
However, even at a more advanced stage like a tender where you’re completing a proposal response and the client asks you to talk about a particular software product, most of your focus should be on the client’s business and what they’re trying to achieve.
What We’re Talking About Here Is That Benefits Trump Features
Unfortunately when you have some amazing kit to offer, there’s a tendency to over-state the features rather than illustrate how it’s going to help the client deliver exceptional service to its customers or help the client dramatically cut operating costs.
So, if you start all your sales presentations introducing your company first, stop right now.
Leave “About Us” as the concluding slide or final paragraph. It’s the perfect place to begin to build trust and confidence in your company’s expertise to help the client reach their goal.
How do you start your sales presentations? And do you think it’s possible to talk about the client for 90% of the time when it comes to B2B technology selling?