I love talking to people in the business of closing big business. Through a friend, I came in contact with Nick Oulton, CEO of m62 visualcommunications- an expert in winning the biggest sales. These are 6 – 10 figure contracts won in all sorts of industries with a breath-taking 76% win rate. I always want to know what the best of the best do that makes them more successful. Here’s what was distilled from a wealth of insights on the critical “final presentation.”

  1. Don’t bid
  2. Don’t present
  3. Don’t DIY
  4. Don’t trust
  5. Don’t play fair
  6. Don’t preach
  7. And whatever you do: Don’t use bullets

I’ll let Nick explain:

Don’t bid

The last $Billion contract I worked on cost the bidder £4million, which even at a low percentage profit of, say, 5%, is an amazing ROI – but for each winner there are at least two losers, and in the last case there were six! And they didn’t get a good return; they got nothing (although I think some of them may have got fired…).

In my experience No Bidding fleshes out the real deals from the smoke screens, gains you access to the right people, and allows you to focus on the deals that are real and winnable rather than just desirable.

Purchasing need to run a process, and in order to run a process, they need you to bid. So for any potential supplier, and especially if you are the market leader, saying no generally gets an indignant “Why Not?” – which gets you in at the C-suite to talk about why the bid is flawed and how, as it is, it will fail. We can then get into a discussion of how the plan is more likely to succeed if it is changed, and of course then, we would be happy to bid.

Don’t present

All too often presenting is a one-way flow of information. The more dialogue you can get, the easier it is to win. If the prospect wants to talk, let them. In fact we encourage them to talk: we plan it, nurture it, and manipulate it. People are much more likely to buy a plan they helped develop – the more they feel ownership of it, the more they buy into delivering it. We have had great success at getting prospects to join in, drawing the solution with the presenter. When at the next meeting the diagram is presented back to them… the team hit a home run.

Don’t DIY

All that effort, all that time, all that money and you show up with homemade slides. Nothing says lack of commitment like amateur Do-It-Yourself. Get professional help for the presentation, for the RFP; use designers, use coaches, use experts.

Don’t trust

Straight out of Sun Tzu, battles are won and lost on the quality of the intelligence you have. You never know the truth; you can never ask too many people for information. Develop coaches, hire consultants, lobbyists, ex-prospect employees, current employees’ family; anything that can give you better intelligence. The ones that lose are the ones who think they know the truth – and so don’t go looking for it.

Don’t play fair

Don’t throw away your integrity, but winning is all that matters. I used to say “there are no prizes for second”, but I now prefer Tiger Woods’ quote: “Second means you’re the best of the Losers!” If you come across something that can help you win – use it. Just don’t compromise your professional position in the process.

Don’t Preach

So winning a $Billion deal is a big thing, but so is spending a $Billion. The key decision maker probably has an ego the same size as yours. They want to be listened to, they want to talk and they want you to respond. Be wary of being sycophantic and remember you don’t get to the position anywhere where you have to make $Billion decisions without being very smart, very ruthless or very very lucky.

Don’t use Bullets

This shouldn’t need an explanation. As someone who devotes his life to making presentations effective, it would be irresponsible of me not to mention this here – bullet points are not effective, and will bore your audience rather than persuading them to buy from you. Bullet points are best left to the competition.

If you are interested in learning more about how to make better presentations, check out Nick’s blogs here or at www.killerpresentations.com


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