Business Presentations: What Is Your Value Proposition?

Whether or not you use presentations to sell, market or show case a product or service, consider this simple question: If you’re going to present to a group of people, surely it’s because you ultimately want them to do something? So even if you’re not selling, at the very least you will want to persuade them, even if only of the merits of your point of view.

If you’re trying to convince people of something they are not interested in, they won’t listen to you. So, when will people listen to you? They listen when you address their problem. And when and why do people buy? They buy when they are convinced that your solution will solve their problem. So, what is your first step? If you already have the product, service or idea, ask yourself whose problem it is most likely to solve and how it will solve the problem. Then design your argument around fulfilling the needs of the market you have identified – in other words the audience you want to convince.

How your solution will solve my problem is far more enticing than what a product or service can do. It’s a time-tested concept called “features versus benefits”.

Your presentation is designed by:

  1. Outlining the problem.
  2. Sketching the current and the ideal situation.
  3. Showing that the current situation can be improved on.
  4. Outlining how your solution creates the ideal situation.
  5. Showing your audience how buying or adopting it now will solve their problem/s.

Then make it simple for them to buy. Because of credit cards, it has never been easier for people to make instantaneous buying decisions, especially when they have just been enthused. So make sure that when they do, it’s from you and that it’s now.

It’s quite simple. Why would people part with their cash unless you are solving their problems or meeting their perceived needs? The amount they are prepared to spend is in proportion to their perception of the size of their problem, the consequences of not taking action and the value of the solution they find.

Now ask yourself why people spend what they do on luxury items when a basic item usually performs more than 90% of the required functions (eg motor vehicles or cellphones)? The answer is the same. It satisfies a need, even if that need is simply the desire to be seen to be successful. Your ability to find a person’s or an audience’s hot button is your key to their decision being in your favour.

The same principle is true of non-sales situations. For example, when you ask for your lady-love’s hand in marriage, you need to satisfy her father’s need to know that you will keep her safe and happy. Or let’s say you want to convince your colleagues or staff about a new work strategy. You will need to convince them that implementing your plan will overcome frustrating glitches in the production process (their problems), facilitate smoother operations (reducing stress) and/or you will want to convince management that it will result in increased productivity and higher profits (bottom line). Solve their problems and you’ll get their vote.

So in the context of a sales presentation, what is your competitive edge?

If two suppliers offered exactly the same product of exactly the same quality and colour at exactly the same price and you could only choose one, which would you choose? Many people would choose neither.

When people have a choice, they choose what they perceive, often in a split second, to be of the most benefit to them. In simple terms, they are seeking the edge that tips their scale – the something that is most important to them.

In a market saturated with great products at good prices, unbelievable warranties and lofty claims, the edge is what someone wants that they are not getting elsewhere. The edge is what others are not doing or doing it another way, cleverer, better, perhaps first and noticeably.

Today it’s about capturing peoples attention by being different. So before you plan your presentation, identify your edge, the one factor that makes you stand out from the competition. Because if you don’t have an edge, what do you have? The same principle applies to selling an idea, a plan of action, or whatever it is you want to convince your audience to do or think about.

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