Selling Your Vision: What I Look For In A Briefing
I’m an analyst. It’s my job to formulate opinions on your product and company and provide that insight to my clients. Prior to joining Forrester, the impact analysts have on the industry was described to me this way: “I don’t have time to be an expert at everything I need to know, so I engage analyst firms to provide me that expertise.” Most of the time, clients are looking for a very short list of vendors. Here’s how to get on that list:
Use visual aids, and have a game plan. Nobody likes death by PowerPoint, but if you schedule time on my calendar, then show up to a briefing with no slides and expect me to ask you questions, I’m going to interpret this as you not valuing my time. Take it a step farther, and email me the slides after the call because I frequently refer back to these when I need a quick refresher on your company, and it’s a good way to get your contact info into my address book if I have any questions.
Start off by telling me what you’re selling. I believe in the elevator pitch. If you can’t get me interested in a couple of sentences, then you either don’t understand what you’re selling, or you aren’t confident that you’re filling a need. You wouldn’t believe how many companies get multiple slides into a deck, talking about everything from founder experience to how great their venture capital backing is, and then start describing a problem I’m probably already familiar with while I’m left to solve the problem myself since I still haven’t been told what they’re selling yet. This leads me to the next point…
Assume I already understand the problem and have probably written about it. I don’t need you to go all Dostoyevsky with the problem statement, and your customers probably don’t need that either. If they do, they don’t have the problem and aren’t a prospect. See what I did there? Acknowledge the problem, so I know you understand my client’s needs, and move on to how you are uniquely solving the problem.
Help me understand your vision for the way things should be. What is the offering, and how is it deployed? What other requirements am I committing to with this product? Show me the “Marketecture Diagram,” so I can start to understand what the product does and how it integrates into other solutions. I’ve also heard this called the “CTO Slide.” This is also your opportunity to talk about roadmap because you’re never going to be done improving your product, and this will help me understand what you’re striving to become.
Here’s an example deck for a 30-minute briefing:
Slide 1) Name of the company and product you’re talking to me about. While we’re waiting for everyone to join, talk to me about baseball or motorcycles, and maybe I’ll tell you about the time I made it on exactly 1 tank of gas out of SF on my first cross-country trip. When it comes time to kick off the briefing, give me your 11-second elevator pitch.
Slide 2) Show me a slide with names, titles, and profile pics for people on the call so I have a face to the name and we can continue building a relationship. Maybe include a link to LinkedIn profiles as well.
Slide 3) What is the problem you’re solving? Go easy on this; I’ve heard it all before but you’re setting context for me.
Slide 4) What is the offering and how is it deployed? Show me the “Marketecture Diagram,” so I can start to understand what the product does and your vision for how it integrates into other solutions.
Slide 5) What are your key differentiators? Provide a customer example demonstrating the efficacy of your offering.
Slide 6) Marketing and Pricing. How are you marketing this? Whose budget is this coming out of? Describe how your offering is priced and licensed. What is the average deal size? Show me you understand the total cost of ownership for the market vision you just described.
Slide 7) Financial Viability. What is your funding and runway? How do I know you’ll be around next week when recommending you to clients? What are your geographical splits? How much of the business’ annual revenue is tied to this offering?
Slide 8) Market challenges. How may I help you?
Slide 9) Questions. Leave time for me to ask you questions.
Again, send the slide deck to me and if we don’t get through everything, rest assured you’ve hit my inbox with the key pieces of information I’m looking for and we’ve had an interactive discussion.
Here are a few other tips contributed by my colleagues:
Be on time.There is a good chance that I have another call or engagement following your briefing, so don’t expect to go over the scheduled time. Make sure your spokespeople are on the call and that the screen-sharing program you’re using for the briefing works before our scheduled briefing. There’s nothing worse for you or for me than wasting time trying to make a sharing platform work or having you call around to find the spokesperson who can educate me about your product.
Don’t waste precious time by telling me that you only have 30 minutes. I only take 30 minute briefings unless I am actively researching a topic and have set aside more than 30 minutes for the briefing. Trust me, everybody only gets 30 minutes, mentioning it just comes across as passive aggressive. You have 30 minutes to shine; make the most of them.
“Game plan” should probably be its own bullet. Having a game plan is really important. The firms that really get this right plan the content ahead of time and may even schedule a dry run or rehearsal before the briefing, so that it goes smoothly. Little things like reading my bio (it’s on the Forrester website) will help you direct the briefing and save my introduction from cutting into your 30 minutes.