Like the first scene of a movie, the opening of your presentation should grab your audience’s attention, set the stage – and let them know they are in the right theater!
Unfortunately the typical sales presentation opens with a boring company overview that does nothing to distinguish you in a competitive marketplace.
Outside the Box presentation openings take into account what’s of most interest to your prospect. And it’s very rarely how long you’ve been in business or how many markets you’re in! It’s likely something much more personal and close to home, like “What do I need to do to drive customers in my door? How am I going to compete with the new guy on the block?
Here are 5 Outside the Box presentation openings:
Customer success story.
Whose experience is more meaningful to a prospect? Yours or that of a peer in their industry facing a similar challenge? The answer is obvious, so instead of telling your prospect how great you are, why not let a satisfied customer say it for you?
Instead of saving that powerful success story or testimonial for the end (which you may never get to if your meeting gets cut short), put it right up front for an instant boost of credibility.
Shock and Awe
Not a military campaign like it sounds, but attention getting nonetheless. A shock and awe opening delivers a startling statement or a fascinating fact relevant to the customer or customer’s industry. Here’s two examples:
“The average person is exposed to 5000 commercial messages per day…How will your message stand out?”
“Contrary to popular belief, 90% of restaurants do NOT fail in the first year!…Which is why it’s important to look beyond the first month and stick with winning strategies.”
TIP: Always make sure your statement is relevant and be prepared to defend your facts or quote your source.
Pose an intriguing question
Successful presentations feel like a conversation, and there’s no better way to foster a conversation than to start out with a question! Instead of asking the same unimaginative questions other salespeople ask, like “Tell me about your business,” or worse, “What keeps you up at night,” think of a unique question that requires thought and imagination. For example:
“What would the ideal review say about your business?
“What would you need to change if you landed a Fortune 500 account today?”
Not only do these questions set you apart, they get your customer thinking about where they want to be – or where they don’t want to be. And the answers provide valuable insight so you can further tailor your presentation.
Likely you’ve learned some things about your customer before you meet – either by research or through a conversation. Reflecting back what you learned is a great customer-focused way to start your presentation. For example:
“There were two key things I took away from our initial conversation: 1) You need to reach targeted homeowners in March and April, and 2) You need to be able to respond quickly to weather-related opportunities. Is that correct?”
Relaying what you discovered accomplishes several important things: It confirms if you’re right or if anything has changed, it shows you’re listening, and it reminds them why they need to talk to you.
Tell a Story
A customer success story is just one type of story. Great salespeople have several types of stories ready to go. Personal stories are a powerful way to set yourself apart and connect with customers on a more emotional basis. Here’s an example:
“Carol, your recent move reminded me of when I put my house on the market. I thought I’d save some money by going with a newer real estate agent. After three failed offers, I finally went with a proven firm. He helped me price it correctly and put my house in front of more potential home-buyers. It sold in 3 weeks for $10,000 over the asking price. Like that experienced realtor, we can help you avoid costly mistakes and make sure you get in front of as many potential customers as possible.”
Replace typical boring presentation openings with an Outside the Box opening that intrigues your customer and makes them sit up and pay attention. Pick one and practice it until you feel confident. And keeping adding to your repertoire!