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Creating presentations that pay off
Magazine Contributor
4 min read

This story appears in the February 1997 issue of Business Start-Ups magazine. Subscribe »

Doing everything right with your marketing but failing to make the sale with your sales presentation is like hitting a baseball over the fence, then getting called out at home for failing to touch home plate. Ouch!

Guerrillas know that doing 99 percent of a job right is really doing that job poorly. They realize they have to do everything right because it's at presentation time when the rubber meets the road. If your presentation is poor, all prior marketing has been a waste of time, money and energy. Here are 10 guerrilla tips on how to make presentations that get you the business and help your other marketing pay off where it counts:

1. Qualify your prospects. When they sign on your dotted line, you both must gain. That will happen only if you're right for them and they're right for you. Chemistry counts in people-to-people and business-to-business bonds.

2. Warm up the relationship by building rapport with prospects. You don't want to walk into their office or conference room a complete stranger. Your job is to forge a bond before proposing.

3. Identify a need your prospect has and be certain you can fill it. People give their business to firms that can help them solve their problems and exploit their opportunities.

4. Before agreeing to make the presentation, be sure the prospect can use your services right now--not at some future date. And be certain you're presenting to the ultimate decision maker.

5. Decide exactly what you want to show and tell during your presentation. That way you can plan intelligently, back your words with graphics, and ask for the order. Then, rehearse your presentation till you've got it down.

6. Prepare a document to leave with the prospect after you've presented. It should cover the high points, be self-contained, and include the facts and figures that might have bogged down your presentation.

7. Craft your presentation to address your prospect's goals. Create a single sentence that does this. Repeat that sentence several times during your presentation, and restate it in the written document.

8. Make your presentation in a logical manner so one point flows into the next, making it easy to follow. The organization of your proposal is almost as important as the content. Show why you're qualified to get the business. Then, prove that you're particularly qualified.

9. Center everything you say around the prospect. The idea is to talk about his or her business, not about yours. Speak of yours only when you are showing how you can help them.

10. Use the services of a talented graphic designer to help you reinforce your points visually. Prospects need help visualizing what you are saying. If your visuals are shoddy, you probably won't get the business.

During your presentation, you've got to get the prospect to like your company, to like you and to like what your company can do for the prospect. A bit of humor helps here. And, of course, you've got to actually ask for the business at the end. Never underestimate the power of straightforwardness.

Finally, send a thank-you note immediately after the presentation. To engage in guerrilla follow-up, be sure to call the prospect to see if he or she has any unanswered questions, to find out if there's anything else the prospect would like, and to try to establish a date for you to start doing business together. The follow-up should be directed to your prime contact and also to the person who has the authority to say yes.

The more information you have about the prospect, the greater the likelihood you'll get the business. The more you prove you understand the competitive situation, the more likely it is you'll get the business. The better the chemistry between your people and your prospect's people, the greater the chance that you'll get the business. And the stronger your personal bond is, the stronger your business bond will be.

Jay Conrad Levinson is author of the internationally acclaimed Guerrilla Marketing series of books and co-founder of Guerrilla Marketing International. For information on the Guerrilla Marketing Newsletter and other products and services, write to P.O. Box 1336, Mill Valley, CA 94942; call (800) 748-6444; or visit the Web site at (

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