“How effective are your pitches?” The Helicopter Business View

 
Presentation skills – and pitching skills – are increasingly important to business success.
 
As business leaders we need to pitch for finance, we need to pitch when targeting an acquisition, we may need to pitch for government funds and of course, most importantly, we need to pitch for major contracts, to new customers and pitch to recruit the very best talent to our organization.
 
We know it’s an essential  skill that all our sales people need but for many others the ability to stand up and present is also becoming very important.

 
BUT, 
it’s not something most of us want or like to do. Surveys consistently show that when asked what we fear most a majority of us rank speaking in public as one above death!
 
So let’s turn that on its head, what that means is that if you are able to effectively stand up and present then you’ve got an edge on everybody else – you are ahead of the pack! There are skills that can be learnt and there are tools and techniques to ensure your presentations ‘hit the spot’. These skills are an essential core competence for you and for your organization.
 
My experience is that most pitches are poor – they are incorrectly structured, not properly planned, or rehearsed – and any visual aids are sadly lacking. As a result they are nothing like as effective as they ought to be. It’s, perhaps, thinking about how much of your business has resulted from a pitch – and if your pitches were, say, 25% more effective what would that be worth?
 
The value of constructing and delivering a pitch correctly can be quantified. I recently ran my one-day Masterclass Present and Pitch for Profit for a business client and afterwards the attendees (including the CEO) calculated that if they put into practice everything they’d learned it would improve the top line of the business by something in excess of $10m (£8m)!
 
That’s a significant return on one day’s investment but also gives an indication, perhaps, of what is possible.
 
Research into audience attention levels  shows that at the point of maximum audience attention most business pitches are in the midst of telling the potential client all about their company and probably the turgid details of its history – and this before the client even knows if they’re the slightest bit interested in buying from them!
 
Pitches need to be carefully constructed so that the point of maximum audience attention coincides with the point of maximum information on benefits to them of your ‘solution’.
Now – a word about slides: They are only there to complement and enhance what you are saying and there are some golden rules that you need to apply when, or if, you are using slides.
 
For example, how often are we shown a slide full of text which the presenter then attempts to read to us?
 
Do you know what? – I can read!!!
 
I actually consider it insulting to be read to. Even worse, of course, is to be shown a slide full of text which you are trying to read but the presenter also reads to you, but only in part, and then moves on before you’ve finished!
 
How can anyone expect that to give a good impression to a potential client, funding provider or partner?
 
I have two fundamental Acid Tests for presentation slides. 
Here’s one – which may surprise you:
 
“If someone who did not attend the presentation or pitch sees a copy of your slides they should be UNABLE to work out what you were talking about”
 
For a pitch to be effective – and that means giving you a better than average chance of securing the business – all three elements: Structure, Design and Delivery have to be right.
 
How effective are your pitches?
 
 
With apologies to my overseas subscribers, I now need to have a UK  moan!
 
I heard a politician the other day, once again, make the ridiculous statement that we no longer have a manufacturing industry in Britain. It is simply not true, we have many outstanding world-class manufacturing companies throughout the country – with more arriving all the time.
We have, for example, the world’s second largest aerospace sector and the motor industry has record exports and production at near record levels – both significant manufacturing sectors.
 
One of my clients is a prime example of an extremely successful, growing, world class manufacturing company of the kind that the politicians and the media  love to say don’t exist any more – Hadley Industries PLC
 
They make cold rolled steel profiles – what the media would call “metal bashing” and they have three factories in the ‘unfashionable’ West Midlands.
 
Hadley now has over £100 million turnover, having achieved remarkable rates of growth in recent years and has operations in Germany, Holland, Dubai and Thailand.
 
They are the UK’s largest cold rollforming company with 51 dedicated rolling mills, 140 patents in place and employ over 500 people. 
 
Hadley are a truly world-class manufacturing company and there are many others.
 
Let’s start shouting about our successes!
 
It’s not just manufacturing that’s doing well. As I travel around the UK I’m finding the businesses of all sizes and most sectors that are thriving with clear growth strategies in place for the future.
 
An element in those strategies needs to be a customer elimination campaign!
 
Over the last few years when, perhaps, business was more difficult, you will have picked up customers and contracts giving lower returns than you would have normally accepted. You will have agreed deals that you would not normally have done.
 
Now is the time to sort all those out, you will never ever have a better opportunity than now than to get rid of those low-margin customers and those low-margin deals.
 
I suggest you start by pulling a 12 month low-margin report by customer and present it as a league table with the lowest margin at the top. Decide the minimum margin that you really want to have from any customer. 
 
All those customers listed with average margins below that level segment them into Divisions 1, 2 and 3.
 
Division 1 are those where you’re going to apply, let’s say, an immediate price increase of what is necessary to get them to your minimum acceptable margin – and take the consequences. 
 
Division 2 will be those where you do need to get the prices up significantly but you’re prepared to do it over a period – but you must mean it and set an end date by which the margin will be ‘acceptable’.
 
Division 3 are those potentially “strategic” customers where you do believe there’s going to be future business that will flow at better margins or associated business, but here again make sure you clearly set the end date by when that must have happened.
 
Once you’ve been through this process by customer, do exactly the same by product, pull a 12 month low-margin report by product. 
 
I guarantee that will mean there are some product lines that you just simply eliminate. There will be others where you can, and should, significantly improve margin.
 
You will never have a better opportunity than now!
 
'WIN - how to succeed in the new game of business' book intro
‘WIN! – how to succeed in the new game of business’
Finally, I am often asked how you can get to see 
my new Masterclass:
     WIN! How to succeed in the new game of business
 
Well, my good friends Kay Johnson Gee are having me run
it as an open  event in Manchester on 19th May.
Why not come along? Book here.
Below are three articles that I found particularly interesting reading – particularly when thinking about your business strategies for the future.
I hope you enjoy this newsletter and find it useful. 
Thank you for your support!
Roger Harrop