Monday, March 7, 2011

The 'About Us' Slides Go at the End of the Presentation

I had the 'pleasure' (as in fingers on a chalkboard pleasure) recently of sitting in on a sales webinar from one of the leading providers of web-based CRM applications a few weeks ago. The first 10 minutes were torture - especially since the rep is a successful sales guy I worked with at a previous company.  He dutifully went through the obligatory four About Us slides that every rep has delivered in the first-contact presentations since Boris was just breaking into the industry in the early 80's.  ARRRGGGHHH!!

We already knew everything about their company because we have that Interwebs thingy and could look it up ourselves.  The director of marketing at the company is also a friend of mine and I sent him a flame-o-gram during the session.  He apologized and said he's been fighting that battle for a while.  The company is transititioning from a techy company to a sales and marketing company and he hasn't been able to change many people's behavior yet.  Maybe this will help.

It amazes me how long it takes "Best Practices" to be updated but this is certainly one that needs to be put to bed - NOW!  It's just more MABUSHI and it's insulting.

Back when the norm for making that first presentation involved getting on a plane, the only opportunity a prospect had to learn about your company was your advertising in trade magazines or the brochures you sent them.  Nobody got fired for buying IBM in those days and a whole lot of people made career-limiting-moves by not following that dictum.  The prevailing thought (and origin of the best practice) was to tell everyone who you were right off the bat in the hope of establishing some credibility.  You had to have solid bona fides to get to the second meeting, hence the About Us slides that talk about when you were founded, number of employees, product line card and the made-up list of customers or companies who once bought your stuff or maybe asked to be sent a brochure.

I have news for anyone who thinks they need to start their presentation this way (and that includes you, Boris):
Your prospects have the Internet - that's probably how they found you in the first place!  They can and do look up that info themselves - long before entertaining ANY thought of spending time on a webinar or letting you near their offices - so leave it until the end. 
Why waste their time and tick them off telling them what they already know?

If you want your prospects to pay attention, start your presentation by telling them what you're going to do for them or - even better - tell them what you know about their problems.  Be audacious, so long as you can back it up: "We're going to get you to the RIGHT cloud, faster."  Show them you know as much about them as they do about you.  Richard Fouts of Gartner spoke at a "Marketing to CIOs" seminar a few weeks ago on how to tell a powerful story.  He recommends two models for story telling: SIR and BOBCC.  Talk about the Situation, it's Impact on the company (or the industry) and the Resolution you provided.  You could also talk about Busines Outcomes first, then the Business Case and your Capabilities.  Make it real, make it interesting, make it relevant. Don't make it up.

Once you tell me the audacious story, demonstrated you understand MY problems and have outlined how you will fix my problems, finish off the presentation with the About Us slide (one and ONLY one slide) as a summary of everything you just told me.

Key takeaways:
  • About Us goes at the END of the presentation
  • Start the presentation with a story or a demonstration of your knowledge of the problem.
  • Kill off any other "Best Practices" that only serve to bore your prospects to tears (or worse)
Next Up: How Rain King Did It Right and Data Thingies Did it Wrong.


  1. Great insight Tim! I've been as guilty of this as everyone else. Here's to turning over a new leaf :).


  2. Scott,

    Thanks. It's not easy. I've lost this argument internally here just a few weeks ago. I keep trying though.