Presentainment ... the Fine Art of Catching, Not Pitching: Welcome to October, the Month When Baseball Fans across the Nation Narrow Their Focus from 30 Teams to 28 Also-Rans and Two Potential World Champions

Article excerpt

Pitching, so the pundits say, is 80% of the game. That's also how salespeople used to think they won business. Today, in a trust-based sales environment, catching has surpassed pitching as the best way to win new relationships.

Clearly, every business banker wants to be successful in earning new relationships and deepening current partnerships. Sales champions possess three vital competencies: they are great at communication, adept at collaboration, and skillful at seeking commitment. Stated simply, they are experts at presentainment.

As with earlier sales phases, the three keys to success late in the cycle are preparation, execution, and follow-up. This is the first of three articles that will explore the fine points of each. We'll also provide some final tips and takeaways that have helped bankers reach the top of their class in obtaining new business. Part 1 discusses presentainment preparation.

Failing to Plan Is Planning to Fail

Before even considering the solutions you might present, you have probably (maybe even without realizing it) considered the FIT. Based on what you have learned in earlier calls, is your solution feasible for the business owner? Are you dealing with the individual who can make the decision? If you win the business, does it track with the overall objectives of your bank? Sometimes the best sales are the ones you don't make.

Here are some high-level preparation issues to think about:

* What are the maximum and minimum goals of this meeting? Closing the business at this meeting is a great home-run goal. Often, and especially with preclients, a subsequent meeting is necessary before closing. In those cases, it is important to set a minimum goal.

* How long will the meeting last? One of the worst things a presentainer can do is let the meeting run too long.

* Where will the meeting be held? Depending on whether you're meeting in a conference room, boardroom, or the owner's office, the medium you will use for your presentation may change. Larger venues may dictate that you will use PowerPoint. Smaller rooms might mean you will present from a paper document only.

* Who will be at the meeting? Have you met them all? If not, seriously consider obtaining permission to call anyone you haven't spoken with. A pre-meeting telephone call may provide the exact insight you need to win the business. It's likely your competition won't make those phone calls, differentiating you with the members of the committee. And of course, Google the attendees in advance to better understand their backgrounds.

* What other financial services providers are presenting, and who from the organization will be in the meeting? You can do nothing about what or how they present, but knowing who will be there from the other bank might help shape your strategy.

* Will you stand or sit? If there are three people or less on their side of the table, plan on sitting (so that it feels more like a fireside chat). When the number climbs to four or greater, you should consider standing.

* In which order will you present? I am amazed at the number of bankers who don't really care about the order in which they present. It can make an enormous difference. If three banks are showcasing their solutions, going in the middle is deadly. You'll win less than 10% of the time. Going first certainly sets the bar, and if you are a great presenter it is set pretty high. Neither of these options work for me. I make 100% of our sales presentations, and I always want to go last. It's based on the sales term FILO: first in, last out. I always want to be first in with value (the most responsive) and the last impression the potential buyer has. The last impression (especially when done very well) is a lasting one. Think critically about when you'd like to present.

Preparing for the Actual Presentation

Most banks use a skills model when they make presentations. …