The next big idea gets shot down because of a foolish mistake during the sales pitch.
After months of hard work, long nights, and missed family barbecues, it finally happened: your big presentation. Are you ready for what happens next?
Many of us work in an international environment. We speak several languages, and communicate with our teams over multiple time zones. Does this sound familiar? Here is the scenario: you prepared your pitch in a foreign language, reviewed your briefs, and practiced it over and over again until it was automatic. The time came, and you nailed the presentation...then they said, "Thank you. We'll be in touch." The tone of their voice left you with a small shred of doubt about their future intentions, as if you didn't quite close the deal. You exit the meeting feeling unsure about how everything concluded, and go back over the slides only to realize that there was a spelling error on one of them. They couldn't have noticed this small mistake...could they? Odds are, yes, they did.
It happens more often than we would like to admit. The deal is halted by a simple mistake in presentation. Grammatical errors, a missing comma, subtlety of translation and mixed analogies can all lead to misunderstandings or false assumptions. In sales and relationship management we must always put our best foot forward and proceed with the one chance rule. One mistake, no matter how minute, shifts the focus from ourselves, and makes us seem careless, inattentive to detail, and unworthy of being an advocate for our ideas, clients and investors.
Let's go back to the scenario, and view it from the client's perspective. For a while, your pitch was going well. They were agreeing with you, and you even managed to get a smile from them. Then, they saw the spelling mistake on one of your bullet points. From their viewpoint, you continue to speak as they change their train of thought to the mistake. They begin to ponder if you have ever noticed this mistake from previous experience, or have given this presentation before. Eventually, they may start to wonder if you are even qualified to be speaking to them. It can become the elephant in the room, and completely destroy any chance you had a closing the deal. Still not convinced? Go back to any presentation you sat through where there was a mistake. Maybe everyone laughed at it, or maybe it was just you who saw it. The point is that it managed to stop you from focusing on the right parts of the presentation.
Right now, you're thinking, "You have commanding knowledge of your company and industry, and possess vast experience within your field. You are the expert...this could never happen to you. You're careful and cover every angle." If this is true, then you are very lucky, and you should thank your colleagues whom help you with your presentation. Often times, many firms and professionals fail to take advantage of outside assistance such as a presentation consultant, to help ensure these mistakes rarely happen. If you have not considered using native eyes to discretely review your showcase, you may want to reconsider. Their help can mean a world of difference in attaining that which we all in relationship management seek to achieve: closing the deal.
-Scott S. Rosen