4 valuable lessons on client presentations

Posted by Chris Short on Jan 20, 2016 8:30:00 AM
Chris Short
“That's interesting but I don't care....”
That's what my client told me.
I had just finished presenting my masterpiece: the definitive presentation on CRM. I used cool and impressive sounding technical words like JavaScript and Plugin and wowed them with Online, Cloud, Security and Mobility. I thought I was the MVP of MVP's, the king of consultants; I was convinced the head of Microsoft Dynamics would hear of my greatness and send for me. And then it hit home, I surveyed the room and realised my audience were bored. They were yawning, doodling on their notepads and playing with their phones. They didn't care.
After a few awkward questions, I left the meeting deflated. Why weren't they impressed? Why weren't they excited like I was? CRM COULD DO ALL THESE THINGS - WHY AREN'T THEY IMPRESSED?? Didn't they care about how this was going to make their life easier? I was convinced they needed to hear this stuff and couldn't get my head around the fact they didn't want to know.
A few days later I went to buy a suit.  I entered the store and a well-groomed salesman appeared. We exchanged pleasantries and he started his sell. He launched into a spiel about the different type of stitching, the cotton and where the material came from. He powered on with his mission imparting his knowledge about ties, socks, cuff links, different combinations of the three, types of sunglasses, what trend was in, what was out, how young males dress differently to older males, why I should buy a pocket handkerchief....By now my brain had switched off. All I wanted was a suit!
It wasn't until later, sitting on the train home that it struck me. I connected the two experiences and realised there were 4 valuable lessons to be learnt:

Lesson no.1 - Client Driver

Like the sales guy, I had completely missed understanding my client's objectives and reason for holding the meeting.

  • My objective was to buy a suit that fit a certain set of requirements and get home ASAP. I didn't care about the cotton or stitching. What value would this give me?
  • My client wanted to understand how their CRM could facilitate achieving their objectives and empower the users. Was the information about JavaScript, Plugins or Security of Datacentres going to achieve their objective? If my client went to their boss and repeated the information regarding JavaScript, would the boss slam their fist on the table in excitement, scream "BRILLIANT" at the top of their lungs and give my client a raise? More than likely no.

Lesson no.2 - Audience

I had completely forgotten who I was presenting to. I was focussed on displaying my knowledge and brilliance to the audience about what the team and I had delivered.

  • When buying the suit, I was under a time constraint and had a clear objective I wanted to achieve. Everything else was just noise.
  • My client was an end user who managed and interacted with their customers. Their every day job didn't involve terminology such as entity, solution file, or JavaScript. This information couldn't be used in any way to assist their customers. My client wanted to know how they could use CRM to efficiently and effectively perform their job and in turn provide excellent customer service to their customers. That is all.

Lesson no. 3 - Complexity (Usability)

The additional information had turned a simple presentation into a boring and overcomplicated one. The terminology I used was foreign, not relevant and created confusion.  

  • If I didn't consider the tsunami of suit options, what would happen? Was I going to look unprofessional if I bought the wrong suit!?
  • My client wanted a tool that captured the necessary business information and was simple and easy to use. This would assist with a rapid rate of adoption. This would empower them to achieve their business goals and a return on their investment. In my presentation, users could only see a complex web of irrelevant functionality. It made perfect sense to the developers as we talk CRM every day, but was of no value and made no sense to those whose business was not. 

Lesson no. 4 - Attitude

I walked into the presentation thinking my information was going to display my brilliance. My arrogance that everyone in the room should know CRM was my downfall.

  • When the suit salesman started preaching the intricate knowledge of a suit, he really put me off. I wasn't impressed by his knowledge and impossible questions. Instead it frustrated and annoyed me.
  • The blunt statement from my client, indicated that they didn't like the way I interacted with their team. I was perceived as self-important and unapproachable. The client and their team were a great group of people that were more than likely put off by my "you should know this" attitude. People are more open and willing to listen to people they like and, in a professional sense, provide value.

For the journey towards greater Customer-Centricity - read through this guide: 13 Mistakes Organisations Make in Becoming Customer Centric!

Sometime later I was standing in front of a different client. I had been warned that this group was a bit rowdy and going to be difficult. If it wasn't relevant or didn't achieve what they wanted, they would destroy me. Right at the start, I flicked up a configured Dashboard on the projector, each chart and list carefully planned to show the information most important to them. I spoke their language, used their terminology and talked about what each part meant. Then I drilled into a chart. I was giving them an extraordinary customer experience.
I flicked over to a second Dashboard that displayed roughly what they had asked for. Suddenly the flood gates opened. This could be considered as Design Thinking examples.
"Can you filter that information?", "What other graphs can I see", "Can you update each of the records?", "Does the data automatically refresh?", “When are we training on this?"
Wild debate amongst the group ensued, everyone madly scribbling down ideas, listening intently as I walked through each step of the business process in CRM. They were interested. They were hungry. They wanted more. And I had learnt my lesson. This is how you can apply Design Thinking in business. Change your good customer service experience to the best customer service experience via a customer experience management plan or set customer experience strategy.

13 Mistakes When Becoming Customer Centric 

Topics: Design Thinking and Customer Experience