President & Founder of Mekky Media Relations, a boutique PR agency based in Chicago with clients nationwide, delivering powerful publicity.
If you run a business, chances are you spend a significant amount of energy on bringing in new customers. In addition to providing top-notch service to current clients, you must simultaneously be future-focused and working to generate new business. This is essential if you want to position your organization for long-term success.
Balancing these two responsibilities — meeting today’s business needs while also building for the future — can be a challenge. But successful leaders are accustomed to wearing many hats. I spend about 75% of my work week on generating new public relations (PR) clients for Mekky Media. My company is now five years old, and as we have achieved more successes, the word has spread. Lately, I’m finding that many potential clients are reaching out to us — not just the other way around.
This has made our new business outreach a lot easier and very rewarding. But it’s what comes next — after the initial connection is made — that is the most important thing. I’m talking about developing and delivering a new business proposal/presentation that makes my agency stand out in its field of competitors and helps us close the deal.
My team and I have delivered countless new business presentations over the past five years. I believe we’ve developed a pretty solid formula for success. I base this belief on the positive feedback we receive and the many times that we end up landing the client. I didn’t always feel so confident, though. It took time and experience to figure out what prospective clients were truly looking for and to hone our template.
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Today, I believe our new business presentation really tells our story and illustrates how our agency will make a difference for each specific client. Here are some things we’ve learned along the way and tips for making sure your presentation gets you noticed and gets you hired:
1. Make it flow and don’t bore the audience. Your presentation should be well organized and easy to follow. It should also be long enough to give a complete picture but not so long that you lose the audience. Key sections to include: background and history of your company, your mission and values, client testimonials, any awards and honors, team member bios, examples of the services you provide and how you plan to make a difference for this potential client — in specific terms.
2. Don’t be afraid to brag, but don’t go too far. Play up any accomplishments, awards and testimonials. These are important parts of your story. But don’t spend too long on yourself; what they want to hear most is what you’ll do for them.
3. Tell your success stories. My presentations include several detailed case studies that explain how we’ve successfully partnered with clients in a variety of industries. These are focused on the creative approaches we’ve taken and, most importantly, the results we achieved.
4. No cookie-cutter presentations! Of course, you will have some standard pages in your template. But be sure to research the potential client and tailor parts to their unique business needs. For example, if you’ve worked in their industry, stress that experience. If you are uniquely positioned to provide the service they most want, explain how. And include your strategy, timetable, etc., for delivering the results they seek.
5. Differentiate yourself. In today’s competitive and crowded business environment, you must be very clear about what you can give the potential client that others cannot.
6. Bring in the team. Incorporating input and expertise from others will only make your presentation stronger. I often ask members of my team to not only help draft parts of our presentation but to also come along and help me deliver it. I find that our potential clients like to hear a variety of perspectives, especially when some of the presenters have experience or interest in the industry we’re targeting. Another benefit of involving more members of your staff is that it gives you an opportunity to demonstrate the diversity of your team, in terms of different ages, experience levels, interests and backgrounds.
7. Practice makes perfect. Know the presentation inside and out so you’re able to deliver it as naturally as possible and not read it word for word. Also, practice answering likely questions so that you’ll be quick on your feet and ready for whatever comes your way.
8. Be ready to talk numbers. Most potential clients will want to discuss the budget, either specifically or in a general sense. So before you present, make sure you understand what their expectations are, in terms of how much they want to know about your charges, billing process, etc. Then be prepared to give them the level of financial detail they’re looking for.
9. Be honest; be realistic. I can’t stress this enough: Don’t over-promise. Sometimes people get carried away in a presentation and say they can do more than their organization is capable of. You’ll regret this later, so don’t let it get to that point. Focus on your real strengths and abilities.
10. Cross the T’s and dot the I’s. Every detail counts when you’re putting together a new business presentation that will likely be compared to the presentations several of your competitors are giving. Be sure to edit and proofread, and get other eyes on it until it’s as close to perfect as it can get. I always bring in several members of my team to do final proofreading.
Trying to land a new client can be stressful. But when you’re backed up by a quality proposal and presentation, you’ll have much more confidence and do a better job of telling your story. And your potential future partner will take note.
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Author: Michelle Mekky, Forbes Councils Member