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Death by Corporate Overview

by Peter Cohan  |  
April 19, 2005

We are often asked, "How much of our company's corporate overview presentation should we include in a demo meeting?" Good question. The answer: as little as possible!

Many salespeople and technical staff feel comfortable opening a demonstration meeting with a "brief" overview of their company. Most customers refer to this as "Death by PowerPoint."

Why? Because at the beginning of such meetings, customers are not interested in vendor history—they only want to whether a vendor can help address their critical business issues (CBIs) or enable them to achieve their objectives.

Making the customer wait through and watch and listen to three, six or ten or more slides from a standard corporate overview presentation about the vendor is just cruel!

Instead, start the meeting with a "situation slide."

In the case of a technical proof demonstration, this slide simply recalls the information gathered previously from during qualification/discovery discussions. You should list the following:

  1. The customer's name and job title for each major player or department

  2. The CBIs, reasons, and specific capabilities needed for each player or department

  3. The desired change/result ("delta") for each situation (you may want to create a situation slide for each major player or department involved)

A CBI is a problem that the customer sees as important enough to invest resources to address. It is best to use the customer's words, such as "I'm concerned about our ability to achieve our forecasted revenues this year," which might come from a VP of Sales. In your situation slide, you would rephrase this:

  • VP of Sales, Acme Software
  • CBI: Concerned about achieving forecast revenues

A "reason" is the issue behind the top-level problem that makes it a problem. In our example, our VP of Sales might typically say, "The reason I'm concerned about making our numbers this year is that we are having difficulty closing the technical sale—there is miscommunication and misalignment between our salespeople and the pre-sales systems engineers, and their demos are simply not getting the job done!"

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Peter Cohan runs The Second Derivative out of Belmont, California. For more information, visit

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