The Structured Business Presentation

By Rich Kramarik

 Whether you are approaching venture investors or simply trying to convince someone of the attractiveness of your company, you need to have a well thought out story that presents your business in a compelling and exciting way. Nobody is going to invest in or join your company if you cannot effectively explain why they should be spending their time and money to participate in it.

 The key in communicating your business plan story is to explain enough that your audience wants to spend time with you to learn more of the details about your business. There is some fundamental content your presentation should have, starting with a clear description of the opportunity you are going after and ending with why an investor, potential partner or prospective employee should join you.

 Fundamental Content

 There are ten major areas you need to cover in order to effectively communicate the fundamentals of your business.

 The Opportunity

 Every good business is founded in a compelling need that is currently not being successfully filled. Describe this need and the way you will solve it (problem or opportunity).  Some business people call this the “pain” that your buyer feels, that you will cure. This part of your story validates the demand for your solution.

 The Solution

 Briefly explain your product or service, focusing on how it satisfies the buyer’s need, describing it from the perspective of the buyer. Highlight the benefits and value that the solution brings the buyer. Don’t dwell on “feeds and speeds,” but express your solution in results oriented language that relates to the buyer’s need.

 These first two fundamental areas will make or break the interest of your audience. At this point, you will have essentially revealed what business you are in. If your audience is on the edge of their chairs wanting to hear more, you have really grabbed their interest. If not, you will probably not get any traction.

 The Market

 Now that you have grabbed the audience’s interest, you can start talking about the business in a little more depth. Explain some of the important aspects of the market segment that you will target, including information which profiles the characteristics and market opportunity size.


 Every business has competitors. Keep in mind that it may be the status quo that you are up against or an internal solution that has its own sponsors. Typically, there will be many well entrenched competitors who address the buyer’s need in various ways. You need to portray how you are going to win.

 Summarize the key competitors by portraying their strengths and weaknesses, and explain what differentiation you have that will beat them.

 Product or Service Description

 Briefly describe the product or service your sales team will sell to the buyer. Describe its salient features and the benefits they bring to the buyer; highlighting those that differentiate you from your competitors and sprinkle with examples.

 In concluding your description, summarize the barriers to entry. There is no need to give away the intellectual property farm, but you need to explain the results of your “secret sauce” and show not everybody can easily get into your business.

 Marketing Plan

 Take some time to concisely explain the value your product or service brings to the buyer. This is a prelude to your marketing plan, showing that you know how to clearly explain the benefits you bring to the buyer and can quantify its value. In effect, you are explaining “why the buyer will buy.”

 The Marketing Plan is all about generating sales leads. Don’t get hung up in brand management issues, corporate communications and public relations. Get right to the point about how you are specifically going to find your buyers and deliver your marketing messages. Describe your revenue model. Most companies fail because they don’t have an effective way to reach the market and close sales.

 Sales Plan

 Explain your sales model and process; for example, direct, indirect, OEM. Describe your near term sales objectives and status, including product readiness.  If possible, explain what pipeline of customer prospects, demonstrating that you are getting market traction. The more you can demonstrate this with key account situations and next customers to close, the stronger your story will be.

 Management team

 It’s important to show that the company is in the hands of a great management team that can be trusted to take it forward. This may be the most important confidence builder in your presentation, based on their credibility and experience.


 You need to provide a forecast of key financial results: revenue, gross profit, net profit, cash flow and position, and significant capital needs. Explain your current financial status and show when you will be profitable and cash flow positive. Highlight the timeline for major business milestones. Many people believe this to be crystal ball kind of stuff. However, the important thing you are demonstrating is that you have a clear view of the dynamics of how revenue and profit will be made.

 Investor Summary

 Structure your summary to your audience and what they need to hear. Most people will want to know that this business will succeed because it satisfies compelling needs within the market. If you are looking for financing, you will also need to include the appropriate information. And last explain the potential benefits for the investor, if you achieve your objectives.


 By covering these ten fundamental areas, you will provide a complete and concise view of your business that most people will understand. By focusing on the most important aspects of your business, and clearly netting it out, you will maximize your chances of your audience being interested in taking the next step with you.



The Structured Business Presentation Case Study


Both in our consulting work and our work with the Triangle Accredited Capital Forum (TACF) we have worked with hundreds of business owners to help them put together effective business presentations. Here are five of the most common shortcomings that stand in the way of effectively communicated their business stories.

 Incomplete Story

 The ten fundamental areas that are described in this month’s article are all important to the presentation, because any investor, potential employee and business partner needs to know this information in order to rationally decide to participate in the business. We see many presentations that omit one or more areas of information, causing the audience to question whether the business owner actually understands their business. By having a complete story, you show that you know what they need to know.

 The story line has to be a logical flow that demonstrates there is a:

·         Compelling opportunity and attractive solution

·         Large and growing market with well understood buyers

·         Competitive product that meets the buyer’s needs

·         Workable marketing approach

·         Viable path to sales traction and revenue attainment

·         Management team that can execute

·         Solid financial forecast

·         Great deal for investors

 Weak Management Team Description

 One of the most important parts of a presentation is the description of the management team. We often see this part of the presentation given superficial thought. The management team has to include the right people to actually execute the business strategy and plan, achieving the expected business results. Show that you have the right people to do the job by pointing out their management and leadership experience, the prior results they have achieved, their relevant company and industry experience, and the strength they bring as a team that is working well together. If the right management team is not shown to be in place, investors will not invest and employees won’t join the company.

 Missing The Essence of the Opportunity

 A very common issue we see is the business owner who is overly enthralled with their solution and wants to tell you every nuance of it. We sometimes find ourselves buried in details that are probably quite important, but don’t add a lot more information about the attractiveness of the solution. We see this with technology and life sciences businesses, whose founders are the founding scientists.

 It’s important to explain the opportunity you are going after, in business terms and from the perspective of the buyer. All the information about the product or service should then simply demonstrate that the buyer’s need is addressed and that it will win against the competition. How it works is less important than how well it addresses the buyer’s need.

 Lacking An Effective Marketing And Sales Plan

 Thoreau’s “better mousetrap” doesn’t really apply to business in the 21st century. Nobody is going to beat a path to your door. With solid marketing programs you need to close a reasonable percentage of them to make your revenue plan.

 A critical mistake we see is the business owner who does a great job of explaining the opportunity, solution, market and competition, but falls way short of explaining how they are actually going to reach the buyer.

 Most businesses that fail, fail because they do not reach their market segment. It is critically important to explain in objective and direct terms what marketing programs you are going to employ to achieve market awareness and generate qualified sales leads.

 Don’t diminish the importance of marketing. It’s all about generating leads. There’s nothing stronger than being able to show how many leads you need to generate enough sales to meet your revenue objectives, and backing it up with a description of your pipeline with names and numbers.

 You also have to knock this subject out of the ball park with a crisp explanation of your sales process. Then bring it to life with real examples of sales situations you are working on along with recently closed deals. There’s nothing stronger than being able to show sales traction with customers who have written you checks.

 Don’t Explain The Deal

 We see too many business owners who really don’t understand what financing they are asking for, what they are going to do with it, and what they should offer the financier. Business owners who are going for financing really should understand the fundamentals of the financial forecast and the dynamics of the financing transaction they need. After all, it’s your business. If you care about the end result of your business, you better know what you are going to get out of it and what you are going to share with others.  


 Brought to you by:                                                         [BACK]

            Bob De Contreras                                                  
            Rich Kramarik                                                     


RTBA | Cary | Greensboro | Raleigh | Research Triangle Park | North Caroliina
Contents © Copyright Research Triangle Business Advisors 2008, All rights reserved.