Structured Business Presentation
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.
There are ten major areas you need to
cover in order to effectively communicate the fundamentals of your business.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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:
Bob De Contreras
RTBA | Cary | Greensboro | Raleigh | Research Triangle Park | North Caroliina
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