CapabilitiesPresentationMost companies have them. Many sales processes include them. And I’m sure you’ve seen dozens if not hundreds of them.

How many of those really stood out? How many were mind-numbingly boring? Or self-serving? Or completely uninteresting?

Just because it’s a “capabilities” presentation (implying it’s about what you do and can do for your customers) doesn’t mean it can’t stand out, differentiate you immediately from competitors, and drive greater urgency to engage and buy among your prospects.

Here are seven rules to follow that the best capabilities presentation I’ve seen consistently have in common.

1. Start with them, not you
If you do nothing else, take those “about us” slides at the front of the deck and move them to the back. If you start your presentation with a company history or review of executives or a picture of your world headquarters, you’re doing it wrong.

Instead, demonstrate that you’ve done your homework. Focus on insights and attributes about the prospect or company you’re engaging. Get them immediately engaged in your content and the conversation overall.

2. Prove that it works
Instead of moving your “demo” slides to the back of the deck, consider removing them entirely. How you achieve results for your clients isn’t nearly as important right now as demonstrating that you can and will generate results for the prospect right in front of you.

Share more case studies and success stories from similar companies. Demonstrate the value cleanly and clearly. Make the “how” an afterthought (or at least part of the close, not the pitch).

3. Get the prospect talking early (about themselves)
Do your homework in advance so your first slides include analysis of their current situation that they can validate. Then ask follow-up questions to get them talking, confirming where your talk track should focus, and which benefits/outcomes you should particularly highlight.

If the presentation is all about you talking and them listening, they aren’t engaged. Get them talking early and they’re not only internalizing more of your message, but also helping you customize to what they’re thinking about and focused on right now.

4. Focus on problems & pain
Talk less about your product. Talk more about problems and pain that you solve. The product is simply an enabler. Sell the hole, not the drill.

5. Visuals vs. words
If you’re presenting live, cut as many words off the slides as possible and use visuals that augment your primary message and story. This can be images, charts, data representations, etc. that reiterate and further your point.

Consider having two versions of the deck, so that the “leave behind” has more words that make sense when reading without you there to talk through. But when presenting live, make sure prospects are listening to you vs. trying to read the slide.

6. Are they listening, reading or participating?
The best capabilities decks are interactive throughout. Not just with the small talk up front. Not just with the qualifying or confirming questions in the first couple slides.

You still need to lead the discussion, get it back on track when necessary, and drive towards a clear decision or next step. The keeping the prospect engaged throughout is a requirement.

7. Start doing the work in advance
What analysis can you give the prospect immediately based on their unique situation? What insights or recommendations could you include in the capabilities deck that gives the prospect immediate value?

How could you templatize doing some of the work in advance so that the prospect immediately sees what it would be like to work with you?

Would love to hear more best practices from capabilities presentations you’ve given or seen that work particularly well.