Sales Presentations Can Be Technical Presentations, and Vice Versa

By Jan Schutlink

Clients often tell me that they have to present to an audience of engineers, so the presentation should not be a “marketing” presentation.

The misinterpretation of this is: we are engineers presenting to engineers, so we can get away with text-heavy slides and diagrams full of numbers. We engineers understand each other. As soon as we add pictures or try to make the presentation more visual in other ways, we lose credibility.

What is really going on is this: if you are selling a high tech product there is no way you can avoid well, talking about the technology. But the high tech world is full of presentations written by people who do not really understand the technology, for an audience who does not really understand the technology.

These presentations lack substance but are rich in marketing buzzwords. Engineers will recognize them in a second, and don’t want you bring “one of those.”

We need to eliminate two misconceptions:

  • Technical presentation content cannot sell
  • A senior (and/or) sales presentation audience does not understand technology

Here are two things I do to create technical sales presentations:

  • Insist on explaining how it works in human language without “black boxes” or “secret sauces.” The Einstein quote about a six- year- old who can understand everything if told in the right way applies here.
  • Very focused data visualization. Technology advantages are often beautifully simple: things are faster, cheaper, smaller. Rather than writing a bullet point “we are 33% smaller,” include that very complicated chart that shows the full richness of your research, but add 2 big bold lines that are 33% apart.

About the Author:

Jan Schutlink is an internationally recognized designer of high-stakes presentations and founder and CEO of Slide Magic, a design app that makes it easy for the layman to design powerful business presentations. He worked for almost a decade with McKinsey & Company advising Fortune 500 CEOs about strategy. This makes him one of the few people in the world with the rare combination of skills: visualization talent and business understanding.

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