The Art of the Virtual Pitch, Part 3: 4 Steps for a Successful Client Presentation

If you studied up on Part 1 and Part 2 of my series on the virtual pitch, you’re ready to handle the actual client presentation. Here are the top four things to consider when you’re getting ready to put your virtual pitch in front of clients.

If you studied up on Part 1 and Part 2 of my series on the virtual pitch, you’re ready to handle the actual client presentation. Here are the top four things to consider when you’re getting ready to put your virtual pitch in front of clients.

Assume Your Technology Will Fail

Even if your wifi is blazing fast, even if you’re an expert with your presentation platform, you have to assume that some element of your tech will fail. If you just accept it as a given and plan out workarounds in advance, you’ll be able to keep your cool in the moment. At the very least, make sure you send the presentation out to everyone in advance as a PDF under 10 mb, so it makes it through everyone’s email provider without issue.

Mix Up Your Usual Presentation Order

You’re probably used to the in-person presentation standard of one person presenting 5-10 sides on their own. When you’re all in the room together, that works great. But with a virtual presentation, you’re in a constant battle to keep people engaged. Moreso when everyone is working from home amid the COVID-19 chaos.

So mix it up and have a few different people present a section together. That way you break up any possible monotony and keep listeners on their toes as presentation speakers keep changing. It also helps to showcase the various members of your team, lets their personalities shine, and really shows the client what you bring to the table beyond the ideas.

Pro tip: Incorporate this technique into your deck by including the name and photo of the presenter on each slide.

Schedule Pauses to Take the Audience’s Pulse

Losing the nonverbal cues of an in-person meeting can be tough, so you have to plan for a manual way to assess whether people are with you, or if they’re getting bored and frustrated. It’s an adjustment, but the fix is easy. Ask questions and address your audience by name.

Plan to mention specific people when it’s relevant. For example, if you know Scott handles digital campaigns, give him a shout out as you’re getting into discussing digital. A simple, “Scott, I know you’ll be interested in this …” goes a long way to make sure Scott and his colleagues are listening up.

It’s subtle, but making everyone feel that they could be mentioned or questioned helps you engage and makes sure everyone is paying attention.

Rehearse and Review, Even If It’s Painful

We’ve come full circle. You have to rehearse, rehearse, rehearse, so that when your technology fails, your presentation doesn’t. Over the course of multiple rehearsals, you’ll be able to feel out and address any pain points. There’s no substitute for doing a full rehearsal.

Pro tip: Up your game by recording the presentation. No one is excited about doing that, but it is one of the very best ways to see how your team can improve, and how you as an individual can grow. It’s okay to wait to review until after the pitch isn’t so fresh, so you can try to be more objective, but make time to watch the recording. If you just said to yourself, “I don’t need to go that far,” then you absolutely have to.

3 Ways to Maintain Strong Client Relationships

After the initial investment that brings clients on board, you enter a blissful honeymoon phase where everyone’s happy. Resist the temptation to rest on your laurels! Before your clients’ eyes start to wander, do something proactive.

To build on my last article, let’s continue down the road of showing client love and keeping the spark in your client relationships alive.

I used to want my clients to like me. Now I make them fall in love. It doesn’t happen by accident — this is all about strategy. After the initial investment that brings clients on board, you enter a blissful honeymoon phase where everyone’s happy. Resist the temptation to rest on your laurels! Before your clients’ eyes start to wander, do something proactive.

Here are three rules I live by when it comes to maintaining strong client relationships.

1. Merchandise!

You never want your client to think, “what are we paying for?” If you do PR for yourself on a regular basis, they never will. Before a client even asks for an activity or results report, you should have it ready to go. I give mine a new spin by merchandising our work to date. Putting your projects in context this way helps clients better understand how what you do on a daily basis is paying off.

Now I’m not saying to be boastful. Be factual, but remind them of the value that you brought them. And if you’re really smart, you’ll develop the report in a way that they can share internally — helping them do their own internal PR while doing yours as well.

Remember, the name of the game is to help them achieve their communications objectives and, even more importantly, make them look good in front of their boss and peers. On top of that, sharing your reporting is a great prelude to my second tip.

2. Become an Idea Machine

After you’ve shown your clients what you’ve accomplished together, start conversations on where you’ll go next. Mapping out possible futures gets people excited, especially when you’re bringing new ideas to the table.

One of my favorite moves is to walk my clients through case studies on what their main competitors and parallel industries are doing. It’s a casual way to talk about possible roadblocks and how to overcome them. Plus, we get to draw out lessons from what competitors are doing right.

Heard about a conference they should attend? Tell them! Identify how they can push themselves, and how you can help. This is the perfect time to refresh strategy without having to wait for your clients to bring up concerns on their own. You also might hit on exciting ways to expand your scope of work.

Now there is a fine line. If you know your client doesn’t have additional budget, don’t try and get blood from a turnip. If these new ideas will help them look like rockstars, propose shifting existing scope to support the new idea or couch it as something to plan against once budgets are back in play.

3. Take a Page from Amazon – Be Obsessed

Your clients have no reason to leave when you’re more invested in the business than they are — something I’ve been proudly accused of many times. Take a page from Amazon’s playbook and be obsessed with your customer. If you sense that their eyes are wandering, figure out why. Try to better understand them and their industry so you can identify their needs, including which needs you’re not meeting.

When I was helping MetLife recruit mega tech talent, we totally immersed ourselves in the tech community to understand what would draw a candidate to work at a particular company. We hung out on Reddit forums, attended big data conferences, conducted interviews, you name it. In the end, we employed many cool tactics that the big tech players were using to draw talent. For instance, we attracted top engineers through “Easter egg hunts” — basically, hidden messages/code on various websites across their homepage. Once we drew in the curious coders, we gamified the application itself, having applicants code their resume in LinkedIn. Not to toot our own horn, but we won awards for these recruitment campaigns. (I told you to merchandise, didn’t I?)

Success in client services is about constantly strengthening yourself and your client relationship. Just like in your romantic life, you need to put in the effort to keep your client’s eyes from wandering.