To Win Business, Open With a Painful Statistic

Last Updated Jun 23, 2010 8:34 AM EDT

SCENARIO: A reader had a problem with an upcoming sales presentation, so he wrote me with the following request:
I work for a car rental company, whose licensees have access to a purchasing network. Since we purchase over 50,000 vehicles a year we have a lot of vendors willing to give big discounts to us to get our business. However, our licensees don't always take advantage of these discounts! I have to give a presentation on the subject and would like to use some type of tag line that would WOW the licensees into wanting to look at what is available to them.
Here's how I responded:
I don't think you need a new tag line. You need is a powerful opening to your presentation. I'd start by stating the average amount of money a licensee loses by not using your service. Here's how.

Your first slide just shows a number like "$250,000." Let that number sit on the screen for 10 seconds -- until everyone is restive, waiting for you to say something.

Then you say: "Like that number? That's how much money each of you just lost because you didn't listen to my presentation last year. That's an average number by the way. If you've got a "successful" franchise, you probably lost even more. Have I got your attention, now?"
And then make your case.

A couple of weeks later, I get this email from the same reader:
Very kind of you take time out of your schedule and give advice. Thanks for the inspiration. Meeting went well.
That really made my day. It's great to have further confirmation that the stuff I write about in this blog really works.

If you're interested in creating a powerful opening to your presentation, check out this post: QUIZ: What's the Best Opening Remark?)