How to Interpret Needs Analysis and Interviews in Innovative Presentations

By Ray Anthony, Barbara Boyd

Your first step in understanding the potential client for your innovative presentation’s situation is to visit her website. The design and tone of the website gives you insight as to whether you’re dealing with a formal, traditional company, a hip startup, or somewhere in-between.

Read between the lines as if you were an undercover detective. Read the bios of the execs, especially if you’ll be meeting with them, so you can see what their experience and outside interests are.

Continue your detective work on social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook to understand the client’s presence there, if any. Conduct a general online search using your favorite search engine to see what the trade and general publications have to say about the company. Be sure to sift rumors from fact when possible.

Take advantage of the analytics available from your website service provider to determine the pages most often clicked through, which is a helpful indication of the types of information people want to know about your company.

Talk to the contact you made the appointment with and ask as many questions as possible about the client’s situation before your actual presentation meeting. You want to understand the potential client’s situation from various angles, such as:

  • Individual versus department: Will your product or service benefit an individual or improve the entire department or company?

  • Contributor versus manager: Does your product or service affect a contributor-level employee, who usually deals with problems, or a management- or executive-level person, who usually thinks about planning and expansion?

  • Local or national: If you’re meeting with a local representative of a national company, can she take your product or service to the next level, putting her in a good light and benefitting the company as a whole?

  • Well-known or secret: Is the situation you’re addressing known to the general public or is it secret information, such as an upcoming product launch or merger?

  • Past, present, or future: Has the situation been ongoing or occurred in the past and how would your product or service change the future?

If a company is in trouble, savvy, informed decision makers or buyers have likely already analyzed the problem and defined a solution and, what’s more, researched you and your competitors before you step in the room, which makes comparing offers a purely financial proposition of fulfilling a request for proposal (RFP).

Don’t wait until a company calls you; if you hear of a difficult situation that your product or service can assist with, don’t be shy about approaching the company.

Begin your presentation with a brief overview of your understanding of the client’s situation, but be sure to ask questions to confirm that understanding.

Sometimes you go to a meeting with little knowledge of the potential client’s situation, and need to use this initial meeting as an opportunity to learn about the client. It may not be the opportunity to garner a sale but you can, nonetheless, demonstrate your ability to provide results and benefits.