Friday, January 23, 2009

Hosting A Live Presentation

When I was being trained as an advisor, the first thing that I realized was that I needed prospective new clients to hear 'my story'. I needed to build a system that would keep me in front of new clients, particularly as I began getting busy serving my existing clients.

What I started doing was making presentations to small groups of wealth management prospects (that was the business that I was after at that time). I started doing this often enough that it became a part of my daily routine and a part of my practice. In fact, it got to a point where at the end of a presentation (usually in the evenings back then), I would speak to the manager or the head of catering about doing another event at that very same location in another 6 weeks - and make the decision right then and reserve the space.

This habit served me well. And, the majority of the benefit that I got from having presentations as a part of my business building was not necessarily from the attendees who showed up at the event. Rather, by consistently marketing my advisory services, I found that many prospective clients preferred to meet one-on-one rather than go to a dinner presentation. This constant marketing assisted me in keeping my 'pipeline' of prospects filled and allowed me to consistently set new meetings with new potential clients.

My business never grew as fast as it did when I made this a part of my practice. The types of clients that I dealt with changed over time, as I migrated to more wealthy, and more complex situations - eventually leading to a niche focus on exiting business owners. But that process of making presentations never changed.

So, what I recommend is that you follow the same schedule that I followed when I needed to get new clients. It is a process that has served me well and allowed me to focus my mind on new business - not on the business that I do not have, or the problems with my existing business. The system that I followed was:

Six weeks prior to the event

I would book the meeting room and get a lead list of people to contact to invite to the presentation. I would also set my budget for both my time (personal marketing for the event) as well as the 'hard dollar' costs - the most likely expenses (later on I would allocate these expenses to the business that was generated to be certain that I was making a good investment of time and money).

Five weeks prior to the event

I would send out my mailing and begin my calling effort. When possible, I would recruit assistance to this calling effort to assure that if I was not available to reach out to invitees, then I would have some back up to be sure that the mailings all received a follow up call (remember, many people will receive the mailing and be thinking about attending - it is the personal call that often motivates them to action).

Today, we also set up a webpage for attendees to register for the event. This level of detail allows someone who is interested to read about the event to see what is being offered. It also demonstrates a level of care and professionalism towards this event. Also, this page can easily be altered for the next event, so you can leverage your time.

Four weeks prior to the event

Continue the calling effort and begin to discuss the event with other centers of influence.

Three weeks prior to the event

If necessary, I would send a follow up mailing. Also, I would begin mailing confirmation letters to the attendees who had registered. Within the confirmation letter was some additional information on the services that I provided and a quick statement that 'someone from my office would be confirming their attendance the week of the event'. Again, this builds an immediate sense of trust for your service.

Two weeks prior to the event

Practice, practice, practice the presentation. This is key. You need to be able to present your ideas in a way that is nearly automatic for you. This way, you will not be focused on your material, but rather, on the audience, who you want to be doing business with. The important of this cannot be emphasized enough. The simple rule for setting up your presentation is to

(i) tell them what you are going to tell them

(ii) tell them

(iii) tell them what you told them

Make sure that you make your points in a way that the audience can understand them. Advisors too often want to emphasize the depth to which they understand a topic. Your audience does not need to know how deeply you know your topic, as much as they need to know how effective you can be in solving the problem / issue that they came to your presentation to learn about.

One week prior to the event

Confirm all of the attendees. Send the final headcount to the venue so that they know how much food, coffee, drinks, etc. . . to prepare for the event. Set your personal schedule of events to make sure that you are well-rested, prepared, and not distracted at the event.

When the event occurs, remember that this is a business building event for you as much as it is an educational event for your attendees. You will want to connect with your audience as much as you can and be prepared to handle the business that is generated from your presentation.

Remember that something always comes from these marketing events. It is important to set a schedule, be prepared, and to set your sights as much on new business generation as on making an effective presentation.

Specializing in Business Exit Strategies, John M. Leonetti, Esq., M.S. Finance, CM&AA founded Pinnacle Equity Solutions to provide exit strategy planning services to business owners as well as education and training programs for professional advisors. To learn more about John's Exit Strategy Services and his recently published book, "Exiting Your Business, Protecting Your Wealth", visit

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