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Is Your Sales Presentation a Résumé or a Cover Letter?

A résumé is a summary of your skills, abilities and accomplishments. A cover letter, on the other hand, is a true sales pitch. In a cover letter you not only give examples of how your skills and abilities match the target position, you demonstrate your knowledge of the company and their market.

I've seen a lot of sales presentations that fall into the résumé category. After a title slide and an agenda, they launch into a chest-beating litany of products and services followed by an "impressive" cluster-cloud of client logos. After they're thoroughly drenched with this fire hose of "me-me-me" the lights go up and the reeling audience is no closer to having their problems solved.

Yes, they need to know your capabilities—your products and services. They need to know the features and benefits. They also need to know…that you know them.

A Cover Letter Starts the Conversation

Pull up your sales deck and take an objective look. Is your presentation a résumé or a cover letter? Does your deck include slides that demonstrate you really know your customer? Do any of your slides have customer-specific "pain-points?" I'm not talking about generic market trend slides, I'm talking about specific struggles your customer is facing—information requiring research or preliminary conversations.

Let your brochure, your website, your proposal serve as your résumé. Your sales presentation needs to be the cover letter— a targeted narrative offering examples of how your products and services (skills and abilities) match the target position (the customer's need).

I hope you get the job.