How to Write a Why-Buy Presentation

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“Why should I buy your product?”

Ask your sales team, and they’ll tell you that they can’t be successful without a concise answer to that question. You need a why-buy presentation. The why-buy presentation is the most important part of your capital equipment sales kit. These are the slides that tell your value story and set the framework for everything else in your marketing arsenal.

The why-buy presentation is your top-level case for why a customer should buy your product at your price.

Unfortunately, why-buy presentations are often poorly constructed—or worse, they never even get developed. Instead, many companies live with a collection of product features-and-benefits slides that never answer the most important question, “Why should I buy your product?”

Abandon the Features-and-Benefits-Style Product Overview

Product-overview presentations are often organized as a summary of key features and benefits. It feels natural to organize them this way. Plus, this approach does a fine job of educating your customer about the key capabilities of your product.

The problem is that this leads to a presentation organized much like a tour through an art museum. You walk your customer through the system architecture, pointing out key features along the way, just as an art-museum tour guide educates visitors about the paintings on the wall.

The result is also similar.

After a museum tour, you know a lot more about the paintings but feel no compulsion to purchase the museum. A product presentation organized in the features-and-benefits tour format educates your customers but does not motivate them to buy.

The solution is to abandon the features-and-benefits-style product overview. Instead, create a why-buy presentation organized around the customer’s problem and your unique ability to solve it. See below.

Typical Product OverviewWhy-Buy Presentation
Educates the ProspectMotivates the Prospect

The Why-Buy Presentation Recipe

A business case is a value proposition that is intended to motivate a buyer to act. Act, in your case, means purchase your equipment.  The why-buy presentation makes such a business case. The recipe for the why-buy presentation contains two parts, a list of ingredients and an assembly method. The Why-Buy presentation’s key ingredients are your

  • Understanding of the customer problem and what suppliers like you should do about it,
  • Value proposition,
  • Positioning statement,
  • Position proofs supported with sources of competitive advantage and data
  • Comparative financials

You must assemble these ingredients to make a compelling business case that is easy to follow and remember. The business case is assembled in the following order:

  1. Create a problem-solution connection,
  2. Substantiate your competitive advantage, then
  3. Translate that competitive advantage into financial value.

It is made easy to follow and remember by also following Dale Carnegie’s tripartite template for structuring your presentations. Namely to

  1. Tell the audience what you are going to say,
  2. Say it, then
  3. Tell them what you said.

See the table below for how the why-buy presentation flow follows this recipe for a compelling, memorable business case.

Recipe for a compelling business case for buying your product
Recipe for a compelling business case for buying your product

Why-Buy Presentation Example

The following example applies the why-buy presentation recipe to the Mr. Melty ingot growth furnace for photovoltaics wafer manufacturers. For your convenience, the lower left-hand corner of each example slide has been annotated with the why-buy presentation ingredient that the slide addresses. These annotations, of course, would not be included in your why-buy presentation.

The Problem-Solution Connection

In the Mr. Melty example, slide numbers two, three, and four create a direct connection from the customer’s problem to your solution. This three-step process entails first stating the customer problem, then its implications for products like yours, and finally, how you uniquely address those implications. Notice that these three slides have line-by-line alignment. There is no mistaking in the Mr. Melty example that the 5kW rhenium heater provides the fastest cycle times to address the industry problem of converting polysilicon feedstock into salable wafers as fast as possible.

When constructing your why-buy presentation, you will want to achieve the same obvious problem–solution connection. If you find this difficult, try creating a worksheet like the one in the table below before building your presentation. You can start anywhere on the worksheet. Just make sure to make the problem-implication-solution link for each position.

Customer ProblemSupplier ImplicationMy Unique Solution
Turn polysilicon feedstock into salable wafers as fast as possibleProduce large quantities of multicrystalline silicon quickly.5kW rhenium heater produces the fastest process times.
Turn polysilicon feedstock into salable wafers with the least amount of wasteAchieve a high percentage of wafer-able materials from every run.Closed-loop temperature control ensures the highest yields.
You know my problem.You know what
to do.
And you
did it.

When you make this well-constructed, problem-solution connection, your customer hears, “You understand my problem. You know what to do about it. And You did it.”

This clear problem-solution connection establishes the importance of your solution to the customer, provides context for your unique value, and motivates him to hear more.

Substantiate Competitive Advantage

It may be tempting in this section to fall back into a features-and-benefits tour approach. Do not do it. You must now establish that each position in the positioning statement on your advantage slide is unique and true. You can accomplish this with a pair of position-proof slides for each position. The first slide of the pair establishes the source of the advantage, and the second provides the data to prove it.

The source-of-advantage slide establishes your solution as unique by comparing your approach with your competitor’s. It is not enough to describe your solution. You need to draw direct, side-by-side comparisons of your superior solution with that of the competitor. Do not assume that the customer will figure out the important differences on his own. Remember, your objective is not to educate the customer; it is to convince him to choose your solution over alternatives. In the Mr. Melty why-buy presentation example, two positions are taken, “fastest cycle times” and “highest yields.” Slides 5 and 7 are the source of advantage slides for these two positions.

The proof-data slide contains representative performance data supporting your claim. Whenever possible, show data that compares your performance to that of your competitor. The best data is always that from real customers showing head-to-head competition in the customer’s environment. A reasonable substitute is customer data for your product with the competitor’s specification overlaid. In the Mr. Melty why-buy presentation example, slides 6 and 8 are the proof-data slides for each of the two positions.

Work hard to create the clearest evidence that your advantages are unique and demonstrable. On each slide, stick to the comparisons and data that speak directly to the positions that you have taken. Do not add extraneous facts, data, or figures. They will only distract your audience.

Translate Advantage into Financial Value

Remember, the only reason an organization buys capital equipment is to make a profit. Therefore customer value is a financial expression. It follows then that you need to relate your competitive advantage and price to increased profit for your customer. The comparative financials that you originally developed to reveal your value proposition go here.

In the example why-buy presentation, Mr. Melty’s positioning statement articulates that Mr. Melty’s value proposition is a 15% capital expense savings produced by its fastest cycle time and highest yield. The comparative financials show the math. See slide 9 in the example why-buy presentation.

The tricky part when communicating comparative financials is figuring out what price to show. For this internal analysis, it is best to use expected final prices for you and your competitor. However, when the comparative financials are customer-facing, the price you show depends on where you are in the sales process. Early in the sales process, you would likely use something akin to an asking or list price. Deep into final negotiations, you would likely use something closer to the expected final price.

Let us return to the Mr. Melty example. Imagine your task is to put together a version of the why-buy presentation that will be shown early in the sales process. In this case, the price you show in your comparative financials will need to be far enough from the expected final price to allow for negotiations and ensure the maximum price is achieved.

You have seen this approach before.  Real estate agents do this when they list a house for sale. The real estate agent conducts a market assessment of your house’s value compared to other houses on the market. Then the agent recommends an asking price that positions your house favorably among the asking prices of other houses on the market.

As an equipment marketer, your task is the same but with one significant disadvantage compared with house sellers. You cannot log in to your equivalent to to see other equipment makers’ asking prices. However, you probably have a decent feel for your competitor’s final pricing from competitive intelligence gathered during sales negotiations. You can use this to derive a proxy for your competitor’s asking price. To go from the expected price to an asking price in your comparative financials, follow these three steps.

  1. Use comparative financials to determine your value proposition at expected prices for you and your competitor.
  2. Select an “asking” price for your equipment that is far enough from the expected final price to allow for negotiations and ensure the maximum price is achieved.
  3. Calculate an “asking” price for your competitor’s equipment that when compared to your asking price in your comparative financials produces the same value proposition as when expected prices were used.

Suppose that in the Mr. Melty example, expected final prices are $655,000 and $600,000 for Mr. Melty and the competition, respectively. If you were to use asking prices of $765,000 and $700,000 for Mr. Melty and the competitor, respectively, you would produce the same 15% value proposition as with the expected prices. Compare the two versions of Mr. Melty’s comparable financials below.

Mr. Melty comparative financials at expected final price
Mr. Melty comparative financials at expected final price
Mr. Melty comparative financials at "Asking" prices
Mr. Melty comparative financials at “Asking” prices

As a practical matter, you can expect that the comparative financials slide in your why-buy presentation will be the slide most frequently tailored to address specific sales situations. For the product manager, that means having a sales-force-friendly comparative-financials modeling tool is a must-have for your sales kit.

Applying Carnegie’s Tripartite Template

Recall Dale Carnegie’s presentation advice to “Tell them what you’re going to say; say it; then tell them what you said.” This timeless advice is designed to grab your audience’s attention and improve their key-take-away recall. Let us examine how the why-buy presentation applies this tripartite template.

Tell Them What You Are Going to Say

This is your opener in which you establish the importance of your unique solution as articulated by your positioning statement. This gets your audience’s attention. Then your positioning statement tells your audience what you are going to say. It serves as both the outline and the key takeaways of your why-buy presentation.  See slides 2-4 in the Mr. Melty example.

Say It

Here is where you substantiate each element of your positioning statement. The 2-slide position proofs substantiate the positions that you have taken. The comparative financials substantiate your value proposition.  See slides 5-9 in the Mr. Melty example.

Tell Them What You Said

After substantiating your positioning statement, nothing will wrap up your presentation better than showing your positioning statement again. Your value proposition and the positions that make it true are the key takeaways of a why-buy presentation. See slide 10 in the Mr. Melty example.