Handout Happiness: Getting A Foot In The Door With A Hand-Out (Part 1)

by Oliver Adria on 23/01/2011

This post is written by John at Mastering Technical Sales and with his permission I’ve decided to publish it here as well. It also reinforces the ideas that I have and includes many tips on creating handouts.

A hand-out is one of the most misused tools in the sales arsenal of an SE. Often skimmed through when the audience is bored and often left on the conference table after you finish– the hand-out can be a powerful weapon when used by an expert. That is because it keeps selling for you after you leave.

I’ll suggest some best practices for creating and using the hand-out and answer that age-old question “do I hand out my hand out before or after the presentation?”

The Eternal Question – Before or After?

My general rule is that in a sales situation you should provide your handouts AFTER your presentation or demonstration. When you provide them beforehand, especially if they are a close copy of your presentation, why should people attend? You are encouraging the audience to thumb through the hand-out, then do their email and tweet “Sitting in boring vendor presentation in London. Vacation in Paris next week. Must start packing”. So yes you can make the case that you personally should be entertaining and value-add enough to stop that behavior, but why chance it? A sales presentation is about constantly re-establishing interest and curiosity. A stack of paper on the desk is a distraction.
BUT there are cases when you should hand something out before you start. Here are some examples:

a. Agenda. An agenda for a long or complicated meeting.
b. Key Slides. The key slides or demo screens when conducting a webcast.
c. Diagrams. A Diagram or Blueprint of a complex environment or architecture.
d. A Worksheet. Yes – I’ve seen SE’s help an audience convert a technical issue direct into money saved.
e. Mathematics. Anything that involves math, even if you think the audience can do it in their heads.
f. Definitions. A list of standard definitions or acronyms.
g. Education. It’s an educational presentation and you really want people to keep notes.

Continue to Part 2

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