Mr. Prospect, Meet My Boss

By Heather Baldwin

Your boss is accompanying you on a big sales presentation and it’s time to introduce her to your prospect. Naturally, you’re a bit nervous so you try to lighten the moment with a bit of humor: Joe, this is Karen Thomson. She’s my boss, so be nice to me today. As soon as you’ve said it you regret it. Your prospect laughs politely, but everyone is left feeling a bit awkward and the presentation begins uncomfortably. You begin to wonder: Is there is any good way to introduce your boss before a presentation?

Absolutely, says Len Serafino, author of Sales Talk (Adams Media Corp., 2003). It just takes a bit of planning. First you need to consider the purpose of the meeting and the reason for the boss’s presence. The introduction for a getting-to-know-you session will be quite different than the introduction for a senior manager who has been brought in to help you negotiate an agreement, Serafino points out. If your boss simply wants to meet your prospect and observe your presentation, your introduction should state that fact and explain why it is important to your client. For example, Serafino suggests you might say: Joe, meet Karen Thomson, our vice president of sales. Karen wanted to meet you, Joe, because we want you to be comfortable calling her if I can’t be reached. Karen’s been with our company for five years. If I’m not available, she can help you resolve any issues that might arise. To take it one step further, mention an interest that the two people share: By the way, Joe, Karen is also a mountain biking enthusiast.

When the purpose of the presentation is more serious, such as trying to keep a client who has concerns about your service, your introduction of the person accompanying you should acknowledge the serious nature of the day’s presentation, why the person is there and what his or her credentials are. Serafino recommends an introduction that goes like this: Gina, I’ve asked Tim Peters to join me today. He’s here to help us get a handle on the concerns you expressed about integrating our software with your current information system. As our director of information technology, Tim frequently works with customers to resolve similar issues. He also has 10 years’ experience with the Big Box database application you are running today. Be careful not to overdo it, Serafino adds as a note of caution. Saying that Tim Peters is the most knowledgeable person in the industry and that you know the customer will love his exciting ideas only sets Tim up for failure and puts the customer on guard. Stick with the facts.

Introductions might seem a small point, but they play a big role in setting the tone of the presentation. “A good introduction will help you keep everyone focused on the agenda,” says Serafino. “Don’t be casual about introductions. Make them work for you.”