Presentation Tips from a Presentation Pro

By Heather Baldwin

Giving a sales presentation is tough enough when you’re trying to convince a prospect to give you money in exchange for a product or service. It’s even tougher when you need to convince them to give you money in exchange for nothing. That’s the specialty of William Krueger, president of Capital Quest, a Louisville, Tennessee-based consulting firm that directs capital campaigns. In his 15-plus years of fundraising consulting and capital campaign experience, he has gathered some fail-safe presentation tricks that he recommends for presenters.

Using feel, felt, and found.
Krueger uses these words when he needs to handle a question based on incorrect information, such as when someone seeks agreement with a principle that simply isn’t factually correct. For example, in response to the question: Don’t you think we should just write some grants to get the new building funded? Krueger might respond with: I understand how you can feel that way, and many of the people we work with have felt that way, too. It’s natural. What we have found through our research and work experience is…. “If delivered correctly, the feel-felt-found response recognizes the point of view of questioners, validates their opinion and then gently corrects them without embarrassment or confrontation,” he says.

Handling the pricing question.
Krueger loves it when he comes to the end of his sales presentation and someone asks if his fee is negotiable. It means prospects have accepted what Krueger said, that they want to hire his consulting firm and now it’s simply a matter of cost. Krueger favors the indirect approach. He often answers with: Well, if the Palestinians and Israelis can negotiate, I’m sure we can, too. The point, he says, is to acknowledge that it’s a fair question and one that your firm can deal with at a staff level.

Recognizing when less can be more.
During almost every presentation Krueger finds himself faced with at least one complex question that often is confrontational. When he gets these questions, he answers simply yes or no. That’s it. No explanation. “I’ve had clients say that my simple response created the impression that I was confident of my answer and that not everything was as complicated as people made it out to be,” he says. “This answer can, if used correctly, go a long way toward creating a straight-shooter reputation.”

Employing the mousetrap theory.
Krueger says he often is asked to participate in presentations where two or more consultants are going to present on the same day. When this happens, he says he tries to go either second or, as an alternative, last. It’s the mousetrap theory, he says. The first mouse always gets squashed in the mousetrap, opening the door for the second mouse to safely get the cheese. “I have no idea if this is true in the mouse world,” he says, “but it’s worked well for us.”

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