While you likely already read your customer’s annual report, specifically the Letter to Shareholders and MD&A, you may not regularly leverage management presentations to gain customer insight. However, the increasing transparency of today’s corporate landscape has turned these presentations into highly useful sources of timely customer information.
Why This Information is So Useful
Presentations that management makes to analysts and the investment community are arguably even better than reading the Letter to Shareholders in terms of a quick, timely source for gaining customer insights. As you learn more about the information they provide, management presentations may become the first place you look in researching your customers and preparing for an executive engagement. Two strong reasons why the information you’ll find is so useful:
· Highly current information
Unlike annual reports and regulatory filings that have a short shelf life and may be dated at the time you’re doing research, management presentations are typically very current. In fact, companies often pull them from their Web sites within a relatively short period of time to avoid risks or exposure associated with changing market conditions and the company’s evolving strategic direction.
· Presented in executives’ own words
Management presentations enable you to learn what’s happening within your account directly from the executives you may be targeting to meet with as well as other key officers. The information allows you to clearly identify customer initiatives that will help you build business alignment with your solution. It also clearly identifies the customer’s priorities and gives you access to up-to-date financial metrics and business issues, clearly stated in the executives’ own words.
Using the Information
Having this kind of background on an account before making your first call puts you at an advantage. You’ll be able to demonstrate you’ve done your homework and thereby establish credibility. You’ll also be able to begin linking your solutions to the company’s issues and priorities – the ones that executive officers have identified as meaningful and top-of-mind.
Following are example presentation slides that illustrate the type of information you’ll gain access to.
In this presentation, Level 3’s CFO not only identifies cost advantage as a key initiative, but also discusses operational efficiency, potential M&A activity and maintaining financial strength. You can use this insight to develop a value proposition demonstrating how your solution drives cost savings, improves efficiencies, reduces time to integration for future acquisitions as well as improves cash flow – all of which, when quantified and linked to these initiatives, demonstrate your credibility.
In this presentation, Alltel’s Group President of Operations shares a host of potential points of alignment where your solution might help the company achieve its stated initiatives.
Accessing the Information
First, check your customer’s Web site. The presentations that companies make to analysts and investment communities on a quarterly basis can typically be found in the Investor Relations area. Often you’ll have a choice of viewing the presentations themselves, reading transcripts or listening to audio archives of Webcasts. Additional online resources include Earnings.com and Yahoo! Finance, where you can access conference calls by entering a company’s stock ticker symbol.
Tip: Subscribe to an e-mail alert service. Many companies offer this as part of their investor relations effort. You’ll know right away when new information that may identify a selling opportunity is made available.
One Stop for Valuable Insight
Management presentations offer "one-stop shopping" for obtaining timely account information that can give you the insight you need to establish credibility and identify opportunities. You may find they’re the best overall source for identifying current customer business issues and priorities.
What’s been your experience?