Structure the session

A capabilities session is an opportunity to gain insight into the maturity of need, the buying process, the players involved, and much more. It should also have a clear objective that you drive toward.

While not part of the deck, always start the session with introductions. When the DB team introduces themselves, be sure to include context for their role. Take notes on the roles and responsibilities of the stakeholders in the room. Be sure to have clarity beyond job titles, do we understand the roles of each individual in the room? Have we clearly identified the sponsor, stakeholders, and potential project roles?

Make an effort to remember names and use anecdotes to build camaraderie and foster relationships.

Include an agenda as well as the deck in the invitation to the session. Clearly explain the purpose of the materials, and communicate that the outcome for the day is to find a mutual fit—to determine if it’s best to pursue a custom build. The purpose of a capabilities session is not to sell anything but to simply to inform and advise.

Capes presenters generally include the whole team (if we’ve graduated to a larger group and are seeking alignment). However, there are times it’s better for a single individual (if it’s a one-on-one meeting) to facilitate the session. I like having more than one person from our team in the room because it helps to ensure we don’t miss anything.

Make sure the whole team presents

Sharing the presentation responsibility builds credibility while giving everyone the opportunity to observe the body language of prospects and take notes. This also helps the team demonstrate their respective disciplines. Listen and learn. Pay attention to everything the prospect is saying to address during the meeting, and, when applicable, note actionable items for a follow-up.

What questions is the prospect team asking? Are objections or concerns from previous relationships surfacing?

Every now and then the capabilities meeting will go off script. It’s incredibly important to know all the content and be flexible. I find myself using the MacBook touch bar to bounce back and forth between case study and process slides, often referencing multiple presentations. I have half-jokingly told MDs that they should be able to retell the capabilities presentation without slides if the situation demands it—that’s the level of comfort and confidence you need to have in the narrative.

Finally, professional, engaging delivery is incredibly powerful. Rehearse, read books, film yourself presenting, and watch it back.

The Secret Source by Aurimas Adomavicius

About the author

Aurimas Adomavicius is the president and co-founder of Devbridge. When not in the trenches working with clients, Aurimas is an active speaker and writer on product design and engineering best practices.

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