Selling Soap to Italian Women-A Lesson in Business Presentations

The Wall Street Journal reported that Italian women spend an average of 22 hours cleaning their homes. They buy more cleaning supplies than women from other countries. So they'd be a perfect market for U.S. time-saving cleaners and products, right? That's what Proctor and Gamble thought until they saw their sales plummet. They learned that Italian women don't value mops and cleaners that save time. They value strong detergents that cut grease-not quick spray bottles. They don't value time; they value toughness.

P&G; presented the product without knowing the buyer's criteria. How often do we slap together a presentation based on what we value instead of what the audience values? When a car dealer sells a car to a man he usually talks about engines and horsepower. When he sells to a woman he talks about color and interior. This is an assumption and not based on the buyer's criteria. When a manager motivates with money and an employee values time off, she is speaking from her values and not from the employee's values.

The secret to successful presentations is to know what the audience wants and to give it to them.