7 Freshman Mistakes to Ditch in a Capabilities Presentation

capabilities presentations

A capabilities pitch can make or break a potential million-dollar relationship.  So make sure you knock their socks off!


Don’t pressure me for the next steps. I know it’s closing, but it’s like the movie “he’s just not that into you.” If someone wants your product, they’ll find you and make sure to start the next steps. Even if they have to climb a mountain and yodel from the top. Otherwise, well… he’s just not that into you (or your product).


Don’t be so focused on what you are saying or doing; you can’t hear someone ask you a question, or scream your name three times. Yes, this happened, and yes, I knew it was blog-worthy when it happened.

This person couldn’t hear our literal screams of their name to stop. Embarrassing, yes. Recoverable, doubtful. I know you’re in sales but listen to someone other than yourself when you’re pitching for new business. Because of the question 1. It might be significant, and 2. You don’t want me to hate you even before seeing your product.


Don’t bore me with 20-30 minutes of talking about your team. Not only in capabilities presentations but in pitches too. I’m glad you all think so highly of yourselves, but I don’t need that much detail. As I’ve always said, you don’t need to toot your own horn on how you are smart, or wise, or have the perfect solution. Because if you are and do, people are quick to figure it out themselves. So let them.

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Don’t give me really high potential savings numbers without having the data to back it up. You need details to prove that you can save me 50% of a five million dollar deal. And even if it’s a blinded case study, you better show it. Especially if in your presentation, you’re only showing saving two dollars and fifty cents as an example.


Don’t follow up with the action items three days later. Because if it takes this long now, while we are dating to get info, I can only imagine what it will be like when the contract is signed, and we’re working on a project. I know you are the salesperson, and you’re busy, but honestly, it sets a bad precedent.


Don’t spend the first 15 minutes on questions about our business. And if you do plan to ask, tell me you want an NDA before the conversation. We’re not going to hand over the company’s financials because we like you. Sorry, not sorry.

And if by some crazy mistake my business partner does this, it typically it only happens once. The lawyers typically take care of the scolding afterwards.


Don’t tell me how you’ve stalked me on LinkedIn, Facebook, or the internet. Yes, be prepared and work it in, but please don’t mention it outright and continually. It personally creeps me out if you bring it up in conversation every five minutes. Maybe that’s just me, but maybe it’s not!

Capabilities Presentation Do’s

Okay, so now my rant is over, let’s be productive. How about a couple of best practices for these presentations?

  1. Always, always, always leave time for questions. If it’s an hour meeting, make sure your pitch is 45 minutes. And don’t be so rigid you can’t stop and answer questions along the way.
  2. Be genuine. I can’t stress this one enough. And have personality, don’t go overboard. Nobody likes a monotonous tone (no matter how steady), so spice it up and show a bit of enthusiasm. Just don’t go overboard with it.
  3. Be thoughtful. I do find stalking me personally creepy, but not if you can tie in the benefits of your company with mine. Google us. Spend five minutes and show me you care about the company and what we do. It’s similar to showing up for a job interview. Put your best foot forward and be prepared!
7 Freshman Mistakes to Ditch in a Capabilities Presentation 1

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