Your organization just invested a lot of time and money creating a dazzling new presentation for the sales team. So why, three months later, is no one using it?! Here are just a few of the reasons I hear from salespeople:
“It’s too much information. It’s not my style. It’s already out of date. I can never find what I need…”
While there’s some validity to these claims, when salespeople “go rogue,” (i.e., use a hodgepodge of content or throw out the presentation all together), key messages get lost, and quality and accuracy suffer – along with the customer and the opportunity.
Whose responsibility is it? Sales or marketing?
Despite all the talk of the disconnect between sales and marketing, both share a common goal: communicating the value of your solution in a way that drives the customer to take action. Typically, both sales and marketing play a role in whether a presentation is adopted, adapted, or discarded.
Here are some ways that both sales and marketing can work together to improve the creation, adoption and success of your organization’s presentations.
Marketing Actions to Improve Presentation Adoption:
- Observe actual presentations. Presentations are often created for ideal conditions – the salesperson has adequate time, the decision-makers are in the room, everyone is paying attention, etc. Going on an actual sales call will help marketing understand how presentations are delivered and received in a variety of real-world situations. Marketing can be a hero by applying these insights toward solving the challenges salespeople face in the field.
- Break it into chunks. Because today’s customers expect a tailored experience, salespeople need the ability to easily edit a presentation. If one change throws the whole deck off, salespeople are not going to use it. Make it simpler for salespeople to adapt content by creating a number of “chunks,” i.e., 3-5 slides on a topic or sub-topic. Chunks should be self-contained so that they are easy to add or delete without affecting the overarching message of the presentation.
- Make it easy to find. Research shows that salespeople spend an average of 440 hours a year searching for content. Imagine if that time was put back toward making quota?! Keep content in one shared place with a good content management solution. Create sales-defined keywords for individual slides, sections or decks to make it easy for salespeople to quickly locate what they need.
- Keep it up to date. The market is changing rapidly and it’s critical that salespeople have access to up-to-date content. Be ready for those changes by keeping communication lines open between marketing and sales. Sit in on sales meetings and note what topics are trending and what questions customers are asking.
Sales’ Actions to Improve Presentation Effectiveness:
- Take what you need… Before you discard a presentation, weigh the pros and cons of using something less than perfect vs. creating something on the fly. It’s the rare presentation where there is nothing good to salvage. Look for the positive and keep an open mind. Perhaps there is a purpose you’re unaware of, or new research findings that justify the content in question. Ask for more information before you throw the baby out with the bathwater.
- …And leave the rest. Unnecessary or irrelevant slides? Lose them. There’s no law that you have to use every slide in a deck (and if there is, break it!) Be sure and hide or delete unwanted slides. If you skip over them in front of your prospect, it gives the impression that you didn’t take the time to customize it (which would be accurate!)
- Make it your own. Often presentations are written in a way that doesn’t match your style. But that doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. Good actors learn techniques for taking someone else’s script and delivering it as convincingly as if they’d written it themselves. You can learn those techniques too. Click here to find out how.
- Personalize your Open and Close. Openings and closings are great places to add your own personality and style. Open your presentation with a unique story, an insight, or discovery findings. Customize the closing by summarizing key points, calling back to your initial objectives and outlining next steps.
- Go all in. Whatever presentation you end up using, commit to it fully. Your client doesn’t need—or want—to know that you didn’t create it or that you would have done it differently “if you’d only had time.” Being apologetic or embarrassed about what you’re presenting only serves to damage your credibility, as well as your company’s.
There will never be the “perfect” deck, but if both sales and marketing work together they can ensure that sales is delivering more consistently effective presentations that resonate and drive sales with a variety of customers.