Sales Presentations: Save your Hawaiian shirt for vacation

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Every company is different but when it comes to developing marketing plans, there tends to be a practical hierarchy to that plan. For many B2B companies, it’s understandable when you have limited resources and an increasingly complex sales landscape. The overwhelming and  misunderstood worlds of SEO and social media have presented considerable problems for marketing departments (to be discussed in future blogs).  But when you add it all up, there is a lot to cover and you only have so much money and time to get it done – let alone do it well.

Unfortunately, something has to suffer and generally, the sales presentation will be one of those things. Here is a typical scenario: Marketing puts together a PowerPoint ‘template’ and creates a nifty ‘standards’ document and presents it to sales. Sales then ignores the standards document and creates their own presentation using the template. These are generally not pretty.

In fact, it’s basically like walking into a sales meeting wearing a Hawaiian shirt and flip flops. How can you be expected to be taken seriously? Well guess what? A poorly crafted sales presentation can say the same thing to a prospect no matter how good your price, your product or your offer.

For B2B sales, the “sit” is a key moment in a sales cycle. It’s typically not the point of sale but the ‘make it or break it’ moment that determines if the cycle continues. Of course companies rely on well trained sales staff who know how to talk their way through a sit. But what if they had to do it in a Hawaiian shirt? Nothing wrong with a Hawaiian shirt right? If it fits nice and it’s made well, why should anyone care? Well, we all know people – for whatever reason – they care.

Appearance and preparation matter when it comes to the sales presentation, yet the majority of marketing professionals continue to rely on PowerPoint, a 30 year old software solution that – for all of it’s updates and enhancements – continues to be a dated application. So why do they use it?

Well, some will tell you it’s the easiest way to go because the sales staff is putting the presentation together and they already know how to use it.  Others will tell you it’s really improved and much more dynamic now. That’s nice but the sales teams aren’t utilizing those new improvements. They are too busy being sales people.

It’s difficult to know when to pull the trigger and throw marketing resources at something. But that’s the fine tuning of marketing: It’s about seeing the opportunity, being able to react quickly and providing your sales team the very best “shirt” to wear. In the B2B world, that one ‘sit’ can mean the difference between a good year and a bad year. It simply doesn’t make sense for sales teams to design PowerPoint presentations, especially for high-value sales opportunities.

Today, there are wonderful presentation tools like Prezi, Keynote, Emaze and others that are built with todays technology in mind. Prezi, in particular, offers a rich user experience and even though it is still in it’s infancy, it’s clear it has great potential. These software applications can create thematic environments with compelling visual elements that say you know what you’re doing, you know how to do it, and you do it well. When customized with a particular prospect in mind, it can personalize the experience in a profound and memorable way.

As marketing professionals, we all want to create memorable moments that will help our company stand out and provide sales teams with a real competitive edge. Because at the end of the day, it’s not all about purchasing, procurement and legal decision makers. You deal with humans at a human level and it means something to them when you personalize the experience and give them something special. Remember, they are typically used to seeing drab, stale presentations. Come in there with something special and you’ll leave with a much better chance at moving the sales cycle toward a happy ending for you and your company.

And you can save the Hawaiian shirt for your well deserved vacation.

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