We recently helped a large company win a scheme of work worth over £100M, for which the presentation to the panel made up 30% of the weighting of their success and the panel commented afterward that they had never seen a presentation like it. Our client scored higher than all their competitors on the presentation side of the bid and this was apparently instrumental in them winning. We were able to create a successful presentation for the team because we truly understood them, their objectives, the requirements for the panel and how we should best tell their story and make sure they were left with no better alternative than to award our client the contract!
The critical thing is that building a winning presentation is much more than nicely designed slides. Yes design is important, but just like a movie that can be beautifully shot but will fall down if the story is lame, it is badly written or poorly acted, then a presentation needs to have more than just good design in order to help you to win the sale.
Planning – we know we bang on about this constantly but only because it is important! Just as the saying goes ‘fail to plan, plan to fail’; fail to plan your presentation before you start building and chances are you are missing an opportunity to make it really good! Too many people sit down with an empty Powerpoint deck in front of them and start tapping away on slide 1 before they even have a clue how many slides they are doing and also what the journey they are taking their audience on. Just a movie director doesn’t just turn up on set on day one without a storyboard, you shouldn’t open powerpoint (or Prezi) until you have a plan!
Content – you’ve heard the saying ‘content is king’ – you can have the most beautifully designed slides but if your content is not rich, interesting and relevant then they still won’t remember it. You need to be ruthless with content – do they really want to know that you have been in business 127 years and that your great grandfather worked out of the shed? Or would they rather know about their own business, how well you understand it and how your product / service can make their lives better, easier, less painful etc.? Generally speaking people are most interested in themselves and their own issues. So you will best turn them on with content that considers this. When considering content always put yourself in your audiences mind – do they want to know this? If you are unsure then leave it out. You presentation will succeed based on what you put into it, not what you leave out.
Structure – again, something we bang on about but a badly structured presentation can be the difference between winning and losing the sale! Poor structure leaves your audience confused, unconvinced and disengaged. Unlikely they will remember your key messages! A good structure on the other hand takes your audience on a journey; it engages them, works with their thought process and leaves them feeling good; a much stronger position to be in.
Visualising – a presentation isn’t meant to be a crib sheet, reminding the presenter of the key points. It also doesn’t need to say everything on the screen. If it does then why are you there as the presenter! Your slides are meant to demonstrate, enhance and back up your points, making your messages stronger. If you put loads of words on the slide then people tune out of what you are saying to read them – evidence has proven that people cannot read and listen at the same time. So if they are reading, they are not listening to you. And the chances are they will forget 90% of what they read anyway. Whereas if you talk passionately and are backed up by quality visuals the message is enhanced and has more impact. And isn’t this the objective? There are so many alternatives to using bullet points and text – photos, infographics, diagrams, videos are just some of the tools you can consider as alternative to texts. Always consider how can I replace this text with something visual?
Lastly, give your sales presentation the importance it deserves. If you have spent time, money and resources targeting, engaging and nurturing a prospect and you finally get an opportunity to present to them; don’t waste all that time, money and resource by cobbling together a poor presentation the night before. This is the opportunity to seal the deal so give the creation of your presentation the same level of priority that you have given the previous stages of the sales process.
if you don’t have the time, ideas or skills to do it yourself engage a professional expert such as ourselves – it will be a worthwhile investment and if it means the difference between winning the business and not, then its a no brainer!
And if you want to really stand out from your competitors, consider having your presentation built in Prezi, not Powerpoint; allowing you to really be memorable and take your prospect on a presentation journey they will remember!