Posts Tagged ‘Sales Pitch’

A Very British Question…

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 by Matt<

ssp1

We Brits hate talking about money. I don’t proclaim to know why, it’s just one of those things.

Be it discussing what we get paid, how much our car cost or how much we spent on our wedding – it just doesn’t feel right to talk about MONEY!

But is it the same for businesses?

When it comes to searching the net for a particular product or service, I absolutely hate it when a company goes into great detail about something – but then the price is nowhere to be seen.

As I’m then forced to call them, have the uncomfortable conversation about MONEY, usually then to find out we are poles apart anyway.

And what about business presentations? We were recently asked:

Do you think costs, prices or fees should be an integral part of a proposal presentation, or left in the hard copy version handed over at the end?

Well, the answer is: it all depends on the most important aspect of your presentation – your audience.

Considering specifically ‘proposal presentations’, these are slightly different beasts to other presentations, as it could be that the price is absolutely expected or it may even be a formal requirement of the tender process.

If this isn’t the case, you really need to consider who your audience is and weigh up if you think the cost or price should be included and when.

In our very own Simon Morton’s book, The Presentation Lab he goes into detail on identifying and understanding your audience with the aid of audience heat maps. This is a good port of call if you are struggling in this area.

Here’s a potential structure to follow for a proposal presentation that does require costs:

Structure

The presentation should follow a structure that sets out the key building blocks of the product or service on offer in a visual way.

This ensures you don’t get pulled into conversations on every last detail, plus it helps you avoid trying to load slides with too much ‘non-presentable’ content.

Use Blended Presenting

Blended Presenting is essentially choosing the right presentation tool for the right moment of the presentation. So in this suggested approach, you could open with PowerPoint and then hand out hard copy print documents/pages at key stages before returning to PowerPoint.

When it’s time to reveal the price, keep the slide content pretty high level and leave the detail in the document.

The advantage of giving out, hand outs at specific times, is it keeps you (the presenter) in focus with the audience. As if you distribute the hand outs too early, you run the risk of losing the audience as they flick through and read ahead, instead of giving you their full attention.

Remember you’re not limited to PowerPoint and print outs alone, blended presenting covers a  range of tools that also includes: Whiteboards, Prezi, Websites, Product Demo’s and Videos.

Visualise Dry Topics

If you’re presenting very dry content such as costs, graphs, facts, figures or tables of information – consider taking an infographic approach.

As at the end of the day if a graph is on a slide, it must be there for a reason – it’s telling a story of some sort, so why not visualise that story and make it nice and easy for your audience to understand.

A top sales person once said to me that all of his sales opportunities are won or lost on the ‘deal’ it’s the overall package that makes the difference, not just the price

So consider what your ‘package’ is, combine it with the price and design it on the slide in a visual way – as this might just make the difference.

Contact the Experts

These opportunities are hard to come by and you usually only have one chance to close a deal. If you don’t want to risk it by using mixed up messages and homemade slides, then consider contacting the experts in this field.

Just pick-up phone and give Eyeful Presentations a ring on 0845 056 8528.

 

 

 

Story Season – Blockbuster presentations are just a few takes away

Thursday, March 12th, 2015 by Matt<

Movies and presentations aren’t that different.

OK, so maybe you’re not up for crashing on the sofa with a bag of freshly made popcorn and watching your latest pitch presentation with your better half BUT as we continue our journey through Eyeful’s Story Season, I’m going to show you how using what you already know about movies can help you create better and more structured presentations in the future.

The movie topic we’re going to explore is the Synopsis stage, or when it comes to presentations, what we at Eyeful call the Storyflow and the Storyboard.

Take a moment out and think…

If you were going to make a movie you wouldn’t just grab some actors and a camera and go shoot something without a story, without a script and no general direction. The same goes for presentations – the last thing you want to do is start off by opening up PowerPoint and trying to plan as you go along creating slides. It’s a recipe for disaster and will eat up more time than a Star Wars marathon.

So where does the road to silver screen success begin?

A movie generally starts with an idea for a story. Someone has a dream, gets inspired by real events or simply somehow has a great story idea that makes them so excited and driven that they just have to get it out of their head and down on paper.

A presentation starts in much the same way – an idea or vision.

At some point in time, somebody, somewhere came up with an idea, be it to sell something, to change something or perhaps to teach something…

Generally speaking this spark of creativity will inform the goal of the presentation – it’s what you the presenter (or your company) want to happen as a result of giving the presentation.

Back in Hollywood, the screenwriter gets the idea down on paper in the form of a synopsis, which is literally a written map of the story as a whole – where it starts, who the characters are and the journey they go on to wherever it is they end up.

I once read that a good movie should always take the audience on a journey – would it hurt to apply this to an audience who are expecting death by PowerPoint?

The flow of a presentation can be planned to take the same celluloid journey.

In our very own Simon Morton’s book, The Presentation Lab he details an entire chapter on business storytelling and offers an example of a simple story structure:

story structure - no frame

This structure is as old as the hills and has formed the basis of storytelling for centuries. As such, there’s no wonder that it has been successfully applied to both presentations and movies for many years.

Compare and Contrast

By way of an example, let’s look at the recent Hollywood blockbuster, Gravity, and in parallel, review the structure of a booking software sales presentation created by Eyeful.

Gravity

The story flow of a standard sales presentations in Putney and that of a Hollywood Blockbuster set a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away are in reality, not that different.

Importantly this example should have demonstrated that using stories in presentations is not complicated and that they don’t mean that your presentation need to start with, “Once upon a time…”!

What Happened Next?

The combination of story and presentations is a powerful one – go forth and make it happen.

You can use the synopsis structure above as a guide to creating presentations in the future and make sure when you leave those hard earned meetings you’re on the walk of fame – not shame.

If you would like some Hollywood style help to get your presentations ‘in the can’, get in touch and one of our story obsessed team will be on hand to bring your next blockbuster to life.

 

 

 

Most B2B presentations are failing (and here’s why)…

Thursday, November 13th, 2014 by Jayne Thomas<

The vast majority of B2B presentations are not fit for purpose – scary but true.

Leaving this key sales tool unloved is a sure fire way to miss out on opportunities, damage your reputation and give your competitors the advantage. Ignore your presentation at your peril!

Eyeful’s Simon Morton is here to share some tell-tale signs that you could be missing out on sales as well as giving a few ‘insider secrets’ on turning up the sales power of your presentation.

Not sure if your presentation is fit for purpose? Simply contact us for a chat or download our Sales Enablement Whitepaper.

(Presentation) Lessons Learned from This Year’s APMP Conference

Monday, October 27th, 2014 by Simon<

I had the privilege of speaking at the UK APMP event again this year. For the uninitiated, this is an opportunity for the UK’s bid and proposal experts to get together over a 3-day period and share best practice, gain insight into new developments and swap war stories.

Pontificating at the APMP ConferenceThis year I was talking through the ongoing issue of the Presentation Paradox, that peculiar state of mind that hits companies large and small when preparing for an important pitch. For some bizarre reason, preparing for this important pitch presentation is too often boiled down to a kneejerk ‘pull some slides together’ activity rather than seeing it as a huge opportunity to address any shortcomings of the bid document whilst simultaneously moving the audience to the next stage of the process.

I could rant on but frankly that’s not the purpose of this blog – I’m keen to share the lessons learned from this year’s event…

The lowly pitch presentation is getting some love

APMP have recognised the valuable part played by presentations in the bid process and now invite subject matter experts in to share their insight and knowledge. This year’s conference schedule covered both the fundamentals (technical training on PowerPoint) through to people like myself who were sharing new ideas and throwing down the presentation gauntlet to bid managers and their ilk.

This can only be a good thing – the more people think about the presentation process (from message and content through to the way it’s delivered), the greater the standard across the board. The net result is that we all benefit – presenters, audience and businesses.

New presentation technology is getting an airing

A completely unscientific straw poll during my seminar showed that the majority of businesses had tried new technology as part of their presentation process.

Top of the pile was Prezi, an innovative take on traditional slideware which, when used sparingly and at the right time, can be incredibly powerful. The flipside of this, of course, is that when used poorly and inappropriately, Prezi can be truly horrible. Delegates seemed to agree – many had tried it but few had returned to it on a regular basis for pitch presentations.

I was surprised to learn that an increasing number of high stakes bid presentations are now being delivered remotely. With the value of these bids often being in the tens and hundreds of millions, this seems a very brave thing to do! Remote presentation tools have come on leaps and bounds over the last few years (in particular video conferencing) yet I personally still struggle with the idea of building rapport and a relationship with pixels on a screen. Now this may be a personal tick I need to overcome as timescales shorten and travel costs increase but, in the meantime, if I can possibly find a way of sitting in front of an audience, I’ll bend over backwards to ensure I do.

The good news from all of this new technology and thinking is that bid presentations are benefitting from people approaching things differently. As with any development process, there will be things that people try which end up an unmitigated disaster whilst others will flourish and become ‘best practice’ for a business overnight. The key is to pick and choose carefully, making educated bets on the right approach to take for a particular audience.*

[* Gaining a good understanding of your audience is a particular passion of mine – for more information, reference The Audience Heatmap concept here].

Some things never change

Sadly there are some constants in the world of pitch presentations, one of which is out of the control of most presenters – leadtimes.

There is a consistent frustration voiced by bid teams when it comes to preparing their presentations – they’re given completely unrealistic leadtimes. One delegate shared an example of where the weighty bid document needed to be submitted by close of business on the Thursday. On the Friday, they received a call from the prospect asking them to deliver a presentation to the board and procurement team the following Tuesday.

A few things spring to mind:

  • Is this some sort of sick power play by the prospect?
  • Is the presentation simply serving as a ‘Cliff’s Notes’ version of the main document?
  • Is there any process in place to truly test the value of each bid or has the decision been made and the fast track presentation process simply a way of getting through the formalities as quickly as possible?

What makes this all the more concerning is that the delegate was a senior member of a bid team for a huge, well-respected technology business. Each bid is for millions of dollars and likely to underpin the strategy of the prospect’s business so surely the process should be a little more robust than this?

I don’t have an answer to this particular quandary but I do have a huge amount of sympathy for the bid professionals on the receiving end of this short-term approach. All I would do is implore the bid team not to lower their standards when preparing the pitch presentation – see it as the huge opportunity it truly represents and throw every morsel of energy you have to make the most of it.

In conclusion, the bid professionals at this year’s APMP event demonstrated all the attributes needed to create a powerful pitch presentation – an understanding of their audience, the ability to cut through the ‘noise’ of too much content and an eagerness to try new things (such as Blended Presenting) to ensure that the presentation opportunity is grasped firmly with both hands. If we maintain this forward momentum across all pitch presentations, the future is bright indeed.

Life’s a Pitch

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 by Justine<

The publication of The Presentation Lab Book has given us the opportunity to get in contact with some really interesting people who share our hopes and dreams for the future of presentations.

Having gamely resisted the temptation to set up a secret support network where we can quietly geek out about presentations to our hearts content, we decided that the best thing to do would be to spread the word in a valiant attempt to assimilate our ideas into normal society and improve the world of business communication, one presentation at a time.

One of the lovely people who got in touch was Boyd Blackwood, producer and host of Life’s a Pitch. Like us Boyd is working hard to get people to think differently about how they communicate. Boyd shares our belief that pitching and presenting are part of every business interaction and the skills needed to succeed should not be confined to official meetings in dusty boardrooms.

So when Boyd wanted to interview Simon to find out more about the man, the company and the methodology behind the book, Simon was more than happy to join him and share a little Eyeful love with his listeners.

Boyd interviewed Simon over two podcasts, both of which are available for free by clicking on the image below.

In the first podcast (episode 013) Simon debunks some presentation myths, explains how Audience Heatmaps are increasing audience engagement and talks about why presenting is a privilege and should be treated as such.

The second podcast (episode 014) covers Audience Pathway, Blended Presenting and ponders on why so many presenters feel the need to be so shy about their all-important call to action.

LAP2020

What Pitch Dropping can tell us about Pitch Presenting…

Friday, August 15th, 2014 by Justine<

Pitch (the tar like substance) is one of the slowest moving things around. It sits somewhere in the murky hinterland between solid and liquid and scientists have proven that getting it to do anything of interest takes a very, very long time.

Pitch (the ‘oh bugger they want to see us on Wednesday, what are we going to do?’) business kind is at the polar opposite of the action/reaction spectrum. It can evoke panic in even the most level headed of presenters.

So how on earth can the first type help us with the second?

It’s not about pitch itself but rather more about its place in one of the longest running scientific endeavours in the world – The Pitch Drop Experiment. For those of you unfamiliar with this particular phenomenon it involves waiting for some apparently solid pitch to fall through a funnel. As you might imagine this is not a whistles and bangs kind of experiment, in fact it’s quite the opposite.

The School of Mathematics and Physics at The University of Queensland began their experiment in 1927 since when it has dropped only nine times, In fact the custodian of the experiment for over 50 years Professor Mainstone never saw the actual event. In 1979 a drop fell at the weekend, in 1988 he was fetching a drink when it happened, in 2000 a video camera set up to record the event failed.

In fact it wasn’t until 2013 that anyone managed to capture a pitch drop on film and that honour was taken by a similar experiment set up in 1944 at Trinity College Dublin. In April 2014 the Australian drop was not only filmed but watched live on line by thousands of enthusiasts.

The scientific reaction was best summed up by Dr Shane Bergin, a physicist and senior research fellow at Trinity, “Eventually, when our one was caught on camera, it provided the world with a kind of scientific ‘Aaaah’ moment,” he says. “As in, finally, we see it!

Everyone knew the pitch was dropping but until they saw it for themselves it was difficult to make a personal, emotional connection to the event.

Business pitches face a similar problem; it’s relatively easy to explain the theory behind your product or solution, to provide statistics to back up its qualities and to regale your audience with how it has been successful at other times and in other places.

But what your audience really needs is the equivalent of seeing the drop fall for themselves.

They need to be able to experience your pitch in a way that connects with them, and they don’t have 86 years to hang around.

Getting it right is about understanding their viewpoint, motivation and situation and then placing your solution right into the heart of their world.

Unfortunately these are things that get the least consideration when panic sets in.

Eyeful and our sister company Sales Engine are on a mission to make sure that every pitch contains that moment. The pitch process can be an arduous journey littered with an unnerving trail of consonant ridden acronyms and intimidating processes that conspire to make the final scene, when you actually get in front of the decision makers, much more intimidating than it needs to be. Having experts at your side on every step of the journey makes a real difference.

So if you’ve got an upcoming pitch and you’re a little concerned that your drop is a long way from enthralling its audience simply pick up the phone, and while the professionals work their magic you can take a step back and possibly find a little time to enjoy the progress of the latest drop (ETA 2028).

pitch drop blog

Sales Enablement –The Debunking Begins

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014 by Justine<

Sales Enablement is a hot topic, and as is want to happen when something becomes big news, there are thousands of pages of wisdom on the subject. But thousands of pages don’t necessarily equate to answers that make sense for you, and your business, right now.

Well known for our inquiring minds, we’ve decided to dig a little deeper into this murky netherworld to try and find out what it’s all about. In true Eyeful style we’re sharing the results of our investigation with our lovely readers, starting tomorrow we’ll be airing our insights on some of the key issues and we’ll be topping the whole thing off with a lovely new whitepaper which will be available to download next Monday.

So for those of you bamboozled by Sales Enablement ‘science’, unsure of whether there’s anything of worth hidden in the arguments or simply embraced by curiosity, watch this space and we will reveal all…

Bid Professionals Embrace Blended Presenting: Conference Report from APMP UK

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013 by Simon<

For the last 11 years the great and good of the UK bid and proposal industry have got together to share ideas, learn new skills, review best practices and, let’s be frank, catch up on a bit of industry gossip.

As each year passed, the venue got bigger and the delegate list more international, culminating last week in the largest shindig to date set in the beautiful surroundings of the Cotswolds. I was naturally pleased as punch to be invited to speak at this years event and share the pitch power of Blended Presenting, offer views on Sales Enablement and share a sneaky peek into the forthcoming Presentation Lab book.

 

A Welcoming Crowd

The first thing that struck me was how welcoming everyone was.  It was a truly supportive environment with old friends reunited and new contacts quickly being formed over coffee (or beer as the evening started).

There was a real sense of the industry wanting to drive things forward (indeed, the theme of this year’s event was ‘The Moves To Win’) and each and every delegate seemed hungry for the next addition to their skill set.

 

The Potential of The Presentation

The positive vibes and happy enthusiasm of the delegates continued as I shared our experiences and ideas around the topic of Blended Presenting.

The presentation ambled through all manner of topics, from audience heatmaps, the longstanding issue of the Presentation Paradox and the power of story as part of the entire sales/bid process (including a nod to the hot topic of Sales Enablement).

The exciting conclusion I garnered from the audience was that the bid and proposal sector completely understands the value of a powerful and well-planned presentation.  The biggest frustration is that they are hamstrung with the same issues of not enough time or resource to do the job properly.

APMP SM 4

Key Takeaway – Turning Frustration Into Hope…& Results
Despite the all-too-familiar story of limited time and resource, there was a palpable sense that things are starting to change…fast.

The people at the forefront of this change, delegates at events like APMP UK, are starting to make waves and demonstrate the value of well-resourced bids and pitch presentations.  They are the teams creating the most compelling propositions, delivering the most persuasive presentations and ultimately winning the most deals.

 

The big question is how long can they keep it a secret?  My suggestion is that if you have anything to do with bids or proposals, you need to get yourself along to the nearest APMP event and find out from those in the know…

Monday Sales Inspiration

Monday, September 30th, 2013 by Justine<

It’s Monday again and once the trawl through the weekend spam is finished the new week begins in earnest. The question is, will this week be just like last week or can you make a real impact on those sales figures?

All it takes to make this week special is a little extra inspiration and here at Eyeful we’re ready to help you make the difference.

Our free autumn update webinar is full of tips to help you make the changes that will mark this week as the turning point in your sales strategy.

It’s a long journey from hello to handshake and we can help you every step of the way.

To join us at 12 noon today please click here

To join us at 5pm today please click here

Selling With Stories

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013 by Justine<

Nestled between the excitement of holidays and the anticipation of Christmas, autumn is a challenging time of year for sales teams everywhere. It’s hard to keep up the enthusiasm as the nights draw in and the leaves begin falling – but there’s still work to be done, and targets to be met.

Webinar logoMany of you will be about to embark on the annual trawl through the lost opportunities of spring but before you pick up the phone it’s time to review why they were lost in the first place and what new offering you have for them. Maybe they have decided to defer their investment until next year or maybe you just failed to make a connection, and if you couldn’t connect in spring, how will you connect in autumn?

Many sales teams will have been using the same collateral for almost a year and that’s a long time in business. Products and services change and evolve constantly and your customers’ needs and expectations do too.

Here at Eyeful we know that making your sales team achieve that final push is easier than you might think, all it takes to breathe new life into lagging sales is a little fresh thinking.

With this in mind we’ve put together an autumnal update webinar designed to breathe new life into sales teams everywhere.

We’ll help you understand your audience better, reinvigorate your sales, explain why slides are out and stories are in and give you all the tips you’ll need to communicate effectively anytime, anyplace, anywhere.

It’s not about airy fairy strategies and fanciful ideas, it’s about the stuff that works and brings real results.

It’s free to attend simply click through the links below to register and we’ll help you make those sales.

September 30th 12.00 GMT

September 30th 17.00 GMT