Posts Tagged ‘Sales Pitch’

(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

The Whistle has been well and truly blown….

Monday, July 22nd, 2013 by Justine<

Thanks to everyone who responded to our call for Presentation Whistleblowers. We’ve been through the replies and with more than a hint of morbid fascination, here are some of the things that are currently keeping us awake at night.

We knew we were in for a ‘treat’ from the first sentence of the first reply….“How long have you got??”

We have paraphrased some responses to protect the innocent and avoid an 18 certificate.

Not one of our Ten Commandments escaped unscathed. Those of a nervous disposition may wish to look away….

 

Thou shall not throw random facts at thy audience without heedance of narrative.

“I didn’t know it was possible to get 40 bullet points on one slide”

“words in bubbles are just floating bullet points”

“the whole thing felt like a crazy word association game”

Thou shall be clear in communicating thy key messages

“we didn’t learn anything, not even what the presentation was about”

“even the graphic of their company logo was unclear”

“spoke excitedly about a new offer but had no details of it when asked”

Honour thy audience for they deserve to be engaged

“I could have spent the time doing something much more valuable and interesting – such as rearranging my sock drawer!”

“no idea which company presented, or what they were offering, I can only remember how awful it was”

Thou shall not induce migraine or double vision with bad design

“It’s a presentation, not an eye exam”

“white text and light green text in different fonts of varying sizes on a selection of blue backgrounds”

“it felt like they used every transition possible”

Thou shall not read slides for thy audience is not in need of sleep

“two presenters in a row and both read from slides word for word with no explanation”

“It was hot and several of the audience did indeed doze off”

“there was quite a buzz in the room – about the horses we could see out of the window –  the presenter was too busy reading his slides to notice”

Do not covert thy neighbours presentation, make your own the best it can be

“I’ve seen some shockers and some superstars – hope mine is the latter”

“my boss said we needed a presentation exactly like our main competitors, so I suggested we used theirs”

Love thy presentation for thy audience will know thy heart

“the meeting was going well and then they said  ‘sorry about this but the boss says I have to show you our presentation’… oh dear”

“when the presenter says ‘you don’t need to look at that bit, it’s boring’ you know you’re in trouble”

Thou shall be knowledgeable and prepared in the use of technology

“He was trying to sell us a technical service, yet the tablet he brought was an old version and had a cracked screen.”

“Ended up apologising to presenter because I didn’t know how their laptop worked – just wrong”

Thou shall be prepared for thy tech to smite thee by arming thyself with pen and paper

“left their laptop on the train and spent the meeting time using our phone to try and track it down”

“They had forgotten to charge their laptop so could not show us a presentation at all”

Thou shall relax for thy audiences is unlikely to raise arms against thee

“reps first day, ran in – apologised, threw up – apologised, stuttered through presentation – apologised. We ended up looking after him for quite a while…”

“A new supplier turned up late, sweaty and unprepared”

“I was wondering why people were snickering until a brave prospect told me what the background image looked like when other pictures appeared in front of it”

 

As for the criminals involved, suppliers and internal comms teams top the list of bad presenters and IT departments and Tech companies are the most likely to bamboozle audiences with their presentations.

If any of you are concerned that you might be delivering the sort of presentation that our whistleblowers are talking about, fear not, our free Presentation Healthcheck service can help you out.

And for those of you still suffering in silence, we’re leaving the whistleblower contact form open just in case you need to vent….

Dragons Den – Backstage Report Part 1

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013 by Justine<

Yesterday saw Simon complete phase one of his ‘Double Dragon’ experience.

As part of Henley College’s Enterprise & Employability Week, Simon was on hand yesterday to guide the young entrepreneurs in the art of presenting.

The syllabus was based on our proven Presentation OptimisationTM methodology and the students were keen to learn about the importance of message and the mistakes that can be made by over egging the cake (it becomes a floury omelette if you’re wondering).

They also discussed how best to visualise their ideas in a way that will engage the Dragons. The relative merits of PowerPoint, product demos and art boards were all debated along with the opportunities and dangers that using multiple platforms can bring.

The students were very enthusiastic to learn and interestingly they showed the same anxieties that we see every day with our business customers. We know that, to our customers, every presentation is THE presentation and the students felt just the same.

Encouraging the business people of tomorrow to think a little differently about how they present will help them to avoid the pitfalls associated with “Death by PowerPoint” that have given presentations such a bad reputation.

It’s a very Eyeful way of helping to raise the bar for business presentations.

On Friday, Simon will be seeing his work from the other side, as he unfurls his Dragon wings and judges the finalised presentations – we’ll let you know how he gets along.

College

Presentation Pressure..?

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013 by Justine<

Presenting brings with it all manner of pressure…  Heart palpitations and sweaty palms are commonplace in meeting rooms and conference halls the world over, as presenters wrestle with the fear of stumbling over their words or completely losing the plot as they deliver their slides.

A statistic often dragged out and dusted down at this point is; that more people are terrified at the thought of standing up and presenting to an audience than they are of dying. This is typically followed up with the quip, “So they would rather it be their funeral than give the eulogy at someone elses”.

Funny…but the impact this fear can have on a presentation is deadly serious.

We have recently used our Presentation Optimisation methodology to develop a deck for a lovely customer who is presenting today at Buckingham Palace …to HRH Prince Andrew.  Gulp!  Now that is a high pressure pitch!

Both our Presentation Designer, Nicola, who worked on the deck and Consultant, Paul, who developed the messaging and drew up the initial storyboard are happy to boast that they have created slides for royalty.  But, more importantly, we can take great pride in equipping our customer with a presentation that the presenter has complete confidence in.  Once the confidence kicks in, the pressure ebbs away… our job is done.

So best of luck to our lovely customer and we eagerly await an update on how it all went.  Perhaps we could get our Customer Champions to survey the Palace to get their view on it?  Maybe not…

So, if you need some help dealing with those presentation nerves, start with the basics and get your content and story straight and build from there.