When it comes to preparing for presentations, there are major differences between the opinions of the marketing and sales teams. I’ve lost track of the number of marketing teams I’ve talked to who have discussed at length the growing gap they are seeing between their own work and the work of their sales teams when building towards a business presentation. Teams of marketers will often spend countless hours toiling away to develop the perfect presentation that is on brand and details all necessary messaging. Then, as soon as it’s handed over, the sales team wastes no time in altering the presentation however they like, taking out slides, adding slides from years-old presentations and generally changing everything the marketers took so long to build. In the end, they are left with a presentation that has lost most of the carefully crafted messaging and that no longer makes sense.
On the other side of the coin, I don’t know many sales professionals who haven’t needed to supplement presentations created by marketing with additional materials. In their eyes, marketing presentations can’t actually help to close business without the sales teams jumping in to adapt content, both to fit their own style of presenting and the style of those they’ll be presenting to. This leads to further hours wasted by the sales teams as they have to proofread all presentations sent to them by marketing to make sure it’s right for the occasion. Some reports suggest as much as 25% of salespeople’s time is spent re-creating presentations that have already been developed by marketers. That’s time that could be better spent on actual selling!
Marketing and sales teams are usually in sync with their goals and targets. However, when it comes to preparing presentations, both teams see the other as time wasters, getting in their way rather than working alongside them.
On top of this, research has shown that traditional one-way presentations simply don’t engage today’s audience like they used to. A study from University of Washington School of Medicine revealed that most people have zoned out within 15 minutes of a traditional PowerPoint presentation. It’s obvious that the current status quo isn’t working, and is resulting in stress on both marketing and sales teams.
Thankfully, there is a solution for this.
Conventionally, presentations have been seen as linear, one-way communication, with the presenter speaking without interruption and the audience listening without an opportunity to get involved. Conversational presenting, on the other hand, breaks this tradition and allows both parties to simply talk to one another as they would in any other area of life. Rather than simply lecture people, conversational presenting allows you to get to know your audience, what they want to get out of the presentation, and how you can personalize your communication to be unique to them.
In addition, the good news with conversational presenting is that you can get back a lot of the time currently wasted by sales teams developing presentations. How? With conversational presenting, you can build just one overarching presentation that has all the things that you would ever normally need to cover in a sales meeting. Then when you arrive to the meeting, instead of presenting all of your content, you only cover the parts that are relevant. By starting with the question "Thank you for giving me twenty minutes of your time. How can we best spend it?" you instantly engage them in a conversation.
There are a number of obvious benefits to this strategy. For one, every meeting is personalized from your overarching presentation, depending on the audience and feel on the day. Sales teams are not locked into a pre-written presentation regardless of the people they find themselves presenting to. With conversational presenting, you can focus on the important information of the moment, all the while having all of the marketing team’s work to draw from.
Another benefit is that this single presentation can be developed by both the marketing and sales teams together. Using a tool such as Prezi Business, which includes collaboration features, allows teams to work on the presentation at the same time, in tandem with one another. While it may take some time to create such a large presentation – one which includes all the usual questions the sales teams predict could come up in a meeting – once developed, it can work for all future sales meetings, with ample room for personalization. This can also be done in plenty of time before the presentation. So if the sales team learns something new about their audience, they can simply weave it into their conversation during the meeting rather than having to add more slides to their presentation at the last minute.
With conversational presenting, marketing and sales teams need not feel as though they’re working against each other when developing their presentation assets. On one side, marketing can create a presentation that’s on brand and on message, meanwhile the sales team get a presentation they know works out in the field, without having to take the time to tailor the deck for each individual meeting. Not only are both teams happy with the presentation, but valuable time has been saved. What’s not to like?
About Spencer Waldron
Leading the growth & development of Prezi in Western Europe, I manage business operations and am responsible for the revenue plan. Focused on raising the awareness and adoption of Prezi across the UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands by establishing and maintaining long term relationships with value-added business partners as well as marketing, promoting and evangelizing the ability to share ideas better, improve how we communicate with each other and become a better presenters.
Prezi is a cloud-based presentation software that opens up a new world between whiteboards and slides. The zoomable canvas makes it fun to explore ideas and the connections between them. The result: visually captivating presentations that lead your audience down a path of discovery.
Also part of the launch team for Prezi's new conference - PRESENT (http://www.presentconf.com) - Europe's first conference dedicated to business presentations with headline speakers such as the content director for TED, Richard Bransons public speaking coach and more.