3 questions to ask when considering a SharePoint slide library replacement or alternative

Much to the dismay of its many users, SharePoint stopped supporting their slide library feature with SharePoint 2013. As organizations have updated their SharePoint implementations, marketing, sales, and product teams have suddenly lost an integral tool to share slides and ensure members have access to the latest PowerPoint content.

A number of vendors are positioning their solutions to close this gap and support improved slide sharing. However, a deep dive reveals that most are not suitable plug-n-play alternatives.

Here are 3 critical questions to ask when evaluating a SharePoint slide library replacement or alternative:

1. Does it integrate with SharePoint?

Adopting a new slide library shouldn’t impact your current content strategy – your new slide library needs to connect with the content you have in SharePoint. If you have a large repository (2000+ slides), uploading it to a new platform will greatly impact user adoption. Further, other systems may no longer be able to access the content.

2. Can you leverage your metadata?

Over the years, your organization has likely added a significant amount of metadata to SharePoint, helping users find the content they need. It’s imperative that your new slide library solution can use and display this metadata to help fuel its search. In addition, the library solution should also allow users to browse content by metadata.

 3. Does it work from within PowerPoint?

Implementing a new slide library solution should drive productivity without a significant learning curve. Solutions that require users to navigate to a website or a separate application significantly hamper productivity. However, providing access from within PowerPoint through an add-in or plug-in can help teams quickly realize benefits.

Slide libraries create immense value to organizations that use PowerPoint on a regular basis. However, selecting one that meets your specific needs requires a thoughtful process. We hope the questions above help frame your approach.

At TeamSlide, we’ve built a SharePoint slide library alternative. Feel free to request a demo and free trial.

 

Slide libraries: A tale of two use cases

A slide library is typically a set of PowerPoint content that can be accessed on a slide or object level. Across a variety of functions (e.g. sales and marketing) and industries (e.g. consulting, financial services), slide libraries play a significant role in presentation creation. They allow users to leverage existing content to quickly build new, consistent, and on-brand presentations.

Slide libraries used to be a core feature of SharePoint. Even though they were a popular feature, since SharePoint 2013, Microsoft has stopped supporting slide libraries due to design constraints.

While the idea of searching, previewing, and inserting individual slides is central to slide library solutions, their approach needs to fit tightly within the customer context and their use cases. As we’ve worked across a range of customers, two primary use cases have consistently emerged:

  1. Marketing/Business development/Templates
    • Small number of assets that are frequently used
    • Browsing more important than search
    • No significant management capabilities required
    • Asset development and curation performed by a small team
  2. Research
    • Large number of assets that are each infrequently accessed
    • Search more important than browsing
    • Sync content from a CMS (e.g. SharePoint)
    • Have formal processes in place for asset development/curation

Strong slide library solutions need to effectively serve both use cases. While customers may start with only one, as they mature both use cases often emerge as equally important.

For example, consulting firms have templates that drive productivity and output consistency. These templates are typically designed by a core operations team and stored locally on each employee’s computer. As firms mature, they invest in a knowledge repository that houses summaries of all completed projects. These summaries come from a larger group of employees and are typically curated by a central team. As the repository grows in size and value, the ability to access specific slides become increasingly important.

When selecting a slide library, ensure your vendor has the ability to support both uses cases equally and can meet your growing needs.

Replace the SharePoint slide library, not SharePoint!

Starting with SharePoint 2013, Microsoft surprisingly dropped support for their popular slide library feature. SharePoint’s slide library gave users access to PowerPoint content on a single slide-level. Further, it provided a picture preview of each slide, allowing users to quickly determine which slide they needed. While the UI was a little rough, SharePoint’s slide library was an important tool for marketing and sales teams across multiple industries. As companies upgraded their SharePoint implementation, users are often caught off-guard, losing access to an important feature and desperately looking to replace it.

In the following years, several 3rd party solutions have been introduced, including our own TeamSlide. However, many of these solutions ignore SharePoint (and other content systems), requiring users to recreate their repository on their own proprietary platforms. This strategy poses 2 primary issues:

  1. Manually rebuilding large repositories with metadata is extremely cumbersome, regardless of how easy the system tries to make it
  2. Most slide library offerings are point solutions with limited integration. As such, the repository is not usable by other technologies

When building TeamSlide, we spoke with marketing and sales teams across multiple industries and developed 2 key design tenants:

  1. Leverage existing content repositories like SharePoint to the fullest extent possible
    • Automatically replicate content
    • Pull in all existing metadata
  2. Place access to the library where users work – in PowerPoint
    • A visual preview of search results
    • Click to insert slides into the users’ active presentation

Expecting users to drastically change their habits inhibits adoption and impacts productivity. Effective slide library solutions need to leverage existing content systems and fit into current workflows.

If your team lost SharePoint’s slide library solution, request a demo of TeamSlide and we’d be happy to set up a free trial.  You’ll be able to search your PowerPoint presentations in SharePoint on a single-slide level, from within PowerPoint.

A brief look at the origins of PowerPoint and its acquisition by Microsoft

Since its inception, PowerPoint has revolutionized the way we present. Although PowerPoint has grown to become a ubiquitous tool across multiple industries and worked its way into pop culture (see Dilbert), few know about its early days.

Early PowerPoint history
A brief look at the origins of PowerPoint and its acquisition by Microsoft

PowerPoint began development in 1984 when Robert Gaskins was hired at Forethought, Inc. in Sunnyvale, California. His initial description of PowerPoint noted that business presentations were a $3.5B industry driven by 35mm slides and overhead transparencies. The idea of presentations wasn’t new and there were already a number of competitors. However, PowerPoint sought to disrupt the industry, making it quicker and easier to build slides with the help of personal computers.

The name “PowerPoint” wasn’t coined until just before its official release in 1987 when attempts to trademark the original name “Presenter” were rejected.

In February 1987, about 2 months prior to launch, Microsoft visited Forethought for a private demonstration. Bill Gates remained skeptical: “No, no, no, no, no, that’s just a feature of Microsoft Word, just put it into Word.” However, Microsoft returned a few days later to offer $5.3M plus incentives. Unhappy with the terms, which included moving the development team to Redmond, Forethought rejected the offer and subsequent offers from Microsoft.

On April 20th, 1987, PowerPoint 1.0 for Macintosh shipped. The initial press reviews were favorable, and their first production run of 10,000 units sold out. On April 28th, Microsoft visited Forethought again and the final deal structure started to take shape. On June 25th, the Microsoft officially agreed to a purchase price of $14M in cash. A permanent ‘Business Unit’ run by Robert Gaskins would remain in California.

PowerPoint 2.0, the first version available on Windows, was released in 1990 in conjunction with Windows 3.0. Press coverage of Windows 3.0 was illustrated in PowerPoint slides, launching a strong symbiotic relationship. Microsoft beat offers by Apple, Borland, Xerox, and others to get a head start in the presentation industry – they’ve never looked back.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_PowerPoint;
https://www.robertgaskins.com/powerpoint-history/documents/gaskins-powerpoint-original-proposal-1984-aug-14.pdf;
http://bento.hult.edu/the-man-who-dreamed-of-powerpoint/;
https://blog.zamzar.com/2016/06/10/deal-of-the-century-how-microsoft-beat-apple-to-buy-powerpoint-for-14-million/;

Sync B2B sales and marketing communication with slide libraries

Slide libraries help sync B2B marketing and sales

Communication misalignment between sales and marketing is a ubiquitous problem that can ultimately cost B2B companies 10% of revenue or more per year. The lost revenue arises from:

  • Marketing content that is never used
  • Poor lead conversion
  • Reduced sales productivity

The tension results from marketing and sales approaching the process from different viewpoints. While marketing tends toward a long-term broad focus, sales is often tasked with closing leads with very specific requirements.

The problem with building presentations

The misalignment often starts when building/assembling presentations for customer meetings.

Prior to a meeting, the sales team often edit and refine official marketing presentations such that they are tailored to the customer’s needs. The process is time consuming and seemingly always completed under duress. As a result, finding the right slide in a sea of presentations in the company intranet is frustrating and sometimes not feasible.

As a result, sales often refer to unofficial presentations from past meetings – largely because they are easier to find. However, over time the slides become out-of-date with old information and inconsistent branding, ultimately impacting the ability to close the sale.

How slide libraries drive alignment

To effectively solve misalignment during presentation assembly, provide marketing with a solution to expose specific slides and give sales incredibly easy access to these slides – slide libraries do exactly this.

A slide library solution allows users to access slides on an individual basis. Rather than rummaging through decks to find the one slide they need, slide library solutions either extract slides from a content source or allow users to create a library. Further, search results are visual, allowing users to quickly discern which best meets their needs.  Often times, the search function and slide retrieval is built into PowerPoint, making it easy to adopt.

Rather than always publishing entire presentations, creating a library of individual slides gives marketing a chance to build specific on-message slides that meet sales needs across their different leads.

For sales, the tool allows them to find marketing-approved slides with incredible ease. Essentially, the process is simplified such that it’s the easiest way to find slides (even easier than searching through their hard drive).

Advanced slide library solutions even check sales’ slides to ensure users have the latest version. If out-of-date, users can review and update slides with a click.  Such solutions can provide marketing with analytics on what slides are accessed most often, helping close the feedback loop. Some even allow sales teams to suggest updates to slides that marketing can review and accept.

Slide library solutions ensure consistent messaging and improved productivity:

  • Provide buyers with the right content each step of the sales process
  • Drive cohesive messaging and branding across all communication
  • Spend less time building presentations and more time selling

How you can implement a slide library

When first starting, trying to assemble a ‘master’ deck with all your core slides and make sure it’s available to the entire sales team. While a simple method, this allows you to test approach without significant investment.

Next, check if a solution already exists in-house.  SharePoint used to support a slide library, but it was discontinued starting with SharePoint 2013. Alternatively, we provide a 3rd party solution called TeamSlide. TeamSlide integrates with a number of content systems including SharePoint and Google Drive, allowing you to quickly make large amounts of content searchable on slide level.

4 Microsoft add-ins that help drive B2B sales productivity

B2B Sales Productivity: Office Add-ins that help

Microsoft Office is an incredibly versatile and comprehensive tool on its own, but with the right add-ins you can supercharge the Office experience, improving your B2B sales productivity.

Microsoft add-ins are software utilities that enhance the overall functionality of core Microsoft Office applications including Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Excel. They offer focused productivity gains that can greatly help specific sales tasks.

Here are some of our favorite Microsoft add-ins that help drive sales efficiencies:

1. Word: Grammarly

While written communication is central to the process, grammar is often overlooked, lowering the perceived quality of the sales collateral. And as a result, reducing the perceived quality of the product or service sold.

Grammarly is a cloud-based writing support tool that automatically detects potential grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice, and style mistakes. It greatly improves your writing and reduces the risk of embarrassing errors. Their Microsoft Word add-in automatically checks your documents and also provides weekly stats about your writing. Grammarly offers a free version that includes basic checks and a premium offer that checks for more complex errors and inconsistencies.

2. PowerPoint: TeamSlide

Building PowerPoint decks is a critical sales task, but quickly finding the right slide and leveraging past presentations can be inefficient.  Sales teams often end up checking email attachments and flipping through decks to hunt for lost slides.

TeamSlide is a slide-level search tool embedded in PowerPoint. It searches across your content repositories (e.g. SharePoint, Box), local folders, and email attachments, allowing you to preview and insert the best slides into your current presentation. You’ll never rummage through presentations to hunt for a slide again.

3. Outlook: Join.me

Productive B2B sales team spend a significant amount of time in customer meetings. However, setting up conference calls with new leads can be tedious as sales professionals have to configure invites in Outlook and call details in a web browser. Between the back and forth, determining different time zones, and aligning calendars the process is time-consuming and prone to error.

Join.me, a web conferencing and online meeting solution, offers an add-in that helps you schedule meetings directly from Outlook. You can create a meeting invitation and include the required web conference details (personal URL, dial-in details, etc.).

4. Excel: Mapline

Managing sales territories, including their performance, is a core function in sales operations. However, generating simple but powerful visualizations that outline performance can be difficult, and as a result, often not completed.

Mapline, a mapping solution, offers an Excel add-in that helps you create maps from Excel data without leaving the worksheet. You can upload data directly from within Excel, allowing you easily update maps.

Microsoft add-ins drive productivity while minimizing change management

Add-ins minimize change managment

Microsoft Office has a stranglehold on business productivity with no signs suggesting a significant shift any time soon. While Office provides a strong toolkit, there is plenty of room for improvement with additional features that help specific user groups. Microsoft, after all, is aiming to please a wide audience which tends to leave feature and workflow gaps.

As a result, a wide ecosystem of partner companies has popped up to fill these gaps, adding even more functionality to Microsoft Office. Realizing that partners play a critical role, Microsoft has fostered the ecosystem with in-depth documentation, an app store (for certain types of add-ins), and even competency certifications.

Aploris earns Microsoft Partner Gold and Silver Microsoft Partner competencies
Aploris, creators of TeamSlide, have earned Microsoft’s Gold and Silver application development competencies

Often partner companies add functionality with add-ins that bolt onto Office and interact with Office documents. The range of add-ins is endless from a Wikipedia add-in that allows you to conduct Wikipedia searches from Word to our slide search tool, that helps you find and extract individual slides on your computer. Typically, add-ins are accessed through the navigation ribbon in an Office application (e.g. PowerPoint).  We’ve previously discussed the benefits of add-ins versus browser-based tools.

Beyond adding functionality, add-ins help drastically reduce the change management effort commonly involved in rolling out a new feature or tool:

  • Add-ins can be silently deployed and often require no user input during installation
  • They operate within a host application that users are already familiar with (e.g. Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, Excel), reducing the friction typically associated with new tools. For example, the icon that launches the add-in can be included the navigation ribbon and the tool open in a pane within the host application
  • Add-ins can notify the user within the primary application, facilitating a number of adoption strategies. For example:
    • After installation, add-ins may start automatically the first time their host application is opened
    • Add-ins can activate based on a document state. Our slide search solution, TeamSlide, automatically notifies users if a slide in their presentation is out-of-date

Microsoft add-ins offer an effective way to add specialized functionality to the Office application suite. By embedding within familiar applications, they reduce the change management effort often associated with rolling out new tools.

3 ways your sales organization can shift toward agile methodology

Agile methodologies for sales

3 ways your sales organization can shift toward agile methodology

With increasing frequency, customers are looking to buy from trusted advisors who bring experience and knowledge in addition to their product or service. As a result, the sales process is rapidly evolving, and sales organizations are realizing that a collaborative approach best serves their customers.

Mirroring a software development approach, agile sales breaks rigidity and focuses the process on shorter iterative goals. The approach empowers sellers to collaborate within their team and with other parts of the organization, focusing on solving their customers’ problems.

Adopting the agile methodology requires buy-in throughout the organization and a significant cultural shift. Here are 3 ways you can begin that process:

Initiate daily standup meetings

Daily standup meetings align goals, create accountability, and foster a collaborative culture. They provides opportunities for the sales teams to initiate in-person discussions and build meaningful relationships.

A standup takes about 10-15 minutes and each team member is asked 3 primary questions:

  • What goals did you accomplish yesterday?
  • What are your plans today?
  • What do you need to in order to be more productive?

Meetings should be short and remain focused, but members should be encouraged to continue conversations afterwards.

Divide large objectives into smaller milestones

Break long-term objectives into specific goals that can be achieved in 2-6 weeks, giving team members a sense of accomplishment as they meet their milestones. This ‘sprint’ approach provides opportunities to course correct, allowing your team to adapt to changes.

For instance, your sales team might aim to close a 1K new accounts within the next 6 months. This objective can be broken down into first achieving 10K leads which can then be divided into weekly cold calls and monthly conference visits. You might then split your cold calls by industry and first start with collecting contact information.

Ideally, each sprint details a specific objective that is discussed in advance between manager and employee. Sprints can increase the quality of deliverables and help employees deal with change.

Collaborate with marketing and beyond

A single sales person likely can’t provide all the expertise a customer needs. But a collaborative approach can pull in the right resources to maximize the customer relationship.

Designing sprints and conducting daily standups create opportunities for personal interaction within the sales team. However, collaboration with marketing, product, and other groups is essential too. This can be fostered through:

  • Cross-functional meetings/socials: engaging with other groups helps build relationships and empowers your sales team to communicate across the organization for help
  • Focused content management: a central repository where sales presentations and other knowledge is curated helps ensure all groups are aligned; encourage feedback to continuously optimize content

Add images to your slide library and effectively build compelling, on-brand presentations

Client relation teams at investment management firms build a multitude of presentations every day. Beyond ensuring that the information provided is accurate and up-to-date, presentations need to be compelling and convince the audience to act. Images play a large role in achieving this goal by capturing the audience’s attention, succinctly conveying ideas, and portraying the right brand.

However, using images in presentations has a number of challenges which typically result in productivity loss or a negative impact on the presentation itself.

Challenges in using images in presentations

  • Copyrights: Images are often copyrighted and not free to use. Your team may be tempted to run a Google image search to find images. However, these images tend not be legally free to use usable or require very specific attributions  Further, team members may miss awkward watermarks that lower the quality of the entire presentation
  • Search and selection: Searching for images, even from the most effective stock websites, takes significant time. Teams can spend hours debating the impact of images and may even re-purchase images that another team member has previously bought. Choosing an incorrect resolution can also impact the presentation size or quality
  • Updates: Updating old presentations with new client logos and new brand images is often a forgotten task. As a result, old off-brand images make their way into new presentations resulting in a poor perception of quality

How a slide library can help manage images

While slide libraries often feature the ability to centrally manage a collection of slides, they can often be extended to include images.

A slide library provides teams with a central location to access PowerPoint slides, helping greatly improve the efficiency of creating new presentations. It helps ensure users have quick, seamless access to the latest content.

SharePoint used to include a slide library feature, but it was removed starting with SharePoint 2013. However, third-party solutions like TeamSlide have specialized in slide library features and integrate with SharePoint and other content systems including Box and Google Drive.

In addition to managing slides, TeamSlide allows teams to centrally store and manage images. Users can connect TeamSlide to a SharePoint site and folder with images or upload images directly. Image file names can then be searched, and users can also add tags to help improve search-ability.  Search results can be previewed from within PowerPoint and clicking on a result adds the image to the current slide.

Investment management firms of all sizes can quickly build a repository of compliant images, including marketing collateral and client logos. Client relations team members can then quickly find the images they need rather than searching online, helping maximize the value of images that the firm has already invested in.

Further, TeamSlide includes an auto-update feature which checks all the images in a presentation to see if a newer version exists in the library. If a new image version is found, the old one can be automatically updated.

Slide libraries can greatly help investment management firms effectively build compelling presentations that are on-brand and compliant.

Leverage taxonomies in SharePoint to improve search

SharePoint metadata used for optimal search results

 

With SharePoint 2010, Microsoft released Managed Metadata to enable corporate knowledge managers to define a taxonomy, allowing for better content organization and improved search relevancy. In particular, Managed Metadata uses a central Term Store where admins can build formal hierarchical classifications of terms (or labels) that can be applied across SharePoint sites.

However, taxonomies and the metadata that comprise them have to be built effectively to realize the benefits.

What is a taxonomy?

In SharePoint, a taxonomy is a hierarchical classification of terms that are categorized and applied to the content. They form a structure for metadata that consistently classifies documents. For example, your sales folder in SharePoint may contain standard pitch presentations. You may define a taxonomy that describes the ‘industry’ the pitch is focused towards and the ‘product’ it represents. Within ‘industry’, the taxonomy might limit the available options to ‘finance’, ‘healthcare’ and ‘manufacturing’.

Taxonomies enforce naming standards and categories to add consistency across the platform and support enterprise content management. They enable end-users to locate and discover information quickly, helping solve business problems.

Benefits of building a taxonomy in SharePoint

1. Improve document search relevancy

The biggest advantage of defining a taxonomy is improving search relevancy. If your SharePoint content repository contains hundreds or thousands of documents, users are likely having a difficult time finding specific pieces of content. For example, locating a single PowerPoint presentation, or even a slide within a presentation, may be time-consuming and frustrating. As repositories rapidly grow, documents are often not consistently classified, making it difficult to sort through search results. This can result in significant productivity loss as finding content takes too long and, at times, users may even recreate content.

Applying a taxonomy allows users to search for terms or apply filters to quickly locate specific documents.

2. Maintain uniformity across your organization

Managed Metadata allows SharePoint admins to build a taxonomy that is shared across multiple sites and extended to other applications. Further, terms defined in a SharePoint taxonomy can include synonyms and multilingual variants. This allows all users to apply a consistent classification to documents using a defined set of terms.

As expected, you can control who has the ability to add and modify the defined taxonomy, allowing for flexibility as your content repository grows.

3. Effectively scale with your business

Nested folders are a simple and easy solution when first adding content to SharePoint. However, they can quickly become overwhelming as your data multiplies. Users may struggle to navigate folders to find relevant files, and even if you define an organizational structure, documents will be forced into one folder when they might belong to two or three.

With metadata, folder names can be added as tags to documents, allowing the document to have multiple classifications. This methodology easily scales and enables easier search and retrieval.

Considerations when adding a taxonomy in SharePoint

1. Ensure third-party tools leverage your taxonomy

Many organizations rely on third-party apps to either add, manage or search for content in their SharePoint implementation. When possible, select apps that support and leverage the taxonomy you invested in. This ensures consistency across your entire toolkit, creating a seamless experience for end-users.

For instance, our slide library and search solution, TeamSlide, integrates with SharePoint content repositories, importing the entire taxonomy along with the content. As a result, users can search for slides with a taxonomy already familiar to them (in addition to slide content).

2. Time new taxonomies with a SharePoint migration

SharePoint migrations offer the perfect time to identify and implement a new taxonomy. During migrations, content is often reviewed and cleaned, creating opportunities to test and improve the classification model.