Category Archives: Marketing and Sales

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.

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.

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

Tired of digging for slides? Bring your content management system inside PowerPoint

Tired of digging for slides? Bring your content management system inside PowerPoint

SharePoint, Box, and other content management systems (CMSs) are a great solution to securely store and share your company documents. They provide online access, version control, metadata support among a host of other capabilities. CMSs allow marketing and sales teams to organize their PowerPoint assets by product, vertical, customer segment for easy search and retrieval.

However, accessing content from a CMS typically involves breaking your workflow from a productivity application (e.g. PowerPoint) to a separate interface. Further, the CMS interface may require several clicks before you find the content you are searching for.  This disruption is time-consuming and switching applications can disrupt your thought process.

CMSs are making progress in their integration with Microsoft Office products. For example, Box now allows users to simultaneously edit a Word document. Or, you can edit a document with Office 365 right in your browser.  Most CMSs include desktop sync applications that ensure folders on your computer mirror your online account.

Retrieving content from a CMS is still a tedious process. Further, for PowerPoint users, the problem is amplified as users are often looking for a particular slide rather than an entire presentation. Even after traversing their CMS to find a presentation, they dig through the presentation it to find the specific slide they need. SharePoint had a basic slide library solution that briefly solved this problem but it was deprecated a few years ago.  As a result, this enforces bad habits as users retrieve old versions of slides and presentations stored on their computer rather than the latest version available on the CMS. For sales reps, this can lead to out-of-date product information, old branding, and propagation of errors which ultimately impacts their ability to close deals. An alternative to SharePoint’s slide library, ideally a significantly improved version, is required to improve productivity.

At TeamSlide, we focus our efforts on providing a slide level search engine that works within PowerPoint. You can search, preview, and insert a slide into your active presentation without ever leaving PowerPoint. TeamSlide connects to a number of CMSs including SharePoint, Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive. Essentially bringing the CMS inside PowerPoint. Once connected, TeamSlide searches across presentations to surface the most relevant slides for your search.

For sales teams, TeamSlide allows you to quickly find a particular slide and build effective presentations. For marketing, TeamSlide offers a simple way to disseminate content while still leveraging your CMS. In addition, TeamSlide will check your slides against the central repository to ensure you always have the most up-to-date content.

Switching applications to find content is inefficient and promotes bad habits that can impact output quality. Bringing content systems inside productivity software is a natural step to solve this problem that can lead to significant benefits.

The 4 Key Elements of Winning Sales Presentations

Recently we spoke to Ian Jackson from Supreme Slides about creating sales presentations. To dramatically increase your chance of closing the deal (and blow your competition out of the water!), he shared 4 Key Elements that Supreme Slides recommends you include in your sales presentations:

#1:   Custom Design: Visuals & Infographics

Get their attention: to keep your audience actively engaged, complement your sales pitch with custom-designed visuals and infographics. Generic visuals can be bland, and fail to convey unique aspects of your value proposition. Custom designs can play a huge part in creating a unique, memorable experience.

Infographics are more engaging, easy to understand and recall. And they’re more likely to be shared online. They’re a concise, much more appealing way to quickly convey data, complex or large amounts of information.

Types of infographics include: flow charts, comparisons, maps, data visualizations.

#2:   Professional Copywriting

Edit, edit, edit: professional copywriters know how to eradicate ‘waffle’, quickly identify key information, and craft persuasive copy. Personally, I’m a big fan of getting specialists onboard to do what they do best, so that I can too!

Sure, you can write the copy yourself, but at the very least, it’s worth getting a copywriter to look at what you’ve written. Sometimes we can be too ‘close’ to our business, to know what wording will/won’t work in our presentations. Impartial advice can make all the difference.

#3:   Custom-made Video/Animated Video

Boredom-busters: breaking presentations up with video content can raise the energy level in a room, and the bright colors, movement and simple lines in animated videos can make complicated or potentially dull information, much more interesting.

For example, you could grab attention by kicking off your presentation with an introductory Video, and/or include a video testimonial which proves your value proposition.

It’s critical that the video content is highly relevant – which is why custom-made videos are preferable, and Videos shouldn’t be included just for novelty value.

Smarter not harder: Video can also be re-purposed, e.g. for social media, on websites, in webinars and blogs… So custom-made Video content can actually give you a lot of ‘bang for your buck’!

#4:   A Confident Presenter

Imagine everyone’s naked?? You can have every other element of your sales presentation sorted, but if you don’t feel confident about your presentation skills and ability to gain rapport, all your hard work might be wasted. ‘Fake it til you make it’ doesn’t work for everyone… Same goes for the advice to ‘imagine everyone’s naked’!

Presentation Coaching can achieve amazing results – everyone has the potential to become an assured, compelling speaker. If you aren’t one already, you can be. Sometimes just adjusting small things like body signals and tone of voice, can make a big difference.


Ian’s advice all boils down to this: you’re asking people to invest in your business, buy your product or use your service… To greatly increase the chance of them doing so, you need to invest in it too. By enlisting the help of a designer, copywriter and possibly a presentation coach, you’ll go into your next sales presentation feeling FAR more confident!

Connect with Ian Jackson on LinkedIn

Supreme Slides is a specialist presentation agency which creates visually stunning, persuasive sales presentations that get results

 

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www.supremeslides.com

Insights on how to develop your partner programs to drive sales

 

Partnership programs

Partnerships are critical source of revenue for many businesses as they offer an opportunity to amplify sales and sell to customer segments that might be otherwise difficult to reach. A strong partner program can help maximize these relationships. Here are some insights to consider when building your partnership programs:

2-way communication

While you may not be working directly with your partners’ customers, you still need to listen to the customer voice. This is especially important if you have no other access to the specific customer segment. Access to customer feedback helps fuel product improvements, provide better customer support, and develop a strong understanding of industry trends. You can achieve this by scheduling joint sales calls with your partners or attending the conferences and seminars these customers are likely to also attend.

In addition, your partners need instant access to the right content to effectively sell your products. Whether it is product updates, sales best practices, or technical support your partners need simple access to your latest knowledge. If PowerPoint slides are an effective tool in the sales process, consider a slide library or slide management solution that automatically ensures that all parties have easy access to the latest slides. While SharePoint was used in the past, Microsoft deprecated the slide library feature – you’ll need to find an alternative solution.

Measure and train

To improve the performance of your partner network, you’ll have to first actively collect data around specific metrics. Some key metrics you’ll want to include are:

  • How many deals does the partner close? How is it trending over time?
  • How long does it take to close deals?
  • What percent of leads are they closing?
  • What products are they selling? What is your profitability for these products?
  • What types of customers are you partners reaching? Are they strategic or customers you can’t easily reach?
  • What are the customer satisfaction ratings?

Once you have performance data at hand you can start designing the appropriate training programs. Key questions to consider when developing these programs include:

  • Do they have access to the latest content? This could be slides, case-studies, or white-papers
  • What form of training session is most effective with the particular partner? In person, webinar, etc.
  • What rules can you put in place to motivate under-performing partners?
  • Are partners incentivized to sell the specific (high-margin) products you want them to sell?

 

 

 

 

3 tips to build better sales presentations

The sales presentation is a great opportunity to establish a relationship with the customer and align your offering with their specific needs. Whether delivered in person or using a web conferencing solution, the presentation should serve as a launching point for a collaborative working model.

Often times, however, sales presentations become a one-way conversation and a rush to flip through as many slides as possible. Here are 3 tips that can help improve your presentations:

Tailor your presentations1. Tailor the presentation to the customer: Do you have a good understanding of the customer’s needs and perspective prior to the call? What are their primary pain points? Are they using a competitive product? Why are they considering your offering?

While it may take additional effort, tailoring your slides to resonate with the customer’s expectations can significantly improve outcomes. Try splitting all your sales collateral into modules that you can pull together and edit to build a story relevant to your customer.

 

Engage the audience2. Engage the audience: Through your presentation style and the PowerPoint slides aim to establish a collaborative and engaging meeting.  Here are a few ways to achieve this:

– Pause to ask questions and ensure that your audience is following along
– Keep your slides simple and use images and charts appropriately to bring your ideas to life
– Ensure that your slides add to any knowledge the customer may have already acquired from your website or other sources

 

soccer ball3. Understand your desired outcome: The  presentation is likely an early step in the sales process and it’s unlikely the customer will immediately send you a PO. However, each presentation does have a goal even if it’s as simple as setting up another meeting.  As such, you should build the goal into the presentation and leave enough time to address it. Otherwise you may find that the customer was engaged but that the next steps were unclear.

If the presentation goal is logical and represents a small step in the sales process it may make sense to devote a slide to it. However, if the ask is large and the customer not prepared, it may make sense to more gently bring it up.

 

 

 

Don’t forget to extend your content marketing strategy to your sales teams

A quick Google search will point you to hundreds of articles on content marketing and how the buying/selling paradigm is changing. Essentially, content marketing is the act of delivering useful information that makes buyers smarter and establishes a collaborative sales process. Instead of pitching your products, you share relevant content that helps your prospect learn about the problems you are solving. As a result, you’ll generate more leads, have engaged prospects, build your brand, and most importantly, close more deals.

You’ll find articles on how to write blog entries, manage your social media campaigns, and deliver online seminars to operationalize your content management strategy. However, once you have a warm prospect you need to ensure that your sales team is armed with the tools and content required to continue the conversation and deliver the next level of value.

Consider these questions when extending your content marketing strategy to your sales teams:

  • Do you have additional content that they can use to continue to engage the prospect?
  • Is your content specific to the types of customers you are targeting? Is it tailored for different verticals, company sizes, or the prospect’s role?
  • What type of content does your sales team need? PowerPoint slides, PDFs?
  • How will your sales team access the content? Do you have a slide library or a digital asset management system? Is it working efficiently?
  • As your product and messaging changes, how will you ensure your sales team has access to and uses the latest content?

For some sales teams, PowerPoint slides play an important part in sharing content with customers. In these cases, marketing will need to create a library of slides that explain the market, products, and benefits as it pertains to each specific set of targeted prospects. These slides will need to be formatted to deliver a consistent brand and message. Further, the slides will have to be consumable individually or in groups as sales teams use them to build a customer specific story. As a result, sales teams will need unbelievable easy access to the PowerPoint slides to ensure they stay on script and always use the latest available information.