Where are the PowerPoint files that drive your slide library?

Many sales and marketing organizations are often willing to transfer their PowerPoint files, their source content, to a proprietary slide library or management platform. While this approach has advantages, there are significant drawbacks, too. Another option is to automatically sync content from a third-party content management system (CMS), like SharePoint or Box, into the slide management solution.

In this article we compare the differences between the two approaches:

Connecting to a CMS

How it works

In addition to examining file content, the slide library also pulls in all related metadata.

Rather than uploading content directly, the slide library solution replicates content from a CMS like SharePoint. While your PowerPoint slides are copied, this is a seamless and automatic process. The library connects with the CMS on a defined scheduled, evaluating new, deleted, and updated presentations. It then crawls through each affected presentation to determine new, updated, or deleted slides.

Benefits

  1. Your content remains in its original position and for, enabling your team to maintain their current workflows from a single source of truth
  2. External tools (e.g. CRM) can still leverage the files (a slide library solution likely won’t connect with as many external systems as a CMS)
  3. You can leverage all your existing metadata rather than duplicate it in another solution

Drawbacks

  1. The slide library won’t directly write to the CMS. Most library solutions focus on pulling content from a CMS and not pushing; instead the library will sync with the CMS to capture updates
  2. Connecting to a CMS may require permission from your IT organization
  3. Adding new metadata on slide-level is difficult/tedious

When to connect to a CMS

If you have a large repository (1000+ slides), don’t want to change your workflows or have other tools that leverage the content, connecting to a CMS is likely the best path forward.

If you’ve lost your SharePoint slide library, a solution like TeamSlide can quickly connect to SharePoint and replace the lost functionality.

Uploading directly to a slide library

How it works

Select the PowerPoint presentations/slides and launch the slide library’s batch upload process. During the process, you can also add metadata.

Benefits

  1. A simple process that eliminates any IT approvals required to connect to a CMS
  2. Directly pull and update slide with the slide library’s native features
  3. Easily add new metadata on slide level

Drawbacks

  1. May require a change in your current workflow; external tools likely can’t access the slides
  2. File/content management features native to the slide library are typically not as powerful as a CMS

When to upload directly to a slide library

If you are building a small repository (<1000 slides), uploading directly to a slide library is likely the best path.

At TeamSlide, our batch upload feature enables customers to drag and drop to quickly build a library with hundreds of slides. Whether you are creating a new library or cleaning up an existing one, contact us and we’d be happy to share best practices.



How a slide library can help build winning proposals

For proposal managers, building well-structured PowerPoint proposals that balance client requirements, key selling points, and standard marketing collateral is a critical task. However, building presentations takes time away from selling and is an art form that may not be mastered by the entire team. Careless mistakes, poor messaging, and stale content can have a significant negative business impact.

Slide library solutions help proposal managers streamline the presentation creation process, ensuring that all team members build winning proposals. They enable high-performing slides to be shared and help create strong presentations.

The problem with managing PowerPoint proposals manually

While preparing for a meeting, proposal managers edit and modify proposal presentations that align with their client’s requirements. In these situations, however, there often isn’t much time to make edits or create new slides.

Hunting for old presentations, modifying formats, making content edits, and collaborating with others is time-consuming and stressful. For example, version control can spin up multiple conversations and delays as team members struggle to determine which slide is the latest.

Slide libraries, however, make presentation management completely seamless and help proposal managers focus on telling winning stories through their presentations.

The benefit of slide libraries

Create an approved central repository
Rather than editing previous proposals, a slide library allows for a central repository of approved content. All team members can quickly access these slides and assemble them to create strong client-focused proposals. Slide libraries can typically be extended to include images, too.

Up-to-date slides
With a slide library, users get seamless access to the latest PowerPoint proposal slides, while avoiding stale and duplicate content. However, slides are often updated and while the main repository will house the latest version, team members may still have old slides on their computers. To solve this use-case, slide libraries can automatically check slides and suggest slide updates, ensuring users always have the latest content.

Improved productivity and clear business outcome
With easy access to PowerPoint slides, simple management tools, and strong search capabilities, slide library solutions drive productivity. More importantly, they help improve the quality of proposals which in turn increases the win rate.

Find the right application to manage slide libraries

While support for slide libraries was removed from SharePoint 2013 onwards, third-party tools like TeamSlide can help manage proposal presentations and slide libraries.

TeamSlide is a PowerPoint add-in or plugin that lets you build a slide library or connect to an existing repository like SharePoint or Box. It even imports fields and metadata properties which fuel the search and filter capabilities. In addition, TeamSlide can include a central repository for images, including product shots, stock images, and leadership biography photos.

Final words

Slide libraries are a necessity for proposal managers looking to organize and maintain proposal slides. TeamSlide helps streamline the proposal creation process which in turn drives productivity and increases the team’s win rate. 

Slide library: LEGO for building presentations

Slide libraries are like LEGO for building presentations

At TeamSlide, we’ve described slides and slide libraries a number of ways: shared location for PowerPoint assets, a system to effectively retrieve PowerPoint IP, or a tool to better organize your PowerPoint content. However, a customer recently compared PowerPoint slides and libraries to LEGOs – a simple analogy that we had to share!

LEGOs are standard well-built plastic bricks and can be combined in a variety of ways to build different structures. Similarly, slides are individual components, typically with a specific message, that can be arranged to build presentations.

While bins are used to organize LEGOs by shape or size, slides can be organized using slide library solutions, like TeamSlide, that provide search functionality and quick retrieval.

At TeamSlide, we see two primary use cases:

  • Marketing: A small number of PowerPoint slides that are used on a regular basis and frequently updated. This is like LEGO in the 1980s; standard blocks in a few colors
  • Research: A large number of PowerPoint slides that are each used infrequently. This is modern day LEGO, with its licenses (e.g. Star Wars, Batman) and specialized pieces.

This ‘Explain like I’m Five’ analogy is fun, interesting, and helpful in communicating the value TeamSlide creates.

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.