How slide libraries helped investment banks build better proposals more efficiently

Slide libraries used by investment banks

Over the last few months we’ve worked with several boutique investment banks that were looking for better ways to manage their critical PowerPoint collateral. Specifically, they wanted a way to efficiently build proposals that, while still customized to the specific client or project, could leverage their prior work.

Investment banks compose several types of proposals, all of which have a combination of common elements and client- or project-specific pieces. For example, prior transactions, market overview, and regulations would typically be standard, while company financials, projections, and capabilities are tailored to the client and contain only certain reusable components. As such, investment banks should be able to efficiently find relevant content from prior proposals and either reuse or adapt it based on client requirements.

Prior to using a slide library solution, investment banks were relying on a manual approach that was both time consuming and prone to errors. First, the proposal author would dig through a shared hard drive to find relevant presentations and then flip through them to find the key slides that he/she wanted. If a slide was missing or seemed old, the author would have to email colleagues and describe the slide needed. At times, slides would be recreated if colleagues took too long to respond or if content couldn’t be found. For example, if the proposal author found a market overview slide from 2013 but couldn’t find the latest version, they may re-do the analysis and update it for 2016. Beyond slides, the process would generally be repeated for visuals like company logos, industry diagrams, and charts. This process was inefficient and often led to poor output quality when out-of-date content was used, pieces were missing, and slides were hastily assembled.

After implementing a slide management or library solution, these firms were able to drastically improve efficiency and the quality of their proposals. First, they were able to easily build a secure shared repository of PowerPoint content where they could control exactly who within the firm had access to each specific slide. Then when putting a proposal together, authors could search the repository, get slide image previews, and quickly select the slides they needed. If they had a question about a slide, they could use the slide library solution to check who last uploaded the slide and instantly email them to ask any questions. Further, the slide library could be extended to visuals, allowing authors to find the very specific pieces of content they needed. Slide libraries also allowed authors to check their proposal to verify they had the latest content. And so, if that market overview slide was updated by a colleague since the author last downloaded it, he/she could be notified before sharing the proposal with others.

As exemplified by the implementation of a content management solution by the investment banking industry, a structured approach to managing PowerPoint content can yield significant gains.  As your knowledge repository grows and/or if you have employee turnover, consider using a slide library so that you have the content you need at your fingertips.

 

Your Business Presentation Isn’t About You (It’s About Your Audience’s Question)

Your Business Presentation Isn’t About You

Your presentation is days away, but already you’re feeling panicky and sick to your stomach. You hate public speaking, always have, and even though it’s just a hand-full of your colleagues, you feel like it might as well be the entire company.

So you read up on business presentations and learn how to get over your fear of public speaking. You learn techniques for projecting your voice, for appearing confident, for what to do with your hands. You practice over and over until every tiny movement becomes second nature. Then, on the big day, you walk into the conference room without fear. You deliver the performance of a lifetime.

The only problem is… no one cared.

This may be a little blunt, but it’s not about you. You weren’t asked to give a presentation because your co-workers wanted to hear the sound of your silky smooth voice. You were selected because you understand something that your audience doesn’t. Your business presentation isn’t about you, it’s about your answer to a question important to your audience.

Most of us will never give a grand speech in an auditorium with hundreds of listeners – but we will have to give more than one “sit-down” presentation to a handful of our work colleagues.

For these smaller, more common, boardroom presentations, your message is critical. To be successful, skills to identify the critical question and to structure, articulate, design and deliver a compelling answer are needed.

Unfortunately, the presentation training market is flooded with public speaking tips (as if we’re all giving TED talks). Have a look – advice on how to create an effective presentation is drowned out by tips on how to deliver an entertaining one. While a fear of public speaking is common, what should scare you more is failing to effectively answer your audience’s question.

TeamSlide helps you organize, plan, and ultimately present your slideshow, but we can’t design it for you. The structure of your argument, the order and pacing of your topics, the visualization of data, and the other critical nuances of crafting your answer are presentation skills on a whole different level.

SlideHeroes is a course that focuses on getting the substance of your presentation across.

With 20 video lessons ranging from 5 to 20 minutes, the SlideHeroes course covers in detail the process of creating a business presentation, plus the five main elements every effective presentation needs:

  • The Process: SlideHeroes’ step-by-step who, why, what, how process for building your presentation. SlideHeroes shows you how to identify the key question of your audience and organize an answer around that question. The course also focuses on how to ensure the objective and next steps of your presentation are clear.
  • Power of Logical Structure: A chaotic and flimsy presentation is a quick way to lose the attention of your audience. This section teaches the tried-and-true structures of building a logical argument, how to apply them to business presentations, and ways to generate the right ideas to flesh out your argument.
  • Art of Storytelling: Business presentations can be stories with a more practical message. Learn how to create a narrative arc within your presentation. Learn how the same storyboarding principles used in the movies can be applied to slides.
  • Harmony of Design: Looks aren’t everything, but they’re still something. The proper visuals can improve legibility, comprehension, retention, and can even set the proper mood. This section explains the science of sight and explores principles of visual processing. It then examines how these insights can be applied to the composition of your slides.
  • The Science of Fact-based Persuasion: The most reliable method of persuasion is hard-evidence. Here you’ll learn which facts are most useful and how to display information. The course compares the pros and cons of tables and graphs, analyzes the different types of graphs, and gives direction and when to use each type.
  • Drama of Performance: Learn the techniques of delivering a presentation that go beyond mere public speaking, including the best ways to rehearse and small tips that can add life to an otherwise dull graph parade.

The video format of the course is a practical, easy to digest means of learning how to write a presentation. Their segmented video lessons let you learn at your own pace, one topic at a time, with quizzes after each video to reinforce everything you have learned. The static online manuals of other presentation training can’t capture the intricacies of giving an actual presentation – some things you can’t just read about, you have to see in action.

Try SlideHeroes by signing up for their free trial. It will give you a very good sense of the SlideHeroes platform and course. We think you will enjoy it. Let us know what you think!

Importance of visuals in marketing and sales presentations

Importance of visuals in content marketing

The Internet is crawling with facts on the benefits of using visuals in social media marketing efforts:

  • Humans are able to process images more quickly and efficiently than text (source)
  • Engagement rate of social media posts with visuals is higher than those without (source)
  • Quality of visuals play a more important role in the customer purchase decision process than product descriptions and ratings (source)

Marketers are quickly realizing these benefits and we are now exposed to a variety of visuals (charts, info-graphics, pictures) on a regular basis. Mainstream media is also increasing their use of visuals (e.g. NY Times, Bloomberg) and we are becoming more and more accustomed to consuming information in this manner.

In conjunction with our content marketing efforts, our sales presentations (and other types of presentations) also need to consistently use visuals to improve customer engagement. Many times, however, these presentations tend to be a little stale with out-of-date templates and a lot of text. Here are a few suggestions on how to effectively use visuals in your presentations:

  • Between all your marketing teams build shared repository of visuals to ensure consistency across all your customer touch points
  • Invest in high-quality visuals that are relevant to your messaging
  • Keep an eye on image sizes especially if the presentations will be consumed on a mobile device

We’ve had the opportunity to speak with a few in-house expert presentation builders and they confirmed that their companies are making significant investments to improve their visuals. From their website to PowerPoint files, visuals and templates are being carefully redesigned to better improve customer interactions.


At TeamSlide we help PowerPoint users better manage their visuals and ensure that they have seamless access to them. Quickly build a shared repository of images, diagrams, templates, and charts. Save time by accessing them directly through PowerPoint – you won’t have to hunt for slides or visuals ever again.

Determining the ROI of a content management solution – Part 2

Calculating ROI for a content management system

In our previous post, we discussed how to measure the return (R) on a content management system (CMS). In this entry, we complete the return-on-investment (ROI) calculation and examine the investment portion (I).

As we discussed, CMS can have significant benefits to your organization helping employees work more efficiently and improving knowledge sharing. However, implementing a CMS does have its costs and understanding the drivers is helpful in the selection process:

Operations – If the CMS is being installed you will need to consider the time, hardware, and software required to set it up and run it.

  • Setup – During the setup phase your IT and Knowledge management teams may need to work with the vendor to understand system requirements and develop a roll-out plan. You should consider the time they put into the process as an investment.
  • Run – What software or hardware do you need to run the solution? Is it a cloud offering (in this case there may be a saving over your current CMS)? The software licenses and hardware costs to support the CMS should be included. Will maintenance be required? If so, the IT personnel cost should also be included. These numbers need be discounted by the cost of running your current system.

Migration – The costs for migrating to a new CMS comprise all efforts of moving existing data from the existing platform to the new system. You may need to build tools or take the time to migrate your content between old and new systems manually. Often a middle ground is chosen in terms of some steps being executed automatically by tools with some manuals steps left for content experts. The tasks could include exporting, converting, importing, reorganizing, and correcting content. This time and resources required to build any custom tools or simply even monitor the migration needs to considered as part of the investment.

During the migration phase will you have to run your old and new CMS concurrently? If so, you may not be able to switch your resources over immediately and the cost of running both systems for a few weeks or months needs be considered.

Training and communication – Once the new CMS is ready, your team will have to build communication and training collateral. In addition, you may have to hold live training sessions. The time it takes your staff to complete these tasks and the time it takes all users to learn the new system should also be included.

CMS license cost – And lastly, the cost of the actual CMS license is a critical component of the investment cost. Be sure to understand how this might change over time if you are ramping up or will be adding more users in the future. You can, of course, deduct the license cost of your current CMS.

Determining the ROI of a content management solution – Part 1

Calculating ROI for a content management system

When considering new content management systems (CMS) one of the primary decision factors is the return-on-investment (ROI). However, calculating the ROI is not typically straightforward and can require a combination of judgement and strict data. In this blog entry, we will focus our attention on the return (R) or the benefits side of the equation. In Part 2 we will explore the investment (I) or the cost side of the equation.

Measuring the benefits of a CMS requires a number of assumptions and therefore can be quite subjective. We think it make senses to try and capture the assumptions that have the largest impacts and where possible quantify the return:

Time savings – Will the CMS help your staff find content more quickly than your current solution? To calculate this benefit, you would:

  • Count the staff using the CMS and determine their weighted average salary
  • Estimate the time savings the employee saves each time they use the CMS
    – The CMS may enable them to find content faster
    – If the CMS allows them to find content that wouldn’t have been founded otherwise, you can count the savings from recreating content
  • Multiply the average salary by the amount of time the CMS will save

For example, let’s say you have 1000 employees with an average salary $100/hour using the CMS an estimated 10 times a month saving 6 minutes each time they use it. So each month they save 1 hour for a total of 12 hours a year. In addition, they save about an hour each month because the CMS exposes more content and reducing content recreation. This is an additional 12 hours a year for a total of 24. Therefore, the savings per employee ($100/hour * 24) is $2,400 and the savings across all employees is $240,000.

Now you may want to discount this because all your employees may not use all the saved time valuably. However, having your employees work less may also have benefits in terms of job satisfaction and productivity. Typically, these factors are hard to measure and you have to make a rough judgement.

Productivity, knowledge capture, and sales – A good CMS will also provide a long list of the softer benefits that may be hard to explicitly measure:

  • Are you capturing more knowledge? Is it easier to deal with employee turn-over?
  • Is your output and operations going to improve because your employees have better access to content?
  • Are you able to close more deals because your pitches have improved?

You could calculate the sales benefit by estimating the percent increase in winning a deal and the average size of a deal. However, these numbers tend to be hard to defend. Instead, you could ask your vendor to speak with other customers to understand subjectively what benefits they are seeing on a consistent basis. This should give you a rough sense of the value of the subjective, softer benefits.

 

You can then combine the value of all the benefits to estimate to the total return on the investment.

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.

 

5 slide library management best practices

As enterprises become more data driven, knowledge management has become a competitive differentiator. Some firms have even created knowledge management groups including a Chief Knowledge Officer role. As knowledge is often distilled into PowerPoint presentations, a clear slide management solution is required to maximize the value of product summaries, financial analysis, workflow outlines or even templates and graphics. As you think through your slide management solution, here’s a set of 5 best practices you should consider:

  1. Easy access to slides is imperative – If retrieving slides takes too many clicks or too long your team just won’t do it. As a result, they’ll be recreating slides, using old slides, and losing productivity. Consider a solution that integrates with PowerPoint so users don’t have to open an Internet browser just to find slides.
  2. Manage slide updates – Over time slides evolve as the messaging becomes more refined or data is updated. As a result, users need access to the latest material without having to manually search and retrieve each slide. Effective slide management solutions need to be able to automatically find and retrieve slide updates. Ideally, it should warn users if they’ve made local edits to the original slide allowing them to transfer the edits to updated slide if needed.
  3. Control who exactly has access to each slide – While companies are typically focused on protecting their content from outside threats, they should equally consider who within the company needs access. Otherwise, even harmless mistakes can lead to inaccurate knowledge sharing or content loss. Your slide management solution should allow you to set detailed access rights allowing some users full access, some just download access, and others with no access at all.
  4. Metadata helps but your search engine needs to be powerful – While it is important to try and accurately catalog all your slides this is not always feasible. As deadlines hit, users will inevitably not add strong metadata. As such, your slide management solution needs a powerful search engine capable of full-text search and incorporating different elements including the slide title and author.
  5. Continuously measure usage – What slides are used by your teams most often? Which users are actively using the slide library solution? Tracking usage helps identify opportunities for optimizing content and helps find users that are likely not using compliant slides. It also helps justify they ROI of the slide library solution itself.

Adding the slide library back to SharePoint

With SharePoint 2013, Microsoft unfortunately discontinued the slide library feature due to an unspecified design limitation.  As result, PowerPoint users are losing this time-saving feature as their IT departments upgrade to SharePoint 2013 or newer versions.

While there are many web-based slide management solutions the lack of PowerPoint integration is not ideal as switching back and forth between PowerPoint and a web-browser is extremely inconvenient. For many, even SharePoint’s slide library feature had significant room to improve.

At TeamSlide, we’ve developed a solution that can integrate with your SharePoint installation and provides powerful slide library features. When we first set out to build TeamSlide we spoke with a variety of power users and experts which fueled a set of 3 primary principles:

  • Easy to use: As a large variety of employees use slides, TeamSlide would have to provide features in a highly intuitive manner
  • Tightly integrated: TeamSlide would need to integrate with PowerPoint and with any existing content repositories
  • Powerful search: As the number of slides grow, TeamSlide would have to keep up and ensure users can quickly find what they are looking for

As we built TeamSlide we took these principles to heart and ensured that we could easily work with customers that had SharePoint implementations. Now users can search for slides from within PowerPoint and insert them into their active presentation with a simple click. Those used to SharePoint’s old slide library function will find TeamSlide easy to use and full of new features including the ability to quickly update slides. Users new to slide libraries will be able quickly get up to speed and start benefiting from TeamSlide in a few minutes.

Whether you are looking to augment your SharePoint capabilities or looking for a slide library solution that works without SharePoint take a moment to try TeamSlide!

At TeamSlide, we are consistently improving our slide library solution.  If you have any questions or feedback, please contact us and we’d be happy to help or learn from your perspective.