How to Support Your Field Sales Reps With Presentation Software
Never an easy task at the best of times, closing complex deals has only become harder for many field sales agents. The market has a glut of competitive options and customers can independently research information on a product almost instantaneously. Offering a fresh, enticing angle grows increasingly difficult for sales agents out in the field.
Considering the difficulties, it’s vital to make sure your sales team is armed with the best tools available when meeting with potential customers. For example, companies must empower their sales reps with the best presentation software on the market when sending them out into the field. A great presentation, crafted with intent and savvy, can make or break a sale. They provide a clear, concise, defined message to customers and help build a positive business foundation.
However, despite their importance, presentation-quality often winds up an afterthought for many companies. They are thought of as a “nice-to-have” extra, instead of a key tool in your rep’s arsenal. The reality is, a good presentation can sway a customer’s entire decision-making process. When designed correctly, they are a powerful medium and one that will serve to assist every rep.
But in order to do so, they have to be treated as the valuable resources they are. A static collection of slides serves a rep very little purpose, besides operating as a background novelty. Considering the shift to eCommerce, basic presentations are even worse—they lose your audience’s attention quickly and lose you the sale shortly after. Not to mention that without a presentation software that offers analytics data, it’s impossible to quantitatively assess performance.
The importance of quality presentation software cannot be stressed enough. It enables agents to create intentional, supportive presentations that engage and inform customers. In addition, they provide an excellent structure for managers to track and measure a rep’s performance and professional growth.
Is Sales Presentation Software a Must?
A good presentation can seal the deal on a pitch. But just as importantly, a bad presentation can drag one down. As Google engineering director Peter Norvig says, “PowerPoint doesn’t kill meetings. People kill meetings. But using PowerPoint is like having a loaded AK-47 on the table: You can do very bad things with it.” Having a thorough understanding of the structure and power of presentation software before applying it out in the field is a must.
That being said, it’s hard to go without a presentation in a pitch, especially in today’s sales environment. Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, much of both B2B and B2C commerce has moved into the digital sphere. The days of pitching a product in a conference room with a slideshow behind for backup reference are long gone. In many virtual pitch situations, your presentation is all the visual your audience will have to go off of. Considering this, yes, sales presentation software is integral in modern sales. But only with software that can actually rise to the occasion, and a team that knows how to use it.
Your sales team needs the latest and greatest when it comes to this essential technology, and you should spare no expense. The standard static PowerPoint just won’t cut it; you need an advanced presentation software built for the realities of today’s field sales landscape. For example, any modern presentation software should at minimum offer the ability to craft engaging, dynamic free-flowing content. It needs to function intuitively for both the audience and the crafter and have a wealth of eye-catching animation options.
Furthermore, it should also serve as a support channel for your team behind the scenes. For example, Ingage’s cloud-based software allows users to work collaboratively, anytime, anywhere—all they need is the internet. This allows your team to stay updated with the most timely information out in the field, and to make adaptive changes in the moment to suit clients’ personal needs. Meanwhile, everyone stays on the same page.
Good software is one that includes analytics data as well. In order to chart a course forward, you need to know where you’re starting from. Advanced presentation software like Ingage offers a robust array of analytic details, so you can measure engagement along with your key performance indicator (KPI) metrics. Use this data to figure out what is and is not working in your presentations, and adjust accordingly.
The point is, top-notch presentation software is a must for your agents out in the field. And the best software will serve them out of the field too. Whether you’re building a pitch for a client, preparing training material for staff or just need an easy collaborative interface, software like Ingage offers a full suite of diverse possibilities and uses. But how can you apply these tools to best serve your reps? How can you best support them out in the field?
Do Not Limit Presentations To One Device
Gone are the days of the desk-bound pen-pushing rep, if it was ever truly a reality. Today’s offices are mobile. They exist in a nearby coffee shop, a car or even a home office. However, carrying around all the essentials they might need out on their own can prove challenging. Toting around an armada of brochures and samples, or a delicate-yet-cumbersome laptop from venue to venue is unnecessary and time-consuming. Not to mention that with the ease of information access today, your reps’ paper aids might already be outdated before they even head out the door.
Today’s customers, believing forearmed is forewarned, wait at the ready with a barrage of questions. Agents need to provide seamless solutions to the questions thrown their way. They need to have accurate information at their fingertips with clear and concise messages at the ready. Therefore, using software that enables them to work from anywhere is crucial.
Innovative sales presentation software such as Ingage is the perfect solution for agents in these situations. Ingage enables field sales reps to design stunning presentations from the comfort of their iPad or mobile device, as well as their laptop. The intuitive nature of the platform makes it easy for an rep to learn. If your reps have built a slide—any slide—in the past, they will have no problem creating fully interactive presentations with the Ingage suite.
Since the platform stores all information in a digital cloud, reps can access this information at any time they need. Adjust models and incorporate new content in real-time so your presentations always reflect the most accurate data. Reps can even personalize presentations on the go for an audience, targeting at a current situation instead of trying to make generic content “fit.”
Implement Team Collaboration and Sharing
Field sales teams are only as effective as their support base. The relationship between sales and marketing teams is critical—one simply cannot exist without the other.
Both equally important, these two departments often lose sight of their interdependence and end up at loggerheads—a situation that results in unqualified leads and/or frustrated prospects. Meanwhile, a healthy collaborative relationship between sales and marketing works synergistically. When sales and marketing move in tandem, it results in well-crafted buyer personas and marketing materials that actually relate to target audiences. This generates more quality leads, which in turn generates more revenue. Additionally, this avoids unneeded stress in the workplace. And a happy workforce almost always translates to happier clients.
Ingage’s collaborative tools can extend between departments. Use Ingage Teams to coordinate in the field with team members back at the office. Build and share presentations in real-time with one another! A variety of permission settings allow you to control who can view or edit presentations while empowering team members to work in unison. Managing content across departments with cloud-based software brings your sales and marketing teams together in working toward their shared goal. Making the sale is an “all hands on deck” affair. Give your staff the tools to contribute successfully.
Leverage Presentation Performance Analytics
Plenty of managers would like to claim that they are guided by their intuition, that they just “have a nose for the right move.” While sometimes you get lucky, the truth is that such an approach is essentially just flying blind. Humans are fundamentally biased creatures. Accordingly, we very often seek out data that just confirms our bias. This is why it’s important to guide your business moves with impartial, outside data.
This is especially true in sales. Your team probably has 20 different opinions as to why a deal sank, or conversely, why they sealed it. However, these are all just assumptions. Turning to the cold, hard analytics data on the other hand can give you a clear picture of exactly what did or did not work, free of confirmation bias. Use this information to formulate your winning strategies going forward—because it’s the reality of the situation, not a perception.
Data on presentation engagement—what resonated and what didn’t—helps your marketing team construct better collateral. Likewise, it informs your sales reps as to which areas of a presentation drew the most attention or the least. They may be in the room giving the presentation, but they don’t know what’s going on in their viewers’ heads. Analytics is about as close as one can get to that valuable information.
On a larger scale, analytics data also helps managers assess staff performance, out in the field and in training. One can see which sales reps have the most positive engagement in their presentations, and which reps might need a little coaching. During training, tracking engagement is a great way to follow a new hire’s progress. Analytics data can be used in so many ways, because at the end of the data, it’s the facts of your business, laid out in numbers. Analyze those numbers, and use the insights to power your operations to better numbers in the future.
The Importance of A Software With Analytics Tracking
Tracking analytics offers companies so many benefits. As just a small snapshot, analytics data can help businesses:
- Accurately track regional sales performance
- Break down individual reps’ sales performances, in detail
- Better understand your quote-t0-close ratio
- Accurately assess average purchase values
- Gain insight into the health and growth of your company sales increment
- Understand the performance of sales targets, sales opportunities, sales to date and product performance
- Gain insight into the cannibalization rate of current vs. new products
While the concept of measuring analytics may seem straightforward, any professional who has tried keeping on top of all available data, while still doing their day job, knows just how difficult this can be. Integrating a software solution to assist with this process can eliminate some of this hard work. This allows you to focus on the results and the tasks that really matter—like turning the findings into a forward-thinking strategy.
Ingage’s results-driven platform provides an array of options to help you stay on top of data management. Ingage Analytics offers detailed reports on presentation engagement on both a presentation-wide and individual-slide scale. This gives you practical insights into how your corporate presentations are received in the marketplace, and how well your sales agents are performing in the field.
Using Ingage also makes long-term report management easy. Save pulled reports for reference and record-keeping, so that you can use these lead and interaction analytics to exceed your sales goals in the future. All of this data will help you strategize growth and improve conversions. Formulate smarter marketing strategies guided by the indirect feedback your advanced analytics software uncovers.
Bring The Best Out of Every Field Sales Rep
No matter how powerful your collateral is, the fact remains that any sales material is only as convincing as the person delivering it. Your marketing team can create dazzling, award-worthy slides and brochures. But if the sales rep conveying the presentation is an inadequate presenter, the brilliance of your design work is sure to pass your audience by unnoticed.
This is why it’s integral to give your sales team the proper training and resources they need to shine in the field. This means using the best tools around—like the Ingage presentation platform—and providing them with the training they need. It’s simple to use the platform as a training resource, showing reps exactly how to present using the exact tool they’ll be presenting on.
Thankfully, Ingage’s analytics data will help you track exactly which team members are excelling, and which may need more training and where. With detailed engagement metrics like presentation views, slide views and duration spent on each, you can see which parts of every presentation resonate with the audience. If a certain team member’s engagement numbers are lacking, you can confer with them and establish whether it is a problem of collateral, or if your rep needs more training in a particular field.
Your sales team wants to excel at what they do—selling to customers. But even the best sales reps can be hamstrung with insufficient resources or exact training. For the sake of both your marketing team’s hard work making collateral and your sales team’s efforts in the field, it’s important to make sure they have every possible advantage in the field. Empowering employees with the tools and training they need is essential
Use Analytics To Improve Conversion Rates
You can show the same presentation time and again, but if it’s not driving more conversions, that means something’s wrong. You’ve deduced that it’s not the sales reps, per se; the problem, it seems, must lie somewhere in the content you’re delivering. But how do you figure out where exactly the problem is? Analytics data can provide you a clear play-by-play of viewer reception to your presentations. With this, you can then make the necessary adjustments to content to improve conversion rates.
Field sales agents have a complicated, ever-changing job of juggling the hunt for new business, lead conversion, client maintenance, administrative work and so much more, with very little room for error. Thus, they may not be able to notice when some small detail is the culprit behind a lag. It’s hard to keep on top of so many moving parts in such detail. This is why it helps to have presentation software that does the hard work of data tracking for you. Rather than poring over it all individually—after the end of the busy sales day, with tired eyes—pulling up an automated report with objective analysis will give you a clear-eyed view.
With the amount of research that shoppers often now do before even setting out on a purchase, it’s critical to build flawless, accurate and thorough buyer personas. The best way to do this is with detailed analytics data. Rather than make assumptions about your client base, or plan personas based on superficial observations by a busy sales team, look at exactly how your customers are reacting to your collateral. Short of conducting a focus group—which is costly and time-consuming—automated presentation data is the best way to do this.
Ingage’s analytics reports provide just this sort of robust information. And with data available for every single report, you can build comprehensive, accurate profiles based on long-running trends and data. This will enable you to build more personalized marketing material, and give your reps deeper insights into what’s going on in their audiences’ heads. Whether it’s by building better collateral or refining your field sales reps’ approaches with more precise training, automated analytics reports will help you skyrocket conversion rates with more targeted pitches toward your clientele.
Turn Numbers Into Tasks
Any good marketer or field sales manager knows that it does not stop with the numbers! Once you have all your data, it’s time to build it into an actionable strategy. We’ve already talked about how analytics data can help you better train your field sales team and adjust your collateral to better meet your clientele where they are. However, analytics data is also crucial for building your long-term agenda.
All the data you collect is only as good as what you eventually do with it. Once you’ve gathered the numbers, you need to turn your assessments into tasks to shore up any weak areas or grasp uncovered opportunities. Beyond just reacting to the data, use these insights to craft a long-term strategy. Plan proactively, based on the hard data, to reach your goals—and set new goals beyond. Now that you know where you’re starting from, you can build a plan to wherever you’re ready to go.
Make Use of Interactive Elements
Interactive elements are key to any presentation, whether in a sales pitch or in the training room. Not only do these elements make for a more dynamic presentation; they also encourage engagement. An interactive presentation is one that stimulates the viewer into participation, be it by asking questions or handling things hands-on. This active viewer retains more information than a passive viewer.
Creating an effective, engaging presentation takes forethought and planning. There are a number of factors to consider. For example, most people can commit their undivided attention for a span of about 10 to 15 minutes at a time. You need to keep this in mind when building your presentation, and structure accordingly. Plan breaks for questions or some other sort of engagement activity around key time intervals. Additionally, animation or click-away tools serve to re-capture the wandering eye.
Pay attention to the length of your presentation—usually somewhere in the 10 slide range is optimal—and to the amount of content on each slide. If it’s a presentation you are verbally delivering, less is better. Treat the presentation as an aide, not a script, and only highlight your most important points. Try to avoid taking up more than one-quarter of each slide with text. If it’s a virtual presentation your audience may view on their own time, this is where click-away links, voice-over or strategically embedded videos can come in handy.
The form is important; so too is the content. Any presentation at heart is a story. Tell it like one. Presentations that follow a logical narrative flow will be received and retained better by your audience. What message do you want your audience to take home with them? What do you want them to remember? Correct placement of this message within your presentation is half the battle already won.
Covid-19 has popularized remote presentations, for obvious reasons. Whether it’s a sales pitch or training and onboarding new team members, many have turned to the virtual conference room to make their points. Virtual presentations have their perks; they are also a wildly different game from an in-person presentation and must be approached with its limitations in mind. In a physical conference room, you can see the audience and you can read the audience and adjust in the moment. You can modulate your tone or ramp up your engagement strategies as you see their attention lagging. Virtual presentations, obviously, makes this difficult.
Without your presence to shepherd the audience along, the dynamism of your presentation slides take on even more importance. This is where the tools mentioned earlier come into play. Videos and click-away links are perfect tools to create an abrupt change in visuals for your audience. Likewise, be sure to use plenty of images to reinforce your points (a picture tells a thousand words, after all)—and if they can be animated images, like compare and scrollmotion pages, even better. The human eye craves stimulation; make sure you give it what it needs to retain focus.
The more engaging your content, the more your staff will retain from your training, and their clients will retain from pitches. As such, you should always seek ways to build the most visually compelling presentation possible—and the tools with which to do it. The Ingage platform is peerless when it comes to developing dynamic, eye-catching presentations.
Use The Same Sales Platform For Retraining
If your reps are going to use a tool in the field, it would make sense to give them as much exposure to it as possible. Presentation software isn’t just for the sales pitch, it’s also a great training resource. Use the same dynamic presentation software for training as you do in the field, and suddenly your training session will be just as interactive as those pitches.
Much of what has been said above about a presentation software’s benefits in the field also applies to the training classroom as well. For example, Ingage’s platform mobility and collaborative tools allow reps to view presentations anywhere, and work on hands-on exercises in teams. Set tasks for them to complete in the field and report back; give them presentations they can watch wherever they are. Especially considering the new remote-work reality, this platform mobility is a gift for a decentralized work environment like field sales.
Analytics are just as relevant for your training as for your field activities. What was a tool to assess lead engagement is now a way for you to track, in minute detail, staff progress through training material. You can similarly see what does and doesn’t resonate in your training material by assessing page views and duration, and adjust accordingly to make future training material staff will actually respond to. So many training programs languish because they cannot connect with their audience. A robust analytics tool will help you beat this frustration.
Interactivity is just as important for training as it is for catching a potential buyer’s eye. It’s well-known that interactive content stimulates your viewer and invests them in your story. Why would that only apply to buyers? By engaging your staff in the material, you personalize it for them and give them a reason to care about the material they are consuming. This builds an audience relationship and spurs them to search further for the answer—and an active, participatory listener always retains more than a passive listener.
Sales training is an investment, not an expense. After all, every penny you spend on your training program will pay dividends when your professional team of experts hits the field. Use powerful presentation software to deliver the best training program you can. If the software is good enough for your clients, then it should also suffice to engage and compel your staff. Not to mention the increased exposure to your presentation software will also make your sales team that much more of a pro at navigating it.
Centralize Your Brand Control
When it comes to first impressions with potential customers, your brand identity is everything. Extending from your website to your merchandise, your packaging to your advertisements and staff presentation, your brand is the face you put on for the public. You want this face to be presentable and uniform all the time. Ensuring cohesion is essential when showcasing your company—too many disparate ideas or elements make it seem like your company doesn’t know itself, which does not spark confidence in the viewer. Your brand also needs to be recognizable at a glance. Figure out who you are and the best way to tell the world who you are.
Unfortunately, in a decentralized environment like field sales, this can take some wrangling. With so many different team members and departments dipping their hands into content creation, it’s easy for your brand image to get lost in the shuffle. Someone changes a font here, or accidentally deletes a logo there, uses unapproved colors and then next thing you know, your presentation looks like a disorganized mess. For something as critical as a first-impression presentation, this sort of unprofessional behavior should not stand. Meanwhile, a slick and brand-aligned presentation will stick in the minds of these customers, ensuring they remember you and your products long after your agents have left (for the right reasons).
Luckily, Ingage’s advanced platform design keeps branding concerns front of mind and makes brand-aligned presentation creation easy. The ability to create templates that lock elements of your choice in place (think logo placement, colors, fonts) means that your marketing and sales teams are free to flex their creative muscles without deviating from brand fundamentals. Add video, image galleries, interactive menus, animations and 3D transitions all in a few clicks, without fear of running counter to branding.
The Ingage Teams feature, previously discussed as a collaborative instrument, also plays a role here. Ingage Teams is more than just a co-equal free-for-all. You can set different controls permissions throughout the team groups, limiting how much access each team member has. Set these permissions and assign various users as befits your needs, and how many people you want interfering with designs.
For example, your admin control will give a user access to everything. But not everyone needs this feature; that would negate the point of a tiered work structure. So, for that reason come the creator and editor controls. Creators, as the title may imply, have permission to create content, edit content and delete presentations at will. Meanwhile, your editors can only edit existing presentations. Both of these functions will be indispensable to your marketing team, depending on how much freedom you choose to give them. And finally, the viewer control allows users to display presentations, but not alter them. This streamlines operations for the sales rep in the field, who you don’t want to accidentally change a presentation midway through.
These permissions controls allow companies to retain presentation integrity while still enlisting the valuable assistance and feedback of other staff members. This is an example of communication and collaboration at its best.
Support Your Field Reps With Ingage
Presentations are critical to any company’s operations, but especially those in field sales. A powerful presentation design is an invaluable asset to your agents, serving as a critical pitch aide, collaborative back-of-house tool and analytics department. It will ensure that your viewership has a robust, accurate first impression of all the resources your company has to offer.
A poorly-crafted presentation, on the flip side, can cause incalculable harm. It can close doors, increase missed opportunities and directly harm your company’s brand image, tarnishing your reputation.
Presentations should always be handled with the care and respect they deserve. Craft your presentations with intention, in a collaborative attuned environment. The more precise your presentation plans, the more robust and complete the product. And while you're at it, arm your team with the best tools possible to ensure their presentation’s success.
The Ingage platform is the next-level solution your presentations deserve. So much more than just a simple deck of slides, Ingage offers the resources needed to elevate your whole team’s performance. From collaborative tools to robust engagement data, the platform is perfect for all your sales pitches and training needs. And the straightforward, easy-to-use interface ensures that anyone can easily become a master presentation builder, no matter how much experience you have.
If you’re ready to set your sales team up to excel in the new year, reach out to Ingage today. Try a free demo and see what the platform can do for your company. Give your presentations the voice, edge and personality they need to take your team to the next level.