Winter Is Coming: Use Presentation Software to Help Your Team Prep for Success
Companies need to communicate on a daily basis, whether externally to clients and partners or internally within an organization. In the digital age, communication objectives haven’t changed much. Methods of communication, however, have evolved considerably. Ensuring everybody is on the same page requires complete confidence in the company’s communication systems. Employing presentation software that keeps up with the times can do this.
Presentation software has come a long way from the static collection of PowerPoint slides with some basic transition animation. Modern presentations like those built with Ingage come full of dynamic animation; allowing you to move backwards, forwards and even skip entire areas of the presentation. They abandon linearity for the sake of a free-flowing discussion. And—this is key—as much as they convey a message, they also collect information about how audiences react to said message. Presentations don’t stop at delivering the key point. They stay behind to find out if the message came through.
Why Presentations and Presentation Software Are Important
Whatever you’re communicating—whether it’s ironing out policies, teaching processes, aligning goals or offering solutions—your message needs to be clear and persuasive. Thus the need for a strong presentation. Presentations can help generate the impact needed to close a sale, convince peers to buy into an idea or get management to approve a proposal. Communication skills generate better highlights when paired with an attention-grabbing presentation.
Presentations can be as simple as a few slides to drive home a point, or as complex as a fully detailed dossier complete with technical specifications. In short, presentations are often the most efficient way to tell a story, ask a question and get an answer.
Engagement Is Key
A well-designed presentation helps command your audience’s attention. Providing key details should engage them enough to want to know more. Anticipating questions and providing answers give the impression of knowing the listener well enough to relate to their needs. Additionally, telling a story rather than dictating information can keep engagement levels high.
Digital presentations in particular offer flexibility. Modern presentation software can help edit, modify or rebuild sections quickly, and often come with team functionalities so that everyone involved can contribute on the fly. Even better, original versions are retained as master copies. When dealing with multiple clients who have particular requirements, creating different iterations with the same core message becomes much easier.
Presentations can follow set standards in terms of design, communication style, tone or colors. Apply consistency in presentation materials to reinforce your company image or brand identity. Colleagues, clients and business partners will begin to associate certain elements with your company when experienced consistently.
Presentations are a convenient way to communicate with anybody. You can show a presentation center stage during a large organization meeting, in a boardroom or even one-on-one with a client via tablet or laptop. In remote cases, you can email audiences a copy to view on their own time. Cloud-based systems also mean presentation copies are always available. As long as an internet connection is available, a copy of the latest version will be ready to share with clients.
Using Presentation Software for Advanced Sales Analytics
Sales is a numbers game, and the best salespeople have the highest numbers in the organization. A bigger number of leads can mean more prospects, which can eventually mean a greater number of clients. With more clients come more sales, and with more sales come bigger commissions. It’s numbers all the way down.
But how does a sales rep looking to move up the ladder improve those numbers? Usually, that means improving the success percentage, or the chances of converting a potential sale into a closed one. Many companies provide salespeople with training to master the skills needed to identify leads and close a sale.
Advanced Sales Analytics
To have more success in the field, reps should base decisions regarding leads on analytics data to pick up on market trends. There are many different advanced sales analytics metrics, and each serves its own purpose. Studying sales analytics can help teams learn where they are - and are not - performing well, so they can make the necessary strategic adjustments.
Tracking data throughout the entire sales process can help gain insights that can refine the direction sales efforts should go. In particular, there are three basic types of sales analytics models that can help with sales and marketing efforts: sales trend, predictive sales and prescriptive sales analytics.
Sales Trend Analysis
Sales trend analysis deduces historic patterns using past revenue data. Used to help set budgets and prepare sales forecasts, sales trend analytics can generate insights on how and when certain changes affect revenue growth and performance. In short, it plots past records and establishes trends that lead to accurate anticipation of future performance.
Sales trend analysis can provide valuable insight into how a business actually operates and performs. By knowing what works and what doesn’t, management teams can better allocate finite resources, identify areas of focus and spend less time and energy on things that don’t work well. Examples of sales trend analysis include gathering data on sales patterns, forecasting sales revenue, anticipating volume and detailing buying habits and seasons.
With sales trend analysis, companies can glean data-based insights that lead to better decision-making. It eliminates the need to make gut decisions or apply a “let’s cross that bridge when we get there” approach to management.
Predictive Sales Analytics
Companies do not have a magic crystal ball to view the future, but predictive sales analysis offers the next best thing. A predictive analysis approach entails using algorithms to analyze historical data (typically harvested from a company’s previous performances) to make forecasts on anticipated customer behavior. It also makes suggestions on what campaigns can work better with customers for the next selling season.
Of course, predictive sales analytics can only work with the information it’s given. It is crucial to have both overall sales and individual performance records ready for analytics before each season starts. Predictive sales analytics can also be utilized for ranking prospects, determining the best times for implementing promotions, cross-selling activities and developing campaigns to retain clients.
Prescriptive Sales Analytics
A prescriptive sales analysis goes a step beyond predictive analysis to gather even more detailed insights. While predictive analysis identifies potential outcomes, prescriptive analysis studies each possible outcome to produce specific recommendations for sales teams.
These analysis methods work in tandem, not against one another. For example, think of a navigation app. When a user enters a destination, predictive analytics determines the quickest way from point A to point B and provides an estimated route and travel time. During actual travel, however, prescriptive analytics will check areas for heavy traffic, bad weather and other conditions that can affect access and drive time. It alerts the user once certain roads on the pre-determined route are experiencing heavy traffic or are impassable and suggests alternate ways to reach the destination.
Integrating Sales Analytics in Presentations
Having presentation software that integrates sales analytics can help generate more insight on what does and doesn’t work when it comes to pitching solutions to clients. In fact, Ingage has built-in analytics for six report types: page duration, page views, presentation duration, presentation views, section duration and section views.
What’s so important about getting data for views and duration? Studying how a user interacts with a presentation is a clever way to track client interest in products themselves. Set against a benchmark, unusual time spent on a certain section or page or even the entire presentation can signal there’s something wrong with either the manner of delivery or the content itself. Sections or pages that take more time than average to present may mean a lack of needed detail. Conversely, users viewing the presentation on their own who linger or return frequently to certain slides or sections may also have increased interest in that particular material.
The number of views can also help determine which presentations are used more by salespeople. Cross-referencing them to a salesperson’s schedule and the outcome of the sale can provide insights into how effective a presentation is. Did it work as intended? Which pages or sections resonated well with clients? How many times did the client go back to a section or page?
Improving Marketing Materials with Advanced Sales Analytics
Creativity is a must when developing eye-catching and attention-grabbing marketing materials. At some point, however, creativity should give way to other factors in producing highly engaging marketing collateral. Data-driven insights should also have a place at the table to keep collateral grounded. Carefully applied analytic data can help provide a personalized touch, assess content and validate voice. Marketing materials created using presentation software based on analytics data have a higher chance of resonating with the viewer because they were designed with specific viewers in mind.
Personalize According to Audience
Ever wonder why some marketing mailers make the effort to include your name on their canned messages? These firms know that people respond more positively to unsolicited marketing materials that address them by name. Now, imagine making the same effort, but instead of supplying a generic message, you provide a message that resonates with a client’s unique requirement.
Shoppers like to feel special and can sniff out a generalized campaign a mile away. As a result, products advertised as a one-size-fits-all solution won’t garner as much attention as something built to cater to a client. Clients want marketing literature that specifically calls to their particular needs.
Get Insights on the Medium
Marketing teams already put every word or image that appears in materials through the wringer for clarity and creativity standards. However, applying additional analytics can help fine-tune the message even more. Incorporating data from various marketing channels can narrow messaging to pique the interest of specific target markets.
In particular, marketing data analysis can help identify where companies display messages for specific audiences. Analytics can help identify where actual customers are, and the best times and places to advertise to them.
Revisit the Message
After addressing the medium, it’s time to look at the messaging. Marketing thrives on being proved right. Thankfully, using analytics means getting data-driven insights that increase your campaign’s likelihood of success. A second opinion backed by data can help validate if a message will hold up. If not, it doesn’t mean discarding it entirely. Maybe some rewording or creative rearranging can put things back on track.
Using Presentation Software for Sales Forecasting
Companies can benefit immensely from being able to accurately predict how many products they can sell in a given period. Having an accurate forecast means knowing how many goods to produce. This in turn means fewer chances of excess inventory, which itself is a raw material and warehousing expense. Forecasts also reduce the possibility of running out of stocks and give companies a better grasp of how to manage sales and marketing budgets. Knowing how much money can potentially come in gives managers a reality check on how much they can spend to promote their products.
This is why developing accurate forecasts for sales can improve cash flow and resource management. The more accurate the projection, the better the plans and programs. Forecasts provide sales teams with the information they need to plan schedules to meet quotas. For managers, this means less time managing day-to-day developments. Instead, they can spend time growing the business.
In the same way that forecasting provides a glimpse into the future, gathering data from presentation software can help fine-tune a rep’s communication methods to help close the sale.
What Do You Base Sales Forecasts On?
Sales forecasts are powerful tools that can spell the difference between keeping up with demand to losing money due to a lack of foresight. Any sales team can confidently proclaim that they’ll sell every item during sales conventions. However, without the requisite data backing up their claims, there's a good chance companies will either get stuck with unsold inventory or run out of items well before the market becomes saturated.
Analyzing Historical Sales Trends
Accurate, reliable information is key for dependable forecasting. Keeping detailed records of previous performances can help establish patterns. In particular, companies should be able to answer these basic questions when preparing to forecast:
- How many units did you sell over the past year?
- Which months had more sales, and which had less?
- How many products does a single customer buy on average?
- How many new customers did you gain or lose?
- What is the break event point of your sales? How many items need to sell before the company gets a profit?
The more information you can get from previous sales performances, the more reliable your forecast will be. Framing data against the wider economy can also help you get a better sense of the market at large. You can’t expect to sell a wealth of luxury items in an unemployment spike, for example. Understanding market behavior is essential to making useful sales forecasts.
Anticipating Sales and Market Trends
Demand for certain products won’t always be consistent throughout the year. For example, home improvement projects like installing decks or replacing a roof are often popular during the summer. Conversely, interior remodels are more in demand in the colder months. These are seasonal buying behaviors.
There are also sales and marketing phenomena that sometimes suddenly pop up and then disappear altogether. Knowing the signs of when a trend is about to explode can help companies anticipate demand, allowing them to catch the trend at the right time.
Sales and marketing should always be on the lookout for emerging trends. They usually appear in a local setting, then get extensive coverage in social media. Soon, everybody is going along with the trend. Trends can also come from good reviews for products, services, or even destinations.
Riding On Trends
Riding on trends can be extremely profitable—if companies can manage to get on board early. Joining in too late can create the opposite effect. Like waves, trends often peak and after they reach their highest point, it’s all downhill. Integrating your products in order to capitalize on trends takes good timing and uncanny forecasting. Here are some tips to keep up with trend waves:
- Keep a close eye on social media. Many trendsetters and trendspotters share their findings on social media. Interest often picks up quickly when somebody posts about it on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, or Instagram.
- Consider the current product inventory before joining a trend. Don’t risk getting negative backlash by offering trendy products only to declare supplies are limited. Forecasts can help with this.
- Don’t join too late. Boosting production in the hope of cashing in on a trend can backfire badly when things are on the downtrend. A risk assessment can often show management what the company stands to lose or gain before making such a decision.
Length of Sales Cycle Forecasting
Being familiar with your company’s sales cycle can also help create better forecasts. Collect historical data on how long a sale usually takes starting from prospecting and ending when the signature is on the bottom line. Forecasting via sales cycle length can generate a more accurate picture because it’s based on objective data rather than a salesperson’s optimistic predictions. Usually, leads take a long time before finally buying, while referrals can sign up immediately. Tracking prospects on when they entered the sales pipeline as well as how they entered can also help create a better forecasting picture.
Using Presentation Software to Increase Sales Productivity
Salespeople are highly mobile workers, often going directly to clients when making their pitch. If sales is a numbers game, then interacting with as many prospects as possible increases the odds of closing a sale. This means making the most out of working hours and cramming as many client visits into a day as possible.
Sales managers, in turn, take a macro view. It’s their responsibility to keep tabs on the operation as a whole and check if salespersons are making use of their time in the most efficient way possible. Are they spending too much time on one client, who has yet to indicate an intent to actually buy? Are the salespeople making good use of the tools given to them? How are they utilizing their sales presentations to better inform prospects and push them to convert? An efficient manager knows the answer to all of these questions, and more.
Optimizing Sales Opportunities
Traditional sales dictate that in the course of pitching to a client, there is a certain point on the bell curve at which any additional time spent in persuasion mode is a waste. If the buyer hasn’t moved from inaction at that point, the likelihood of buying becomes slim. If reps habitually reach this point, are they efficiently use their time to present solutions to clients? This is a question many managers ask when assessing individual sales performance from their members.
Measuring Sales Productivity
Of course, results will always be the best metric for a salesperson's effectiveness. However, raw sales numbers are often an incomplete indicator. How long does a salesperson take to present a solution? Fine-tuning sales performance means getting down to the details. Using data from CRM, ERP and financial software, managers can pinpoint areas where salespeople can improve. This includes diving deep into data and looking into the following:
- Overachieving and underperforming sales representatives, products and channels
- Utilization of promotional activities such as discounts and incentives
- Number of sales calls per day, average time spent on sales calls and conversion rates
Gathering insights on individual performances and measuring them against KPIs can show sales representatives where they can objectively do better. Providing the hard data adds legitimacy to the findings.
Improving Sales Presentation Skills Using Presentation Software Analytics
Presenting to clients is a skill that many take for granted. There are a good number of people out there who still think presenting to a client is as simple as reading aloud a simple slideshow presentation flashed in front of a buyer. Nothing could be further from reality! Clients allocate a significant amount of time from their schedule to accommodate a presentation from a sales representative. It’s important to treat their time with respect and deliver an interactive and useful presentation if you expect to convert them into buyers.
At minimum, a sales presentation should contain all the information a buyer needs in order to make an informed decision. At the same time, the presenter needs to master the content inside-out in order to address potential questions or supply additional details. Additionally, the presentation should engage the audience. Reading the text on the screen is a waste of time for everyone—sales reps could just print the presentation and send it to the client to save themselves the time, in that case.
Gathering Feedback On Sales Presentations
In the course of delivering a presentation, it pays to get feedback on its effectiveness. What parts did the client like? Which made the client lose interest? Was the presentation too long or too short? What slides provided the most engagement? Of course, interrogating the audience for feedback after the presentation might be too much. Even if the buyer does give feedback, it’s likely subjective.
Instead of using guesswork to find out the effectiveness of presentations, let the program do the work instead. Presentation software like Ingage, with its built-in analytics features, can help gather accurate insights on how salespeople manage their presentations. Metrics such as number of views and duration per page, section or presentation can pinpoint areas that generated the most interest or fell flat.
Data gathered from Ingage Analytics provide objective points of view, as it tracks the time and frequency of usage of every presentation. Managers can determine which presentations get used most often, indicating their effectiveness in engaging audiences. Managers can then point other team members in the right direction. Measuring the duration of presentations can also provide additional insights. Comparing the average time of presentation with the rate of closed sales can give salespeople an idea of the presentation sweet spot.
Using Presentation Software to Align Sales and Marketing Materials
Sales and marketing teams work best when they work together. This seems like common sense—however, many companies’ departments don't actually work this way, instead of developing a somewhat out-of-sync or unnecessarily competitive relationship that helps no one. Marketing and sales strive for different but interwoven, goals. Marketing takes a larger campaign-mode approach and relies heavily on data and collateral, whereas sales is intimately connected on the ground to individual customers. In an ideal world, these two departments trade insights and material to assist one another, and lock in buyers. Why not equip your departments with the tools necessary to make this ideal world a reality?
Modern Buyer Behavior
As times and technology have changed, so has buyer behavior. Many sales journeys now begin with buyers conducting their own research online. Before they decide to meet up with a sales representative, they already know what they want, and have a better idea of what solutions are applicable to their needs. Rather than making do with vendors that cold call them, modern buyers source for referrals and join networks.
What does this mean for companies with armies of sales representatives? It means the tables have turned. Sales teams are now more dependent than ever on whatever information the company circulates in the outside world. Guess which department handles that? Marketing. Bear in mind that the new way of doing things doesn’t tilt the balance of power from one department to another. It’s much simpler: for companies to gain the most, they must have sales and marketing working together to provide the best, most accurate information to help buyers make a decision.
Buyers perform their own research before committing to any seller. Companies should look at this as a unique opportunity to align sales and marketing efforts in providing solutions to their customers. If buyers want knowledge, marketing works closely with sales to provide the information out there. Then, when buyers get the answers they want, they’ll naturally seek assistance from the companies that provided the information. Sales can now come in and complete the job.
Building Brand Consistency
The first step in aligning sales and marketing efforts is to develop brand consistency. Brand consistency is all about establishing a company’s image, and promoting the values it aligns with. This includes creating a brand identity via a logo, setting the company’s mission and vision and listing its products and services.
Applying consistency ensures a cohesive identity for the company. The logo, imagery and products should appear the same whether viewed online or in the real world. Making the brand identity familiar and recognizable across all channels helps retain it in the minds of buyers and consumers alike. Applying consistency requires establishing a set of guidelines on how to use your company logo, brands and design elements—and how not to. The more consistent the identity is, the more familiar it becomes for consumers. In times of need, people often look for assistance from those they recognize.
Making Presentations Consistent With Marketing Materials
Marketing materials exist to reinforce company ideals and solutions. They’re there to answer questions even before they’re asked, and to keep the brand and its products relevant amid the clutter of competitors. Aligning sales and marketing efforts helps ensure that all presentation materials and collateral remain consistent with established brand identity guidelines. The solution should be consistent with the company’s messaging and values.
Benefits of Brand Consistency
Apart from establishing a recognizable brand identity, consistent branding helps make a company distinctive. A powerful image that connects with your values and core messaging can establish an emotional link with your audience, making them feel invested in and ascribing emotions to your logo. A consistent brand appearance also helps reinforce the idea that your company is stable and consistent, which in turn can evoke ideas of trust and loyalty—important for any business.
Finally, a strong and consistent brand identity also differentiates your company from the rest of the field. When supported by a strong message and reinforced by the company’s core values, the brand becomes a powerful and distinctive image.
Ingage Promotes Collaboration With Sales and Marketing
Presentation software like Ingage helps encourage collaborative efforts with sales and marketing through its collaborative features. Cloud-based software means easy accessibility to presentation files anytime and anywhere. Samples featuring established brand identity elements can be made by marketing and uploaded to the cloud server for sales to then incorporate custom presentations. Reviewing and approving is also easy, as departments can go back and forth on the presentations and make changes or add review notes based on their access levels.
Using Interactive Presentation Software to Train and Retrain Sales Reps
With the COVID-19 pandemic still going strong, remote work remains a key component in many businesses’ continuance. The ability to work from home—or anywhere remotely, really—ensures that customers will continue receiving the same quality of service even during these trying times.
While the pandemic may have temporarily disrupted workflows, it seems likely those changes are here to stay. An October 2020 McKinsey report shows that some processes started as a response to COVID-19 restriction will stay institutionalized even after the pandemic ends. This includes buying and selling processes. According to the report, 75% of B2B buyers and sellers preferred digital service and remote meetings over face-to-face interactions. As such, it seems feasible to expect that many buyers and vendors will continue their online interactions long after the end of lockdown measures. After all, it’s easier for buyers to get the information they need online, while vendors find the lack of commute faster, cheaper and safer when delivering presentations or additional materials to buyers via the internet.
The increased dependence on digital and online solutions means salespeople will need constant learning and retraining in order to master navigating this new terrain. While it comes with its own set of peculiarities, remote selling is not all that different from in-person transactions. It still involves providing buyers with the following:
- An understanding of problems the vendor can address
- Assistance to customers in understanding business challenges
- Explanation of how the company’s solution solves a buyer’s business problems.
- Guidance through the buying process
Retrain Your Sales Reps on Remote Selling
Using a next-level presentation software like Ingage is the ideal way to train salespeople for the new digital environment. The software’s analytics features allow you to track employee engagement with training materials remotely, much in the same way reps can track client engagement in a sales pitch. Their interactive features command employee attention, keeping them engaged throughout training with high-powered animation, video and sound elements.
The software’s shareability also makes it easier to access and share files over the cloud. Managers can repeatedly drill down trainees on presentation techniques and product knowledge. In addition, Ingage’s interactivity features work well with online communication programs like videoconferencing software. Presentations made with Ingage software work seamlessly via screen sharing options. Not to mention that by using Ingage to train reps, you’re giving them a practice run at using the software themselves!
Monitoring Training Progress of Sales Reps
When training sales representatives it helps to share performance metrics with them to establish the key performance indicators (KPIs) the training program will be assessed along. Typical KPIs usually include:
- Returns. Determining the returns of a training program means computing the total revenue generated by trainees, divided by the training cost per learner. This is the most direct way to see if the training is worth the money spent.
- Adoption Rates. Determining how many people apply what they’ve learned during training and use the tools provided can also indicate how well the training program worked. Post-training activities include refresher courses, where trainees will be subjected to quizzes or roleplaying activities to check whether they retained training ideas. Adoption rates can also help justify whether a training program works.
- Transition. Measuring the time it takes a trainee to become proficient in their new role is a good benchmark for efficiency. Training programs are like seed plantings—it will take some time for training to bear fruit. Some experts estimate it takes more than a year before a trainee can perform at the same level as veterans. Establishing benchmarks early on can help trainers identify potential champions as early as possible.
Sales managers can utilize Ingage’s analytics features to get better insights into a trainee’s performance when presenting. Using metrics like page, section and presentation views and duration, trainers can compare with established benchmarks to spot the differences and identify areas for improvement.
Ingage’s analytics can determine if a trainee’s presentation methods may need to adjust. Are they taking too much time getting to the solution? Or are they rushing the presentation to finish too early? Also, are the trainees focusing too much on the right or wrong slides or sections? Getting the hard data on these insights can provide trainers with much-needed information on where to apply corrective measures.
Use Ingage’s Advanced Presentation Tools to Boost Business Success
As winter approaches and businesses begin to move into slow season, now is the time to train and retrain your sales teams and make sure they are refreshed and ready to achieve success. Employing the use of advanced presentation software (whether in training, internal notes, out in the field, or all three) can help empower your sales and marketing teams to operate to their max potential. By giving your teams the tools they need to excel at their jobs and align departments, you are sure to maximize your revenues and optimize operations.
Learn more about how modern presentation software can give your sales and marketing teams the communication boost they need to send that message or close that sale. Contact Ingage to set up a free demo of services, and level up your team today.