Interactive Presentations

Powerpoint sucks, what awesome thing should replace it? (Updated)

This is an updated version of my post on exciting B2b sales presentations

We all know that you want exciting B2B interactive presentations. Presentations that engage the audience, provide interactions and make you look like a superstar. Ultimately helping your sales teams win business, or alternatively accomplish a key goal.

Let me guess, PowerPoint is not doing it for you. You know it sucks. Now, you will often hear the problem is not PowerPoint but that you suck at PowerPoint. That if you had the skills, you could make really cool and engaging PPTs. Or maybe your style of speaking isn’t engaging enough. Or you don’t take advantage of all available features. That’s all bullshit, the reality is PowerPoint sucks. It’s time to figure out how to transform away from traditional PPTs.

Why does PowerPoint suck?

First, it’s important to understand why PowerPoint sucks. Otherwise, you can’t evaluate alternatives. Oh, let me count the ways, in my mind PowerPoint is like TV in the internet age. It’s just boring:

  1. It serves as a crutch – By giving PowerPoints to your sales teams, you are giving them a crutch. They will read slides and not really learn the pitch. They will talk at the customers, not with them.
  2. Linear – PowerPoint is designed to be used from start to finish, creating a static path for your sales teams. You can jump around, but it can be difficult to build and for sales reps to use. Linear works great if your customer thinks the same way as you, but in reality, they don’t.
  3. Set agenda – This is another problem tied to the linear angle, reality is that you set the agenda before the meeting and that is what you are going to go though. You can contort yourself to conform to your customer’s desired agenda but reality it’s not easy. Here is a story from Mediafly about exactly this.
  4. Not interactive – While you can do animation to make it fun, reality is that the presenter is doing the narration and it’s not designed to create conversations. A great presenter can change this, but it requires a great presenter.
  5. Easy to do terrible – This is probably the biggest issue. While a great marketer can create a compelling PowerPoint presentation, it’s much easier to do something terrible. Too long, too much text, poor structure, too many animations, too many fonts, confusing flow, lack of message discipline.
  6. Too easy to customize – PowerPoint is designed for users to tailor the stock presentation, and sales reps will do just this. And it can cause your message to get drowned out, or more likely they do something completely off message. Possibly even incorrect. Or worse if you are in a regulated industry! 

You need to do something different to create interactive presentations for B2B sales.

How do you create interactive presentations for B2B?

Here are some alternatives, both that are part of sales enablement tools or stand alone, or in our first example just a different way of doing something.

Whiteboards

This is the holy grail in many cases, and it may be a strategic initiative at your company. Let’s get our high profile B2B sales reps to just do whiteboards and they will create a much more effective conversation. And if you can achieve this, you are probably on the right track. The reality is that doing whiteboarding is quite difficult both from a content creation perspective, a learning and a delivery perspective.

Content Creation Issue

The issue on the content creation side is that creating a great digestible whiteboard takes far longer than marketing budgets. You have to create a reasonable flow, with good discussion points and have it be tailored for the right length of time. Plus most marketing managers don’t have a lot of experience doing this task. They likely aren’t going to create something compelling. Of course, sales may create their own whiteboards. But it does raise the question if sales are crafting the pitch for sales, what role is your marketing doing? And will it be on message?

Learning Issue

When learning or being certified on a PPT, the rep will need to know the flow and the talking points. And the slides will be there as a crutch if they get lost. But with a whiteboard, they have to remember the flow, what to draw, when to draw and the key points. Having watched several businesses try to accomplish training their reps to do it, it’s tough to do.  There is so much to learn, and the reality is they will need to practice it repeatedly. Reps quickly forget something that they don’t practice, and this is likely the case with whiteboards.

Delivery Issue

There are a lot of issues with delivery. First off, not every place a sales rep goes into will it be easy to do a whiteboard. Increasingly conversations are on the go, or on the phone. And there isn’t a whiteboard present. Sure you can use paper or an iPad, but it’s still sub-optimal. Plus who knows if your sales rep can draw or has legible handwriting! I know my handwriting sucks, and the thought of a whiteboard brings fear into my heart for this specific reason. 

While a great sales rep intuitively knows how to create a whiteboard, it’s difficult to create and train your B2B reps to deliver them.

Prezi

So about 4 years ago at Oracle, I was doing some hybrid pre-sales / marketing work and management decided that PowerPoint sucked. We had to do something different. That something else was Prezi. We paid an agency big bucks to create Prezi’s for us, and I have to admit they looked really sharp. They had the “wow” factor that is so often missing from PowerPoints. But we heard many complaints:

  • Audience members got dizzy when watching
  • It still was a linear presentation
  • It looked good but wasn’t interactive
  • The skill set for creating good ones was higher than PowerPoint

We ultimately abandoned these, they just didn’t really take it to the next level. They did look really good though.

Dynamic Presentations

This is using traditional assets such as PowerPoints, videos, PDFs in a new manner. Instead of creating one linear flow, enabling a rep to create a dynamic flow of the presentation. Setting it up so they switch between assets easily and without a customer knows what they are doing. Most of the sales enablement vendors, specifically the sales content management vendors, do this.

They enable marketers to group assets and offer technology to easily switch between assets or even create a custom flow of assets. In addition, some of the vendors such as iPresent or Mediafly enable you to easily customize the presentation with customer specific attributes, like industry or customer name, as part of your presentations.  

This really helps the narrative issues associated with presentations, making exciting B2B sales presentations. No longer do you have a linear flow or set agenda, you can easily jump between assets and be more engaged with the audience. To add onto that, Mediafly offers the ability to control customization level. This is quite useful in highly regulated industries like pharma or medical devices. 

Truly Interactive Presentations

This is where the new technology offered by sales enablement vendors really starts to shine- by completely changing the nature of the conversation to create interactive presentations for b2b. Much like a whiteboard, you can have a conversation with a customer using an interactive asset but instead of having to remember everything, the asset helps you along. The gist of it is, you talk a bit about the value and then you show them something in an interactive manner. If done right these types of assets get a good conversation going.

So what types of assets would these be? Well, the ideal is ROI/value calculators, showing the value of a product or service. 

These type of assets are not new, I have been creating them for over 15 years – namely value calculators in MS Excel. These types of tools were really powerful, but navigating a MS Excel spreadsheet can be hell, especially for a new rep or one that sells multiple products. But some sales enablement vendors are doing something different. Mediafly offers an option for this. Providing a framework for developing interactive tools, such as ROI calculators. Mediafly specializes in these types of assets. Download their demo and see what it looks like. What I particularly like about Mediafly is how they really encourage their users to up their game with this type of asset. For instance, MillerCoors used this to stop a decline in sales. 

If this topic of interest, I am pairing up with Mediafly to deliver a webinar on how to get one of these cool sales enablement tools in your organization and move from static boring PPT presentations to interactive presentations. The focus will be on building a business case. If you are interested, register here.

If this excited you, attend that webinar. Or reach out to me on my contact page.

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