Sales pitching. For many companies, these are two words that can strike fear and bring up traumatic and negative experiences. Whilst it should be a time to look forward to what new business and revenue can be brought in, there can often be a lingering doubt in the air.
Why? Well, it is a time consuming task – research, planning, strategy and rehearsing – and one that is thankless if you lose. What’s even worse is that you lose and you don’t even realise why you’ve lost, and that can happen within the first five minutes.
The common mistake that many make is we like to think our audiences will be engaged during our pitch. Surely, because they have taken the time to speak to us, do some research around us and invited us in to listen to what we’ve got to offer, then they must be paying attention? No, not true, realistically we know that this isn’t always the case.
The actual reality is that when you’re last in line and you turn up to the pitch armed with what can be deemed an uninspiring, paper-based or PowerPoint presentation, your audience are likely to switch off. Even though you may have talked a good game and got the best solution/product/service, if your audience has seen a better presentation, or is simply expecting more, then it can only be underwhelming.
To combat this, you must be able to capture the audience attention right from the get go, maybe even before the day of the pitch.
Thankfully, digital technology means interactive media is now in abundance, and if you get a designer or creative marketing team to create your assets, you can easily elevate your pitch above others. Here are four ways to start wowing your audiences.
One company that are leading the charge for better presenting is Prezi.
Prezi’s premise is simple, instead of using slides, you use an open canvas and combine it with spatial dimension and motion to guide audiences through a storytelling presentation.
What Prezi allows you to do is engage the audience with a lot more visual dynamism, and pretty much each part of your presentation can be put forward in a unique way. The combination of videos and graphics means that your audience are always being given reasons to pay attention and telling a story through a graphic presentation is much easier to grasp.
Prezi is an online based presentation software too, meaning that you can share your presentation over the web if needs be, and other parts of your team can work on different areas of the presentation if your presentation is being pulled from different branches and members.
We mentioned video in Prezi, but simply incorporating video alone is also a good way of adding vibrant interest into your pitch.
Videos are proven to capture attention, and Vidyard explains that ‘videos are 12 times more likely to be watched than text is to be read’. They have more science behind why video works here.
To give you an idea of how useful video can be, here’s our Autodesk video. Autodesk are CAD drawing software specialists, and to explain it and set the scene of what it can do can be a difficult task, one where it might take a lot of time and effort where you might lose and confuse the audience. Using video is much easier to convey the message and you no longer have to rehearse technical information.
Consistency of message is also improved. For instance, if you have a sales team, they will all have a different delivery style. Again this can be confusing and members may miss key points or technical information if not trained properly.
Video is no longer prohibitive in terms of budget and production either. You can achieve a good introductory video with very little resource and set up, so long as you know what you’re doing. If you’re unsure, we can always give you some tips, just give us a shout.
Full flood imagery and iconography
One of the inherent difficulties of pitching is that you are delivering a lot of information probably all within the space of half an hour. To this end, we’ve all been taught to use bullet points so information is easier to absorb.
That however can bring its own problems, as you can end up with slide after slide of bullets which can become tedious. To break up the flow, use full flood imagery and iconography, as this will add visual interest to an otherwise boring slide and ‘wake up’ your audiences if it is getting a bit heavy.
Also, if you are using PowerPoint, try to stay away from the imagery on offer in the software as again, like the templates as talked about above, they have been used many times before, and they make your presentation look cheap.
Use with a pinch of salt
Of course, as with all these interactive techniques and others you might be aware of, you should exercise caution – use them only where it might be to your advantage and where it might feel comfortable to do so.
This will require you to read and gauge your audience prior to pitching, but most demographics are now on board with being given different presentation styles in today’s world.
Also, whilst we’ve talked a lot about new interactive media, never underestimate the power of good print. Adding the dimension of something that audiences can feel and touch and mounting paper over board is still a very powerful presenting method, so long as it is done well.
Our own advice is to try and not to overload your pitch, as that will take attention away from you, and at the end of the day, business is done person to person, so you need the audience to buy into you as well as your presentation.