• How to create winning Bid Presentations

    sales tender presentations

    At Plus Two, the makers of Presentia, we have been developing compelling Bid Presentations for over a decade – this article shares some of our learning and advice.

    Most of us involved in selling our organisation’s products / services will be familiar with the following scenario:-

    – We receive a request for proposal (RFP) – almost always requiring a detailed response in a tight timescale – followed shortly thereafter by a Presentation.

    – We pull together a bid team.

    – The bid team works frantically to provide accurate answers to the plethora of questions asked. Hoping that many of the questions have already been answered in previous bids so they can simply cut and paste.

    – As the deadline for submission approaches the team put in increasingly long hours as they get things finalized and ready for the review / authorisation process.

    – You deliver the response to the RFP with minutes to spare.

    – The team collapse exhausted and retires for liquid refreshment!
    And only then do they turn their attention to the Presentation which is now only a few days away!  So this becomes a rush job by a team that is already jaded. So what typically happens is that the vast majority of the quality effort goes into the RFP rather than the Presentation.

    My question is this – is this the best way to win the business? I fully accept that the time has to be spent on the RFP response as if you don’t provide a comprehensive response you won’t be in the game.

    However I’ve been in many Presentations where it’s abundantly clear that many in the audience have – how shall I put it – not read or perhaps more charitably not remembered the RFP response.  Now I have some sympathy with them – these documents often run to many pages and are rather dry – so it’s very tempting to read the Executive Summary and the Costs section and leave it there!

    Generally speaking all the organizations short-listed are all capable of doing the job. Whilst you are normally required to respond to the RFP in a predefined structure this is not normally the case with the Presentation.   So the Presentation gives you the opportunity to standout  – ensure that your USP’s are clearly articulated – and start to establish relationships with the key people.

    Our key point is that the relative importance of the Presentation is often undervalued.

    We have helped many clients with Bid Presentations across a wide range of business sectors helping our clients secure multi million multi pound contracts. So we’ve gained huge amount of experience in what it takes to create compelling Presentations.

    Some time ago one of our clients was biding for a large 5-year contract worth close to £200m and along with 3 competitors was invited to present their proposal in 30 minutes (which seemed a ridiculously short time given the contract value).

    We created the Presentation for them and waited with bated breath to hear how it went.  Turns out that they were with the client for 2 hours rather than the 30 minutes allocated – in part as they were so struck by the Presentation. This gave them the opportunity to get their key messages across and to bond with the client personnel. So the Presentation had clearly hit the mark.

    And yes they won the contract!

    So in summary the generalized advice we would give is as follows:-

    1. Start the process of developing the Bid Presentation in parallel with the RFP response – don’t do it sequentially. This will certainly improve the quality of the Presentation but may well also help the RFP response.
    2. Think through early on in the process the key points you want to make which will differentiate you from the competition. Make sure that they are fully reflected in a consistent way in both the Presentation and the Proposal. In the Presentation make then very clear expressing them as a benefit to the client and don’t be afraid to repeat at the end of the Presentation as you close.
    3. At the outset determine clear responsibilities / budget for the development f the Presentation. Think through what the business is worth, the probability of winning it and consequently the level of resource you are prepared to commit.
    4. Treat the Presentation as just as important as the RFP response – make sure that someone is clearly accountable for the delivery of the Presentation
    5. Give the Presentation a real visual WOW factor – use really high quality designers and use graphics in 2 and 3D to make it visually compelling and relevant – keeping text to a minimum. We often find that this resource isn’t available in-house – one reason that clients use us to support their Bid Presentations. This shows the prospective Client that you have made a real effort and aren’t simply trotting out your standard stuff.
    6. Do not use PowerPoint. Unfortunately people’s eyes tend glaze over when confronted with a PowerPoint Presentation; there is a good reason for the ‘Death by PowerPoint’ badge. Present in something different and you will immediately grab your audience’s attention.
    7. In the same way that you ‘cut and paste aspects of the RFP response it should be possible to do the same for the Presentation. This will keep costs down and help with getting the Presentation ready in time.
    8. Make sure that you are able to leave / distribute / make available soft and hard versions. Sometimes key influencers and even decision makers may not be at the Presentation.

    If you would like some help with your next bid why not give us a call on 0203 239 2422 – you have nothing to lose but plenty to win!

    See examples of our presentation design work here

  • Business Presentations

    business presentations

    In business most of us at some point in our career ends up making presentations – for some business roles like Sales it’s a regular occurrence. Some Presentations are very formal others are more informal and interactive – closer to a structured fireside chat.

    But they are all about helping to communicate information in a way that positively informs and influences the recipients.

    At the risk of generalizing Business presentations fall into 2 main types:

    The first is principally a ‘one way’ communication. For example a presentation by the Chairman at a company AGM informing analysts / shareholders in how the business is performing. In this situation the path through the presentation is linear – starting at slide 1 and progressing through to the end slide. This form of presentation is about transmitting information and does not in itself allow for relationship building. In this particular context this would be more down to the Q/A session at the end of the presentation.

    The second is ‘two-way’ where the objective is to use the presentation as an aid to structure something closer to a conversation. Many sales situations take this form. The salesperson may have a limited understanding of the customer’s requirement, and is using the opportunity to establish what mutual areas of interest exist and is also seeking to build or consolidate the relationship.

    To facilitate this meeting (in person or virtual) the salesperson may well have put together a presentation based upon their understanding. But recognize that course of the meeting needs to define sequencing of the slides as areas of interest become apparent.

    Indeed it may well be that an area of interest isn’t even covered in the deck. So there may be a need to pull in other presentation material. PowerPoint in spite of it’s moniker ‘Death by..’  is like it or not the tool that most people use for business presentations.  However PowerPoint is hardly inspiring for ‘one way’ communications but for ‘two way’ it simply doesn’t get near the mark.

    So when we created Presentia our Presentation Management Tool – as the alternative to PowerPoint – we focused on the needs of Business Users and looked to create a tool that worked for all types of Presentations.

    The result is a tool that allows you to:

    – move in an elegant non linear way through your presentation. Simply dropping into more detail on a particular subject as required.
    – have all your Presentations at your fingertips so that  you can seamlessly switch into another presentation as the situation requires it with sophisticated keyword searching facilities  to quickly get to specific content.
    – quickly and simply build a customized deck from existing presentations adding in new slides consistently where required so that the pitch to the customer or prospect is fine tuned.

    In essence a tool that has the all flexibility that Sales people need.


  • How to Hook Your Audience with Fantastic Presentation Openers

    Business man making a presentation at office. Business executive delivering a presentation to his colleagues during meeting or in-house business training, explaining business plans to his employees.

    Capturing your audience’s attention at the beginning of your presentation is critical to its overall success…and for converting a prospect to a customer. It’s imperative that you’re able to drive interest right from the start so those listening are switched on and engaged with what you’re saying… and selling.

    Doing so means using powerful presentation openers that help you hit the ground running. So what makes a good presentation opener?

    Good presentation openers set the tone and agenda for what is to follow. They get your prospects prepared for what’s next and help make them more receptive to the presentation messaging you’ll subsequently build and your sales proposition.

    But exactly what’s the best way to open your presentation? Well, there’s no simple answer to this. Choosing the right opening for your presentation will depend on its objective, tone and content. Consider the 5 types of presentation openers below and choose one most appropriate for your message:-

    1.) Share a Statistic

    You might not think it at first, but numbers can have real dramatic power when they’re delivered well. This is why Infographics are so popular these days online.

    Of course, you don’t want to splurge all your most important data on your prospects from the start. You’ll want to build a crescendo of messaging towards those reveals later. But a surprising or impressive statistic can help hook the prospect’s attention. The more shocking or mind-blowing it is, the better.

    To avoid confused stares from your audience, it’s important you position any statistic in the proper context. Don’t just deliver the number on its own: frame it in a way that demonstrates to your audience why it matters.

    2.) Ask a Question

    Starting off with a question: an oldie but a goodie in the public speaking toolkit, you can use it to heighten prospect engagement by addressing them directly. There are a few ways you can go about opening your presentation with a question. You can use an entirely rhetorical one to get your audience thinking about and reflecting on your topic, or you can seek responses to turn your conversation into a two-way conversation.

    Starting with questions helps establish an element of interaction in your presentation.

    3.) The Opinion

    Does the message running through your presentation point to a conclusion that goes against or refutes the currently accepted school of thinking fro your product or service? Great, then you probably have some prime content for grabbing your prospect’s attention. Lead off with a statement right from the start to arouse curiosity. People will naturally want to find out why you think that way, so you’re in a great position to explain your position using your presentation slides.

    4.) The Value Proposition

    A good way of hooking your prospects is to think of them already as your customers. They only care about their own needs and priorities, and the whole reason that they agreed to listen to you is because they want to derive value from your presentation and make an informed decision about purchasing your products or services.

    You can get them listening closely by acknowledging this fact and letting them know from the beginning exactly what they’ll get out of it. Obviously, don’t promise anything that you can’t deliver on, as this risks damaging your credibility.

    5.) The Problem Solver

    If your presentation is focused around selling them a product or service then the subject of your presentation is probably aimed at solving some sort of problem for them. So why not open by describing their issues in depth?

    Really dig into the pain points that the problem causes – amplify how bad the current situation is and why it needs to be solved by your organisation.

    Once your prospects recognise the breadth and depth of their issues you’re in a prime position to solve it with the rest of your presentation, positioning your product or approach as the ‘hero’. Remember that the problem can be one that your prospect directly faces, but can also be one that creates issues for their end customers.

    Once you’ve decided on a brilliant opener, check out our tips on how to plan and structure the rest of your presentation.



  • Sales Presentations – Creating Visual Storytelling for Businesses


    Visual storytelling for business presentations is a technique most sales people ignore when they create huge presentation decks of bulleted slides. The following recommendations by our Presentation Design Crew will help you create more effective sales presentations.

    What should the first steps be when creating a sales presentation?

    Always start with a high-level outline of what you want to cover in a Word doc or using Post-it notes on a wall. You need to build a good structure first that you are happy with before worrying about the design details, layouts and transitions etc.

    Think about your close. What do you want the presentation to achieve? What do you want your prospect to take away from this meeting? What are the key points you want them to remember? If you begin with the end slide you can build everything towards those key points…. Oh and don’t leave them with more than three to think about if you want them to remember you and your sales pitch!

    What’s a great way to open a presentation?

    Start with a question! Start with the focus on them not you. They want to know what is in it for them right from the outset… not the history of your company….not how big you are!

    How do I grab their attention?

    Create a hook for your presentations. What’s your main point? Your big idea? Try to boil it down to one catchy sentence and position it right at the top of your sales presentations and keep repeating it throughout so it hammers home without being too obvious. Refer back to it to reinforce various points throughout your presentation.

    What is the best structure for my presentation?

    Build a structure, like a roadmap, and then tell them where you are going “In the next 15 minutes, we’re going to cover XYZ.”

    As a good rule of thumb presentations should consist of three sections. Make sure in the middle section you cover the meat on the bones ie key points, case studies, research data. This section needs to lead your prospect from awareness to activation.

    Create variety throughout such as market statistics backed up with case studies, photos with text and video stings to add interest.

    It’s very important to close your presentation on a high note. Ensure you summarise your offer/proposition for your prospective client and include a specific call to action. Be specific and they should be interested enough to want to know what’s next.

    When you are happy with your structure and only then you can consider building the visuals to bring the talking points alive throughout.

    Presentations are as much about what you say as what you show. Clarifying a good structure in writing will help inform the visuals to support what you say. Make sure each slide works for you, supplementing what you are saying rather than just duplicating your talking points.

    Most sales people must adhere to their company’s brand guidelines and templates. In reality that isn’t always the case! However consistency is key in the way presentations are delivered so there is merit in sticking to you company guidelines as this ensures familiarity with you brand when they look at other collateral such as brochures, websites, proposal documents etc.

    How do I creatively work within our brand constraints when creating a presentation?

    Sometimes consistency is a good thing. Company fonts, colours, and the templates are set. This gives you the opportunity to focus on the story and less on the design. Nobody bought a product or service purely on the look of the sales persons Powerpoint slides afterall!

    Newspapers and magazines have a consistent template each month so what makes each issue different? They add engagement through a really catchy headline, dramatic photos and great relevant content.

    Within a corporate presentation template, your creativity comes from your content. The case study stories you tell, the business language you use, and the impact of the images you choose. Look at how simple you can make your bullet points – less is more honestly. How catchy can you make the headings and hook? Grab attention with surprising relevant statistics and data sharing. Shake things up a bit!

    Keep it simple. Use big, full-frame images and keep text to a minimum for the best impact. In terms of composition, try to limit the elements on the page to between 3 and 5. Sometimes just a big headline is enough to convey your point.

    Don’t be tempted to fill the page with data to show how what experts you are in your field – this approach turns off prospects very quickly. Think hard about the idea you’re trying to convey with that particular slide. Use a simple chart that has some visual element to it – not just the numbers.

    Sometimes, the exact numbers aren’t important and the more important point is the story, the trends, the sentiment.

    Simple icons and infographics illustrate a point effectively. Use a smaller icon for the smaller stat, followed by a larger icon to illustrate growth. That tells your story visually without spelling it out over lots of bullets!

    In summary if you can tell your story simply, with less information, that’s often the most effective way to go for your sales presentations.

    Further reading:

    Two great books on presentation structure and storytelling are As We Speak: How to Make Your Point and Have It Stick, by Peter Meyers and Shann Nix, and Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences by Nancy Duarte.


  • Top 10 presentation software products and Powerpoint alternatives for 2016

    We’ve put together this review of the Top 10 Presentation Software Products 2016 that are out there to help inform you when looking for an alternative to Powerpoint.

    PowerPoint has been the ‘go to’ product for presentations for over 25 years. Most people can build a deck of slides in PowerPoint and it is used by millions of people every day. It does however have a reputation for being tired and boring which has coined the familiar phrase “Death by Powerpoint”!

    At Presentia, we have been developing alternative presentation software products since 2002 and can talk with real firsthand experience about the myriad of presentation products on the market today.

    Nearly all alternatives to PowerPoint are built for the masses to use. So if you are looking to make a presentation for your own use at a conference etc then you are well catered for with many products offering a free model for single users.

    Let’s look at the presentation products currently on the market:-

    Starting with our own, Presentia has been developed specifically for business users. We have built the product based on over a decade’s feedback from corporate users. If you want to control the quality of the presentations your sales people use and ensure they always have the latest and greatest slides then this is the product for you. Marketing teams like it as they can lock brand elements within templates. Sales teams like it as you can have high impact, interactive slides – even on iPad and Android Tablets.

    Prezi takes a different approach to the traditional PowerPoint slide layout. It has a zoom effect where you move in and out through your presentation. This effect is not to everyone’s taste but is definitely cool for lectures and when presenting findings from brainstorms etc. If you are a financial client with a lot of data that is sensitive then you need to consider where this is hosted from a security aspect. Creating the content in the product takes little time to work out so it is probably not the easiest tool to provide to a corporate sales team who build presentations last minute.
    Free public account version for the single user.

    The Slideshark product was born out of the Brainshark stable and helps you get PowerPoint on to an iPad. Now that PowerPoint is supported on iPads this may not be a necessary product although it does have nice features around tracking activity. Users cannot custiomise Powerpoint slides once they are on the tablet.
    Free limited feature version for the single user/casual user

    A template based presentation software tool for single users who need a hand creating a presentation – the product ships with standard slide templates and access to stock photography. It is a cloud based product only at time of writing so not the best choice for the mobile worker. Great for students.
    Free limited feature version for the single user/casual user

    A launch menu application that compiles PowerPoint slides, word documents, photos etc into one presentation that you can move around. Not explicitly billed as a presentation product but features including live polling make it potentially a tool for conferences.
    Free version for the single user/casual user

    Another presentation product designed for getting slides on to iPads. It has got good traction on the corporate world. The product combines elements of SlideDog and Haiku to make a menu for launching multiple file types including Powerpoint presentations.
    Free version for the single user/casual user

    The Powtoon product uses stock cartoon animations to help you communicate your message visually. More suited to a designer or an agency to compile slides. The product is a good choice for the casual user of presentation software.
    Free version available for single users.

    The Apple alternative to Powerpoint for Macs/Macbooks/iPads. Has similar features to Powerpoint but incorporates much nicer slide transitions. To see what is possible look at old Steve Jobs presentations on youtube! Compatibility between Mac and PC users lets it down as a product for large corporate organisations who need to leave copies of their presentations with clients. Hugely popular in the agency pitching world.
    No free version for the single user/casual user

    A template driven presentation tool which can be shared on multiple devices. The product has access to many different stylish templates making it a good choice for the individual user who has the freedom to create slides without being governed by a corporate brand identity. Nice auto translation feature too.
    No free version for the single user/casual user

    A content management app for displaying different file types including presentations on the iPad. Showpad is a good alternative product for hosting a webconference meeting. Offers good online analytics information.
    No free version for the single use

  • GREAT and RUBBISH presentations in business


    Here is a list of suggestions for what makes a GREAT presentation & what makes a RUBBISH one!

    • Grab them with an interesting hook to start
    • Good voice projection
    • Smiling, friendly, natural approach
    • Passionate about the theme
    • Conversational in tone
    • Clear points
    • Good use of supporting visuals
    • Use video to reinforce points
    • Simple design
    • Have one clear main point to get across
    • Have confident body language
    • Punctuate with relevant examples
    • Involve your audience
    • Take questions and allow time for them
    • Keep to time!
    • Have a clear conclusion
    • Make your audience think
    • Include new topical info
    • Only include statistics with context
    • Explain why not just what
    • Change your pace periodically
    • Rambling and slow starting
    • Sound like you are reading a script
    • Reading lots of text on slides
    • No eye contact with your audience
    • Seeming unconfident
    • Looking bored or disinterested
    • Too long or too short!
    • Too confusing
    • Badly designed visuals
    • No clear point to it all
    • No examples to back up points
    • Facing away from audience at the screen
    • Repeats a point too often
    • Repeats a point too often!!
    • Monotone delivery
    • Seeming to be unprepared
    • Talking too fast
    • Data shared too complex
    • Charts are irrelevant to the message
    • Charts impossible to read!
    • Using industry jargon
    • Speaking down to your audience
    • Slides contain nothing new
    • No flow, just lots of bullet points
    • Doesn’t inspire or motivate


  • How to Create a Winning Sales Presentation

    Winning Presentations
    Today sales people have to deliver more sales presentations to prospective clients  – more  presentations, and better presentations, than ever before.

    As industries become more competitive and complex, customers have become both more confused and more demanding. As a result, they are likely to listen to a well crafted presentation but glaze over to a dull, boring ‘Powerpointy’ one!

    Why do Prospects Want To See Presentations?
    Making presentations in tools such as Powerpoint is about as much fun as a trip to the dentist. And looking and listening to them isn’t a much  better. So why do prospective customers still expect them?

    Well the customer needs to compare services from various potential suppliers to make sure they buy the best value solution based on your point of difference and the value you can offer. Putting it simpler, they probably just need to compare costs and get the right information to make a decision – or pass on to the decision maker(s).

    Whatever their reasons, the presentation piece has become a common element for winning new business across the globe. Today, all sales professionals are expected to deliver engaging, persuasive and effective presentations that centre around the client’s needs.

    So What Goes Into a Winning Sales Presentation?
    Your objective in creating a presentation is to provide enough information for your prospects to make an excellent and persuasive case for them to buy your products or services. Sounds easy eh?

    If so then why do the huge majority of sales presentations start with the history of YOUR company!? Maybe the sales person creating the presentation thinks that the history of their company is so compelling and important that it will immediately persuade the prospect to buy?  Erm….NO!

    And why also focus your whole deck of slides on your products/services too? What about how you can help the prospective new client solve a business headache they have or how you can help them plug a gap that is missing your product or solution today?

    When we demonstrate our Presentia presentation software to prospects the first thing we talk about is how they currently do their sales presentations before articulating how Presentia will help them with the issues they have today e.g. no brand control, average quality presentations being used that are not up to date and do not project their business in the best light etc.

    Effective sales presentations that win new business are customer-centric. Prospects buy your products or services because they have been searching for a solution to their urgent problem in their business.

    In our experience, there are four things that all sales presentations must have in them to increase your chances of converting new business:-

    1. Show how you understand the prospect’s problem/business need.
    2. Your suggested approach to solve these issues delivering positive results for the client’s business.
    3. The compelling reason for them to select you rather than your competitor.
    4. Show how you can deliver to time & budget. 

    The above four points are essential for any sales presentation.  Everything you include in your slides must be focussed on one or more of these four points.

    Your prospective new client is judging you and your presentation on:-

    Will we get what we need from this company?
    Can they really deliver it?
    Is this the best place to spend my valuable budget?

    If you follow this basic presentation structure above then you will see an increase in your sales conversions. But to increase it even further try the following two principles:-

    Prospective new clients expect more today. You can’t give them a standard presentation – it needs to be personalised to them. We don’t just mean a title slide with their name and company logo on it either!

    You need to demonstrate what you have researched and learnt from previous engagements with them be that on the phone, online, in email, or face to face at credentials meetings.

    Share with them personalised insight and relevant content – not generic slides you have used for months/years. Where possible use the language of the customer/their sector throughout.

    Primacy in Sales Presentations
    What’s this? It’s how we judge future outcomes based on first impressions. Research into Primacy shows that it takes on average at least seven positive experiences to get over one negative one!

    So what does this mean for our sales presentations? Put content up front  in your sales presentation that your prospect will care about the most.  Understand the prospect  and then build your presentation structure accordingly.  Put that objective your prospect has at number on in your slide structure and then build everything else around how you are the best supplier to solve that objective.

    Want to get expert help in creating an effective pitch presentation for a large client opportunity? Give our presentation design team a call today on 0203 239 2422.

  • Best presentations have less words & more visuals – fact!

    officeteam sales presentation

    We get to see a huge amount of company Powerpoint presentations each week and though they differ in terms of design quality there is nearly always one common trait – too many words on the slides!

    Often they are designed with the least knowledgeable sales person in mind to give them all the information they need on a product or service up on the screen.

    Less words and more preparation on the topic will get a better end result   ie a more engaged and enthused prospective new customer!

    Visuals work better than lines of text. We all recognise this from when we are learning to read. After all no child starts with a 400 page paperback with no illustrations do they?

    However it takes a brave Marketing department or Sales Director to equip their sales team with image led sales presentations.

    We recently worked with an office stationery and solutions provider, OfficeTeam, who did make that leap to a graphical presentation format in Presentia.

    OfficeTeam invested in the time to retrain their sales people in articulating their varied service offerings and drilled them in how to use the new visual-based presentation our Design team created for them. This presentation included lots of beautifully crafted 3D animation. Take a look here:

    The response they have had from prospective customers in presentation meetings has been phenomenal. What’s more we have had many enquiries directly from companies who have been in an OfficeTeam sales presentation and want the same high impact slides for their sales teams!  So,  highly visual sales presentations also work well for us as well as our clients!

    Do you want to chat more about improving your presentations? Want the best presentations in your sector? Give our design team a call on 0203 239 2422.