Driving success from Sales Enablement investments

Digital tools for call and meeting preparation

Robin Griffiths

PowerPoint is dead long live PowerPoint!

It has become quite trendy in sales circles to say, “Oh I don’t believe in PowerPoint any more. I believe in having conversations with customers, not pitching to them.”

Now the ‘conversation’ part is good, but if I hear this I always then have to ask, “OK I understand but if you don’t use PowerPoint how do you actually prepare for meetings?”.

In my sales career, I’ve always tried to follow the discipline of pulling together a few slides before any meeting, regardless of whether I’m actually going to show them to the customer. There are three very important reasons for doing this.

  1. If you have a good slide deck template for each key stage in the sales process, the slides will remind you of the type things you should be thinking about at the current point in the sale.
  2. The PowerPoint file gives you somewhere to capture, structure and prepare your thinking before you talk with the customer.
  3. In working through the process of writing what’s on the slides you are actually formulating and practicing exactly what you want to ask and say to the person in question (hopefully based on their industry and job function).

If your sales people don’t use PowerPoint, then what are they using to prepare for meetings or calls?

Some will scribble a few notes in a notebook. If you have sales playbooks in PDF form, some people may printout the relevant pages and annotate these for the deal in question. You may find others are simply ‘winging it’!

If you’re a sales manager, asking each member of your team to walk you through their preparation notes for their next customer meeting, can be hugely informative.

A new way to prepare for customer conversations

The latest generation of HTML5 based playbook provides a new way for sales people to prepare for calls and meetings.

These digital playbooks not only give interactive access to the selling knowledge sales people need at each step of the sales process, but also have built-in tools that allow reps to actually prepare for calls, meetings, demos and presentations.

With a digital playbook a sales person can:

  1. Dial-in the industry segment and persona for their next call, click on the relevant step in the sales process, and look at the latest thinking from the best sales people and others across their organization.
  2. Select relevant ideas, insights, questions, messages, and links to documents and send them to a digital notepad for an individual opportunity – where they can add their own notes and ideas as they prepare for customer interactions.
  3. Build up their understanding of the customer’s goals and challenges, and craft customized value messages for the individual account – as the sale moves forward.

Working together on deals

This type of digital tool can also facilitate team collaboration between account manager, sales rep, sales specialist, etc.

With the necessary access rights pulled from the CRM system, a digital playbook can allow all members of the sales team on a particular opportunity to view and contribute to the thinking and preparation notes for the deal.

This provides, for example, a very structured way for a sales specialist who’s going to give a demo and the sales rep to work together to make sure the customer’s key challenges are understood and the demo is customized to hit the identified ‘hot buttons’.

In my next blog I’m going to take a look at sales coaching and new ways for sales managers to do this.

Robin Griffiths

Robin’s background includes Director of Projects at industrial group Birmid Qualcast and Founder and Director of Cambridge Consulting Engineers. Robin went on to start Force12 Software and led the company for 6 years; securing $5m in venture capital funding and establishing operations in the USA and Europe. Robin left Force12 in early 2004 to found BPM Works.

Robin is an expert in insight-based selling and messaging development. He has developed programs for some of the world’s leading companies to equip sales people with the knowledge they need on customers and propositions to be more successful.

Robin has a First Class Honors Degree in Mechanical Engineering from King’s College London and a Masters Degree from Glasgow University.

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