Most companies submit proposals for new business using a program that is over 25 years old. In most situations, sticking to one thing for that long never bodes well for keeping up with the trends. Just think back to the denim you wore in 1995 and you’ll understand our point.
While there continues to be many use cases for PowerPoint presentations (still going strong after 25 years), the world has changed dramatically since they were introduced. Technology and culture have evolved. The world has gone digital.
So why are we still submitting bids using a business tool that was launched before we carried smartphones?
The answer to that is complex. Ask any professional services firm and they’ll tell you it’s to do with legacy policies and systems, custom and practice, and a historic lack of enterprise-ready tools to enable something better.
Slowly but surely, things are starting to change. Teams are distributed, meetings are held using video conferencing tools and we communicate with our coworkers via online messaging platforms. In fact, most companies probably can’t remember the last time they had an in-person pitch meeting where they could gauge their client’s interests in real-time. As companies endeavor to keep pace with new technology, digital sales proposals are set to become the norm.
If you’ve recently felt your PowerPoints have fallen flat in a few client pitches, you can easily upgrade your next one with a digital proposal, the perfect PowerPoint alternative. A digital proposal is simply a microsite – a mini website that allows you to present a customized, curated set of information in a non-linear format.
There will be times when an RFP specifically requests a slide deck or PDF submission. Increasingly though, digital sales proposals have become key for connecting with multiple stakeholders in varied locations, gaining insights into client reaction and standing out in a sea of other client pitches.
Getting the right information to the right stakeholders
When you’re considering how best to convey your message, here’s how to think about it.
- What is my desired outcome?
- Who is my audience?
- What is the most effective form for this content?
- In what format should it be delivered?
- How can this content best be packaged and shared?
- Am I trying to tell one story?
- …Or many?
Submitting any new business proposal to a potential client for review means it will be looked at by a number of people. Finance, Procurement, Risk, IT and Management teams are all involved in the decision to purchase. Not every stakeholder will be deeply entrenched in the project. And some won’t be actively involved at all, but will need to be in the loop.
Herein lies the problem with existing solutions like PowerPoint presentations and PDFs – and why you need a PowerPoint alternative. If every stakeholder has to review a 50-page PDF, many will lose interest as they wade through a clunky document where only a few pages might be relevant to them. And they risk missing key information.
A digital sales proposal allows each member of your audience to find and review the information that matters to them the most. It simultaneously affords you the ability to tell your story and share assets in a format that is engaging and humanizing.
Client pitches, two ways: linear vs. non-linear
PowerPoint and PDFs aren’t dead forms of communication. In fact, they are excellent ways to present material for a variety of purposes. And yet in this changing business landscape, they aren’t always enough in order to grab new business and entertain and inform potential clients.
Linear formats for succinct messaging
When you need to tell a clear story with a solid beginning, middle and end, a PowerPoint or PDF format is great. If it’s a story that all stakeholders need to read through, it’s a super impactful presentation style.
A deck is a simple, linear flipbook, which can be great for presentations where you control the flow of information from A to B and when the story makes the most sense if you present the pages in order. If the ideas are complex enough that it’s helpful to present them one-at-a-time and each idea builds upon the previous one, PDF presentations are often the way to go.
This is a great starting point, but a linear format is rarely the only way you’ll be getting information to clients as you compete for and win their business.
If you want to show true authority in your client pitch, offer them a digital proposal as a PowerPoint alternative that can act as an initial presentation but also serve as your touchpoint throughout your time working together.
Non-linear formats for storytelling
With a digital proposal, you have the opportunity to leverage your PDFs and PowerPoint decks to their maximum capacity.
Rather than letting your documents and slide decks get buried in your client’s inbox, you can upload them to a microsite where they can be amplified by supporting materials including video, animated timelines, live graphs, and more.
Although some of those PDFs or PowerPoint presentations may feel dry or one-dimensional like dinosaurs on their own, when you combine these materials with more digital content, the experience you present will be powerful.
By gathering together all kinds of content and allowing your audience to explore the things that interest them in their own time, this alternative approach to PowerPoint will give your audience a more customized experience.
For example, you might use video for team bios instead of a PDF, or create an ‘About Us’ video with a quick tour of your offices. You could even upload a PowerPoint presentation alongside your recorded call going through it, to make the experience more immersive.
The key is to present your information in a way that allows each decision-maker to access what is important to them. Of course, in the way you design your site, you can show them an obvious path!
Digital sales proposals, a PowerPoint alternative – the way forward
Use a microsite as a powerful upgrade to your PDF and PowerPoint presentations. Consider all the ways you can grab your audience right out of the gate with colorful team bios, animated timelines, video explanations, and visually stunning infographics, all in a consumable and beautiful digital format.
Your future clients will not only appreciate the modern approach to your pitch, but you’ll be able to better cater to them by having access to analytics that a PowerPoint simply can’t give you. You’ll see what your audience looked at, how long they spent on it, and what they may have missed.
On top of all that, you won’t get stuck in the ice age. Give your favorite linear formats the use cases they’re best at, but elevate your business’ status and revenue by moving forward in an increasingly digital world.