by Saira Akbar
7 steps to ensure seamless virtual presentations and pitches
We just got off Zoom, after making a pitch to leading regional education institute. And we were thrilled, all smiles, sharing virtual high-fives with each other. This was one of our very first, whole-nine-yards, virtual presentation to a client, since the COVID-19 lock-down.
So how did we reach this virtual-moment of a successful pitch?
Here is our story:
Once the lead (a leading, regional Education behemoth) came to us, we started off by doing the usual Global way of responding to customer's requirements :
Set up a channel on our communication platform called Slack - similar to a WhatsApp group
Handpick a pitch-team of partners and consultants responsible for the research and design of the pitch
Conduct the research
Identify some benchmarks to work with
Collate and design
and of course, the dry runs prior to the pitch, etc. etc. etc.
However, in a virtual work environment, from this point forward, a sales-pitch approach shifts. No more focus on wearing the right shoes, make-up or clothes, or checking the Maps for directions, prepping for a handshake, or walking in with an entourage to create impact.
Virtual presentations and pitches are a different paradigm. Hence the new rules are uniquely simple, yet, unfamiliar. The old rules mean nothing.
I am sharing with you all the steps I used to create a virtual impact on our customer - going forward, we all will be making more and more virtual pitches with strong impact and outcomes.
7 Steps to Sweep-them-off-their-feet Virtually:
First and foremost, I requested my colleague to conduct a dry run with the client on how to use Zoom, so that our presentation stays smooth without any wifi issues, voice/ video drops, and any other delays. I can assure you this probably was the reason for our successful online pitch. Make this a permanent practice. Help the client, to do a dry run, if they are not familiar with Zoom, GoToMeeting, Skype, Slack, or whatever online platform you may be using.
I made sure that all those in the team who worked on the pitch showed up for the presentation.
I ensured that the Global team had their videos on. This probably was the best part, as the client walked into an online "room" full of people. Of course everyone was smiling and welcoming, to make her feel at home.We all have a need to connect emotionally with another person, even virtually, and a video enables that.
Showcase your team - I cannot stress how important it is to showcase your teams with your customers. For instance, Global's Value-Add is its eclectic team of different cultures, age groups, experiences, and locations. Via Zoom, we could demonstrate our value-add : she was impressed that our team was made up of partners from diverse backgrounds. The power of video conferencing helped us to transcend multiple boundaries and distances, helping us to stay visible! This wouldn't be at all possible project so visually in a face-to-face meeting.
Next came the team introductions. I introduced everyone on the Team, with as much fanfare as possible, highlighting their experiences, contributions and ideas. We celebrated and gift-wrapped the self driven contribution of a colleague, who was not present in the meeting, in front of the customer. When customers see how we treat each other, they become fans, and some even refer us to other potential customers, and/ or later on, even join our business - the ultimate compliment.
Introductions done, this cleared the ground for a switch to screen-share, presenting a well designed, choreographed, quality presentation with no stone unturned to keep it relevant, practical, and attractive. At this point I ensured that the client felt she was in control, by reiterating that she can stop me at any point, and one of our partners will be noting down her comments. A small virtual gesture to make her feel she was in control - something we all feel at unease with: virtual = lack of control.
And finally once the presentation got over, I switched backed to Video to increase virtual face-to-face time to manage Q&A and any other concerns the customer may have had.
End result: She loved our presentation and even congratulated us for a fine online experience. Now we wait, and keep our fingers crossed for a yes!
In short, we still have the need to connect with one another, seeking expression and connectivity. With today's technology, you can still have strong communication and high productivity. So don't let lockdowns or COVID-19 be an excuse to slow down. Use the opportunity to embrace the new ways of working and increase team and customer engagement.