Every IT company is doing its marketing in media, social media, events, conferences, etc. However, the bell rings only when it is called to make a presentation to some team at a prospective organization. That is when the real excitement begins; dopamine levels surge, creating extra energy. A frenzied search for information and insight begins to update the existing presentation to create the desired impact. Key people are quickly identified to make the presentation, who begin to look as if they are on the verge of conquering the world.
Then they make the presentation…… some pass the test, some fail.
Today’s crowded market and fierce competition make it tougher than ever to clinch a deal, more so when selling technology to banks and financial services institutions. When selecting a technology partner, the client organizations have to look not only at technology aspects, but many others including financial strengths, the organization’s stability, product maturity, competitive scenario, etc. Do the IT companies making presentations understand all these concerns? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. In a hyper-competitive marketplace, technology vendors win if they have holistic strategies and persuasive presentations to convert opportunity into success.
A presentation is therefore a key tool. When done well, a presentation can take the technology company to the next level of the ladder.
So what do the decision makers in BFSI organizations feel about presentations that IT companies make? Mostly, they feel unhappy, and sometime frustrated. Many presentations leave a lot to be desired and fall short on several parameters to take the opportunity to the next level. Many companies with good products and technologies have failed because the presentation was lacking.
Having said that, there is broad agreement that there is no universal solution for creating a great presentation. Each presenter has his own pitch which will be different from others’. What they must attempt is to put their best thoughts and energy into creating a meaningful presentation and then leverage it to create to a powerful impact.
Rajesh Lahori, head of Cash Management Product at RBL Bank, says salespeople from IT companies making presentations often fail to scan the target bank’s market. “Most often their mindset is that the company they represent has a great product. They assume that it will work this way and that way. This leaves us in the bank to figure out how the product fits into our activities. They come with ‘one size fits all approach’,” he says.
However, Lahori maintains that mature technology organizations have domain specialists and they help bring a perspective. But startups often do not have this facility. “The startups have not thought it through stage 1 and stage 2. They are not clear whether they are looking for equity or business or partnership. They are hedging their bets, but that requires different pitches. The product is only one tool. They blur the line and we are forced to ask a lot of questions,” says he.
Lahori also explains that large IT companies seems to have a problem of plenty, ie, they push across multiple products. In the process, they miss the whole plot. “But banks have a very clear problem statement. Majority of these big IT companies don’t study the audience and come with a 30,000 ft pitch. There is a difference, for example, between us and HDFC Bank. Volume is critical for them, but innovation is critical for us,” says he.
He mentions about the mentoring he has done for salespeople: “We all have limited patience and getting repeated opportunities to make presentations is really difficult. Typically, we will call a limited number of IT companies for making presentations,” he says.
He also points out that often IT salespeople do more R&D while preparing to make presentations at large organizations because such organizations ask very clear cut questions.
Prasanna Lohar, head of Technology Innovation & Architecture at DCB Bank, says salespeople from early stage startups often make crude presentations and are not time conscious. “They need to calculate how every 10 seconds can be useful. There are issues in the way they speak and the content that is there in the sales pitch. Typically, they have problem in coordinating between their own people making the presentation. Their focus should ideally be on product demo or business value, but definitely not both,” avers Lohar.
Another point that Lohar found in the way sales presentations are made by startups is that the teams consist mainly IT people and not business people. And mostly their talking points veer more around existing problems and less on the solutions. “The issue I believe is that many of the people in startups are focused on creating an organization and they may not have a good mentor. They have limited data on market share of various competitors and often they are unable to give data on profitability,” says he.
“At DCB Bank, what we have done is that we have created guidelines for sales presentations. We tell them to make the presentations short and insist on demos and less of powerpoints. Our guidelines explain what we in the technology team in the bank expect and we share this with the salespeople in advance,” says Lohar.
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