Weaving in the Power of Storytelling in Business Presentations
Telling a good story never gets old. In many ways, our brains have an embedded need for narrative, and stories are often how we make sense of the world around us.
In presentations, stories are the most effective way to organize information, translate ideas, and move people to action.
Sarah Kiefer, CMO at Pitch (a platform that enables people to create, collaborate on, and share presentations), is all too familiar with this.
Prior to joining Pitch, she led the team that was responsible for marketing Spotify’s advertising business globally. Sarah’s extensive marketing, advertising, and storytelling experience has enabled her to develop deep knowledge of crafting stories that engage and turn prospects into product-qualified leads, trial users, and paying customers.
“Presentations are this form of storytelling that touches almost every single thing we do in our work lives,” Sarah shares.
Telling your story through a presentation and binding it with your product, can certainly be an incredible way to hook your audience and make them emotionally involved in the story.
Although it might feel counterintuitive, telling stories is key to many product-led SaaS business presentations, whether a sales pitch, product presentation, or a pitch deck for an investment.
If you can deliver a killer presentation – that aims to sell a story, not just a list of numbers – you can:
Drive sales. A good presentation is key for breaking the ice with leads and showing them how to solve the issue they were searching for with the help of your product.
Drive trust in your brand. Having strong presentation skills – and the right medium to show them off – is an incredible way to highlight the quality of your product, demonstrate your commitment, and even leverage social proof by showcasing your best customer reviews and testimonials.
How to Craft an Irresistible Pitch Deck for SaaS
A story-powered presentation can be immensely beneficial, but how do you pull it all together as a SaaS business?
A good starting point, as Sarah shares, is to:
Define what success means for each presentation. For an intro deck, for instance, this could be securing the first meeting.
Make prospects feel heard. Stories have purpose, and – to engage the audience – your presentation needs to be relevant to the experience of the prospects.
To ensure the story fits within the context of your presentation, you should reflect on what you’ve learned from the client.
One way to do that is by arming the sales team with ‘question banks’ that help them find the information that would allow them to tailor their pitch and make the process of building sales presentations more efficient.
Back at Spotify, “we created almost like grab bags of all these different slides they [sales] could use to pitch a client. They could choose from those slides what they knew would resonate based on the specific problem that the client was trying to solve,” Sarah reflects.
There are a lot of ways to create a presentation, including Microsoft PowerPoint and Apple’s Keynote. If you want a simple way to create a pitch deck, Pitch is an excellent tool that offers pre-designed templates that you can easily customize through an online-based interface.
Keep Collaborating on Your Presentations
While you should tailor each presentation based on whether it’s going to be circulated internally or presented live, our new ways of working remotely are layering on additional considerations as well.
“There’s also the way of continuing to collaborate on the presentation after you’ve delivered it, as well as how you build the presentation together,” Sarah explains.
At the end of the day, building a presentation is a collaborative effort – you’re getting feedback from different people, and you’re getting questions from investors and clients.
One advice Sarah has is to “continue to adjust and adapt your materials over time. It’s not as if your presentation is this static document that just sits there. It’s really important to think about how you can make your presentation more of an interactive collaborative way of working and a living document that changes over time.”
The Growth Hacks That Led Pitch to an $85M Series B Funding
In just three years, Pitch has managed to raise $85M on a $600M valuation.
As one of the fastest-growing collaboration software around, Pitch has employed a number of tactics that helped lead to that impressive growth. Let’s walk through some of these below.
PLG and Collaboration Are in Pitch’s DNA
With 8 co-founders that have already worked together in the past, there is a deep sense of teamwork and collaboration built into the very core of the company.
Even more, Sarah shares that there is this really strong hypothesis that presentations are a form of collaboration, and that is what’s missing from a lot of the existing tools – the way the presentations are created, interacted with, and iterated on over time.
Rather than focusing on single users, most of Pitch’s goals are centered around how many active and engaged teams they have, making PLG both an inevitable and logical place to go.
Consider this example: you just found a great presentation template on Pitch. It’s one that you can’t pass up. In essence: your motivation is to share that presentation or collaborate on it with someone in your organization. So, you tell your colleagues about the templates and the company and encourage them to join.
Effectively, those uninitiated with Pitch wopted with a strong virality component and land-and-expand motion built into it.
Focusing On the Organic Growth Loop
Growth often comes from 3 main dimensions – organic, paid, and virality.
For Pitch, a big part of the growth they experience comes from the virality that’s built into the product itself, and spinning up those growth loops is what the company is ultimately aiming to do.
As many people find their way into the product by finding a template and starting to adopt it for their particular use case, SEO is a crucial piece of the puzzle for Pitch.
“SEO is sometimes seen as the unsexy part of marketing, but the way I see it, SEO is people telling you what they’re looking for and what problems they need you to solve,” Sarah says.
In fact, SEO has helped Pitch to:
Uncover plenty of evidence regarding the types of presentation templates that people are looking for.
Boost high conversion rates by matching searcher’s intent.
Enhance their content and develop materials to help people do better with Pitch and design better presentations.
Focusing on the organic growth loop is part of what gives Pitch the edge over competitors in a lot of ways.
After all, we all know that almost everybody in the world who has a computer has probably created a presentation at some point, but how many of them actually have an understanding of what makes for a good presentation?
For Sarah, the punchline is clear: “there’s a huge opportunity for Pitch to also become the authority in presentations more generally and for that to be a very successful channel for us.”
Identifying the Best Time to Upsell
Upselling to customers at the right time matters.
To successfully transition a user from freemium to premium, Pitch knows that you need to be well-acquainted with the customer’s needs. To identify the right time to upsell, Sarah shares that they focus on two main points:
Overlaying information that’s often self-reported during signup (e.g. size of the user’s organization)
Looking into who’s using the tool for collaboration – according to Pitch’s CMO, that’s a good sign that the customers are using the tool in the most effective way and they get the most value from it.
Effectively, once users see the value your product provides, they will ask for more – and that is your chance to upsell.
By combining these two data sources, Sarah adds, “we work out who’s worth picking up the phone to and saying ‘’Hey, seems like you’re getting a lot of value out of this. Have you considered upgrading to pro?’.”
It’s tempting to only look at last-touch attribution when you want to measure conversions or relocate resources. But, as Sarah shares, looking at the last platform or medium that a user converted from is giving you only a small part of the puzzle, and “many people switch off their performance marketing because the LTV to CAC ratio doesn’t make sense.”
So what do you do?
You need to look further than last-touch and deeper into the conversion process – from start to finish.
If you look at the typical buyer’s journey, you’ll notice that it has multiple steps – including a “messy middle” loop – and multiple steps mean multiple touch points. With a linear attribution model, for example, you can get a much clearer picture of how you’re spending your marketing dollars and how they’re performing throughout the journey.
At Pitch, “we do some high-level look at cohort-based LTV analysis and try to optimize that for paid so that we can scale paid marketing and find that right mix of what is the role of paid marketing for us and how much do we spend on awareness vs performance.”
Running different marketing attribution models is one of the best ways to really dig deep into Google Analytics and find out which channels are worth investing in.
That said, Sarah admits that “there’s also always a place for the art side of it because brand is still very important.” It’s not just performance that matters, it’s also how much are you spending on awareness and what is that multi-touch mix that really works for your brand.
Truth is, “analytics never gives you the answer. It gives you the ability to ask better questions, and if you approach it from that perspective it’s more exciting.”
Start Creating Winning Sales Stories
As SaaS marketers, we lean on storytelling to help make our content ideas stick – we use them to help prospects understand our products and build trust and transparency.
But did you know that including stories in the sales process can captivate leads by making emotional connections? Head to our blog to find how to get started with storytelling in sales.
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