It seems like only yesterday that MBNA America (at the time, the world’s leading issuer of affinity credit cards) was facing off with First USA (now Chase) for the endorsement of companies and non-profits that fell into one of 12 “marketing sectors” that included Collegiate, Co-Brand, Sports, and Special Interest.
We had hundreds of account executives and sales professionals working with more than 5,000 partners, and each had his or her own approach to the renewal or new sales discussion. But in most cases, their presentations focused on how wonderful MBNA was (we called it chest-pounding), rather than on how MBNA could resolve our partners’ problems (e.g., demonstrating the value of their membership, generating revenue, or reinforcing the relationship).
We were positioning ourselves as the hero, rather than as the guide. We weren’t painting a picture of the journey ahead. Individual slides were jammed with bullets. There were few compelling images. We weren’t focusing on our partners’ struggles.
So after laying out all those presentations on a table, we identified the best parts of each one and overlaid our brand story.
We created a core presentation and a selection of sector-specific slides. We limited each slide to one idea and created templates that would allow them to input program results that would be converted into compelling images. We created sector-specific slides that helped our partners understand what other people were doing (e.g., sharing a high-performing Michigan solicitation with other universities).
We encouraged each account executive to define the journey ahead, to develop a “big idea” that conveyed what was at stake and be in the form of a complete sentence. We shared presentation ninja Nancy Duarte’s golden rule: “Never deliver a presentation you wouldn’t want to sit through.”
We didn’t ask them to just paste in a logo and some numbers and hit Print (although some did and it worked just fine). We gave them creative license. We encouraged them to use the language that their partners use and to include partner-specific images and colors. But we also bought the rights to high-resolution images, since the photos that many people take off a Google search are awful.
We suggested they plan for what Duarte calls a “STAR” moment (Something They’ll Always Remember) for their audiences, which we defined as something they’d tell others about (a repeatable sound bite, a great story, or a shocking statistic).
We took a similar approach to RFP responses, but developed a guide to encourage account executives to ask questions that would result in the best possible presentation. We worked closely with our in-house ad agency on the appearance and consistency with our own brand story. And we also took a proactive approach, offering ourselves as a resource to help prospects (and existing partners) who were thinking about issuing an RFP develop questions that would help them find the best partner.
So what can I do for you? I can provide suggestions on your current new sales and renewals presentations (including proofreading, which a lot of people don’t seem to do) or I can build a template from scratch (with input from your salespeople and account executives). I can also help you think through your RFP before you issue it and determine what is important to know about the various competitors.
It would be best if we fine-tuned your brand story first, but that’s not mandatory. Fill out the form below if you want to talk about next steps.