Dave Fowler is the senior vice president of marketing for Pragmatech, a company that provides infrastructure for personalized communications between businesses and their customers. With 1,000 customers and 100 employees, the company is based in Nashua, N.H.
The company's main product that has applications in the presentations space is Presentations Express, which warehouses information from a company's CRM and other systems about potential customers and provides updatable templates for brochures, letters, contracts, presentations, and other types of communications.
We talked to Dave Fowler about how Pragmatech intersects with the presentations space.
Presentations: How does Presentations Express help a sales person to make better presentations?
DF: Well, in the knowledge base for Presentations Express, account data is captured from any type of contacts and recorded, such as when a potential customer registers on our Web site. That way the latest info gets populated into presentations that employees create, because it pulls the latest and greatest information from that database. For example, if a sales person decides to create some slides about a company, the templates will update automatically from the database. A space for revenue would be filled in with the latest information in the database. Similarly, if the salesperson wants to create a company overview, it will build that overview with information that's already in the system. Then he or she can save that presentation, but the next time they open it, if the database contains newer information that applies to that presentation, the template automatically gets updated each time it's used.
Presentations: What trends do you see in the presentations space?
DF: Sales executives have an increasing desire for effectiveness, because while their productivity has dropped—in the 1990s, 70 percent of them were making quote, but now that number is closer to 40 or 50 percent. Plus, the speed at which they receive new information, the number of products they have to know about, and the complexity of those products are all increasing. These executives need to be experts, and the question is how to tee up information in a way that makes sure that they have answers to the questions customers are asking.
They need more information, but they also need guidance. For a lot of companies, their existing system contains a ton of information but no guidance for how to explore that information or find what you need. The direction for this space is in not only centralizing information in databases they can readily access, but in guided mechanisms that help them find what they need. Executives need to be able find information, assemble it into a coherent message, and personalize it to the customer they're presenting to.
Consistency is another challenge, and it's not a technological challenge, it's an organizational one. People who are generating all these presentations at companies tend to be scattered all over, and there's not a lot of consistency in what they're doing. I talked to an executive at a large software company who tole me that he spent the weekend looking at all the different slide decks that were being used at his company, and he was blown away by the number of slides that were about the same topics but had completely different information in them.
Presentations: What future directions do you see for Pragmatech?
DF: We're interested in taking the best practices of sales and marketing and manifesting those in software. Take the example of Dell: Their Web site does what salespeople would ordinarily do. It gives information about products, prods customers for input so that customers see what they want and want to buy it, and guides them through the buying process. The idea is to offer what the customer wants to buy and get customers to say they're interested in buying; then sales reps can come in and close the deal. For example, some companies might offer Web-based video presentations with voice-overs so that customers can self-serve the information they want. We're working on integration with CRM and marketing information systems, and extending partnerships with companies like Salesforce, SAP, EMC, expanding those relationships into other areas.