As a sales professional creating your first (or second, or tenth) sales deck, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind. First, business to business (B2B) sales today are more complex and nuanced than ever. According to Harvard Business Review, the number of people involved in a B2B sales process increased from 5.4 to 6.8 in just a couple of years. Second, your potential buyers are more knowledgeable (which can also mean they're overwhelmed with information and more distracted) than ever. All that to say, creating a great sales deck in 2019 is more than just putting all of the relevant information on the slides and singing praises to your company. The way you package that information matters a lot. The story that your pitch deck tells and the visuals that it uses to tell that story will make or break your success. And we're assuming that you're going to want to close the deal.
Here is how to create a sales presentation that tells your story and wows your audience.
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State the problem
In the words of the former chief evangelist at Apple, Guy Kawasaki, your presentation has to start with the “shock and awe”. In other words, go right into the most important part. State the problem that your company aims to solve straight away. Andy Raskin, who specializes in strategic messaging and positioning for brands, cites Zuora's slide deck as an example of the greatest sales deck out there that is built on a successful sales narrative. He recommends talking about a shift or a relevant change in the world rather than a problem, as according to him your prospects will be more likely to open up and allow themselves to relate to a change rather than an issue. Whatever approach you choose, remember that you have about 30 seconds to hook your audience. If you don't seize their attention right at the beginning, it will be much harder to rein it in later on.
State your value proposition
Depending on where in the sales funnel you intend to use the sales deck, you may be able to dive in to your value proposition immediately. What makes your brand the best option for this client? Why are you better than the competitors? Be clear and concise, but make sure these slides pack a punch.
Go into details
Go into details, but only the essential ones. After you've established your value proposition, paint the picture of your brand. Do this in broad strokes that will stay in the minds of your listeners, rather than with minuscule details that will be soon forgotten. Show exactly how your company solves the problem and how it stands out from others. This is your chance to shine. To make it more digestible, ditch the wordy bullet points. It’s not a text document. Instead dedicate one slide to each potential bullet point and use supporting images or icons. As always, visuals matter.
Use stats effectively
It’s now time to back your brand's big picture (which you've just painted) with convincing stats. Make sure the graphs and charts are easy to read and that they speak for themselves. Just like the rest of your pitch deck, they have to be easily understood not only by your prospect in real-time, but also by their colleagues who may be viewing the deck after the fact (without your commentary).
Include compelling case studies
Add human connection to your pitch! Even if you include the most impressive stats that the audience has ever seen, they won't make a ripple if you don't provide some social proof. Remember, most people are simply reluctant to change the status quo even if they know it would be good for them. Tangible results have the power to change that. The best sales decks always include case studies proving how the product or service has helped real people, or companies, solve their problems. Assuming you have made your potential buyer aware of their pain points earlier in the presentation, these customer success stories will provoke action.
If you have testimonials from your customer base, add them to your presentation. Furthermore, put the quotes next to the photo of the customer who gave you the testimonial (if available). Adding this human element will allow your new prospects to connect to your success stories, and picture their own successes driven by your product.
Pricing and process
Now, put your money where your mouth is (literally and figuratively). If you talk about pricing, it's important to put these slides at the end of your presentation. Your prospect needs to hear your story before they can be convinced that your product or service is worth the cost.
End on a high note
Don't forget to end your presentation on a high note. It could be a subtle call-to-action or an executive summary of the main takeaways, presented in an optimistic and authentic way. Don't forget to include your contact information!