Like cards in a tabletop board game, the slides a rep has in their deck can sometimes spell the difference between success and failure in a B2B sales deal. The sales deck is an integral part of many a presentation, providing background and bolstering a rep’s case to their prospective client.
How many slides is optimal, though, and what kinds of maximize success? There’s no need to reinvent the wheel completely here, as Guy Kawasaki has already put together a well-respected presentation formula to use as a framework:
“It’s quite simple: a pitch should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points. This rule is applicable for any presentation to reach agreement: for example, raising capital, making a sale, forming a partnership, etc.”
That framework will require some tweaking to reach its optimal potential for a sales presentation, however, as a great sales pitch must also take into account factors like weaving a narrative, among other concerns. This article will delve into getting the most out of those ten essential slides, along with the odd example to help better illustrate the point.
This initial slide is as straightforward as they come. It should contain pertinent details like the company name, contact info, presentation topic, etc. This presentation from Uber provides some insight on creating a title slide that’s clean and to the point.
There’s a good portion of sales advice that advocates steering clear of talking about the product/service in question straight out the gate. Wise words, but much of this advice also recommends presenting clients with a “problem” at the onset of a presentation, which may have some unintended consequences:
“When you assert that your prospects have a problem, you put them on the defensive. They may be unaware of the problem, or uncomfortable admitting they suffer from it.”
Instead (according to Andy Raskin), reps would be better served highlighting a “big, relevant change in the world.” This, he argues, creates both stakes and urgency, nudging prospects to get on board with what a rep is selling. As examples, Raskin shows off two slides from a Zuora deck, which plainly states the change taking place in their industry, then allows the client’s mind to fill in the blanks.
Continuing with the Zuora example, the next slide should show that there will be “winners and losers.” This, Raskin states, will help combat loss aversion in prospective clients by displaying how those who adapt to change (in this case, a product or service) will be better off than those who eschew it.
Once prospects are on board with the idea of “winners and losers,” the next step is to show them what awaits those who select the winning option. Many a sales pro refer to this as the “promised land,” and the picture painted of this mythic landscape should be both attractive and unattainable through standard methods. It simultaneously lays the groundwork for the introduction of the sales rep’s product/service and supplies a prospect with an idea of what a company does beyond simply supplying said product/service.
To build on the power of the sales narrative and grant a sense of agency/control to the prospect, reps can use this slide to setup a “plot” where the client is the hero who calls upon the aid of a supporting character (the salesperson/the company they represent) to save the day. Again, this slide should be just vague enough that the prospective customer connects the dots on their own.
Now it’s time to show off the product/service. Thanks to all the groundwork of the previous slides, reps can now position what they’re selling as a kind of “golden ticket” that will grant entry to the aforementioned promised land. This is the time to go into some depth, talk up the tangible benefits, and explain the ever-important question of “how” the product/service is key to success. DocSend shows how it can be done in a single slide with a comprehensive overview comprised of three simple steps.
Claims without evidence are hard for most rational people to swallow. To bolster their promises, reps should include a bevy of facts and figures showing that what they’re selling performs as advertised. Streamline provides a strong example in this area, chock full of statistics and studies to make their case.
Since numbers can sometimes be dry, adding a human element to the proposed solution is often helpful. Real-world examples, testimonials and strong narratives work well here, as they shift focus to the individuals that the product/service has already aided.
To further build on the humanizing elements laid out above, talking about the team that provides the product/service in question, in glowing detail, is also helpful. This slide puts faces to what might otherwise be an anonymous factor and provides a chance for a sales rep to affirm their organization’s competency.
To close, reps should reiterate that ever-important contact information and include a call to action that motivates the prospect confirm the next move (a follow-up meeting, the sale, etc.). This should be a kind of “we’re here for you” slide that reassures the client and leads them further down the sales pipeline.