How to Create a Winning Sales Deck

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Sales Tactics : 9 min read

How to Create a Winning Sales Deck

Think you can rely on just demos to close your sales? Think again.

Today, a B2B deal involves an average of 6.8 people. And the chances of you getting all of those people into a room for a demo are slim.

Some of these people have no interest in—or time to spend on—being a part of a demo. Instead, they rely on a fellow decision-maker (a.k.a. a “champion”) to relay only the most crucial information to them which they’ll ultimately use to make a purchase decision.

Sales decks allow you to take control of this information that’s relayed back to the execs (and any other decision-makers).

Your deck should be powerful enough to convince anyone in a live presentation to believe in your product—and clear and concise enough to be just as effective when forwarded along to “the boss.”

Keep reading to learn:

FYI: Sales decks and investor decks aren’t the same thing.

Let’s just clear this up real quick: sales decks and investor decks are similar, but they’re not the same thing.

Your sales deck is what you’ll take with you to your in-person meetings with prospects. It’s a summary of who your company is and what you can do for the specific audience you’ve created the sales deck for. Most importantly, it’s simple enough that even someone with no prior knowledge about your company would understand it.

The question that a sales deck answers is: “Will this product or service solve my business problem and do it in a way that others can’t?”

Investor decks, on the other hand, present more generalized industry problems and how their company can solve them. The people who receive investor decks generally already have an idea of the company they’re coming from as well as the industry as a whole, so these decks often contain more jargon as well.

The question that an investor deck answers is: “Is this a company I should invest money into?”

Okay, now that we got that out of the way, let’s jump into how to put a sales deck together.

Part 1: Before you begin making your sales deck

Before you even start putting your sales deck slides together, you need to have some prerequisite information down. This information will be the framework to shape the content and design of your sales deck around, and includes two components:

  1. Your story
  2. Your audience

1. Your story

Fun fact: prospects don’t care about what your company is selling.

What they care about is solving their own business problems. However, if what your company is selling happens to do that—well, then you’ve got a chance of getting their attention.

But don’t rely on a bullet list of product features to do it.

Research shows that people are 60-70% more likely to remember a company with a story. So, tell your story.

An example of a company that does an excellent job at this is DocSend. What makes their sales deck so awesome? The storytelling is on point.

Check this out.

They start by introducing a relevant change that’s happened in the world:

docsend sales deck opener

Then, they state what caused that change:

docsend sales deck example

The deck continues to describe the problems businesses are now facing because of this change:

docsend sales deck example page 3: business problems

Next, they hint they have a solution to those problems:

docsend sales deck example - the hook

It’s at this perfect moment they introduce their product:

docsend sales deck example - the pitch

Pretty nice, right? You can view the full sales deck here.

Maybe you have a huge story… or multiple, different stories. How do you know which one to tell? It depends on who you’re telling it to—which brings us to our next point.

2. Your audience

Part of creating a sales deck that’s as concise as possible is knowing who you’re talking to, so you can get straight to the points that matter to them the most.

Remember: one sales deck does not fit all. You want the person receiving your sales deck to feel like it’s speaking directly to them the entire time.

Here are some examples of how your sales decks might vary for different types of prospect audiences:

  • Executives: Keep it high-level, focusing on the overall vision. Your goal is to get them to believe in your product so they can pass that confidence down to the other decision-makers.
  • Budget holders: Be sure to emphasize your cost investment and ROI. Your goal is to convince them of the ROI of your product to speed up the decision-making process.
  • Users: In this case, you can get really into the technical aspects of your product. Don’t be afraid to tie your presentation in with a full-on demo, so they can really see how your product would work for them. The goal here is to drive adoption from the people who will actually be using the product.
Pro-tip

Crush some quotas.

Learn how to cultivate the habits needed to close deals and crush quotas in this free webinar.

Part 2: Sales deck content and structure

Next, let’s go over what the slides of your sales deck should include:

  1. Title slide
  2. Define a problem or need
  3. Explain how your solution can help
  4. Introduce yourself
  5. Elaborate on why your solution is the best choice
  6. Show proof
  7. Close with a call-to-action

1. Title slide

This will be the cover of your sales deck. Company name, tagline, topic of the sales deck… pretty basic.

adgibbon sales deck
An example from Adgibbon

(View the full sales deck here.)

2. Define a problem or need

Think of this as the “before” state of adopting your product. You want to show your audience you understand their current situation and the challenges they’re facing. If your sales team has been taking notes throughout their demo and pitching calls, you should have a good idea of common challenges that your prospects face.

leadcrunch sales deck
An example from LeadCrunch

(View the full sales deck here.)

This could be a general or industry problem (like the example above) or something specific to the prospect. Maybe you’ve noticed their stock price has stagnated or declined or they’ve recently had some negative press. Let them know you know, and you’re here to help—which brings us to our next slide.

3. Explain how your solution can help

This is the “after.” In this slide, showcase how your product can help solve that problem or meet that need you presented in the previous slide.

The example below does this with three bold statements to pique the prospect’s interest and get them thinking, “How?” and then inserts their product mention at the bottom of the slide to answer that question.

office 365 sales deck
An example from Office 365

(View the full sales deck here.)

4. Introduce yourself

Now that you’ve got your audience’s attention by showing them how you’re going to solve their problem, elaborate a bit more on who you are. The key here is to introduce yourself in a way that’s relevant to them.

For example, if you’re talking to a prospect that’s looking to improve their email marketing process, and you offer email marketing and also sell apples and bananas, don’t mention the apples and bananas. They’re not relevant to this particular prospect.

prodpad sales deck
An example from ProdPad's sales deck

(View the full sales deck here.)

5. Elaborate on why your solution is the best choice

Now that your prospect knows who you are and what you can do for them, you need to explain why going with your solution is the right choice over competitors. This would be a good time to throw in some impressive stats about your brand to begin instilling buying confidence in them.

In the example below, Reddit states they not only are the fastest growing social space in the country, but also have the most persuasion power. They drive this message with strong, interesting visuals (more on design in part 3).

reddit sales deck
An example from Reddit

(View the full sales deck here.)

6. Show proof

Of course, don’t make them take your word for it—give them proof that what you’re saying is true.

Social proof like past clients you’ve worked with, case studies (here's how to create them), or testimonials are good ways to do this.

snapchat sales deck
An example from Snapchat

(View the full sales deck here.)

7. Close with a call-to-action

Finally, your sales deck comes to an end. Don’t leave your audience thinking, “Okay, now what?” Close your sales deck with a clear call-to-action (CTA) that tells them exactly what they need to do to move forward.

immediately sales deck
An example of a clear, concise CTA from Immediately's sales deck

(View the full sales deck here.)

Part 3: Sales deck design

Once you’ve got the skeleton of your sales deck laid out as well as the content, it’s time to make it pretty. Don’t underestimate the power of design—it helps make an impactful impression on your audience. (And it’s more tempting to pay attention to something when it’s aesthetically pleasing.)

A few design tips:

  1. Keep your slides consistent
  2. Leave white space
  3. Use pictures over text (where you can)

1. Keep slides consistent

For one, you want your slide to look like components of a single deck, not a medley of slides mashed together. To do this, your slides should have a consistent look and feel throughout your presentation in terms of typography, colors, and content layouts.

Pro-tip: Talk to your marketing or design team and see if they have brand guidelines you can use when formatting your sales deck. This makes sure that your slides are consistent with the rest of your company’s collateral (they’ll be “on brand”).

buffer sales deck
An example from Buffer

(View the full sales deck here.)

On the other hand, you may want to format your deck to reflect your prospect’s brand and totally customize the experience. Take a look at their website and use their brand colors and styles so that when the prospect sees your sales deck, they’re greeted with a familiar layout (and impressed by you going the extra mile to personalize the deck just for them).

2. Leave white space

Remember, you want your sales deck to be as concise as possible. This means only including relevant information—no fluff or distractions.

Empty or “white space” can help put emphasis on the elements of the slide you want the prospect to pay attention to by making them stand out. Think of it as an invisible highlighter.

zenefits sales deck
An example from Zenefits

(View the full sales deck here.)

3. Use pictures over text

Not only is a picture worth a thousand words, but 65% of people are more likely to soak in the visual content versus if they were to read text alone.

Too much text or information can get overbearing (read: long and boring) and might just end up going in one ear and out the other. You don’t want to dilute the stuff you really want your client to absorb with insignificant details.

Research shows that visual presentations are 43% more convincing than their text-only alternatives. People just get pictures. Our brain processes them 60,000 times faster than text, and the information is better retained too.

Just look at all those example slides we presented earlier. None of them had more than a few lines of text—and lots of visuals, color, and empty space.

Now that you’ve read our deck on sales decks…

It’s time to get out there and create your own. Use the tips and examples in this blog post to guide you along the way.

Once you’ve got your sales deck ready-to-go, learn about how to brush up on your sales presentation skills.