Sales presentations are one of the most effective tools to increase sales. Here’s everything you need to know to create a powerful one
If you are a salesperson, you are likely to be constantly thinking about how to increase sales. You may wonder what are the ideas, concepts or tools that could help you do that.
What if I tell you that there is one magical tool you can use to increase sales?
This is my number one tool to increase B2B sales. I have used it in multiple organisations as well as in channel & reseller sales with fantastic success – great sales and revenue results.
This magical tool is: The Sales Presentation.
In this article, I will in detail share everything I know about this tool. I will discuss the following topics:
- Why the sales presentation is important
- What are the components of a great sales presentation
- How do you create a really good sales story?
- An example of a successful sales story
- Five steps to build the perfect pitch
- What presentations often do wrong
Why the sales presentation is important
You need to transfer knowledge
While working with your sales team, it is important to transfer information and knowledge to them as efficiently as possible. If you can educate your sales persons about your product or solution and train them to present it at the same time, they can start selling it immediately, saving valuable time.
All salespersons need to learn a sales pitch
To grow your business to increase sales, you need a sales pitch. All salespeople should have a consistent sales pitch. It is best if the sales leadership creates the best sales pitch they possibly can and then trains every sales person to present that pitch to your end customers. In doing this, you ensure that you make the sales person’s job easier, enabling them to make more sales.
A presentation is easy to consume
A sales presentation made using PowerPoint or Google slides is fantastic because if done well, it allows the receiver to easily understand the story you are telling. It is easier for a person to comprehend information presented slide-by-slide than to process a mass of text contained in a brochure or email. Once your sales person understands your story, it’s not only easier for them to tell the story to others, they will also be hugely motivated to do so.
A presentation is easy to update
Products change, offerings change, we make things better, and with all this we must update our sales presentation and sales materials. Presentations are way easier to change than, say, brochures. We can quickly add a slide, remove a slide, change some text or replace a graphic.
Presentations are easy to send to prospects
After sales people hold a call or a meeting with a prospect, presentations are great to send as follow up material. If you want to be extra helpful you can provide the deck in original PPT format via a link so the prospect can use your slides when creating internal presentations about your solution.
Prospects can share presentations internally
When sales people have meetings with prospective customers, many times there are people such as colleagues or decision-makers who cannot attend the meeting, and it might be difficult or time-consuming for you to deliver the sales pitch to them at another time. A really well-done presentation that you send your prospect via email is easily shared with bosses, colleagues or senior company leadership. That way, your sales pitch can reach them without you even being present.
What are the components of a great sales presentation?
I believe a great presentation is all about the story. Looking at it technically, however, a great sales presentation comprises two main parts – the core pitch and the appendix.
Part 1: THE CORE PITCH – A great core pitch must tell a great and focused story. To tell a great story, you will need to understand your B2B customer, your end customer and your product or solution really well. For this, you will need to create detailed customer profiles, build a proper value proposition and do your research on the market.
PART 2: THE APPENDIX – Because the core pitch must be focused on the story you are telling, any other information (which is important but doesn’t really contribute to the story) must go in the appendix.
Why a great story makes a great presentation
So here’s the thing, if you are selling a B2B solution, you are probably spending a lot of time getting that one meeting with a prospective customer where you can explain what value you can deliver to them. But the prospect is probably meeting several of your competitors too, so you need to think of what you can do to stand out.
The presentation is the number one factor as to why a customer chooses one vendor over others, says a Gartner research report.
So, if you want to stand out, you must have a presentation that stands head and shoulders above that presented by your competitors.
How do you ensure your presentation stands out from that of your competitors?
You create an amazing sales story that focuses on value propositions.
Creating a really good sales story is an art form and takes time and energy. One of the best presentations I ever made was developed over 45 iterations.
It led to fantastic results – the company managed to find partners all over the world for a new product and closed deals with over 100 of the world’s biggest telecom operators – with a minimal budget. But that’s not all, our partners were willing to pay our company a $20,000 recoupable guarantee to close a deal. I wrote this article on that project: How I built a hugely successful partner program and you can too (in-depth).
How do you create a really good sales story?
When I am building my sales story, I work with the following outline:
BUILD THE FOUNDATION
- Agree: One or several slides that state something we can all agree on. This could be something about the field of business you are in, the industry, a problem or something else that is connected to what you do.
- Explain the problem: In a few slides, explain the problem without mentioning or discussing your product or solution. The problem description should be high level.
- What could be a solution: One slide where you explain what the solution could be without mentioning your product or service.
EXPLAIN YOUR SOLUTION AND VALUE PROPOSITION
- Your offering: One slide with text and an image that explains your offering in one sentence.
- Value proposition: Next, explain your value proposition in several slides. While you draft it, remind yourself that you are explaining your product or solution’s value proposition – that is the value it brings to the customer – and NOT its features and functions.
- Explanations: It all depends on your offering, but make sure you subsequently add explanations about the features or functions of your product or service.
- Why choose us? Answer this question here. Create one or several slides that explain how you are different and why you should be the chosen vendor.
- The value we offer you: Conclude by reiterating the value you offer the prospect.
- Company info: Add some slides with information about your company.
- Case studies: It’s always great to add examples of how you delivered value to customers.
- Typical questions: Create slides that answer the most common questions you get from prospects. Preferably address one question in each slide.
I also think you should read this article that really helped me polish my sales pitches: The Greatest Sales Pitch I’ve Seen All Year – The Mission – Medium.
An example of a successful sales story
I created a sales story for Appland, a company that offers a mobile games subscription service. The B2B customers in this case were telecom operators around the world, and mobile phone users were the end customers.
Appland built a channel partner program so that its partners could help them sell its Games Clubs to mobile phone operators in their countries who would include the product in their offerings to their customers. The program was so successful that in just three years, the Sweden-based company had signed on over 100 of the world’s biggest telecom operators as its customers.
This was how I structured the story for Appland’s channel partners according to the pointers I gave in the previous section:
BUILD THE FOUNDATION
- Slide 1 (Agree): We all want quality content. Subscription streaming services like Spotify, Netflix and HBO show us that people want really good content and are prepared to pay for it.
- Slide 2 (Agree): People love to play mobile phone games. 82% of all apps sold in Google Play and Apple App Store are games. Revenue generated by mobile games is an astonishing $40 billion per year.
- Slide 3 (Agree): Over 1.8 billion people on the planet play mobile phone games.
- Slide 4 (Problem): But you know what? These games have become boring.
- Slide 5 (Problem): If you get a free mobile game it will nag you to buy coins and berries. You see advertisements on it all the time. Some games suddenly stop and make you wait three days before you can play them again. Some games implement a type of gameplay where you have to constantly wait for stuff.
- Slide 6 (Problem): This “harassment” happens because it is the only way for a game developer to make money.
- Slide 7 (Solution): We need to bring back the fun in games.
- Slide 8 (Solution): We can do this by creating a business model that makes it easier for developers to make money and for consumers to get amazing content so that they can play without being nagged to buy things.
EXPLAINING THE SOLUTION
- Slide 9 (Our offering): Let us introduce the Games Club – a service that offers subscribers 400 of the world’s best games.
- Slide 10 (Value proposition): The games are the absolute best of the millions on offer. Users get free in-app purchases and the service lets users play games for as long as they like. Customers are offered a free trial and there are no advertisements or interruptions.
- Slide 11-16 (Value proposition): Details of the super popular games that billions of people are playing, all of which are included in the Games Club subscription.
- Slide 17 (Explanation): A summary of all the content of the games on offer and also data on how popular the games are.
- Slide 18 (Our Secret Sauce): Consumers can play games offline in a model where they pay a low price and can play as much as they like. In addition, there is a digital rights management system that will lock all games installed when users unsubscribe to the service.
- Slide 19 (Conclusion/The value we offer you): The Games Club is a high-quality service and together we can launch and market the solution to your customers. The value you get is a revenue share of the service, your branding and you will have an amazing offering for your consumers.
This summary is slightly simplified but I hope it still works as a good example of how we can build a story. As you see, I did not talk about the features and functions of the service. I discussed value for users and values for the prospect Appland wanted to work together with.
You now know how to create a really good sales story. Next, you need to put together a convincing pitch. How do you do that?
Five steps to build the perfect pitch
My approach to create the perfect pitch are these five steps.
Step 1: Create detailed customer profiles
If you don’t understand your customers well – B2B as well as end customers – you will never be able to craft a good message and presentation to attract them to your product or solution. Click here to learn How to create customer profiles / buyer personas for B2B Sales.
Step 2: Build a proper Value Proposition
You need to create a really good value proposition for your product or service. Click here to learn How to Create a Strong Value Proposition for B2B.
Step 3: Do research
To find a really good story you need to do research. You need to understand the industry, the problems there and how you can connect this to your product or service. You need to dig and find that story.
Step 4: Build an outstanding presentation
I think there are many ways to design a good sales presentation. It all depends on how it will be used. Will it only be used for presentations or will it be sent to clients via email? Do you think the prospect will forward the presentation to colleagues? All these questions need to be considered when you draft your presentation.
As I mentioned earlier, I design presentations with two major sections. The first section contains my “Core pitch”, which can be between 10-45 slides. (I try to restrict the presentation to a maximum of 25 slides). The second section is the “Appendix” where I put all other slides.
Here are my general rules when I work on each slide:
- Only one message or story per slide.
- A super headline, sub headline, additional mini headlines and possibly a little text. You can see an example below. In this slide, you can quickly read and understand the consumer value proposition of the Games Subscription Club I wrote about earlier.
- A slide can also only have an image and a little bit of text.
- It is ok to be succinct and not give out all details. If information is missing, the prospect will ask for it.
- I always make sure to use standard fonts in presentations. Many people will use your presentation to present your pitch to their colleagues or customers and missing fonts can complicate matters.
- It should be easy for both internal and external personnel to make changes in the text.
- There should be “master slides” that make it easy for any channel partners to change the company logo and so on.
- The end slide should have contact information.
- The presentation should have divider slides so it is easy for the prospect to understand when you move to another section.
- Create BIG message slides for important conclusions.
- Make sure the design of the slides changes constantly so the prospect stays active and interested.
- I add page numbers to the slides so it is easy to reference in discussions.
Step 5: Continue to improve
Version 1 of your presentation will not be perfect. Continue to improve your presentation as you learn new things. The sales presentation I created for Appland was on version 45 when I left the company. To create a really good story we need to test, evaluate and improve and this process never ends.
What presentations often do wrong
So, you now know how to create a compelling sales story that will form a part of your presentation’s pitch.
Before we conclude, let’s talk about what people often do wrong while drafting their presentations.
I have seen a lot of sales presentations over the last 20 years and there is always room for improvement. Here are the most common mistakes I see:
- Egocentric: Presentations are often egocentric and all about the company and your product. The problem with this is that the customer doesn’t really care about you or your product or service. Customers care about themselves and they want you to tell them how you can make their lives better.
- Too much text: No one wants to read a mass of text. A presentation should be as succinct as possible or it will risk confusing people. Each slide should address one idea or point. When you have too many ideas on one slide, instead of paying attention to your next point, people are more likely to be distracted trying to digest what you said in your previous one.
- No storytelling: Humans love to be told stories. Presentations that are only a list of features and functions don’t command as much interest as those that tell a story of how the product or solution can add value to a customer’s life.
- Lack of value propositions: A presentation should be about the values that you offer to the customer.
- Bad and ugly design: People like to look at things that attract them, and those things are usually well designed. You may not be an ace designer but there are plenty of designers you can find on freelancing platforms such as Upwork who will help make your presentation look professional.
- Difficult to understand: Some presentations use difficult language and also lack a structure, which makes them difficult to understand.
You now know why the sales presentation is important, what makes a great sales presentation, five steps to build the perfect pitch and what sales presentations often do wrong.
I hope this article has given you the inspiration to create your own storytelling-based sales presentation that you can share with your sales team as one of the best sales tools you ever created. Go ahead and do it. Good luck!