For a long time, presentations have been just one of the many arrows in a salesperson’s quiver. But, as businesses embrace digital and remote sales, effective sales decks can potentially be the deciding factor in whether or not you close a deal.
Investing some extra time into making sure your sales deck includes essential components, is aligned with your brand and is generally well-designed can really set you apart from competitors.
Components of a Successful Sales Deck
Sales decks are going to vary from business to business, product to product and prospect to prospect. But, their fundamental goal remains the same: back up your sales pitch.
Successful sales reps know that a sales pitch is more than a point-by-point breakdown of your product or solutions — it’s a good story. Your sales deck is just the vehicle for guiding prospects through that story.
So what should you include to help you do so?
Your prospects are seeking a product or solution, but they’re also buying from a company. Providing a few slides that describe who you are as an organization can keep your brand top-of-mind during their decision-making process, especially in a competitive sale.
Your company information slides should focus on your overall value proposition, the way you solve for your customers or core differentiators. However, since your sales deck should focus mostly on how your solution addresses the prospect’s needs, these slides should only be a small component.
Prospect’s goals and challenges
A common storytelling mechanism is intention and obstacle. The intention is what the main character hopes to accomplish. What are your prospect’s goals? To attract visitors to their website? Expand into a new market? Make their team more efficient?
Now, for the obstacle. What stands in the way of your prospect achieving their goals? A poor user experience? Lacking essential software? Again, you’re telling a story and tailoring it to your prospect.
Summarizing your findings from a discovery call or your own research in your sales deck will set the stage for your story and what you’ll ultimately circle back to with how your business will help them accomplish those goals.
Using slides in your sales deck to visualize or describe the challenges facing your prospect not only keeps them engaged and shows you’re invested in their business, but makes it easier for them to connect the dots down the line when they inevitably see your solution.
Solution or product information
Every sales deck should include information about the product or solution you’re trying to sell. These slides shouldn’t get bogged down in features, but rather visualize and articulate the value your solution provides to overcome the prospect’s challenge and achieve the goals you’ve already identified.
Value can often be difficult to articulate. Your sales deck is an excellent place to include case studies, testimonials and trustmarks to back up your talk track and prove that value. Including brands or use cases similar to your prospect can aid them in visualizing themselves with your solution.
Sales decks make great takeaways from a call with a prospect, especially when you’re handling a deal with multiple decision-makers who might not be in every conversation. Including relevant next steps or calls-to-action in your sales deck such as a timeline, next meeting or links to additional information like pricing or case studies can keep the conversation moving in the right direction.
Sales Deck Design Best Practices
Be consistent (until you shouldn’t)
The slides in your sales deck should follow a similar format and align with your brand. That means leveraging the same fonts, colors and visual style throughout. Themes or templates in programs like Google Slides, Powerpoint or Canva can help with this.
Not only does consistency help establish a cohesive experience with your brand and story, it also makes the moments when you’re inconsistent by choice more memorable. For example, your big, bold stat or takeaway on a slide that visually differs (like with bolded text or bright new color) from others in your deck can capture attention and stick out in a prospect’s mind.
Consider the psychology of color
There’s a lot to be said about color in branding and design. In short, different colors make people feel different emotions or prompt different actions. While you should strive to use branded colors in your sales deck, how you use those colors can impact how a prospect feels about your product or solution.
Shades of red while attention-grabbing, can awaken negative emotions. Blues are known to destress and build trust. Purples are often associated with luxury or high-end products.
Researching how colors can impact buyers can help you determine how you leverage your brand color palette in sales decks and greater marketing collateral.
Embrace contrast and legibility
Sales decks are meant to back up your sales pitch. Your sales pitch or talk track should convey more of the story than your sales deck should.
Filling your slides with text can also overwhelm your prospects. Instead, focus on leveraging white space and using high-contrast fonts and colors to quickly and easily convey essential information.
One slide should convey one message or takeaway. It is better to have 20 slides than one slide with 20 messages. This promotes legibility and memorability, as well as having the added benefit of ensuring your sales team isn’t just reading off the slides.
Visualize complex themes
Sometimes, your product, solution or challenge may feel incredibly complex or dense. In the interest of embracing contrast and legibility, you should strive to visualize concepts as much as possible. Your sales deck is an opportunity to incorporate imagery, graphics or charts that help articulate the value your sales pitch is describing.
This is essentially the concept of show, don’t tell. Your sales rep is already telling a story and describing your solution. Your sales deck is an opportunity to present that information in a new, visually appealing way to drive the message home and keep your business at the top of your prospect’s mind.
Be intentional about animation
If you find yourself drifting toward slide transitions, stop. Ask yourself: “Should I animate this?” Very often, the answer is no.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t include motion in your presentations. Animated product videos or GIFs can offer a better look at your solution and be used in moderation to add more value to your presentation. Overuse can distract from the core message of the presentation or sales pitch.
Meanwhile, slide animations to bring in more text or content can be distracting and are often a sign of having too much content on a particular slide. Focus on making your presentations visually appealing and easy to digest and leave flashy star transitions by the wayside.
Templatize whenever possible
Just as your sales pitch should align with your greater brand messaging and positioning, so too should your sales decks. Creating sales deck templates for your team to leverage can help streamline your messaging and overall story, as well as create more consistent buying experiences for your prospects.
Sales deck templates also enable your sales team by alleviating the time they need to spend creating custom sales decks from scratch. Instead, they can tailor templates to fit the needs of a particular deal. Either way, the greater story remains the same.
Sales decks are becoming an increasingly essential element of digital sales. As prospects see more and more sales decks, creating memorable presentations to back up your sales pitch can help your brand stay top-of-mind and ultimately close more deals.
While every business will be telling a different story with their sales decks, these essential components and design best practices will help articulate those stories in a memorable and effective way.
Chris is a Brand Marketer at New Breed where he is responsible for crafting design and video assets that support our brand. When he's not behind the camera, he enjoys kayaking and tending to his sourdough starter.