Whether you’re building your own sales presentation deck from scratch or getting an off-the-shelf template from your company’s marketing team, it’s your responsibility as the salesperson to customize and make the deck more effective in communicating your message to your audience. When you take ownership of creating a great sales presentation deck you will also be more familiar with the content of the deck…which will greatly improve the delivery of your presentation.
Creating a great sales presentation deck is really the hardest part of the entire presentation process. To use a golf analogy, creating the deck is working on your swing at the driving range …giving the actual presentation is going out on the golf course and scoring birdies, eagles and maybe a hole-in-one!
Structuring a sales deck can appear daunting but with the following ideas, you can ensure that your audience will “get your message” and be engaged during your actual presentation. And, because of that, they will be more receptive to your ideas and recommendations.
Begin at the End
How do you determine if you gave a successful presentation? No, it’s not just that you got through all the slides within the prescribed meeting time and that your customers were nodding their heads in unison. The true measure of success will be during and after the presentation when they ask questions or request next steps. But, in order to do that, you need to make sure that you effectively communicated your message. When you build your deck, start at the end of the presentation with the three takeaways you want your audience to understand and remember. Why do I say only three? Because the people in your audience could be sitting through up to 1-3 presentations per day from salespeople and they would have a tough time retaining all the information presented at those meetings. Keep it simple and make it easier for them to understand and retain your main points with only 3 takeaways in the final slide.
What’s in it for the Customer?
When you are creating the sales deck, it is tempting to try and squeeze in as many possible bullet points or products from your portfolio that you have to sell into the slides…after all, it may have taken a long time to get the meeting scheduled and you don’t want to forget anything. However, this can be a huge mistake because your audience will see that the deck doesn’t reflect what their needs are and, very likely, has just been pulled off-the-shelf with a name change. Instead:
Think about what the customer has told you about their goals/needs
Use the customer research you’ve found to develop slide content
Personalize the deck using any of their company terms or acronyms
Put their company logo on each slide
Remember that it’s all about solving a problem for them with your ideas.
Another point to consider is making the sales deck easy enough to understand so your audience member can explain it to their supervisor or another decision maker. Sometimes, the attendees at your presentation have to sell your idea to someone else. Making the deck easily transferable can help them to achieve your goals.
A Picture is worth 1000 Words
Now, I’m not suggesting you create a deck which looks like your Instagram posts…though it would be interesting for you to give a presentation completely without words in the deck! What I am suggesting is that you dramatically reduce the verbiage in your deck. How many times have you heard a presenter exclaim, “I’m sorry for the eye chart slide?” Rather than be sorry, just get rid of all eye chart slides. Reducing the words and increasing graphics will force you, as a presenter, to really understand the information that you’re presenting…which will enable you to focus on the actual presentation (a future blog post) rather than scrambling for the content of the deck. You need to really KNOW your presentation deck. And, you don’t want to be one of those presenters that is just reading the slides out loud to your audience.
These ideas are applicable not only to an external presentation but also for any internal presentations you might give to other team members in different departments. You want to make sure that you are effectively communicating to them as if they were an outside customer. I’ve consulted with analytic teams who needed help in their internal presentations and these ideas worked for them and improved their presentations to other teams.
Remember to put yourself in your audience’s shoes…think about what will make your sales deck stand out versus your competitors’ sales deck. Think about what resonates when you are watching a sales presentation given to you? I’ll bet you’ll be far more engaged if the content is relevant to one of your needs or goals.