When it comes to making sales presentations, I’m sure you had enough of “Top 10 Tips”and “Best 5 Techniques” articles.
If you’re looking for practical strategies that you can use to prepare, structure and deliver effective sales presentations that bring you more business, then you’ll love this post.
It includes bite-sized, practical tips you can implement within a few minutes.
Let’s jump right in…
Here’s what you’ll learn in this Ultimate Guide to Effective Sales Presentations:
Part 1. The #1 Thing You Must Remember
This is the best sales advice you’ll hear today.
If you’re serious about making solid sales presentations (AKA persuasive demonstrations to prospective buyers in order to make a sale), then please, please, please, remember this 4-word sentence:
Nobody cares about you.
Your prospects don’t care about you.
They care about themselves. And they care about what you can do for them in order to solve their problems.
So here’s your takeaway:
The key to making persuasive sales presentations is to demonstrate that your offering, either a product or a service, will help your prospects get more of what they want.
(I’ll have powerful techniques showing you how to do exactly that later in this post…)
Part 2. The Anatomy of A Perfect Sales Presentation
How to Design Gorgeous Presentations When You Have No Time (And No Design Talent)
Part 3. In-Depth Strategies & Tips to Prepare and Structure the Perfect Sales Deck
Welcome to Part. 3 where I’ll break down in small chunks the 7 components of successful sales decks.
This part includes concrete steps, practical strategies, techniques, scripts and examples to help you prepare and structure your sales decks for maximum impact.
Click a section below to be taken to one of the strategies.
1. Use These 2 Easy Steps to Design a Solid Cover Slide
Think of your presentation cover slide as the packaging of a product.
The cover slide is the first thing your prospects will see. If it sucks, you’re sending a bad signal before having even started to talk. But, wait, don’t take my word for it:
Studies suggested that the packaging design elements have an influence on choosing, getting attracted, like, purchase the product and considering packaging as a brand promotion vehicle.
Cover Slide Examples
Bottom line: Great cover slides make it crystal clear what it’s all about. It’s a no brainer.
2. Apply The “VP Formula” To Craft The Perfect Value Proposition
So… what is your company doing?
A value proposition defines the kind of value you will create for your customers (source). It’s basically the primary reason a prospect should buy from you. In a nutshell, your value proposition is a clear statement that:
- Explains how your product solves customers’ problems or improves their situation
- Delivers specific benefits (quantified value),
- Tells the ideal customer why they should buy from you and not from the competition (unique differentiation)”.
On websites, here’s how solid value propositions look like:
On pitch decks:
3. Use These Proven Techniques To Structure Your Presentation
Stories create “sticky” memories by attaching emotions to things that happen. As a result, effective stories capture and hold our attention. They also help us learn and connect us with strangers.
To craft a good story, for talking about your company or your products, you need three basic elements:
Conflict. Conflict is basically our expectation vs. the cold reality. The conflict is here to let your audience know why they should care about the characters in your story. In the case of a sales presentation, characters could be clients you’ve worked with, and the conflict could be between what your clients couldn’t do before using your product… and what they can do now.
Climax. In order to present a good narrative, you should develop the problem and the characters who are bound up in it. What are your target customers struggling with? You must understand their exact hopes and pains.
Resolution. The character solves the main problem/conflict or someone (aka you, the company) solves it for him or her.
Technique #1: Use These Frames To Sell Stories
Problem: current situation faced by your audience. Do you suffer from/Sick of being…
Relief: how it can change. It doesn’t have to be that way/there’s a solution…
Dream: your solution. Imagine if you could…how your life would be if you could…
Protagonist: climate change / tiny farmers providing food to restaurants
Conflict: how climate change affects the growing season”
Resolution: policies that should be in place + how people in other areas are mitigating the effects of climate change on local resources. Source.
If you take a close look at Airbnb’s first pitch deck , there’s clearly a conflict between what the market is offering (standard hotels that leave you disconnected from the local culture) and what people are willing to do (book a room through a local host, become one, find cheaper, authentic accommodations).
The “cold reality” (what the market was offering BEFORE Airbnb came in):
The “expectations” (what happens AFTER Airbnb arrives in the market):
Technique #2: Apply the IBC framework
Introduction: what is it all about and why should your audience care
Body: it distills your message and supportive points
Conclusion: focus on the outcomes of the presentation, include a specific call-to-action
Let’s give the example of a deck pitching SaaS project management services:
Introduction: the problem behind getting all teams on the same page today
Body: how ABC company project management solutions will help you solve that problem
Conclusion: different options on the market, why our works best, how can we start working together
Technique #3: Use the Liking Principle
According to psychology professor Robert Cialdini, we prefer to say yes to those we know and like.
It’s the liking principle:
We like those who are similar to us, give us complements, and cooperate with us toward common goals. So how do you apply that when it comes to talking about YOU….
Well, you need to get personal. And help your customers feel connected to you.
Appear vulnerable. Emphasize on the stories of your team members. Talk about their hobbies for instance(yes) in order to appear human.
- Health, Chip and Dan. 2010. Made to Stick. A solid book that teaches you how to better communicate ideas, on the basic of the S.U.C.C.E.S. framework: in order to make an idea sticky, it has to be simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, and tell a story.
- Freytag’s pyramid. German novelist saw common patterns in the plots of stories and novels and developed a diagram to analyze them. See this quick example of Freytag’s principles applied to the movie TAKEN.
- Joe Gebbia – Airbnb Story (Video)
- University of Berkeley. Robert Cialdini’s Principles of Persuasion.
4. Here’s How to PinPoint Your Prospect’s Pains, Challenges & Dreams
Don’t kick off your pitch talking about anything that’s related to yourself. Instead, start with giving context.
Technique #1: Show Them What They Can be
Your products and services are nothing more than a tool that enables your prospects to achieve their dreams. Your goal here is to HELP them visualize what it would feel like if he could fulfill all his dreams.
Name a trend that’s going on in your prospect’s industry. To quote Andy Raskin…
“When you highlight a shift in the world, you get prospects to open up about how that shift affects them, how it scares them, and where they see opportunities. Most importantly, you grab their attention”.
Here are two real-world examples:
Technique #2: Hit Them Where it Hurts, Highlight The Problem
95% of our purchase decision making takes place in the subconscious mind. If you want to have emotional resonance with your prospect, you must show him you understand with pains and problems.
If you recall Airbnb’s first pitch deck example, you understand that the start up had deeply identified the pain points of its market before offering solutions that made sense.
5. Tie Your Offer To Specific Benefits They’re Looking For
Now, you’re going to demonstrate how your solution will help the prospect get rid of his problems and fulfill his dreams. Your single focus will be to give out information that benefits to them.
You see, customers buy because they want benefits (and the results that come with them). They don’t give a crap about your features unless it helps them understand how it gets them results they care about.
I’ll give you a few examples:
Features = Things (that Porsche 911 GT2 RS)
Benefits = Results that come from doing these things (get girls)
Features = A 20-slide persuasive sales presentation
Benefits = Impress prospects, get your message across, close more sales
Features = a detailed web analytics audit and health checkup
Benefits = we help you identify where your website is leaking money, create optimized treatments and run optimization tests in order to help you increase your revenue.
Here’s how you should approach this when crafting your presentation:[Company] helps you with [product name, feature, deliverable] so you can [benefit].
See how Facebook is tying a product’s feature with core benefits their clients care about:
Feature: target reach
Benefit: reach all the people who matter to you
6. Here’s How To Make Them Believe You…
Of course, every sales rep under the sun says their company offers amazing products.
But for most prospects, you’re just another sleazy sales dude trying to push products or services that won’t provide any value to them.
Your goal as a presenter is to help them overcome their objections: your sales deck must demonstrate that you are able to get your customers the results you claim.
Wanna know one of the best way to do it?
Educate your customers, don’t sell them.
Here are four ways to do it:
Incorporate Expert, Research-Backed Data
Here are pieces of evidence (aka facts, not opinions) you can include in your sales deck:
- Expert quotes: what your industry key influencers have to say about <your industry>, <trends>, <products>, <you>.
- Research data: check out .edu websites, magazines and research journals that release data, insights angled toward the market you are serving. Use the following search strings on Google: site: .edu + <keyword> or intitle: research journal + <keyword>.
- Competitor analysis: in which specific aspect of your business are you better than your competition?
Process, service, quality, price, support, results? Find data that makes your product/service better than your competitor. You could make a table listing yours vs. your competitor’s key features and benefits in order to show how you are better than them.
Show Case Studies (Before & After)
Case studies are a unique angle you can use to educate your prospects and show them what they can be, thanks to your product/service.
Look, case studies are everywhere:
Here, another example extracted from the deck Facebook For Business: Video On Facebook
Check out Facebook’s note below:
Wanted to boost brand loyalty and drive viewership of its Ramadan Holiday video
Launched a combined TV and FB campaign
4 videos showcasing banks reverence of traditional Saudi values
Two Reach Blocks guaranteed that the ads reached the entire Saudi Facebook audience that logged in that day.
Strong uplift in brand awareness generated by Facebook campaign as found through Bank Albilad’s own internal study.
“Facebook increased our brand loyalty given the valued interaction between our audience and us. This platform, Facebook, was one of the main channels for such a campaign and it will remain a crucial platform for future campaigns.”
Mohammed R. Abaalkheil, Head of Marcom Division, Bank Albilad”.
Specifically Address Their Objections
There are 5 major categories of objections: need / price / product / source / time.
Consequently, your job is to address the typical fears that are driving it. To succeed doing that, you have to provide concrete answers these questions:
He doesn’t get me
It worked for others but won’t work for me
How can I be a 100% sure this works
I don’t like/trust/believe him
We can find the same thing for free/cheaper elsewhere
I can buy later
It’s too expensive
What happens after I accept their offer
Ask For Customer Testimonials (The Right Way)
According to Nielsen, testimonials & word of mouth are the driving force behind 20 to 50% of all purchasing decisions.
In order to get awesome customer testimonials, you need to ask the right questions. Here’s a solid set of questions you should ask every client:
What hesitations did you have about working with me?
Which changes have you noticed since working with me?
What specific feature did you like the best about working together?
How have you benefited from hiring our company?
Would you recommend my company o a colleague or a friend? If so, why?
Get them to say “Wow! I didn’t know that”. Incorporable rock-solid customer testimonials, research-backed data in order to teach them something they may not have known. That’ll get them to believe it for themselves, and create trust.
7. Integrate a Strong Call-to-Action
A call to action is a simple command that directs customers to take some sort of action (buy, sign up, or start a free trial). Here are a few specific examples:
4. Q&A. Your Most Frequent Questions, Answered.
Here are the most common questions business people ask themselves when it comes to making better sales presentations.
What Are the Objectives of a Sales Presentation?
Let me flip that question…
What is your (realistic) goal for this sales presentation?
You can either be looking to inform, educate or persuade your prospects and clients. And the answer will depend on the level of relationship you’ve established with them (If it’s the first time you meet, “closing the sale” might not be the appropriate answer).
Here are a few examples of objectives you could come up with (the more specific, the better):
I’m doing this sales presentation to…
Understand X, Y and Z aspects of the prospect’s business in order to draft a proposal that’s relevant to his expectations.
Introduce a new growth opportunity we’ve identified for [company] and get their feedback on it.
Build a relationship with a new prospect (so two years from now he wants to purchase from us).
How Should I Prepare My Pitch Presentation?
There’s nothing more frustrating for a potential customer than having a meeting with a sleazy dude who has no clue about who he’s dealing with.
Customers want to know whether you can help them get more of what they want.
Do research on those 4 aspects:
Who are your target customers, specifically?What are their hopes, fears and dreams?How much do they know about the solution what you’re trying to sell them?Is their market share growing, steady or declining?Which channels do they use to use to reach, acquire and retain their customers?
|1) Know What You are Selling||What does your company sell exactly?|
What’s your value proposition (what is it about you that is different from the crowd?)
How does your product/service benefit your target customer?
|2) Know Your Competition||Who are your top 3 competitors?|
What are their strengths and weaknesses?
Have you learnt from their operations/marketings?
What makes you different – and better – than them?
|3) Know the Customer|
|4) Know the Market||What is the size and growth of your market? (growing, steady, declining?)|
Do you know the booming trends in your industry?
What opportunity gaps have you identified for your prospects?
What is the Best Deck Structure?
You definitely need to integrate the 7 elements I detailed in this post.
That can be resumed to highlighting….
Who you are, briefly (apply storytelling and liking principles)
The problem/challenge: twist the knife, hit where it hurts
The solution/dream: show them the “promised land” (benefits, outcomes)
Tie that to why you’re the best solution for them (proofs, testimonials, case studies… address their objections)
Call-to-action (what do we do next?)
How Can I Improve My Sales Presentation Design?
These are are the absolutely best articles you can get your hands on:
If you’re starting from sub-zero (or want to educate yourself better than 80% of the people out there), check out this post. It breaks down 100+ simple, practical presentation tips to help you plan, design and deliver unforgettable presentations.
Want to craft a more creative deck? Check out this post. It includes actionable techniques to help you design creative presentations within minutes (with free templates, lessons and resources).
Where Can I grab Beautiful Images?
How Should I Open My Presentation?
Most audiences will give you only 30-60 seconds to convince them they want to listen to you.
As a result, your introduction is the most important part of your presentation because it will directly affect whether they want to hear more about what you have to say (or not). To that end, your presentation opening needs to accomplish four things:
1. Get the audience interested in the presentation
2. Build rapport
3. Establish credibility
4. Tell the audience what the presentation is going to provide them
Use the GTS (give them something) formula to get your audience’s excited about what they’ll be able to do or know by the end of your pitch:
Today, I’m going to show you [ statement that benefits your audience ].
By the end of this presentation, you will [ result they’re interested in ].
Today, I’m going to show you how you can use conversion optimization to triple your sales in less than 6 months.
What Questions Should I Ask the Prospect?
Here’s a set of questions you should ask prospects (works perfectly with first time prospects):
Can you help you understand how you measure success in regards with [topic]?
What do you want to achieve, specifically? This year? Mid-term, long-term?)
Tell us about your business in one sentence?
What makes you different?
What are your client’s biggest problems and aspirations? (Visualize what matters to them)
What delights your customers about your product?
Does our offering make sense for your world?
Could you see this applying to you?
Can we agree on [proposed next steps after the meeting]?
How to End/Close a Sales Presentation?
The closing should amplify the message, wrap up the key takeaways of your presentation, and include a call to action.
If you’re sending the file through email, include a slide with a call-to-action enticing them to contact you, and give them your contact info.
If you’re having a meeting, summarize orally your understanding of customer’s goals and needs, and how you can help them achieve those goals. Also make sure to propose, and agree on the next steps. For instance:
“Would that work with you if we send you a recap of this meeting, the additional elements we talked about, and follow up within a week of time?”
How Long Should My Presentation Last?
After having conducted an experiment, Dr. Maureen Murphy at the University of North Texas (UNT) said that:
“If a presentation that had 20 minute segments with short breaks in between, the people enjoyed the 20-minute chunked presentations more than a 60 minute presentation, learned more information immediately after, and retained more information a month later”.
“See if you can build in some kind of change every 20 minutes. For maximum learning you want a break every 20 minutes, as opposed to just a change of topic….Instead of taking one long break, take several short ones”.
Here’s my take on this study:
Break down your sales meeting in 20-minute chunks. For instance:
Chunk 1) Understand your prospect’s business. Ask him questions. Get insights.
Chunk 2) Introduce your product/service offerings. Which is long enough for your prospects to understand clearly how your product/service can help them.
Can You Show Me Some Solid Sales Presentation Examples?
Check out this post where you’ll get 20+ real-world sales deck examples.
How Can I Improve My Current Sales Deck?
Incorporate the 7 components I’ve laid down for you in this article, pin point your customer’s burning desires, offer deliverables that allow them to get the results they want, and you’ll be set to deliver a great sales deck that will help you generate more business.
If you would like to dig deeper and become a real sales pro, here’s one book I recommend:
Strategic Sales Presentations by Jack Malcolm.
This easy-to-read book will take you through a 3-step process that will help you consistently deliver winning sales presentations:
1. Plan and position. Malcom introduces the 4 recurring themes he’ll be using in the book to provide a structure. He also explains how to capture the attention of your listeners, and how decision making actually happens in companies.
2. Crafting your presentation. How to craft and structure your message, grab the attention of your audience and successful open and close that presentation.
3. Stand and deliver. How to establish a presence, speak like a pro and use Q&A effectively.
Design Gorgeous Sales Presentations When You Have No Time, No Budget (And No Design Talent)
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