Selling is hard. Setting the right message is one of the hardest and most important jobs of your marketing & sales teams. You work hard to get in front of decision-makers, and every opportunity counts. How do you make sure your message is hitting home every single time? This sales deck guide aims to put you on the road to a killer sales deck.
Translating your company’s vast expertise and product offering into a concise sales deck can help your sales team stay on message, help your clients better understand your services, and ultimately shape the consistency of your delivery and ability to command the right price for your products or services.
Sales decks are a lot like pitch decks. Both summarize your company, team, product, and unique value. The biggest difference between a sales deck and a pitch deck is the audience. The pitch deck is for investors who may want to buy into or invest in your company. Startup founders use pitch decks, and there is little to no customer-facing interaction with this piece of marketing material.
On the other hand, a sales deck is a key piece of marketing collateral to be used by multiple employees in a company. While sales decks are used more often by B2B, or business-facing, companies, it can be a useful tool for communicating with potential partners, connectors, or referral sources. Or they can be used in front of larger audiences to generate interest in your offerings.
Sales Deck Guide: Do you need a sales deck?
The primary drivers for creating a sales deck are:
- A need to educate customers
- Clarifying when there are many options for a customer to choose from
- When there are complex interactions needed to complete the sales process
- To highlight product or service features
- The desire to leave the customer with something tangible to help them make a decision
- A desire for consistent messaging among a large sales team
- When many of your competitors are providing useful, informative decks to your clients
Sales Deck Guide: Connecting the Process to the Sales Pitch
In the investor pitch deck space, it often feels like the pitch deck is just a “floating” piece of collateral that is not tied to anything. But for sales pitches, the opposite is true. Sales decks are (or at least should be) closely tied to the sales process. After all, they are an integral part of the sales process—right along with every other point of contact with a potential client.
Shirley, a real estate agent, came to us with the following use case:
I have customers interested in buying with me, but I spend a lot of time showing properties that they don’t end up being interested in. How can I create marketing materials to help me target showings better and eliminate wasted time earlier in the process?
We helped Shirley by creating a custom sales deck for her clients that walked them through her unique process. We also helped her develop the process! When customers come to her, Shirley now interviews them, gets their requirements, and loads options into a pre-made sales deck template. The template helps her pitch houses that fit in with client requirements, along with value-added information like the pros and cons of each different neighborhood.
Using our sales deck, Shirley can quickly develop concise and easy-to-understand sales pitches for each client—all upon an initial meeting! Shirley changed her sales process to start off every meeting with an overview of how she works, what’s required of clients, what happens during the showing phase, and how the buying process works. This allowed for a level of professionalization unheard of in her office. Shirley’s process, along with her sales deck, allowed her to go above and beyond when presenting her services to clients. She was even able to include an exclusivity contract, which further tethered the buying experience to her.
The trust she created early on with the sales deck, and her tailored approach to showing houses, instilled trust in her clients right away. These processes are still being iterated today, and the level of sophistication in customizing client needs with housing inventory has helped Shirley translate the market more easily for her customers.
What Makes a Good Sales Deck?
A good sales deck needs to be informative, usable, customizable, professional, and visually appealing. Good sales pitches get the client thinking about their own challenges, and allow them to see your company as the solution. Good sales pitches make it about the customer, their needs, and their world, not about the company.
Just for fun, here’s an example of a weak sales pitch:
We’re XYZ company and we make widgets. We use our proprietary carbon core technology, made though precision manufacturing processes, and guaranteed to meet your specs every time. XYZ company has 20+ years selling widgets and our team is the best in the business. Many of your competitors buy our widgets. We are the premier widget manufacturer in the world. Do you want to buy our widgets?
Is the customer going to pull out their checkbook for that? I don’t think so. “We” and “our” were used at least 9 times in those few sentences. This company is far too focused on themselves, instead of on their customers.
Here’s a better approach:
There’s a lot happening in the world of widgets these days. With the increases shipping costs and pressure from overseas manufacturers, it’s increasingly difficult to stay ahead. Here at XYZ company we know that you need high quality, reliable, and low-cost widgets. With XYZ widgets you’ll get the long-lasting, precision widgets that you demand, all backed by a team of experts ready to customize our solutions to your specifications. If you see an opportunity to work together, let’s schedule a call with our head of widget development today.
That sounded a whole lot better, didn’t it? The customer feels like the company knows them, their industry and the challenges they face on a day to day basis. The company cares about the same things they care about. They’re intrigued and want to learn more, moving the sales process forward—and the process to do that was extremely clear and easy. The entire sales process was seamless.
Sales Deck Guide: Anatomy of a Good Sales Pitch
- Big relevant change in the world
- Point out the customer’s pain—in a non-threatening way
- Show you understand their needs
- Share your product and how it benefits your customer
- State your expertise, but don’t brag
- Making a clear call to action
This is not an exhaustive template, nor will it fit every company or situation. But it can be a valuable starting point for thinking about your company and how you should formulate your sales pitch.
Bringing it All Together
Bringing everything together into a clear, compelling, and professional sales deck is the ultimate goal. You can jot down your pitch on a napkin or you can spend hours fine-tuning it, but in order to ensure that the pitch comes across consistently and powerfully every time, a sales deck is an important tool.
The sales deck is a visual aid that can be used during live presentations to potential clients. It adds context and clarity to what you say, and helps to illustrate important points. Pictures speak a thousand words, so adding graphics and images to your pitch through a solid sales deck will add volumes of understanding and connection to your pitch. Especially if it’s done right! Too many words, a distracting design, or animations can make even the most interested potential customer tune out or miss what you’re trying to share.
The sales deck guide can also be used as a “leave behind” or “send ahead”—a visual document that your client can peruse either before or after meeting with you (or at any point in the sales process). This way, your client can review your sales pitch on their own schedule. But remember, in a world where professional design is becoming increasingly mainstream, a slapped-together powerpoint template is not going to stand out or impress your potential client! This document will sit on their desk or in their email inbox for a while. Be sure that it truly makes your company shine.