Communication is the Northstar of a good sales strategy, and can be the difference between closing a deal and losing it to the competition. Presentations act as a platform for sales teams to communicate how their business, brand, service or product will positively influence a buyer. Good presentation structure and design can help push the sales conversation forward.
We caught up with three sales leaders to pick their brains on top tips for creating winning presentations.
Let’s meet the experts: Bill Vesce, Director of Sales, Beautiful.ai; Brett Blom, VP of Sales, Hydrosat; Jill Brown, VP of Sales, People.ai.
With their extensive backgrounds, each sales leader brought different insights and pieces of advice that you can apply to your next sales presentation.
Top tips for closing deals
We asked the panel their top tips for speaking to buyers and working deals, here’s what they said.
At its core, your presentation is about the buyer. What are they looking for in a sales pitch? Brett Blom explains that buyers are questioning 1) why they should care and invest time in the meeting, 2) how your product or service can solve their specific problem, and 3) what they can expect in working with you should they decide to move forward. By addressing these questions you’re gaining their trust and respect— and ultimately the deal.
Jill Brown says, “For Enterprise selling, it is imperative for salespeople to establish themselves as trusted advisors. Prospective clients, particularly those in senior management positions, expect sales professionals to have a deep understanding of their business and to offer insightful suggestions for resolving challenges that have proven difficult to overcome. It is therefore essential to draw on past experiences of addressing similar issues in other organizations and to approach each situation with a creative mindset. By doing so, salespeople can build lasting relationships with clients and position themselves as valuable partners in achieving business success.”
Preparation is key
Adequately preparing for a presentation helps you come across as more knowledgeable and professional, therefore positioning yourself as a reliable option in a sales environment.
“Preparation is key. Always do your research about the company and come up with a hypothesis around the business pain that is currently present and a point of view on how you can help solve that problem,” says Brown.
Brett adds, “Always do your homework and make sure you ask the important questions during the initial conversation. Be thorough. It’s difficult to create a winning presentation if you don’t have enough information, so make sure you truly understand how to solve their problem.”
Customize the experience
No pitch is one-size-fits-all, and you should customize the experience for each individual prospect. This could include their branding, insights about their company, and custom value propositions based on their pain points.
“Tailor to the customer every time, without exceptions. Too often I see generic value propositions or solutions given in a sales pitch. If you’re not tailoring your pitch to your customer, you’re not trying hard enough,” says Blom.
Brown adds, “It’s now your audience. Who are the people attending the meeting? Speak to their needs. What is in it for them? What do they care about?” That’s a good place to start when you’re thinking about your story.
Tell a compelling story
“Tell a compelling story that captures the audience's attention and emotionally resonates with them. Utilize a storytelling structure that includes a problem, a solution, and a triumphant conclusion. This will help you forge a deeper connection with your audience,” Brown advises.
Using a prebuilt presentation template can help you package up your story faster. Blom says, “Templates are there for a reason, don’t reinvent the wheel with formatting.”
Bill Vesce adds, “Beautiful.ai is a great tool for compiling sales decks after a demo which enables our team to operate quickly. The Team Templates and Shared Slides libraries serve as a repository for all our relevant presentation materials where we can tag all things sales. We can easily tap the Team Template library to grab a sales deck related to the prospective vertical or use case we’re approaching to nail our story faster.”
Blom also recommends workshopping with a colleague or manager. “A second set of eyes never hurts, and oftentimes your colleague will catch something you overlooked or offer an idea that could make the difference in a meeting.”
Key components of a pitch deck
Your pitch isn’t complete without a sales presentation that packs a punch. So what should you include in your pitch deck? Keep these three things in mind when designing your next sales deck.
Lead with the client
Clients and prospects want to know that you did your due diligence on who they are and what problems they’re trying to solve. This should be at the forefront of your sales presentation. Brown says, “Start with them in mind and what you know about their Northstar, and prove that you understand their who, what and how. Don’t start with why your solution and then at the end ask about their needs.”
Bill Vesce adds that a “needs analysis recap” is an essential slide in a sales deck to show prospects that you value their who, what, and how. He explains, “A recap of a needs analysis is critical to showcase that you understand the potential customers' problems and help them identify why your product is the solution for their issue. It serves as a report of what you discussed on the initial call while giving the prospect a voice when evangelizing your product internally.”
A presentation won’t land with its audience if it isn’t relevant to them and their needs. To ensure relevancy, Jill Brown suggests asking discovery questions throughout the presentation. She says, “You want to make the presentation conversational and ask questions using the TED methodology (tell me about, explain to me how, describe) to validate your hypothesis.”
Blom says, “An underrated part of a pitch is making sure the customer has a great understanding of what they’re going to get if they choose your solution.” How is it relevant to them and their business? This should be a key takeaway from your presentation.
Vesce explains that a needs analysis can help you drive this point home. “It is important to highlight the discussed features in the deck and align them with their needs analysis. This is a great way to help the prospect prove out that your product is the right solution to match their needs.”
You might also add in relevant case studies to provide social proof relevant to their use cases. Vesce says, “Case studies are a great tool for showing examples on how their needs analysis is aligned with other customers who experienced the same challenges and saw your product as a solution.”
A clear call-to-action
If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Don’t leave it up to your prospect to initiate next steps. Every presentation (sales or not) should end with a clear call to action to keep the conversation going.
“It's important to have a clear call to action and a desired outcome. Start the presentation with an agenda and clearly state your desired outcome for the end of the meeting,” Brown says. “You can say ‘assuming it makes sense to continue talking at the end of this presentation, I would like to proceed with these next steps, X, Y, Z.’ By doing this, you'll be able to guide the conversation in the direction that best serves the needs of your audience.”
To help ease into the CTA, wrap the presentation with a bold statistic like return on investment (ROI). Vesce says, “Quantifying ROI is perhaps the most effective way to tie a bow around your messaging and will often help a budget decision maker, who is not an end user, understand how much value your product can add to their organization.”
Blom adds, “Ideally, you’d love them to leave your presentation having insight into what outcomes they can expect— ROI, time allocations from their side, deliverables, etc. I always coach my teams to make it as easy as possible for the customer to say yes.”
Maintaining branding for internal and external presentations
Branding is the pinnacle of any business presentation regardless of whether it’s intended for an internal team or is client-facing. Setting brand guidelines helps teams stay visually consistent and professional from pitch to pitch.
“When it comes to external presentations, we’re incredibly strict on making sure we use the most recent branding, and templates that have been vetted. As an early stage tech company, we’re constantly sending materials out to customers and investors, and we just can’t afford to be sloppy with an error like a poor presentation,” Blom explains of Hydrosat. He says, “Internally, we’re equally strict with branding standards, especially when presenting in larger group settings. Nobody wants to be the presenter that looks like they threw something together at the last minute.”
Brown says, “At People.ai, we take great care to ensure that our sales presentations are consistent with our overall brand voice. To achieve this, we have established clear guidelines for the tone and messaging used in these presentations. Additionally, our team has access to the latest templates developed by our Product Marketing team. These templates include up-to-date logos, color schemes, fonts, and graphics, all designed to create a uniform approach across all sales presentations. By adhering to these guidelines and utilizing these resources, we can present a cohesive and professional image to our clients, ultimately strengthening our brand and building trust with our customers.”
Beautiful.ai’s intuitive and collaborative presentation software lets your sales team create professional branded sales collateral in a fraction of the time. No designers, no formatting, just beautiful presentations to keep your sales team ahead of the competition.