Let's face it — as a rule, people don't like salespeople. Maybe it's a kind of consumer instinct: prospects know they should keep their guard up when approached by someone with a sales pitch. Any attempt to entice them to part with their money is inevitably met with suspicion. Yet, products and services continue to be sold every day. So it's not that people have stopped listening to sales pitches, they've simply become smarter, more discerning customers.
The rise of this new breed of customers has led to the abandonment of traditional sales presentations in favor of personable and customized selling experiences. Thus, bland sales pitch decks that go for the hard sell are immediately dismissed. Instead, what prospects expect is a meaningful interaction with the seller. A brilliant sales presentation containing the right elements will enhance this experience and allow clients to be more open-minded and receptive.
“A brilliant sales presentation containing the right elements will allow clients to be more open-minded and receptive
As its name suggests, it's the 'hook' that catches an audience and reels them into the rest of the presentation. The introduction has to be both engaging and compelling; if not, the audience will lose interest and just tune out.
So, what's a great hook? Take inspiration from successful authors who started out pitching to publishers. According to Chuck Sambuchino, writers are able to craft a good hook by focusing on what's unique about their offering (i.e., the product's value proposition) and what the editor or agent is looking for (i.e., the client's needs). He also recommends keeping the hook simple, because the details need to come later in the presentation. It's far more important to gain the audience's interest first and help them get an idea of what the pitch is about. Examples of hooks are a shocking statistic or a fascinating question. The idea is that this appears on the cover slide or on the first introductory slide.
Boost the Benefits
The presentation should include a statement of the product's or service's useful value proposition (UVP). This explains the benefits that the customer will derive from using the product and how the company is able to do this well. Forbes outlines a common framework for building a great value proposition. In the end, the positioning statement should roughly follow the format: "For [target customers] who are [problem they currently have], [state the product] is a new product/service that provides [solution being offered to the problem] unlike [the competitors]."
Keep the UVP statement short and make sure it appears early on in the presentation. What's crucial is to show that the company understands the customer's problems and that it can provide the best solution. For inspiration, take a look at these two examples of good value proposition statements:
WordPress.com is the best place for your personal blog or business site. Trello is the free, flexible, and visual way to organize anything with anyone. While they don't follow the format closely, they do contain—though somewhat implied—the elements of (1) product, (2) problem, (3) customer, and (4) solution.
According to Entrepreneur, testimonials generate more selling power than any other kind of sales copy. They are effective because they come from the positive experiences of actual customers and appear unbiased because of it. The best ones to include in a sales pitch are those that are relatable, substantiate the company's claims, and focus on the main features of the product.
For newer products that do not have enough users to provide testimonials, other types of proof can be used to provide evidence of performance. These include results of tests done by third parties or comparisons with competitor products.
Don't Drop the Sale
In startup pitch decks, the last slide should contain a call to action. This is also true for sales presentations. It is important to either close the sale or at least lead the customer towards that result. They could call a sales hotline, look up more information on an e-commerce website, or get a free trial of the product. Now that the pitch has piqued the interest of the audience, don't just leave them hanging. Go for the close before they change their minds.
A Final Word on Sales Pitches
There is no one deck template that can be proven effective for all types of sales presentations. By implication, every customer, company, product or service is different. A pitch should always be tailor-made to fit its audience. For instance, a groundbreaking fitness device can be sold in multiple ways to different people. A professional athlete will see the product differently to a casual fitness enthusiast. Likewise, a mom can find uses for it that are not relevant to a teenage customer. The visuals, language, and content of the presentation should also vary to target a particular client in the best way possible.
Research and a good marketing strategy will help achieve great results. While these efforts will not overtly show up in a sales pitch deck, they should still serve as guidelines when crafting the presentation.
CEO at Slidebean/FounderHub. TEDx Speaker. 500 Startups Alum. 40-under-40.