Presentation Best Practices: Sales Presentations

The Power of a Great Sales Presentation: Convert Opportunity into Success

Today’s crowded market makes it tougher than ever to close a complex sale. Customers have access to enormous amounts of information, making it challenging for a salesperson to offer a fresh perspective on why their business offers the best solution or provides something that customers can’t find anywhere else. As complexity in the buying process has gone up, budgets have gone down and buyers have grown more worried about making the right decision. In such a competitive marketplace, salespeople need persuasive tools to convert opportunity into success.

The sales presentation is one of the most important tools available. When done well, a sales presentation can help build a connection with potential customers and distinguish your business from competitors. It can set the tone for all the conversations that will happen as the sales process progresses. Unfortunately, many of today’s sales presentations don’t account for all the variables required to truly connect with a target audience.

presentation delivery styles chart

What makes a great sales presentation?

To take advantage of those opportunities, salespeople need to draw on the right techniques for putting together a compelling presentation. This begins with crafting a 
set of messages that push potential customers to think about their challenges and environments in a new way. Since different customers will have different concerns, messages must be presented in a form that is flexible enough to span a broad variety of issues. This is why many of the best sales presentations are modular systems that always articulate the business key value proposition, but allow the salesperson to tailor much of the content for the specific customer they’re addressing.

In addition to getting the content right, the sales presentation should deliver it in an interesting, persuasive way – a feat that storytelling accomplishes quite well. Studies show that storytelling can help sales messages resonate to a much greater extent than a straightforward description of product benefits. For example, a 2007 study found that showing advertisements in narrative form elicited more positive responses than ads that asked a test audience to think about arguments in favor of a product. Why is storytelling so impactful? Our brains process information by associating it with meaning. By connecting products to familiar themes and real people, a story can help audiences understand the value of what a salesperson is selling and make that information more memorable.

Powerful visuals are the final ingredient. Whether a presenter uses PowerPoint, Keynote, whiteboards, or 
a demo shown on a mobile device, the medium is only
 as good as what they do with it. With the right amount
 of thought and energy devoted to developing slides
 that complement the content, visuals can bring the salesperson’s story to life and help his customer “see” what he’s saying so they can understand and evangelize it.

Get the most out of your sales presentations

Presentations with great messages and equally compelling visuals take a lot of work to construct.
 With 78% of salespeople reporting that they usually 
put together their own presentations instead of using materials constructed by marketing, businesses may
 feel that salespeople spend too much time building slide decks and not enough time selling. A more effective
 and efficient approach can emerge from sales and marketing working together to construct a modular presentation framework that satisfies everyone’s needs. It might contain a core story that provides context on
 the business and its central value proposition, modules for different product lines or vertical industries, and a library of visuals and story assets tailored for different audiences and situations. The result is a presentation that stays consistent with brand and marketing guidelines while giving sales enough flexibility for a myriad of uses.

Just creating this modular presentation system isn’t enough. To ensure consistent usage, the business
 should create a training process to roll it out to its sales organization and help them internalize its key messages. This may include hands-on usage training, sales situation role-playing, and reference tools like a presenter’s guide with talking points and delivery tips. The easier the presentation is to use, the more likely it will deliver consistent results.


There’s no universal solution for crafting a great sales presentation. Each salesperson delivers their pitch a little differently, and nuances can help make any message resonate better with a specific audience. But by putting thought and energy into crafting and practicing your modular presentation in advance, businesses can make presentations a more powerful asset in the sales process.

/Key Insights

Tailor to audience and context

Choose your medium and your message based on the audience and the context of the presentation.

Adapt with modular systems

Instead of building a one-size- fits-all presentation, build a modular system that allows you to adapt to the customer’s needs.

Resonate with great visuals

Combining storytelling with great visuals will help your message resonate.

Hone your sales team delivery

Put thought and energy into rolling out a new presentation to your sales team and helping them hone their delivery.