5 ways to craft the perfect sales pitch deck: Tips and tricks

Dave DeFranco

Written by

Dave DeFranco

“One size NEVER fits all. One size fits one. Period.” This quote, from the highly respected author and management consultant, Tom Peters, perfectly captures my feelings about the problems with sales pitch slides today. My spider senses twitch when we’re asked to create the sales presentation for an enterprise client. “THE sales deck?” I always think to myself. The one and only?

It’s always surprising how B2B enterprise sales teams, with a variety of clients in different industries, can get by with a single-yet-modular presentation. Don’t get me wrong, there’s good intention here to provide optional content to mix and match for different contexts. The unfortunate reality is that sales pitch “megadecks” are too big and too modular. When a newly assembled deck is made, it’s hard to tell a compelling story that’ll match a specific customer’s problem from beginning to end.


The problem with a sales pitch presentation template

To be successful, sales pitch presentation templates need context. And each B2B enterprise salesperson has some degree of context about the meetings they have.

  • The rep may already have a relationship with the client-side team — or knows they don’t.
  • The account may already be an active customer — or not.
  • The rep may know the specific problem the customer is trying to solve.
  • They may know who else their prospect is considering, or what other solutions they’ve tried.
  • In any event, the rep already has a degree of context and needs content that helps buyers make decisions.

Bad sales pitch presentation templates require lots of customizations

Unfortunately, salespeople are spending a large part of their day building their own content for every call because the sales enablement content they have doesn’t quite fit. It was found that salespeople are spending about 30 hours each month either creating their own content or searching for content.

Sales teams have strong opinions about the content they get vs. what they need

Throughout thousands of interviews with enterprise sellers over the past two decades, we hear consistent themes about “one size fits all” sales pitch decks, including:

Content isn’t helpful

  • Reps may choose a few slides from the main deck, but they still need to create sales conversation content and decks from scratch for each meeting.
  • Content feels generic — it generalizes roles, industries, and use cases to their lowest common denominator and doesn’t help reps close or win opportunities.
  • Content doesn’t reflect their sales plays or the conversations real salespeople are having.

Content isn’t in the context of the customer

  • Reps may choose a few slides from the main deck, but they still need to create sales conversation content and decks from scratch for each meeting.
  • Reps say the content doesn’t meet customers where they are in their buying journey or help them move through it.
  • Sales decks can often assume every buyer is net-new and/or knows nothing about the company’s brand or solutions, yet customers have often already done a lot of homework.
  • The content often doesn’t reflect the relationship orientation reps already have with their customers.

Content is inward-focused

  • Messaging provided by corporate marketing is often too much about “us” and not enough about “the customer.”
  • Content is often more product-centric about features and functionality rather than outcome-centric showing the gains or change delivered.

Content gets created in a vacuum

  • Content gets brainstormed without input from salespeople, and they are often not involved in vetting or approval of the content before it is finalized and distributed.
  • And content made without sales involvement just isn’t as effective or valuable for sales conversations.


Team training Colored


The best sales pitch presentations use audience empathy

Duarte has built its business around the belief that audience empathy is the way to win hearts and minds, and to influence people to act. This belief doesn’t exist for just mainstage, high-stakes presentations. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that audience empathy in a sales presentation is probably the place it’s needed most — when you are there face to face, trying to persuade others towards a decision in your favor.

So where do we go from here? How do you take your time-consuming sales pitch slides into a scalable, revenue-generating tool that your salesforce will love?


5 tips for building situational sales presentations for your sales pitch

Here are five tips on how to craft the perfect sales pitch presentation for your organization.

1. Be in the room where it happens

Product marketing, content marketing, or sales enablement teams need to include salespeople as co-creators in the room where content happens. When sellers are part of the planning process, and as part of the review cycle, the content will get closer to where your prospects and customers are.

Sales is your best window into your customers. They are the proxies and the messengers. Listen to their opinions on:

  • What tools are needed
  • How they’re used
  • The contexts they’re used in
  • What pre-made marketing materials will aid in their efforts

This one step is a huge leap toward increased sales deck adoption, usage, and value for successful deal development and customer satisfaction.

2. Involve the right salespeople – not just any salespeople

Don’t include just any salespeople to help. You need to capture the best practices and sales arguments from your top-performing reps. The ones who make “President’s Club” are the ones you need to replicate so all others can be like them. Find stellar salespeople with a sense of duty to share their wisdom with the rest so the tide lifts all boats.

Additionally, ask new or novice salespeople about what’s difficult in their deals — and make sure the tools you build help them grow and win. Often, your savvy sellers don’t leverage tools, so you need to mine the wisdom of the best to put in tools for the rest.

3. Build sales decks that match selling situations

Remember: facts tell. Stories sell! So don’t build the stories in your sales decks around product features. A story that sparks interest with a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of a local bank won’t likely spark interest in a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of a manufacturing company whom you’ve sold into for a decade.

The CFO might care more about price, cost structures, cost of ownership, return on investment, and usage rates, and may know less about your brand, portfolio, and capabilities. The CMO knows you and your brand well but will be laser-focused on how a new solution will gain them competitive advantage, market share, differentiation, simplicity, and productivity. Same solution, different context, and different potential objections and opportunities in each sales conversation. Make sure your sales pitch deck has drag-and-drop stories of different scenarios, different pain points, and different value propositions for each kind of “buyer.” That’s an audience-centric approach!

4. Ask questions about each selling situation

Categorize all your key selling situations. Examine a combination of details that’ll help you find the story to tell that’ll matter most to them.

  • What is the buyer’s role? Identify their title, persona, and their role in decision-making. If this situation involves a buying center, identify all the roles involved in their buying process.
  • What’s their industry and sub-segment? When you specify a prospect’s industry and sub-segment, you avoid over-generalizations. For example, a stock exchange and a local bank are both part of the “Financial Services” industry, yet these organizations are very different. The sub-segment is critical for relevance when in a sales pitch presentation.
  • What is the nature of your relationship? Is it a prospect or an existing client? The relationship status can help you assess how much or little they know about your brand, ways of working, past successes, etc.
  • What’s their buying context? It’s rare that a B2B seller walks into a sales conversation without any context about the deal. Identifying the nature of what the conversation is focused on, or the opportunity, helps you laser in on what to share and what to avoid.

5. Mine your salespeople for the best stories

Find stories that frame past customers as the heroes of their story. This would typically involve:

  • Where they faced a challenge
  • How they found a solution and persevered
  • How they came out the other side changed

When you put customers in the role of hero, it helps your prospects see themselves in that role, so they trust you as their mentor to get them through to the end.

But also, find stories about how the deal happened and the decision criteria used – not just what they bought – so customers can see how others got unstuck and made a purchasing decision. Gather your salespeoples’ best stories and make them available so others can make stronger connections at those moments when customers seek help. Also, this is a great way to unearth relevant objections and opportunities.


Equip salespeople with content that meets customers where they’re at

Sales enablement content creators looking to uncover winning stories that help sellers better connect to their customers can find training options from Duarte to start you on that path. But whatever you do, dig deeper to give salespeople the right content to support their sales conversations and they’ll be more effective in meeting customers where they’re at to move them forward.

Sales may still need to personalize content a bit more for the unique needs that only they know about. However, if you can get them 80–90% closer to the conversations they’re about to walk into, you’ve helped sellers focus more time on cultivating their deals and less time creating their decks.

If you’re looking to take your persuasion skills to the next level, our training Resonate® designed by communication expert Nancy Duarte will help you do just that – and with your sales pitch deck. Bring your sales presentation with you and come out of the training with a transformed mindset to sales pitch decks.

Or, if you’re feeling pretty good about your sales presentation template and how you handle a sales pitch in-person – how are your sales skills in a virtual situation? Brush up on your virtual selling skills with our Presenting Virtually™ course.


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