What to avoid while preparing a winning sales deck

The article is a continuation of Jacek Bartczak’s article which was published on our blog.

It happens that an unesthetically served meal will cause you not to enjoy the delicious food. In this situation, we will also start to negatively perceive the chef and the restaurant in which this happened. The same is true for the sales deck – even a very valuable solution can be appreciated less because of mistakes in the presentation of the offer. It is not worth the effort of those involved in customer acquisition to be wasted by mistakes, avoiding which does not require much work, but rather a moment of concentration.

Wrong number of slides

I often hear the question “how many slides should there be in a sales deck?“. While working with clients, I got to analyze both a PDF, which was worth shortening from 10 pages to 8, and a presentation consisting of 59 pages, but each of them added value and encouraged me to read the next one. The ideal sales deck is one that contains only information relevant to the customer. The more concisely you are able to present it, the better. While adding another slide, analyze it from the point of view of the client who is busy and it is very likely that he has just recently read the offers of 5 of your competitors. You want a client who reads yoursales deck as the sixth in a row to think, “Finally someone who writes specifically, understandably, and exhausts the topic“.

Repeating the same information

The reader’s time and attention are limited, so usually mentioning the same information unnecessarily several times extends the sales deck and might make the recipient discouraged to reach its most important elements. However, sometimes it is worth using repetition – for example if you know that specific information (UVP of your company, ability to solve a customer problem or your unique experience) is especially important to the recipient, then such action is justified.

The same sales deck for completely different recipients

If in your target group there are 2 distinct customer segments, eg. production and transport companies, it is worth preparing 2 versions of the sales deck, which will be different from each other beacuse of used logos, arguments included in specific slides, or characteristic vocabulary, etc. Adjusting content more accurately will allow you to catch the recipient’s attention more, since each side will be more attractive to them, and closer to their specifics.

Universal statements

In the sales decks, you can often find statements that probably every company in the world would like to be described with, such as “a team of ambitious people“, “high quality of service“, “care for customer needs“, “creative solutions“. This is what most companies can say about themselves (whether each of them has a right to do so is a separate topic). It’s great if your clients describe cooperating with you with such phrases, but while convincing the client to start cooperating, it is worth persuading them with more specific statements, such as those described in the first part of the article.

Pay attention to words such as “product”, “tool”, “service”, “platform”, etc. Each of them can often be replaced with a less general equivalent or statement.

Assuming that the sales deck will be read in a particular manner

The recipient can read your offer in the e-mail inbox, download the file on the disk and open it there, read it on the phone or print your presentation and take it to the CEO. Assuming, for example, “now everyone is reading sales decks on smartphones” can be risky. It is in your best interest to ensure that the sales deck is readable regardless of where the potential client will display it.

Not verifying if a person is reading extensive information

A detailed explanation of, for example, the course of the service, may sometimes require a large amount of text to be placed in our offer. On the one hand, this information can be valuable to a potential client, on the other we are not certain if our interlocutors really read it. It is worth verifying this by placing the link “If you want to know more details, click here“. Then, for example, using links shorteners equipped with a basic click analysis, you will find out how many people clicked on it, and what specific information is in demand.

Lacking knowledge about which pages are being read and which aren’t

The better we present the areas that interest potential customers the most, the greater the chance that we will be able to conclude the transactions. That is why it is worth measuring how much time the buyers spend on particular pages of the sales deck. If, for example, we notice that they spend most of the time on a slide dedicated to your existing clients, while sending a follow-up, it is worth attaching, for example, an additional case study or information about a new testimonial. There are several tools that will help you gain such knowledge.

Complicated tables / charts

It is in your best interest to ensure that the buyer, while analyzing the table or chart, understands what you want to convey to them. Therefore, if you place a more complex element in the sales deck, it is worth interpreting it by, for example, a legend or describing important elements of the chart, so that the reader can reach the right conclusions faster and more easily.

Jargon and industry vocabulary

Statements that are popular or specific to a particular industry probably help in communication within the company, but the statement “you need to tag UTM links well, not to increase direct traffic sessions that Google Analytics cannot correctly assign to the source” may not be understandable to someone who does not deal with search engine marketing every day. If the sales deck is being read by someone who is not a specialist, then such mentioned statement should be presented in a more understandable way, eg “You must add a fragment to the website address that will help Google Analytics understand where the specific user comes from.

Using logos detached from the reader’s cultural code

The recognition of the TVN brand in Poland is large and probably most of your interlocutors in Poland know it, so it doesn’t require further explanation. However, this logo will be a valuable social proof abroad only if it is presented in the right context, eg. “one of the largest television stations in Central and Eastern Europe“.

Pictures that do not add anything to the sales deck

Pictures help make the presentation look nicer and easier to absorb. However, placing photos that are unrelated to the content of the presentation and do not provide additional information (or do not emphasize / help better illustrate the information, eg described using text), unnecessarily extend the PDF which we send to potential customers. None of the people capable of spending company money have five minutes to spare to read unnecessary information, so let’s respect the time of our customers.

Incorrect information order

Assuming that the client reads the entire sales deck can be risky, so the most important information should be placed at the beginning of the file, because then the interest of the recipient is the greatest, as well as the chance to motivate them to read the entire presentation. It is worth putting information that summarizes how you can solve his specific problem and mention the unique (from the customer’s point of view) advantages of your company (it is worth creating this slide manually for a specific buyer) on the first pages. The more convinced the client becomes that the offer describes how to make their everyday life easier, the greater the chance that they will read the pages carefully. If you have no idea in which order to place specific parts, then you can support yourself with the metaphor of a driven nail, that is, the assumption that the client does not want to buy a hammer – they want to have a nail driven, and can hang the picture on it:

– at the beginning you describe the effect of a driven nail, which is why the client will live better if they cooperate with your company (brief information on how you solve their problems, what benefits can be expected),

– then you show where you have been hammering nails so far, how you did it and what the people you’ve been doing it for think about it (clients’ logos, case studies, testimonials),

– then you describe how you will do it and how much it will cost (description of the service / product description),

– and present the competences of people who will hammer a nail for the client. – so that the client  has no doubts that we will manage the task in the budget and on time.

Wrong file(s) name

The name of the file in which you send the sales deck should clearly communicate what it is about and who its author is – then you will make it easier for the recipient to find it in the email inbox or on the disk. A safe scheme for naming your sales decks can be, e.g. “[value you want to provide] for [your potential customer name] – [your company name]”.

If you send other attachments along with the offer, also name them in a way so that the buyer can easily find them. For example, if you send photos together with the sales deck, leaving the name “image_01032019” does not encourage them to check the contents of the file, makes it difficult to find it, and may suggest that the author did not care enough to name it properly.

There is no established next step

Remember that sending your offer is just one of the elements on the way to acquiring a client. Even before sending it, try to establish the next step, i.e. a specific date when you will talk about what the prospect thinks about it. “If you have any questions, please contact me” is not the next step, because it does not define a specific action in a specific time. It is best if you add information confirming the previously established step in the e-mail with the sales deck, such as:

Good morning,

as agreed, I am sending you our sales deck. Below are the most important conclusions from our conversation about the [customer problem]. I have also attached an invitation to a video conference on Thursday [day, month] at 2:00 PM, where we will discuss your impressions and answer the questions that will likely appear.

[the most important conclusions from the conversation]

[argument that you want the potential customer to remember]

We are looking forward to seeing you on Thursday. If there are any questions in the meantime, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Greetings,

No expiration date for your offer

Companies and the solutions they offer change. That is why (especially if you’re using time-limited discounts) it’s worth determining an expiration date for your offer. If, for example, on Black Friday you offer a -20% discount, the offer should clearly communicate until when  a customer needs to sign a contract, so that the special price list applies. This will be helpful in a situation in which the customer, after 6 months of silence, returns to you willing to cooperate, but on outdated terms.

Checking whether the above mistakes do not appear in your offer will eliminate the shortcomings that might make it difficult for the potential customer to read the sales deck or discourage them to it completely. Remember that the preparation of a competitive solution and convincing the company to talk about it consume much more time and resources than improving selected elements of the offer. That is why it is worth creating refined templates, which you will be able to use many times, matching them to the needs of a specific customer. If you want to check what is worth improving before sending the sales deck to the customer, we can think about it together during a 15-minute conversation – all you need to do is point out a convenient date in my calendar.

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