Structuring a Winning Sales Presentation for Your Unique Business
Sales presentations aren’t just for businesses selling physical products. Entrepreneurs and companies across all industries will, at some point, need to pitch their services to a potential client or investor. Developing a sales presentation can be daunting, but the right presentation software can make it easy to effectively deliver your sales pitch.
Sales presentations give a persuasive offer for a solution to a client’s specific need. In traditional sales, salespeople often present their idea to the client face to face with paper brochures, printed PDFs or static presentation on a laptop. In modern settings, sellers provide their clients with a digital presentation they can interact with and even receive in advance to view at their leisure. Regardless of the method, your presentation has about eight seconds to capture your audience’s attention. If after eight seconds you have yet to connect with your audience, good luck getting what you want from them.
Welcome to the world of high-stakes presentations. So, which is better: pitching to a client with a traditional method or leveraging an interactive digital presentation? Some veteran sales reps and managers will insist that nothing beats physical material samples or paper brochures. But static sales materials come with a risk: they don’t allow you to prepare for objections during the meeting.
Advantages of a Digital Sales Presentation
Advocates of digital say their method creates less pressure for both buyer and seller. For instance, allowing the client to view the digital sales presentation on their own time ensures a more conducive mood. It also lets them peruse the presentation at their own pace without a salesperson hovering nearby with an order form.
Consider these other advantages of a digital sales presentation:
They’re Highly Visual and Engaging
A digital presentation can convey the seller’s message clearly and completely by adding images and videos. Inserting relevant visuals helps viewers retain the information better, while videos help demonstrate concepts better than any explanation ever could. At the same time, the addition of multimedia elements can break the monotony of text-only content, which can completely disengage a viewer.
Digital presentations allow the audience to view the content at their own time and pace. Compared to a long, drawn-out pitch meeting complete with the requisite introductions and breaks, a digital sales presentation requires a much shorter time frame. Clients can absorb the message in a matter of minutes. Meanwhile, video demonstrations can illustrate a process that’s much easier to understand.
For savvy sales organizations, interactive presentations can further increase engagement among viewers. Instead of laying all the information out in the open, a carefully designed presentation uses interactive images that can display additional details with a single click. Interactivity provides a great way to give more information while keeping the presentation uncluttered and the audience interested in what they’ll discover next.
Elements of a Winning Sales Presentation
At the heart of the sales presentation lies the company’s selling point or pitch. This pitch outlines the solution that the seller believes is the answer to the buyer’s current problems. In most cases, the pitch lays out why their solution is what the client needs to overcome their current dilemma.
Captivate and Connect With the Audience
The first few slides can determine where your presentation is heading. When developing your concept, think of a good opening that can instantly connect with and capture the audience. For example, you might start with a story about a hero going on a journey. Make the hero’s problems and experiences similar to what the client is facing.
As the story continues, your audience should relate more and more to the protagonist. If you find the audience rooting for your story’s hero, it means they connected with you and are ready to listen to your solutions.
Provide Interesting Content
How to tell the story is yet another challenge. Sustaining your audience’s engagement should take precedence when filling in the details of your presentation. Layout-wise, don’t overdo any element, especially text. Strategically placing images, videos and interactive elements can help prevent viewers from getting bored and disinterested.
Make the Pitch and Provide a Call to Action
Once you’ve warmed up the audience by forging a connection, it’s time to make the pitch. Remember, the pitch isn’t just about offering a solution. It’s very important for your pitch to make it clear that you’re aware of the exact problems facing the client. This means your solution isn’t a one-size-fits-all offering that’s actually the opposite of what they want.
When adding the call to action (CTA), make it short, clear and specific. The CTA is not the time for a cute message.
How to Structure a Sales Presentation
Creating the ultimate sales presentation requires careful preparation. You’ll first need to flesh out an outline to maintain structure. Otherwise, you run the risk of adding sections continuously and turning a direct presentation into a very lengthy, convoluted one.
The most effective presentations utilize a well-defined structure to present a logically ordered flow of information:
- Introduce yourself and tell a story.
- Recap the client’s problem.
- Present your solution.
- Pitch the offer.
- Invite questions.
With this structure, you begin the sales presentation by establishing your credentials and generating interest in what you want to say. Then, you prove your worthiness by showing you know the exact problems the client is currently experiencing. Only then do you present your solution and move toward closing the deal. Finally, leave room for feedback to further improve not just the sales presentation but the entire process.
Have a Solid Foundation and Tell a Story
When introducing yourself or your company, clients don’t have the time or the inclination to watch a detailed history. A short but sweet introduction consists of your company name, what you do and maybe how long you’ve been in the business. Don’t take too long to introduce your company, though. There’s a lot more ground to cover, and this is just the beginning.
Instead, start the presentation with a story. This could be anything, as long as it allows you to connect quickly with the audience. However, you should choose a story with a happy ending that’s comparable to the solution you’re presenting to the client. Why a positive ending? If the story parallels your customer’s experience, they’ll want to hear a story that solves a problem similar to theirs.
4 Elements of Storytelling
Robert Carnes’ “Principles of Storytelling” discusses the four major elements of a story: character, context, conflict and creation. In effect, the character is the protagonist who encountered a conflict. Context provides the background stories and allows us to relate to the character so we understand the conflict better. Creation happens when the character resolves the conflict using contextual means.
For example, a baking equipment vendor presenting to a bake shop chain can open with the story of how a baker (character), even when using the finest ingredients (context), couldn’t understand why his goods wouldn’t sell well (conflict). He tried changing recipes, upgrading ingredients and improving processes. In the end, the baker realized the quality of the equipment was impacting his products. By replacing his entire equipment inventory (creation), the hero saved his business, which began booming.
When narrated engagingly, the audience can immediately relate to the character due to the context. If they share the same conflict, the client might associate the creation as the solution they need as well. Ending the story on a positive note gives clients an implied assurance that they too can have a happy ending.
Do Your Research and Due Diligence
When planning out the rest of the sales presentation, you’ll need to get the facts straight. Make sure you perform the necessary research and ensure the information you have about the client is accurate.
Simple things like the company name spelling, executive names and department names need to be exactly correct. It doesn’t matter if you’re presenting in person or leaving a digital copy. As soon as the audience detects these small errors, they’ll tend to focus on them, which effectively disengages them from the rest of the content. This is why it’s important to check and double-check basic company information.
Learning more about your client requires checking back into their sales relationship with you. Specifically, check where and when they entered your sales funnel and dive into their past interactions with sales or customer service teams. If you haven’t yet, have a discovery call or visit the buyer to learn more about their specific needs.
Personalize the Customer Experience
Due diligence also ensures the target customer receives a highly personalized experience. Today’s B2B buyers favor conducting their own research and waiting for the last moment to involve the salesperson in the sales journey. Imagine their reaction when presented with a generic deck pitching a one-size-fits-all solution.
When drafting a sales presentation, make the extra effort to provide the client with a highly personalized experience. This means making the deck’s contents custom-fitted to their specific needs. This might entail removing general references and sections that only show a fundamental grasp of the buyer’s current scenario. Far too many stories appear online where a client wastes their time entertaining proposals that offer solutions they don’t need.
A Personalization Case Study: Stephen Curry and the Nike Presentation
One of the more notorious horror stories involving personalization features NBA superstar Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors. The son of a former NBA player and arguably the game’s greatest shooter, Curry sported Nike shoes throughout his college career and during his first few years playing in the NBA.
In 2013, everyone—even Curry himself—expected Nike to make a bid for Curry’s endorsement. Given Curry’s potential and pedigree, many thought the upcoming Nike endorsement pitch was a mere formality. In a way, they were right. During their meeting, the shoe and apparel giant made an unforgivable gaffe. Some of the slides they presented to Curry still showed the name “Kevin Durant,” another NBA superstar Nike endorses. Apparently, the company simply took its Durant pitch and recycled the presentation. They didn’t even bother to check the slides or put Curry’s name in the repurposed presentation.
Curry immediately cut off the negotiations and signed with Nike’s upstart rival Under Armour. Since then, he has rocketed to the top of NBA elite stardom. His team won four championships, while Curry himself pocketed two MVPs and one Finals MVP. Under Armour, meanwhile, saw its revenues rise from $3.825 billion in 2015 (Curry’s first year with their endorsement) to $5.57 billion six years later. As of September 2022, Curry was reportedly set to sign a restructured lifetime deal with the company worth $1 billion.
The lesson? You can’t simply get something from your discarded decks and slap a new name on it. Personalization takes real effort, but it’s worth it.
Describe the Problem the Customer Is Facing
Part of your research involves knowing what made the client interested in your help. Before offering a solution, you must first know the source of the client’s problems. Nothing can derail a sales presentation faster than misidentifying the problem. Once the client reacts by saying “We’re more focused on solving X than Y,” you’ll know the solution you’re offering isn’t the one they need right now.
Pain Points: Know Exactly What the Client’s Problems Are
When diving into the problem, isolate the client’s pain points that your solutions can fix. Use information from the sales team’s interactions with the clients and bolster the data with research from your buyer personas. Then, present the impact of this problem if left unresolved.
For maximum effect, present the scenario in terms the client can immediately understand: time and money. This can help shape the form and tone of a sales presentation that gets right to the heart of your client’s issues. Once your audience realizes the impact of an unresolved problem, looking for solutions becomes the next logical step.
When presenting the client’s pain points, keep the objective in mind. The customer already knows about their problems in agonizing detail. The presentation only drives home the point that you as the seller know your solution solves their specific problems.
Present Your Solution
Now that all parties agree on the problem, it’s time to focus on looking into the solution. Note, however, that presenting your answer to the client’s problems doesn’t mean dumping your product into their lap.
Instead, frame the product as an essential part of resolving their problem. For specific issues that are part of the problem, show how the product solves these issues. In effect, the presentation continues to focus on the client and their quest to resolve their problems. This way, you continue the presentation’s emphasis that this is all about the customer.
Highlight Your Unique Proposition
Prior to offering the solution, position your company as an industry expert by talking about your unique selling proposition (USP). This not only shows you have the qualifications to solve their problems, but it also highlights what makes your company and solution different from your competitors.
Handle Their Objections and Address Their Concerns
For live presentations, a question-and-answer portion helps address individual concerns immediately after the presentation. For online presentations, sellers can include a list of previously collected objections along with their answers. In addition, presentations should always invite viewers to send in their questions or comments. This can form part of an important collection of feedback that can generate insights toward the product’s improvement.
When answering questions, take the time to understand the question completely—especially during live presentations. Don’t make the rookie mistake of listening just to the first part of the question and formulating a response during the rest. Answer only once you have given enough thought to the question. If possible, include some documented solutions or data that gives credence to your replies. Whatever happens, don’t leave questions hanging.
Use Interactive and Multimedia Visuals
Adding media such as images and videos can help communicate your message louder and clearer. Remember the classic saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words?” This is especially true when preparing digital presentations for clients to view in their offices.
The human brain was originally wired to process visual information, so we tend to follow images faster than we process sentences. To be fair, written and spoken languages are fairly new inventions, considering the first modern humans only appeared around 200,000 years ago.
Meanwhile, interactivity provides an added dimension to the sales presentation. Instead of just looking at static images or watching a continuously looping video, elements such as infographic pop-ups, autoplay videos and other trigger-activated information can increase a viewer’s interest.
Sales presentations are also more visually appealing and engaging if they maintain a clean, spacious layout throughout. Having additional information appear through mouse clicks helps maintain that aesthetic appearance.
Close the Sale and Seal the Deal
Many salespeople think the sales journey ends with the closing of the sale. While we can all agree that the decision stage is the end state of the sales journey, it doesn’t mean a “yes” from the customer equals a commission check suddenly falling into your hands. Instead, closing the deal usually opens a host of new things to do. This includes finalizing the sale details, such as agreeing on the final negotiated price and arranging for the technology turnover.
Issue a Call to Action to Secure the Next Steps
This is why it’s important to add a CTA at the end of a sales presentation. It’s not about assuming a sale is inevitable. Rather, it helps you and the client prepare for the inevitable next steps should the deal go through. In cases where the client already made the commitment to purchase, the CTA assumes a different form: the next steps.
A positive decision from the buyer, especially in significant purchases such as wholesale purchases or B2B orders, opens up many subsets of next steps. Upon getting the confirmation, there will be a series of questions you’ll need to ask the buyer, including:
- Who do we talk to about delivery?
- Who do we coordinate with regarding implementation and training?
- Can we get your customer feedback regarding the entire process?
- Do you have any recommendations to improve our products and services?
- Can you refer us to other leads with similar situations?
The Importance of the Next Steps
Whether the sale goes through or gets held up, the next steps remain an important way to stay connected. Specifically, they help accomplish the following:
Jumpstart the Order Processing
Say you closed the deal after the client loved the sales presentation you sent. Then what? Will you wait for the client to bring up the matter of signing the contract or putting up a down payment? Of course not. The logical next step is to present a contract and arrange a signing.
Keep the Sales Pipeline Moving
In the event that the client remains noncommittal after the sales presentation, next steps give the sales team room to keep the conversation going. Of course, pressuring the client to commit remains a bad idea if performed too soon. Instead, use this as an opportunity to get the client to commit to further exploring your offered solution. Don’t ask for a reconsideration; ask if the client is willing to undergo a free trial period to further assess your solution’s effectiveness.
Alternatively, the sales representative can also try to salvage the deal by convincing the client to consider testimonies from industry authorities who have had previous experience with the product. At the very least, asking for and getting a confirmed next meeting date indicates a willingness to revisit the proposal.
Nudge the Customer to Provide Feedback
Other next steps include requesting and collecting feedback from clients, regardless of whether they approve the deal. Asking for their comments and suggestions regarding the entire sales process can be part of a series of next-step questions directed at a new customer. Similarly, asking prospects who rejected a solution about what went wrong in the sales presentation can render valuable input to be used when developing newer presentations.
One way to collect feedback is by converting the presentation into a two-way conversation. Whether presenting in person or using interactive elements, getting the audience involved can spur them to talk more about what they think. In the case of actual sales pitches, the presenter can lead the audience into finishing sentences for them or toss out softball questions for them to answer.
The objection is to provoke sustained conversation between buyer and seller in the hopes that these lead to clarifying questions or organic feedback. Just be careful not to ask too many leading questions—you don’t want to overload the audience.
Existing and new customers are great sources of feedback about the user experience. They’re the ones who get to log in to your sales portal and perform transactions. Getting their opinions on how your services can be improved can go a long way toward a better customer experience (CX).
When recruiting customers to fill out surveys, try to ask them after they complete their current transactions. Asking them in the middle of an order can distract them enough to keep the sale hanging. For best results, have the feedback splash page appear as they start the process of signing out or logging off.
Talk About How Best to Move Forward
In many cases, a customer can linger over one or more objections to your sales presentation. These objections may not be enough to reject the proposal outright. But at the same time, they’ll need to hear you address their objections before reconsidering the purchase. In this case, pushing them to make a commitment can backfire badly. Instead, use the next steps to get a commitment on when you can meet them to address their objections.
Getting a slot in their busy calendars is a small victory that can ultimately grow into a bigger win. However, you must be able to confidently handle the objections. For this reason, it’s best to regroup and revisit these objections rather than going with your immediate and instinctual responses. Use the time before the next meeting to polish your rebuttals.
Keep Communication and Collaboration Lines Open
Rather than thinking the customer has yet to say yes, the optimistic salesperson believes the client has yet to say no. Without the commitment of a sale, the enterprising rep should take pains to keep communication and collaboration lines open. This gives the customer the channels to immediately contact you in case they drift toward pushing through with the purchase or need to clarify things further.
Keeping communication lines open also includes making timely follow-ups. Keep in touch and be available for any additional questions. At worst, this gives the customer a channel to finally say no. This may not be the ideal conclusion, but at least it closes the loop and allows both parties to move on.
If you’re connected to the client via collaboration software, keep those connections turned on. You may find the customer continuing to check out the presentation software or test the demo product. You’ll want to be available in case they have additional questions about these processes. Open lines of communication ensure you can readily acknowledge their questions and provide answers.
When leaving messages to clients, insert a CTA that will require them to respond. For example, ask if they need more information to help make a decision. Or, see if they’d like to receive a revised proposal based on their latest comments or interactions with your presentation.
Create a Winning Sales Presentation With Ingage
Ingage is cloud-based interactive presentation software that allows you to collaborate with others while creating a deck for your clients. Unlike most presentation software, Ingage lets users access their presentation files anytime and anywhere. Collaboration features allow multiple teams to complete a deck using a single document.
Once finalized, the team can send a link to the presentation directly to the client for their review. Powerful analytics features track viewer behavior while they’re reading the presentation. It then generates insights that show which parts of the presentation caught the client’s interest and which areas could use additional improvements or enhancements.
Learn more about how to enhance your sales presentations using Ingage today. Visit the Ingage website for a free demonstration. We’ll be more than happy to show you how easy and intuitive it is to create compelling interactive presentations.