How to Create a Sales Deck that Closes Deals

Does your sales pitch deck make prospects yawn or drive them to whip out their credit cards? Creating a stellar sales presentation is an art and science. But have no fear – with the right blend of strategy, storytelling, and design, you can craft sales decks that consistently close deals.

This comprehensive guide reveals the anatomy of high-converting sales decks. You’ll discover how to structure compelling narratives, incorporate smart visuals, and deliver flawless presentations. Read on to learn the expert secrets to sales pitch decks that win over prospects every time.

Page Contents

What is a Sales Deck and Why is it Important?

A sales deck, also known as a pitch deck, is a short presentation consisting of 10 slides or less that salespeople use to persuade prospects to buy their product or service. It visually tells the story of your solution and complements your verbal sales pitch during meetings with potential clients.

But a sales deck is more than just a few slides hastily thrown together. When crafted strategically, it can be a powerful selling tool that helps you close more deals.

Definition and Purpose of a Sales Deck

A sales deck typically covers:

  • The problem your product solves
  • Your key features and benefits
  • Customer success stories and testimonials
  • Pricing and next steps

The goal is to educate your prospects and convince them that your solution is the best choice to address their needs.

Unlike a slideshow meant to provide your audience with general information, the purpose of a sales deck is to directly influence the buyer’s decision during your presentation.

It allows you to:

  • Visually demonstrate your key points
  • Keep prospects focused and guide the discussion
  • Provide memorable takeaways

Because humans process visual information 60,000 times faster than text, sales decks can convey details more efficiently than speech alone.

Well-designed sales decks pique interest in your product and company, build credibility, create desire for your solution, and motivate your prospects to take action.

When to Use a Sales Deck for Maximum Impact

While a sales deck can be used at any point in the sales process, it makes the biggest difference during sales presentations and demos to prospects who are nearing a decision.

You should bring your sales deck to meetings when:

  • You are presenting to a key decision maker – A sales deck allows you to take control of the narrative and highlight what matters most to convince them.
  • You need to coordinate a complex sale – When multiple stakeholders are involved, a sales deck keeps everyone aligned on your value proposition.
  • You want to close a deal – A compelling sales deck motivates buyers who are ready to purchase but need that final nudge.

However, don’t wait until the prospect is ready to buy to create your sales deck. Develop it upfront as part of your sales enablement strategy so it’s polished and ready to use at any time.

Benefits of Using a Sales Deck

While a verbal pitch is critical, pairing it with a strong sales deck offers many advantages:

1. Keeps prospects’ attention

Let’s face it – it’s hard for audiences to remain fully engaged throughout an entire presentation, especially in today’s world of information overload and shrinking attention spans.

Sales decks break up long verbal speeches and deliver information in bite-sized, visual chunks that are easier to absorb. Eye-catching graphs, images, and video clips re-capture their attention if you sense them zoning out.

2. Enhances storytelling

Humans are wired to respond to stories. Incorporating your brand’s origin story or case studies into your sales deck turns abstract concepts into compelling narratives that prospects can relate to.

Stories stimulate emotions, build affinity, and influence purchase decisions. Vibrant visuals boost the impact of your storytelling.

3. Boosts memorability

Well-executed sales decks act as visual reminders that reinforce your key messages after the meeting. Prospects are more likely to remember your pitch when paired with slides, rather than a speech alone.

Even if they don’t revisit the deck, strategic images and stats will stick in their minds better. This gives your solution an edge over competitors they can’t recall as clearly.

4. Adds credibility

Sales decks make your claims more convincing by providing verifiable data – from client logos and testimonials to charts demonstrating business growth.

Visually highlighting credible sources like renowned publications and industry awards also builds trust quickly. Demonstrating you have an impressive client roster proves you can deliver.

5. Allows customization

While you don’t want to create a brand new deck for each prospect, sales deck templates allow for some light customization.

Tweaking examples and statistics to fit their industry or including a relevant case study makes your pitch feel more personalized and applicable to each buyer.

6. Provides takeaway collateral

After your presentation, prospects may want to review your deck again or share it internally. Providing your sales deck equips them with a handy, branded leave-behind summarizing your key messages to refer to later.

Emailing the deck after meetings allows prospects to digest details at their own pace and circulate it within their organization to build consensus.

While a sales deck requires effort to create initially, the ROI in terms of higher conversion rates is well worth the upfront time investment. Let’s look at how to structure an impactful sales deck.

How to Structure an Effective Sales Deck

You only have a brief window to capture your prospect’s attention and convey why your solution is the right fit for them.

That’s why nailing the structure and content of your sales deck is so critical. Follow these proven best practices when putting together your presentation.

Limit to 10 Slides or Less

Resist the temptation to cram every feature, benefit, and detail about your product into your deck. Less is more when it comes to sales decks.

Stick to 10 slides or fewer so your key messages come through clearly without overwhelming your audience.

Prospects tune out and retention plummets during lengthy presentations. A Forrester study showed that 53% of sales reps fail to effectively articulate their value proposition to buyers. Don’t let yours get lost in the noise.

Follow the the 80/20 rule – devote 80% of your slides to your most convincing, differentiating details and use the other 20% to provide supplementary information.

Edit ruthlessly. Remove fluffy slides that don’t directly support your goals for that presentation. Every slide should have a clear purpose.

Start With the Problem Your Product Solves

Don’t open your sales deck by jumping straight into product features. First, explain the underlying problem or needs your prospect has that your product addresses.

Articulating their pain points establishes you as an expert who intimately understands their challenges. It also primes them to be receptive to your solution when you present it.

  • Use data – Back up the problem with hard numbers. For example, “SaaS companies experience 32% annual churn on average.”
  • Add visuals – Enhance engagement by transforming dry facts into eye-catching charts.
  • Get specific – Zoom in on how this problem impacts your prospect’s role, team or company. Avoid vague generalizations.

Starting with the problem hooks your audience early by explaining why they should care. Next, segue into introducing your product as the antidote.

Explain Your Solution and Key Value Proposition

After highlighting the prospect’s pain points, the next slide should overview how your offer uniquely solves them.

Succinctly convey your value proposition – why your product stands out from competitors and what tangible results buyers can expect.

  • Focus on differentiation – Emphasize what makes your solution one-of-a-kind. Stay away from generic claims that could apply to any product.
  • Quantify benefits – Rather than stating your software improves productivity, give specific metrics like “Users save 10 hours per week on data entry.”
  • Use simple language – Avoid overused jargon and explain benefits in terms anyone can understand.

Resist the temptation to info dump and go through every item on your product spec sheet. That level of detail can wait for a demo. Pick 2-3 main themes or capabilities to highlight.

Use Customer Research to Personalize Messaging

One sales deck won’t work for every prospect. The most effective decks include custom details tailored to the specific buyer persona.

Before creating your deck, conduct customer research to uncover your prospect’s needs, goals, and pain points.

Ways to learn about your audience include:

  • Interviewing current ideal customers
  • Gathering feedback from customer-facing teams
  • Researching the prospect’s website for background info

Then you can incorporate relevant facts into your deck, like:

  • Use cases – How clients in their industry use your product
  • Pain points – Top challenges for someone in their role
  • Buzzwords – Terminology commonly used in their field

When your slides speak directly to your prospect’s world, they’ll pay closer attention because you “get them.”

Focus on 3 Main Benefits or Features

The “rule of three” is an age-old presentation principle. People can only retain a few key messages during a pitch. That’s why honing in on your top 3 product benefits or features maximizes impact.

For example, a CRM company might highlight:

1. 360-degree customer profiles
2. AI-driven lead routing
3. One-click email sync

When prospects leave your meeting, these are the capabilities they’ll remember while others fade. Limiting your focus directs their attention only to your most important differentiators.

Include Meaningful Data and Statistics

Data is an incredibly convincing way to back up claims about your product’s value. The right metrics can mean the difference between a prospect choosing you or a competitor.

Studies show 63% of enterprise B2B buyers say relevant data and statistics provided by sales reps are very important to influence their decisions.

But not all data is created equal. Choose metrics strategically for maximum impact.

Types of persuasive data to include:

  • Product usage stats – Monthly active users, customer retention rate
  • Business growth metrics – Increased revenue, cost savings
  • Customer resultsTestimonial quotes, ROI case studies
  • Industry benchmarks – To compare against competitors

Visualize stats in charts or graphs. Prospects better absorb data displayed visually rather than walls of text.

Use Relatable Social Proof and Testimonials

Peer validation is incredibly influential. In fact, 92% of B2B buyers now read online reviews before making a purchase decision.

That’s why including credible social proof like customer testimonials in your sales deck is money in the bank. Powerful word-of-mouth cements you as a sound investment.

However, don’t just reach for any old logo or quote. Curate social proof intentionally for relevance.

For example:

  • Matching industries – Spotlight clients in the same field as your prospect.
  • Similar business size – Quotes from companies of comparable scale or maturity.
  • Shared pain points – Profiles of past customers who faced the same struggles.

Social proof directly tied to your prospect’s situation is exponentially more compelling. It shows that companies just like them achieved success with your solution.

End with a Clear Call-to-Action

Don’t leave your prospect wondering what happens after your presentation ends. Include a call-to-action (CTA) slide telling them exactly how to proceed.

Some examples of effective CTAs:

  • Schedule a product demo
  • Initiate a free trial
  • Contact sales to request a custom quote

Make the CTA concise and use a contrasting color to make it stand out.

Pro tip: If appropriate, include your contact details on the CTA slide too so they know who to reach out to.

Ending decisively with clear next steps keeps your sales deck’s momentum going beyond the initial meeting.

Now that you know how to structure your content, let’s look at design strategies to polish the aesthetics of your presentation.

Design Tips for Visually Engaging Sales Decks

Even the most compelling content falls flat without polished visuals to match.

Your sales deck design should reinforce (not distract from) your core messages and capture your prospects’ imagination.

Follow these best practices to make your presentation aesthetically appealing and memorable.

Use High-Quality Photos, Graphics and Infographics

Imagery makes your abstract talking points tangible. Relevant visuals also boost engagement and memory retention.

Types of visuals to incorporate:

  • Product screenshots – Show your software’s interface and capabilities.
  • Infographics – Display data and processes in colorful, digestible graphics.
  • Photos – Capture the emotion and real-world applications of your product. Choose images your audience can relate to.
  • Illustrations – Use custom drawings or comics to explain complex concepts clearly and memorably.
  • Videos – Short video clips bring your product to life and demonstrate it in action.

Don’t just pull any stock imagery. Curate visuals specifically customized to your brand identity and audience.

Poor quality graphics undercut your professionalism. Invest in pro designers if needed to make a polished visual impact.

Follow Your Prospect’s Brand Colors and Style

Want a sales deck that feels like it was tailor-made for your prospect? Mimic their brand colors and visual style.

If you’re pitching to a company that uses:

  • Conservative navy blue – Stick to cool-toned blues in your deck.
  • Bright purple and green – Incorporate their vibrant palette.
  • Flat, minimalist illustrations – Use similar clean, simple graphics.

This subtle branding creates a familiar feel and shows you did your homework on who they are.

Don’t copy their assets directly without permission though – pull inspiration from their visual vibe instead.

Balance Information and Visuals

Resist overloading slides with dense blocks of text. Too many words compete with your narrative and overwhelm your audience.

But going too far in the visual-only direction isn’t great either. Without any text for context, your graphics lose meaning.

Find the right equilibrium between visuals and supplemental verbiage.

Tips to achieve the ideal balance:

  • Use concise bullets instead of long paragraphs.
  • Place succinct captions directly on relevant images.
  • Utilize ample white space around visuals to avoid clutter.
  • Limit each slide to one key message visually reinforced with a graphic.

With a smart balance, your slides amplify (not detract from) the story you’re verbally telling.

Make it Easy to Scan and Absorb Content

Your sales deck should facilitate (not hinder) understanding. Avoid designs that make it difficult for prospects to digest your content.

Ways to boost comprehension and scannability:

  • Use short, benefit-driven headlines rather than full sentences.
  • Emphasize key points with bold fonts, colors, and bullet points.
  • Position related info together in clearly defined sections.
  • Leave ample white space around and between text blocks and graphics.
  • Stick to common sans serif fonts like Arial that are highly readable.
  • Limit each slide to one core idea to avoid cognitive overload.

Make your slides easy on the eyes so your prospects can swiftly extract value from each one.

Use Animation and Interactive Elements Sparingly

A bit of movement can work wonders to captivate your audience during a sales presentation. But overdoing animations and interactivity backfires.

  • Entrance animations on bullet points or graphics can direct attention and transition between ideas.
  • Embedded video gives an engaging overview of your product that prospects can pause and re-watch.
  • Clickable graphs or images that reveal additional details allow self-guided exploration.

However, flashing lights, spinning logos, and loud sound effects become distracting and unprofessional. Avoid gimmicky animations that don’t enhance the content.

Let your rock-solid messaging take center stage by using motion and interactivity selectively to punctuate key moments.

Now that your sales deck looks the part, let’s discuss presentation skills to deliver your pitch effectively.

How to Deliver a Winning Sales Presentation

Your sales deck is complete. Great job!

But you’re not done yet. To seal the deal, you need to nail the presentation itself.

Follow these tips to interact with your deck effectively and convey your messages with maximum persuasiveness.

Send Deck Ahead of Meeting for Context

Email your deck to attendees a day or two before your meeting when possible.

Giving prospects exposure to your content beforehand has several advantages:

  • Sets expectations – They’ll arrive already familiar with your key points and overall narrative arc. No surprises.
  • Allows preview – Prospects can review details at their own pace and absorb complex data.
  • Enables sharing – Decision-makers can circulate your deck internally to align stakeholders.

Don’t worry about “spoiling” your presentation. Ahead-of-time access provides helpful background and primes your audience for maximum engagement.

Maintain Engagement with Conversation

Your sales deck should facilitate an active, two-way conversation – not just be a monologue presentation.

Interact with your prospects to bring the material to life. Ask questions, provide COLOR, and adjust the cadence of your pitch to the room’s energy levels.

If you sense attendees zoning out or getting distracted, re-engage them by:

  • Directly inviting input: “What challenges have you faced with this process?”
  • Embedding pauses to allow reactions and feedback.
  • Changing tone and volume to recapture wandering attention.
  • Skipping ahead to more compelling content instead of losing them completely.

Stay perceptive so you can adapt your delivery style in real-time based on your audience’s ever-changing needs.

Adapt Pitch to Prospect’s Specific Needs

As discussed earlier, customizing your sales deck to each prospect is ideal. But you can take personalization further during the actual presentation.

Tap into your active listening skills. As your prospect communicates, pick up on cues indicating:

  • Which features excite them versus bore them
  • Where they have the most acute pain points
  • What questions or concerns they have

Then, adapt your narrative highlight the parts most relevant to them specifically. Don’t rigidly stick to a predetermined script – let their responses guide you.

This tailored approach makes your pitch feel like an intimate conversation, not a generic canned spiel.

Lead With Your Biggest Differentiator

Grab attention immediately by opening your presentation with your most impressive capability or compelling customer success highlight.

Don’t hold your strongest evidence until the end – start with it! Kick off your presentation by succinctly explaining how you stand out from competitors on attributes your prospect values most.

If you lose steam at any point, remind them of this key differentiator again to remind them of your credibility and the uniqueness of your solution.

Tell Stories to Make an Emotional Connection

Data and features are necessary but insufficient to motivate buyers on their own. Numbers appeal to our rational side but stories stir our emotions.

Sprinkle brief anecdotes throughout your presentation to stimulate feelings of inspiration, curiosity, camaraderie, and urgency.

For example, tell a story about:

  • How an early client took a chance on you
  • The “aha moment” that led to your founding
  • A customer who achieved remarkable results
  • A setback your company overcame

These narratives humanize your brand and build rapport on a more personal level.

Use Deck to Guide Discussion and Add Value

Don’t regurgitate every word on every slide verbatim. Only highlight key data points and reinforce your overall narrative arc.

Ideally, your sales deck guides a two-way exploration as you dive deeper into topics that resonate most. Let your visuals prompt thought-provoking discussions that add context.

With a conversational approach, your sales deck evolves into a dynamic tool that responds to your prospect’s needs in real-time – not just a rigid, one-way presentation.

Delivering an impactful sales presentation is an art. Master these techniques to get the most mileage out of your sales deck.

Mistakes to Avoid When Creating Sales Decks

Crafting a stellar sales deck takes skill. Even seasoned presenters make missteps.

Be aware of these common pitfalls to sidestep them in your next presentation:

Packing in Too Much Information

A jam-packed slide deck overwhelms your audience, obscures your main points, and makes you look disorganized.

To avoid this mistake:

  • Limit to 10 slides max. More than that, and you risk losing people.
  • Have a clear objective for each slide. Cut any that don’t directly support your goals.
  • Stick to key data points. Don’t dump your entire product spec sheet into slides.
  • Use the 80/20 rule. Devote most slides to your most vital 20% of information.
  • Summarize concisely. Don’t try to cram paragraphs of details into bullet points.

Resist the temptation to share everything you know. Be selective and edit ruthlessly. Less is more when it comes to impactful sales decks.

Forgetting to Personalize for Each Prospect

One generic sales deck won’t persuasively resonate with every buyer. Failing to tailor your content to each prospect misses an opportunity to connect.

To personalize effectively:

  • Research the company before your meeting to understand their priorities and pain points.
  • Use specific examples from their industry to demonstrate relevance.
  • Reference their actual business name to show your solution was designed with them in mind.
  • Highlight recognizable client logos in your area of focus to build immediate rapport.
  • Adjust terminology to use vocabulary familiar to them.

With personalization, you demonstrate you did your homework and “get” who your prospect is.

Waiting Until the End to Share Pricing Info

Don’t save pricing for the very last slide. If you spring costs on prospects unexpectedly, you risk shocking them and immediately closing the window of opportunity.

Instead, share pricing details once you’ve:

  • Established immense value.
  • Proven ROI potential.
  • Gotten them excited about capabilities.

With the right strategic timing, you prime prospects to view your costs as justified and worth the investment given the benefits you articulated.

Using Bland Stock Images and Boring Visuals

Cheap stock photos make your brand look like it lacks imagination and authenticity. Bland visuals also fail to engage your audience, which causes minds to wander.

Punch up your visual appeal with:

  • On-brand graphics and illustrations that align to your style guide.
  • Custom photography capturing real customers interacting with your product.
  • Well-designed infographics transforming stale data into colorful visual stories.
  • Short product videos demonstrating capabilities in action.
  • Limited tasteful animations to direct attention to key moments.

Boring visuals undermine great content. Elevate your presentation with smart, strategic designs.

Not Practicing Presentation with the Deck

Even the most eloquent speakers flub their delivery if they haven’t rehearsed with their slides. Don’t just wing it and expect a flawless performance.

Before your meeting:

  • Practice your sales pitch from start to finish with the deck.
  • Refine unclear points in your narrative.
  • Confirm seamless flow between slides.
  • Add notes on slides to cue key talking points.
  • Check timing and trim content if needed to avoid going over.
  • Get feedback from colleagues to improve areas that need polishing.

Thorough rehearsals boost your confidence, refine your material, and help you stick the landing when it matters most.

With awareness of potential pitfalls, you can avoid missteps and achieve sales deck greatness. Now let’s look at examples to inspire your next presentation.

Sales Deck Examples and Templates

Seeing examples of successful sales decks is an excellent way to gather ideas and inspiration for your own presentation.

Let’s look at excerpts from real-world decks across different industries to highlight elements worth emulating.

SaaS Sales Deck Example

This excerpt from Zenefits effectively explains their key differentiator – the ability to build beautiful, customized course sites – and backs it up with impressive social proof of customer growth:

Key takeaways:

  • Focuses on a core capability relevant to their audience.
  • Quantifies value with hard metrics – 10x more customers.
  • Social proof builds credibility – logos of recognizable brands using their product.

B2B Sales Deck Example

This slide from a Facebook for Business deck explains exactly how their offerings cater to prospects’ needs using familiar industry terms:

Key takeaways:

  • Outlines specific types of insurance relevant to buyers.
  • Uses insider language like “fleet safety resources” that resonates with the industry.
  • Easy-to-scan bullets make the benefits clear at a glance.

Investor Pitch Deck Example

This example from Uber for Business highlights impressive growth metrics that indicate a strong ROI:

Key takeaways:

  • Data-focused slides appeal to investor audiences.
  • Visualizations make the data easy to rapidly process.
  • Concrete statistics – 300% increase – quantify past returns.

Where to Find Sales Deck Templates

Besides drawing inspiration from examples, leverage pre-made templates to give you a head start.

Places to find sales deck templates:

  • Slidebean – Tons of free pitch deck templates for different industries and use cases.
  • SlideModel – Modern, adaptable PowerPoint templates in various categories.
  • Google Slides – Search for any sales deck topic to find related templates to duplicate.
  • HubSpot – Download free customizable templates for sales, marketing, and more.

With templates, you don’t need to create a deck from scratch. Tweak the design and content to fit your specific needs in a fraction of the time.

Now you have all the ingredients – examples, templates, and expert tips – to create sales decks with maximum visual impact and persuasive power. The only step left is to put your knowledge into action! Give your next sales presentation the wow factor it deserves.

Key Takeaways on Creating Sales Decks That Close Deals

Creating a stellar sales deck takes skill and practice. Use these pro tips to maximize your chances of success:

  • Focus your deck – Limit slides to 10 or fewer and devote most real estate to your 3 most convincing points.
  • Hook with the problem – Open by articulating your prospect’s needs and pains.
  • Highlight differentiators – Emphasize your unique value prop and how you beat competitors.
  • Personalize – Research prospects to tailor messaging and examples to them.
  • Prove with data and social proof – Back up claims with stats, testimonials, and case studies.
  • Polish visuals – Use high-quality, on-brand graphics, photos, and illustrations.
  • Guide conversation – Don’t just present; engage in an interactive discussion.
  • Tell stories – Sprinkle in narratives to stimulate emotion and build connections.
  • Practice your delivery – Rehearse your presentation with the deck to perfect it.

With the right combination of compelling content, strategic design, and skillful delivery, your sales deck can capture attention, build desire, and motivate your prospects to take action. Use these techniques to create presentations that consistently close deals and exceed revenue targets.

Frequently Asked Questions About Creating Sales Decks

What is the ideal length for a sales deck?

Aim for 10 slides or fewer. Limiting your deck keeps your key messages clear and prevents overwhelming your audience.

How much customization does my deck need for each prospect?

While you don’t need to reinvent the wheel each time, some light personalization goes a long way. Use their logo, industry-specific examples, and terminology familiar to them.

What visuals make the biggest impact in sales decks?

Focus on high-quality photos, infographics, illustrations, and data charts that reinforce your narrative. Avoid cheesy stock imagery.

Where should I include pricing information?

Don’t lead with pricing. Once you’ve established immense value, you can introduce costs after setting proper expectations.

How much should I rely on my sales deck vs. personal presentation?

Your deck should guide discussion, not replace it. Use it as a tool to engage in an active conversation with prospects.

What if my product is complicated? How do I explain simply?

Break down complex concepts into bite-sized chunks using clear language, storytelling, metaphors, and visuals.

How much do sales deck designs matter?

Great content falls flat without polished design. Invest in pro graphics, theme colors fitting their brand, and ample white space.

What makes sales decks more memorable and impactful?

Storytelling, custom visuals, succinct key points, and relatable examples tailored to each specific buyer.

How long should I spend presenting my sales deck?

Keep your spoken pitch short – around 10 minutes. Let the deck spark deeper, tailored conversations with each prospect.

How do I make my sales deck interactive?

Sparingly use features like embedded video, clickable infographics, and limited entrance animations to prompt engagement.