Let’s get one thing out of the way. I use decks almost every time I talk with a buyer.
You should use a sales deck on your discovery calls 100% of the time. It should be the foundation of your conversations with buyers.
Most people find that surprising. I realized why after reviewing a large number of decks.
The majority of sales decks focus almost exclusively on the seller. Buyers don’t mind sitting through a dozen slides when it’s about them.
Why should buyers care if it’s all about you?
How to build a sales deck
I recently shared how to build a sales deck that takes you from just another salesperson to an elite professional seller.
Contrary to popular belief, the number of slides doesn’t matter. Even if it’s 30 slides about your buyer’s problems, they’ll sit through them.
I am going to break down the deck into a seven-step formula you can also use.
1. The proof point
Your first slide should demonstrate to the customer that you know what you’re doing.
Show your buyers why they should pay attention to what your company is doing. If your company is disrupting a category, you must prove that you have the experience and expertise to do so.
If you are the incumbent in your space, establish yourself as the dominant player. You can do this with a single slide of customer logos relevant to your buyer. You should not include irrelevant customers unless there is a direct reason for your buyer to care about that brand.
Don’t sell your company yet. Establish credibility. This will allow your buyers to focus on what you will show them next. They need to realize that you are not a wishy-washy grad student.
Let’s not flood the slide with company data, shall we? After this slide, everything else on my deck is about the buyer.
2. The status quo
At this stage, a buyer may think they will see a few more slides about your offering.
This is when you surprise them. Discuss the current situation they are facing.
“This is how you see the world.” Gain instant credibility by showing your buyer that you understand their world.
At GTM Buddy, for instance, we say your sellers are Slacking about the content in your repository or searching for it but not finding it.
You get brownie points if you turn your insights into a meme! Make them laugh about the problems they face.
It’s okay if you can’t make a meme about it. Because some problems just aren’t that funny. However, if you can create a meme, go for it.
We will dig our knife deep from here on out!
3. The problem statement
More than 70% of B2B buyers clearly define their needs before speaking with a sales representative.
Hence, the problem statement slides should highlight the shortcomings of the status quo.
Prospects constantly tell you these 1, 2, or 3 things about a specific problem. They then search for a solution.
Here is how you can develop insights for challenging the status quo:
What is wrong with the current situation?
Before buying your product, what did customers tell you about their experience?
It is important not to mention anything about the solution in this slide. Here, the emphasis is solely on the issue at hand.
Now is not the time to provide a solution.
Before you can start solving problems, you have to establish credibility. Identifying what’s broken and what needs fixing is the first step.
Your buyer right now: Yup. That’s it. Those are the things that bother me.
And here’s the thing. Are they not nodding their heads up and down when you describe the problem? If the answer is a no, you might want to take a moment and ask yourself why they aren’t agreeing with you.
4. The market
In this slide, describe what the market has to offer your buyer today to solve the problem.
You acknowledge the current status quo, as well as its problems. Why is it not good enough? How does it hurt your buyer?
For example, if you compete with a set of incumbents who have a lot of market share, now is the time to call them out. Or if you are the leader in the space, be vocal about the ankle biters coming after you.
That statement is yours to make right then and there.
Here’s what the market has to offer. And here’s why we see a problem with that.
The status quo doesn’t address some or all of the above problems.
Making a few minor adjustments is not enough to see the value.
You’re probably thinking now that the next slide is the solution, aren’t you?
Not a chance.
5. The direct quote
13% of executive buyers believe that salespeople understand their business issues while demonstrating how to resolve them. It is time to change that.
In this slide, you should include quotes from your customers. Prospects are not interested in quotes on “Why customers love your product, why customers love the solution, or why it was so useful.”
Here is your moment to challenge the status quo by quoting:
What was their tipping point?
What was the reason your buyer said they didn’t wait another quarter?
Why they couldn’t wait another year?
Show them why they had to make this decision now.
“The thing to remember is that most sellers lose due to the status quo or to no decisions, not their competition. Not to you know, pricing or whatever. No matter what you sell or who you sell to, the number one deal killer is the status quo or no-decision.”
6. The end-user
If applicable, include a quote from an end-user who is independent of the buyers who purchase the product.
“This is why we hoped something would change. The status quo did not work for us anymore. It was our prayer that someone higher up would make a decision and change things.”
Ideally, your buyer should be leaning in and nodding their head at this point:
“Well, you said it better than I ever could. You know exactly how I feel.”
It is important not to bombard the buyer with 21 questions about their problems.
What you need to understand is that they are not professional buyers. The burden is on you as the professional seller.
You deal with potential buyers all day, every day. They meet with sellers once a week, once a month, or once a year to solve a problem that they have.
“Bring the experience that you’ve gained from other buying cycles or from other customers who have gone through this change, in a format that’s bite-sized and easy for them to understand.”
7. The preview
The best way to get people’s attention is to give them the sizzle without the steak.
A Coca-Cola commercial will show you at some point how the can is opened. From the popping noise and the fizzing that follows, they are trying to evoke an emotion in you. The crisp sound and fizz of Coke are well-known to us all.
You want to give the buyer that fizz without the can of Coke. Just a little preview.
If I address these issues and get them out of the way, are you willing to see how we can solve these 1, 2, and 3 problems?
You know what the buyer is going to say.
“You have my attention!”
Find out which of your points resonated with your buyers. You are now in a dialogue with them because you understood their world.
You have set the stage. It wouldn’t hurt to know upfront what they disagree with.
At least 50% of your prospects are not a good fit for what you sell.
Some of the pain points I mentioned don’t apply to all buyers.
In the case of GTM buddy, they might say that they don’t have that much content, yet. For FullStory, they don’t think they have the internal resources to benefit from seeing their customers’ interactions on their website.
Now I know I am not a good fit. I just disqualified someone in the first conversation. I’d rather do that than run a months-long sales cycle and then find out they’re just going to ghost me.
“That’s the difference between average and elite sellers. Elite sellers look to disqualify early in the process. Average sellers go through the sales process and end up empty-handed. In this way, you force the buyer to agree or disagree, which is good for both of you.”
A sales deck allows you to establish credibility, authority, and subject matter expertise within 10 minutes.
I am amazed at the quality of conversations I have with buyers when I run through a deck that is problem-oriented, status quo-focused, and explains why the current situation is no longer acceptable.
You don’t have to limit yourself to 10 slides. Some of my decks have 15 slides.
You don’t need to use too many words. You want images. You want it to look good.
My buyers have no issues sitting through 15 slides when it’s all about their problems, the status quo, and why it is not good enough.
I usually speak the most when I do the deck, so it’s probably 60-40 or 70-30, with me being the majority. Still, my buyers send requests for the deck quickly following the meeting. After the call, I have people asking for my presentation because they want to use it to convince their boss and colleagues.
Prospect-specific decks were shared internally 2.3x more frequently.
“The deck becomes an asset during the sales process. It helps buyers describe some of the problems they were seeing in their business that they couldn’t quite articulate.”
Almost no one is a professional buyer. They’re just talking to me today. They’ll talk to someone else tomorrow.
As a result, you will be able to assist prospects in developing their business case with a status quo-focused sales deck.