Sell Your Prospects by PowerPoint Slide 7: How to Create a Truly Powerful Sales Presentation

In this blog post, Susan Knorr, AgileValue Principal with over 20 years of experience in executive sales and marketing management, discusses PowerPoint sales presentation best practices and how to create a sales pitch that makes the most of that coveted one hour introductory meeting with prospective customers.

If your company relies on direct sales, indirect sales, conferences, events or webinars, chances are that PowerPoint presentations are still one of your go-to sales tools.  And yet for many prospects and customers, the very thought of sitting through another PowerPoint makes them cringe.  It’s even been dubbed “death by PowerPoint.”  The typical reasons come to mind; it’s too long; it’s boring; it’s not relevant.  Essentially, you didn’t even discuss how you can solve their problem until 45 minutes into the “sales pitch.”

More importantly, time is your only asset during a customer interaction.  Most customers will not provide more than one hour for an initial meeting.  And that hour had better not be completely consumed by the presentation and vendor doing all the talking.  If you don’t leave up to 30 minutes for the customer to talk, describe their needs, and provide feedback, it’s highly likely you will lose the deal.

The sales presentation best practices below provide a specific time structure and framework for an introductory PowerPoint presentation that will be truly compelling to your prospects.

First, the specific time structure.  The time it takes to deliver the pitch without any Q/A cannot exceed 30 minutes.  This leaves 15 minutes at the beginning for introductions and basic discovery of the customer’s perceived problem.  And this leaves another 15 minutes that can be used after the presentation for Q/A, feedback, and next steps.

Second, the slide deck must be short. This one is just 10 slides.  The goal is to get your prospects nodding and agreeing that you can solve their problem, better than your competitors, by slide 7.  If you do this in just 20 minutes, you have all that time to get to know your customer, their problem(s), the organization, and exactly how the decision will be made.  Now that beats listening to yourself talk, or more importantly, losing your customer’s attention and interest.

  1. Cover:  Typically this includes your name, your company name, your prospect company name, the date.  Use this time to NOT read the slide.  Instead, give your prospect a preview into the competitive advantage of your offering and its value proposition in their specific industry.   In other words, tell them “what you are going to tell them”.  Get their interest and attention.
  2. Company Facts:  This summarizes when founded, HQ location and offices, # employees, funding, # customers.  If yours is a small company, prospects will certainly want to know the stage of the company, size and viability.  If yours is a major corporation, prospects will want to know about how successful you have been in their specific industry.
  3. Market Overview:  Show the key markets your company serves.  Focus on your prospect’s industry.  Review the specific problem(s) you solve in their market and the benefits attained.
  4. Customer logos:  Display your marquee customers and partners for each key market. Talk about how specific customers, preferably in your prospect’s industry, have used and benefited from the offering.  Provide insight into the reasons your company was selected instead of your competitors without naming them.
  5. Offering: In one slide it’s important to list key features and functionality.  Review these, but focus on the ones that differentiate your offering and support your unique value proposition.
  6. How it works:  This slide should give insight into how your company’s offering is deployed, delivered, and used.
  7. Value proposition:  Your prospect has the basic facts now.  Map your offering, delivery and usage to the unique value proposition. Remember, while your value proposition can remain the same, its usage and benefits can vary.  For example, in geo-location services, the unique value proposition is that your offering can determine, with more accuracy than your competitors, the “likelihood” that a web visitor is at the same location as their device IP address.  This could be used for targeted marketing, on-line security, fraud prevention, or content distribution.  The benefits differ, but the unique value proposition remains the same.
  8. What the offering looks like:  This could be screen shots or pictures, but it should focus on visualization, prior to a demo.  It’s like buying a car.  I must visualize myself in the car first. Then I will want a test drive.
  9. Service, Support, Professional Services:  Be sure to let your prospect know exactly how they will be supported should they sign on the dotted line.
  10. Questions?

So let me encourage you to give this a try.  Instill confidence in your prospects so they will prefer to do business with you and your company.  Be specific and knowledgeable about their industry and their unique problems. Keep the thread of your value proposition, competitive advantage, and its proven benefits throughout the PowerPoint presentation, and it will be powerful!

Good luck and good selling!