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Please, don't copy the Zuora sales deck!

In September 2016, Andy Raskin, a Silicon Valley-based strategic narrative expert, wrote an article that shook the business world to its core, especially startups. Titled “The Greatest Sales Deck I’ve Ever Seen,” the piece examined the intricacies of the Zuora sales deck and why Raskin believed it to be the ultimate example of effective business storytelling.

As a seasoned professional in his field, Raskin’s endorsement of Zuora’s sales deck carried weight, and it wasn’t long before others began to take notice. The article’s publication sparked a frenzy of interest in the deck, with executives and founders clamoring to replicate its success for their own teams.

As a result, we (a presentation design agency) saw a surge in requests to “make a sales deck just like Zuora”, with clients eager to capitalize on the perceived magic of the narrative.

But we have a different opinion! We think no company should copy the Zuora sales deck. In this article, we’ll discuss the reasons.

First, let’s look at the narrative structure of the Zuora sales deck.

  • Name a big & relevant change in the world

  • Show there’ll be winners & losers

  • Tease the promised land

  • Introduce features as “Magic Gifts” for overcoming obstacles to the promised land

  • Present Evidence that You Can Make the Story Come True

Want to dive deeper into the article by Andy Raskin? Check out the link to read the full piece here.

Note: If you’re currently reading this article, it’s safe to assume that you’re already familiar with the Zuora sales deck and are looking to gain a deeper understanding of an opposing viewpoint. However, if you haven’t yet had the chance to read the original article on the Zuora sales deck, I highly recommend taking the time to do so before diving into this one.

Having a thorough understanding of the Zuora sales deck and the praise it has received will provide valuable context for our conflicting opinion. It’s essential to understand the perspective of those who believe the Zuora sales deck to be a masterpiece in order to fully appreciate our differing viewpoints.

Why you shouldn’t copy the Zuora sales deck?

1. You’re not Zuora

Sure, the Zuora sales deck is an impressive piece of work, but we’re here to tell you that it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Copying someone else’s approach, especially when it comes to something as crucial as a sales deck, is a recipe for disaster.

Every business model is unique and solves different problems for different sets of customers. What works for Zuora may not work for your business, and what appeals to their audience may not appeal to yours. Just because a sales deck works well for one company doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for yours.

Moreover, not every audience is unaware of the big relevant changes happening in the world. We live in an age where information is readily available, and your audience may already be well-versed in the current landscape. If you continue to use this narrative structure, you might be stating the obvious, which could turn off potential customers.

2. Zuora's narrative structure is now famous

Did you search for “Zuora sales deck”, “The greatest sales deck ever” or “Andy Raskin” on google? If you’re reading this article, there’s a possibility that you did. Well, you’re not alone. Every month, hundreds of individuals search for the elusive “Zuora sales deck” that will set them apart from the competition.

We know this because this article receives the highest traffic among all of our articles. So, it’s safe to say that many founders, executives, and decision-makers know about the Zuora sales deck.

Here’s a caveat to consider. If you attempt to emulate the narrative structure and style of the Zuora sales deck that has gained such notoriety, you risk losing your unique edge. Decision makers are likely to be familiar with the structure and may even have seen it before. Rather than being captivated by your presentation, they may be more focused on the familiarity of the format.

3. This famous example deck is famous for a reason, Uniqueness!

Do you think Zuora is the greatest sales deck? Well, there’s a reason for that.

The secret to its success lies in its unique narrative structure and careful crafting, tailored specifically to its own brand. The very essence of what makes the Zuora sales deck so perfect is its distinctiveness.

By attempting to copy it, you’ll be missing the whole point.

So, don’t be tempted to mimic the Zuora sales deck. Instead, use it as a source of inspiration to create a one-of-a-kind presentation that truly captures the essence of your brand and sets you apart from the rest.

4. Zuora sales deck is a result of company-wide alignment.

If you read Andy Raskin’s article carefully, you’ll realize that it talks about Zuora’s company-wide alignment of this narrative.

What’s interesting is that the narrative of “winners and losers” isn’t just a theme for their sales deck, it’s actually woven throughout all of their marketing communications and campaigns. It’s this level of alignment that made their sales deck so effective.

So, as tempting as it might be to copy their approach, remember that their narrative was crafted specifically for their business and brand. If you try to replicate it for your own company, you’re likely to miss the mark and end up with something that feels inauthentic, out of place & irrelevant.

Instead, resist the urge to copy it outright & take some time to really dig into your own business and brand values, and craft a narrative that’s relevant to you.

What should you do instead?

  • Find your own narrative

It all starts with truly understanding your business and what sets you apart from the competition. Take some time to identify your unique strengths, values, and mission, and use that as the foundation for crafting a narrative that speaks directly to your target audience.

  • Know your target audience and what might persuade them

It’s critical to really know who they are and what motivates them. What are their pain points and challenges?

How much knowledge do they already have? What might persuade them to choose your product or service over others? This way, you can create a sales deck that truly resonates with them and addresses their specific needs.

  • Craft a sales deck that’s unique to your company

Of course, none of this matters if your sales deck isn’t compelling and unique. That’s why it’s crucial to put in the time and effort to craft a presentation that authentically represents your brand and sets you apart from the rest. Avoid the temptation to simply copy what works for others, and instead create something that is truly original and tailored specifically to your company.

Sales deck development service

Work with us.

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of finding your own narrative and crafting a unique sales deck? Don’t worry, we’re here to help!

Our team of experts is ready and waiting to guide you through the process. We’ll ask you the right questions, dig deep into your brand values, and craft a narrative that is tailor-made specifically for you.

Our approach is all about collaboration and partnership. We work closely with you every step of the way to ensure that the end result is a sales deck that truly represents your brand.


Are you looking to get a sales deck for yourself or your organization?

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