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How to create a sales deck (5-step process)

If you’re aware of what a sales deck is, you’re already ahead of the game & if you’re reading this article, you’re curious too. Most professionals don’t know what a sales deck is until they stumble upon our website.

It’s surprising, isn’t it?

Even if the awareness level is poor, sales presentations are important business collaterals. There’s no doubt! In our opinion, every B2B company should own a brilliant sales deck.

Before we talk about how you can create one, let’s look into the formal definition.

Definition: A sales deck is a slide presentation used to go with a sales pitch and/or demo. It’s usually produced in a slide format (such as Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Slides) and enhances a pitch with visual aids that tell the story of your company.

How is it used?

Sales deck usage varies from one company to another. It differs with (a) How is your buyer’s cycle? (b) How do you set meetings (c) On average, how many people get involved in decision-making? etc.

For some companies, we’ve even designed a different deck for a different stage in the buyer cycle. So everything depends on what works for you.

Have you heard of the Zuora deck? Andy Raskin called it “The Greatest Sales Deck I’ve ever seen”. Andy is a Silicon Valley-based strategic narrative expert. Zuora used this deck to set meetings with Fortune 500 decision-makers. This means they sent their sales deck ahead of the meetings.

At Ink Narrates, we categorize the sales decks into 2 types based on how they’re used,

1. Standalone Narrative: The standalone narratives are sales decks that don’t need a presenter. This means the slide message structure speaks for itself to provide context.

For example: If you send the sales deck before a meeting, you can use the standalone narrative. It’s best to pique curiosity & interest before the actual meeting.

2. Presentation Aid: The presentation aid sales deck complements the speaker. It’s a flow of visual storytelling using design & animations with the ongoing presentation.

For example: Do you use PowerPoint presentations in sales meetings? If you do, a visual presentation with less text & more explanatory visuals would serve you well. In this case, you should go with the presentation aid sales deck.

Sales deck design/development services

How to create a sales deck?

Now that we’ve established that sales decks are important, let’s discuss how to make them. We won’t misguide you by saying that making a sales deck is easy peasy. It’s not! But if you know the direction in which you should be working, it helps a lot.

The first thing you should know is that background preparation is more difficult. Creating the actual deck is the easy part. In this article, we tried to cover the preparation part as well.

Let’s dive right into it!

Step 1: Set the right objective

Any business activity without an aim is a failed activity. The same logic applies to your sales deck as well. Building a sales deck without an aim in mind is a disaster waiting to happen.

How should you set an objective?

There are companies that prefer interpersonal selling as opposed to sales presentations. So, if your sales process isn’t dependent on a presentation, why would you build a sales deck? Ditch the idea completely.

But, if your sales process involves presenting, you should set out an objective for it. Base your objective on what action you’d like the audience to take after the presentation.

For example, good objectives can be,

  • Create a sales deck to pique curiosity before the sales meeting.

  • Engage multiple decision-makers during the sales meeting.

If you set an objective, you will have better control & better results.

Step 2. Know the audience

The key to winning over your audience is knowing what they want. Then giving them exactly that.

The audience can be: Tough or friendly

Now if you’re meeting them for the first time, that too over a presentation — you don’t have the odds in your favor. They’re not convinced by your idea & persuading them is an uphill battle.

But, a friendly audience is easy to sell to.

Is your audience going to be “tough” or “friendly”? You know it best. Document this after the objective. Now you have the answer to, “Why does the sales presentation exists” & “For whom”.

Once you know your audience, you know the appropriate tone to use in your slide messaging. For example, using humor to engage a tough audience may not be the best idea.

Step 3. Slide messaging

Most people think that world-class slide design makes the best presentation. That’s not true. The best presentation is the one with the best narrative supported by visuals. To create the best narrative, you need a structure for your presentation messaging.

How to create a slide messaging structure?

If you ask this question on Google, you’ll get a variety of results. You’ll see “narrative structure” & “messaging structure in advertising”. Even though these are great communication methods, they don’t work for presentations.

For example, famous movies like The Lion King have used The Hero’s Journey Narrative structure. But, sales presentations are B2B & storytelling with personal context doesn’t work here.

So what should you do instead?

You should create your own logical flow of ideas. Know how to highlight some ideas and downplay others.

Most presentation design agencies will tell you to build the regular deck structure. Start with the problem & you know the drill.

These outdated concepts don’t work anymore. They make the buyers get defensive as soon as you open your problem slide. So don’t be predictable & experiment with your story.

For example,

  • if your ideas are new to the market, your buyers may not recognize the problems in your slides. As a result, you can lose their attention before you even begin.

  • Do this instead. Use major slides to paint an image of how the circumstances are changing. Build the before/after picture.

It’s your sales deck, your ideas & your philosophy. Feel free to be creative with your narrative. Don’t follow the boring old methods and you’ll love your sales presentation.

Review, edit & finalize your slide copywriting. Keep your slides with the least text so that there’s room for design.

Step 4. Visualisation

Before you do the slide design, get a mental image of what your sales deck should look like. Now gather design resources (icons, images, illustrations & infographics). Make sure you brand them consistently for an even look.

Also, set a design standard for reference. If you’re working with a professional designer/agency, communicate your expectations early on.

Step 5. Presentation Design

Presentations are about visual storytelling. Now, it’s time to support your narrative with complementary visuals. Focus on the word “complementary” & don’t overdesign your sales presentation.

Remember the types of sales decks we talked about? They both have different design strategies.

Standalone narratives are static because we need to draw attention to the message. Design it with minimal visuals & subtle imagery.

Presentation aid is dynamic. Feel free to be creative here with heavy visuals & animations. With less text, you have more room for creativity.

All in all!

Sales decks are infamous for being too long & putting people to sleep. But they don’t have to be boring if you use your skills in visual storytelling & persuade your audience.


Are you looking to get your sales deck done by professionals?

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