Recently I published “The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Your Startup’s Investor Pitch Deck” and the response has been overwhelming! Thanks to all the readers and people who have reached out!
One of the main requests was “Can you please do a cheat sheet for a sales deck as well?” Yes! With pleasure.
Similar to an investor pitch deck — there is a specific “narrative,” a framework that just works! It’s because of the psychology of the human brain. You’ll find that the 2 frameworks are very similar, with some tweaks. So here we go:
Think of a time that you went shopping and ended up buying way more than you intended to. What happened there? Most likely you encountered a salesperson that was REALLY good. The thing is, being good at sales DOES NOT mean being pushy! If you push, the customer will retreat. Psychology 101. What did that salesperson do to get you to buy so much?
They listened. They listened to what you wanted, what you didn’t want, they read your body language and above all — they EMPATHIZED. They made you feel understood — and when you were in that place, you became putty in their hands.
The key is doing it in an authentic way. Not just lip service.
The best way to get started when creating any type of pitch is to frame the listeners questions. And the frame for a sales pitch is:
—Do you Understand my Need?
—How Does Your Solution Benefit my Need?
—How Does it Work?
—How has it Benefitted Others Like me?
—If I’m Interested — How do I Move Forward?
It’s as simple as that — answer those questions, in that order — and you’ve got the sale.
In our deck format we’ve boiled it down to 4 sections:
The Need= The problem, the challenge, the villain or the opportunity in their lives
The Solution= The “hero” of the story, what is your solution, how does it work?
Business Data — All the good stuff they need to know to validate you — your current status, customers, partners, success stories, differentiation, etc.
Vision for the Future — How will you move forward together? What does the roadmap look like? What are the next steps?
And finally, you can summarize with your biggest value proposition if you like.
Now I’ll go through slide by slide and explain each one. You might notice some similarities to the Investor Pitch Deck and you would be right! This is good news because if you already have one perfected, the other one is just a matter of adjusting the story and gearing it to the right audience
1. Title Slide — One Line about what it is you do — go for the big vision statement — not What you do — WHY you do! Hit them in the gut with this
2. The Problem They’re Facing – Here’s the place to describe the gap /problem /challenge or missed opportunity that they are facing. This is best told as a story — you don’t want to come right out and tell them that they have a problem, use a bit more finesse — tell them about something that happened to a company like them because of the problem. People are motivated either by the carrot — something good that could happen to them, or the stick — preventing something bad from happening. Which is more motivating for your audience?
3. Trends – This is where you amp up your problem statement. You bring stats, trends, quotes, etc. that prove that this is a true problem and that existing solutions simply aren’t cutting it.
4. Solution — How are you solving this? Create a simple solution sentence: We’re doing X(solving a problem) for Y(for a specific audience) by Z(in a nutshell, what are you? A Platform /app /solution/tool/ etc.) and as a bonus, your secret sauce that is enabling you to do it This should be so simple that anyone could understand it — even if they don’t have a degree in computer science or engineering.
5. Demo — Create an up to five minute demo showing off your solution — it could be a short film, screenshots, a screenflow (use Camtasia) or even a mock up. Guide them through a first time user experience and highlight 4–5 of the standout features. Make them go wow — but don’t overwhelm them with details. Bonus points if you can do a personalized demo to make them see how it could work for them.
6. Products/Offerings — If you have several different types of solutions or products under your main brand, this is the place to talk about them.
7. Benefits — Highlight the important benefits to your users (if this has already come across in the demo, don’t repeat) keep it at 6–8, no more. You might have 2 types of users. ie The business and their customers (users and end users), publishers and brands — you can list benefits for each. This is where you really want to show the value they will get by using you — i.e. cost reduction, increased productivity, few resources — but also unique benefits.
8. Current Status— What are the major milestones you’ve hit that show that you are a contender — which products have been released? Who are your big clients? Partnerships? Make them see that they are missing out by not being on board yet.
9. Use Cases— This is a good place to showcase how some of your clients are using your product/solution. What was the situation before they found you? What solutions were they using (if any)? And now that they are using you, what are the results?
10. Testimonials — Piggybacking on this, now that they have these amazing results, what are they saying about you? Try to get permission from your biggest champions to quote them about how much they love you and why! (This can potentially be combined with the Use Cases)
11. Unique Selling Points — What truly sets you apart from your competition? What’s your secret sauce? What do you have that nobody else out there does? You don’t need to do a competitive analysis, just state why you are the best solution on the market today.
12. Team — This is the place to make them feel that they are in good, capable hands. The executive team should show know how and experience and also highlight the roles that are more customer success oriented.
13. Future Directions — Any exciting additional features or products in the pipeline that you intend to work on later? Maybe this is just the first step in a much bigger vision! Give them something to look forward to!
14. Moving Forward— Now that they’re interested, what do the next few weeks/months look like? What’s the roll out time? Which resources or headcount need to be involved?
15. Pricing Model — This is an optional slide — you can keep it in back up, show it or just put it in a proposal.
Keep Improving as You Glide to the Win!
At the end of the meeting, the iron is hot — so strike! Try to elicit at least one solid action item — a follow up meeting, a request for proposal, a pilot date — anything that captures the momentum. You are 20X more likely to sell if you capitalize the moment than if you merely follow up. Don’t let the moment pass you by!
You can always improve upon the deck as you start selling and see any unforeseen objections they might bring up. Take note of these and find a way to work them into the deck as you go, before they even come up. That is of course unless it’s a super specific objection that’s relevant only to a specific customer. Practice easily answering these objection questions without getting defensive, and watch them melt away!
Another important point — consistency of message across your company is crucial! Especially as you grow, you want all Sales and Business functions within your organization to be telling the same story, have the same visual look and communicate the same vision — make them all part of the process! This should also be reflected on your website and company’s LinkedIn profile.
Hope this was helpful! I’m here if you have any further questions or need any more support! Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any comments or questions. Good luck! And now — for the summary of all the slides.
Also shared on the Mission.
Donna Griffit is a Corporate Storyteller and Pitch Alchemist for startups who, over 14 years, has helped hundreds of startups and VC’s around the world raise hundreds of millions of dollars by creating stellar pitches and investment materials that compel and propel.