24 Mar The evolution of a pitch deck: Why your old sales materials are holding you back
What if I told you there was a surefire way to make sure your sales materials are impressive? They could be as formal or conversational as you’d like and would help you send a clear message. Well, surprise: that’s the value of pitch deck design.
Let’s face it, that old pitch deck is worse for the wear and isn’t going to do much for you when it comes to impressing potential clients. With your sales materials, design and development can help you put your best foot forward.
And no, it doesn’t have to be particularly flashy.
The good news is you don’t have to go to crazy lengths for an optimized deck. The point is to present a clean deck that casts you in a good light. The party tricks are completely optional.
Clarifying your story
Visuals are your best bet for displaying data. It’s not just about making things look nice. It’s about making sure the information and context support each other to tell your story in the best way. As far as sales materials are concerned, design clarifies the overall message and draws attention to your main points.
Investors and clients make decisions both rationally and emotionally. Tasteful data visualizations and layouts help you appeal to both. Think of your deck as a story that sets up a personally relevant problem, then proposes a solution. As Jonah Sachs, creative director and author of Winning the Story Wars said, ”A story takes all the senseless data that the world provides and turns it into something meaningful”; and as you begin to piece that narrative together, design will be the thread that connects it all.
And what kind of story should you tell? I’m glad you asked.
Be relatable and engaging. Use this opportunity to show that you understand a prospective client’s values and their industry’s challenges. Prove that you’ve done your research, and you’ll set yourself up as an insightful resource.
Present the conflict
Paint an emotional picture that resonates with. At this point, your prospect knows who you are, so you can begin to introduce a conflict that your prospect can identify with. This will allow them to emphasize and personally identify with your story.
Your audience shouldn’t have to work hard just to understand what you’re trying to say, and that’s where visuals come into play. Once you figure out the key points of your selling story, the design work will enforce your points and make complex concepts palatable. Never underestimate the power of legible slides.
Give some context
Presenting a conflict is one thing, but making your prospect want to act requires a bit of finesse. As strategic sales storyteller Andy Raskin once said: “When you assert that your prospects have a problem, you put them on the defensive. They may be unaware of the problem, or uncomfortable admitting they suffer from it. But when you highlight a shift in the world, you get prospects to open up about how that shift affects them, how it scares them, and where they see opportunities. Most importantly, you grab their attention”.
People tend to avoid taking beneficial risks because of our innate fear of loss. As problematic as your conflict is, your prospect will be tempted to stick to the status quo. You need to combat this loss aversion by explaining why it’s not okay to stick with things as is. For every conflict and solution you present, there needs to be a negative counter-effect for inaction.
Have a resolution
Guide the viewer through the process of how you solved a challenge. Lay the obstacles out and explain how you overcame them. This is your chance to demonstrate your expertise and convey it in a clear way.
Relevant imagery can help your prospect understand each step of the process and how it all came together to create an effective solution. Problem-solving isn’t easy, but presenting your problem-solving skills and explaining the complexities of your strategy could be very simple.
Show how things worked out. You need to be able to explain your solution’s results and show its lasting, personal impact. When possible, reinforce qualitative results with quantitative evidence, and use design work to make sure those numbers and charts are scannable and straightforward.
Bill Gurley, General Partner at Benchmark Capital, also said that “a well-organized deck will gradually transport the listener to the desired conclusion”. And while it’s important to make sure you’ve got the structure of your pitch perfected, it’s essential to make sure your slides provide visual structure to your verbal ideas.
Why? Because design helps you convey that story in the most comprehensive way. Your deck should be legible, on-brand, customizable, and ultimately be another thing that reinforces why people should want to work with you. It’s a conversation, not a lecture. Relevant design work will streamline your message and provide enough valuable context to have an open conversation with your prospect: No wordy slides necessary.
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