Alli McKee
Mar 2, 2018 · 5 min read

This full article originally appeared in SalesHacker here. See below for an excerpt:

“We don’t use a sales deck. We just do demos.”

The demo-only approach doesn’t work anymore. With an average of 6.8 people involved in each B2B deal, you need a deck if you want your message to travel from the champion you met to the buyer you didn’t. If you rely on your one champion to carry the message, you’ve essentially turned your sales process into a game of telephone.

Sales decks are critical to accelerating your sales process, and yet most end up in critical condition.

Here’s how we get them wrong:

(1) Listing out product features rather than telling a story

(2) Overloading slides with too much information

(3) Presenting a document live that was meant to be read, or vice versa.

That’s why we built this guide — to help you build a more compelling sales deck in three key steps:

(1) Building out your Storyline,

(2) Customizing and Visualizing Content

(3) Flexing the Format based on your Delivery Method.

We’ll illustrate this advice from industry experts with tactical examples, so you can put it into practice immediately.

Part 1. How to Build Out Your Storyline

“When you’re building your next sales deck, keep one thing in mind: Prospects don’t care about your product.” — Courtney Chuang, DocSend

“Story” is a buzzword in sales today, but for good reason. While prospects remember 5–10% of statistics and 25% of images, retention increases to 60–70% when stories are used to convey the information. In this age of information overload, stories — not feature lists — are the best way to make your message stick.

To prove it, DocSend recently overhauled their sales deck: “Once we overhauled the DocSend discovery deck, we saw our completion rate triple. This meant prospects were actually finding our story compelling enough to complete the entire deck. This was crucial because it meant prospects were ready to convert to the next stage of the sales process.”

How do you know which type of story to tell? It depends on the size of the company and with whom you are meeting. In general, if you are speaking with a:

C-level executive, tell a high-level strategic story like the now-famous Zuora deck and use Andy Raskin’s framework as your guide.

Budget Holder (VP/Director level), make your case with the pragmatic framework laid out by Pete Kazanjy in Founding Sales.

Practitioners (or a technical buyer), rely on defining your category and executing a well-framed demo.

You can flex this depending on the size of your prospect, as well:

For more on what’s in each, see the full article here.

Part 2. How to Customize and Visualize Content

Even if you haven’t seen the latest MarTech 5000 slide, you’ve undoubtedly felt the overload first hand. With more companies than ever competing for your customer’s attention, this is what you are up against:

How do you break through?

Customization. Personalized emails earn 26% higher click-through rates, and deliver up to 6X higher transaction rates per email. Imagine the impact of personalizing your sales decks, too.

Visuals. Over 65% of people learn best visually, and visual presentations are 43% more persuasive than bullet-point ones. If you don’t believe the statistics, look at behavior of your coworkers: Moments before a meeting, they are scrolling through Instagram, Slacking GIFs, and texting Emojis. Afterwards, they are checking Snap stories, liking Facebook photos, and commenting on Linkedin videos.

How are do you expect your bullet point slides to compete?

They can’t.

For more on how to do each, see the full article here.

Part 3. How to Flex Format based on Delivery Method

“Maybe your marketing team made you a beautiful one but they’re ONLY meant for explaining live, not showing to a decision maker offline.” — Cole Fox, LeadIQ

You just gave a compelling presentation to the end users of your product, using your new Practitioner’s framework. As you’re wrapping up the call, your prospect asks, “Can you send me something I can send my boss?”

If you forward the document you just presented, your prospect’s boss (your buyer) is going to be completely confused. If you send them a text document, they won’t read it.

What do you do?

One Deck, Two Versions. Your goal is to limit your text to 20 words per slide for a deck to present, and 60 words per slide for a deck to read. If a prospect spends 5 minutes flipping through your 10 page deck, that’s only 30 seconds a slide. Given average reading speeds, that’s time for 60–100 words, max.

Further, the less knowledge you type on the slide, the more you as the presenter can establish your expertise and captivate your audience.

Here’s what this looks like in practice. Split your content into two text boxes in the original deck design for your 60-word version:

Then, when it’s time to present, just remove the body text boxes for your 20-word version:

Finally, more and more buyers are viewing content on mobile devices (up to 42% are using mobile devices during the purchase process), which should further limit the text density of your content. If this is the case, your targets should be at least half the aforementioned limits (30 words instead of 60 for a read-ahead), as reading speeds slow significantly when moving from a full screen to a mobile device.

For more, see the full article here or look through the deck below:

About the Author: Alli McKee is the CEO and Founder of, a visual communication platform automating design, starting with a visual presentation generator for B2B sales and marketing teams.

Show and Sell

Storytelling is the new Selling. Show and Sell brings together the best of strategy, storytelling, and design to show companies how to sell more, faster with stories that stick. Brought to you by

Alli McKee

Written by

CEO and Founder, - Illustrating Ideas in real time with NLP + ML. Painting and Improv on the side. TEDx Stanford.

Show and Sell

Storytelling is the new Selling. Show and Sell brings together the best of strategy, storytelling, and design to show companies how to sell more, faster with stories that stick. Brought to you by

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