Building a better Sales Story: ZipRecruiter (Part 1)
Sales communication is changing. More speed. Less formality.
Yet, despite the changing world of sales, one thing has not changed.
The deck is still king.
Especially in enterprise sales. It sets the foundation for your story. It enables your customer to turn around and sell your solution into their own organization. It makes your message move. It’s what sells.
I don’t need to tell you, though, that many decks are less than inspiring.
Consulting companies on both the strategic story and visual design of their sales decks, we’ve developed some frameworks to help — and have started writing about them here.
While the frameworks should help, I always end up learning 10x from tangible examples, so wanted to share with you highlights from one — ZipRecruiter’s enterprise sales pitch.
The Original Deck
Like most enterprise decks we see, this ZipRecruiter deck focuses on features first, making it a good sample for us to use.
And while it’s tempting to rely on feature lists (because it’s how you’re compared to competition and it’s what your customers ask about ), there IS another way.
Here’s are some of the highlights of how we’ve done it.
Step 1. Raise the Stakes
In this deck, ZipRecruiter’s key message is about the product’s features and goal:
Find quality candidates anywhere on the internet.
Yes, this is a clear goal. But to tell a story that resonates with your customers, you have to be able to shift your story’s core from the product and features to values at stake. The fastest way to get there is to take your product/feature statement and ask the simple question: Ok… so what?
With ZipRecruiter, you can “find quality candidates anywhere on the internet.” Great. So what?
What is really at stake here?
Using the B2B Needs Stack, I pinned this as a “Security” story. In other words, you need to find quality candidates because your company’s future depends on it.
Here’s what this looks like in a side by side of the first slide:
Which battle are you more inspired by?
And given the context — e.g. you’re sitting in a sales presentation and you know that you are going to have to turn around and go sell this to your boss (the Buyer) in your team meeting next week — Which fight are you ready to fight?
Raise the stakes. Your audience will thank you.
Step 2. Shape the Structure
Once you’ve got the core, you can set the storyline structure.
Take a look at the storyline of the first deck, by reading out the slide titles only.
Is that easy to follow? A quick test to use: If you turn around and try to retell it without reading, can you?
To turn this into an actual story, I took used the “Magic 8” components of any sales deck as a starting point to rewrite the story:
Now, try it again. Can you retell this one? Which demo are you more excited to see?
See the difference?
By changing the stakes — from features to the very survival of your business — you turned a boring list into a compelling story that could get just about anyone excited …about recruiting.
Step 3. Visualize Content
“A picture is worth a thousand words.”
We know, we know.
But in enterprise sales decks, the default visual is a product screenshot. And we have data to prove it: in our analysis of hundreds of B2B sales slides, screenshots made up 27% of total slides.
Great use of visuals, guys. Unfortunately, though, your customer doesn’t love your product as much as you do — yet.
Before diving into the details (and your software product is more detailed than you realize), let your customer drive the conversation.
To enable this, we’ve used an overview dashboard of the core features of ZipRecruiter so that the demo becomes conversational “ping pong,” rather than sequential screenshots forced down the customer’s throat. (More on dashboards, ping pong and Netflix here.)
Note: Here we’re designing for a sales deck to support a conversation, not one that stands alone. Pre-reads and presentations are not the same thing. More on that topic next week.
Overall, you want a cohesive story that balances diagrams, charts, photos (or illustrations), and text content in a consistent visual language (typography, colors, styles, layouts). Otherwise, you’ve got a Frankenstein deck that distracts from your story, and undermines your credibility.
No, thank you.
The full picture
If you’re interested in the full deck, I’m happy to share 1:1 and even interested to hear your thoughts.
Just send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org with “ZipRecruiter Revamp” in the subject line.
About the Author: Alli McKee helps companies develop their strategic messaging and brings it to life with visual design. After years creating strategic stories as a consultant at Bain & Company and designing visually at IDEO.org and as an artist, she’s working with B2B sales and marketing organizations to help them win more business. Through strategy, story, and design, her work enables companies to make their ideas sell — and stick.
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