Try building your sales deck in their brand, not yours

Alli McKee
Jan 12, 2018 · 4 min read

The bigger the deal, the more you’re customizing your sales materials. And it makes sense — compared to canned content, customized content converts. But it also takes time that you often don’t have.

With time tight, most customization in sales today is limited to written content: a few new bullet points or an email written just for {First Name} at {Company}. That’s enough, right?

“The open rate for emails with a personalized message was 18.8%, as compared to 13.1% without any personalization in 2016.”

It works!

But when you double click into that data, you find the answer isn’t so simple:


If generic emails have click rates of 1.9%, personalized subject and personalized subject+message emails have lower click rates than emails that were not personalized at all. Only message-only personalization is (slightly) higher at 2.1% open rates.

Have we finally hit mail-merge fatigue? And if so, what do we do about it?

Don’t just customize what you say. Customize what you show.

Last summer, a blog post by Dogpatch Advisors on “How to Automate the Best Sales Prospecting Email Ever” caught my eye. In it, Kyle Williams deconstructs how to generate customized emails like the one Charlie Liang wrote about here:

From Charlie Liang’s “The Best Sales Prospecting Email Ever” (2017)

…but at scale. Part One and Part Two are must-reads if you’re looking to improve your prospecting. (Kyle Williams and Ben Salzman are the real deal when it comes to fresh ideas for outbound that works.)

But they got me thinking about the rest of the funnel, too.

If you can customize visuals for prospecting, why stop there?

Why do we see customized ads and emails, but once we land in the funnel, we’re given the same canned content?

We decided there had to be a better way, so we started an experiment.

Build your sales decks in your customer’s brand

“Make your customer the hero” is a common piece of sales advice these days. But most decks you see are in the seller’s brand, with the customer’s logo slapped onto the cover (if you’re lucky).

We’re trying to do things differently.

Here are a few quick tips for you to try building your deck in a way that makes your customer the center of the story — with visuals to prove it.

1. Make the first page feel familiar.

Use their landing page to set the color and tone of your sales story. You want your deck to feel like their home, not yours.

It doesn’t need to be exact. To take fullstory as an example, we didn’t get fancy with gradients, etc. We just built our story in their frame.

2. Anchor every page with their logo.

Talking about the problem you’re solving? Make it theirs. The rollout plan you have? Build it together. The scorecard results? Share that ownership.

3. Simple shape fills to create a consistent feel

Use container shapes where possible so you create opportunities for your visuals to feel distinct, without re-writing your content.

You don’t have to change everything, just a few key “container” shapes. In any given deck ~40%+ of the shapes should be in your customer’s colors.

Striking the balance

There’s always a tension between spending time prepping and spending time “selling.” What we’ve seen, though, is that the additional 5–10 minutes make a difference, because they can change the dynamic from one-way pitch to a two-way conversation.

These three quick tips have the greatest impact with the smallest time investment, so should help you strike that balance. Try one — or all — with your customers, and let us know how it goes.

About the Author: Alli McKee is the CEO and Founder of Stick. For go-to-market teams who need to earn customer attention quickly, Stick is a visual communication tool that builds more effective sales materials more quickly. Join our beta today at

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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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