Alli McKee
Apr 17, 2018 · 4 min read

Every B2B company has one: The Master Sales Deck.

When we started Stick, we focused on helping companies with this ‘Master Sales Deck,’ because we believed it to be the most critical selling document and the spine of your sales narrative. But, over the course of hundreds of customer interviews, product testing sessions, and our own selling efforts, we began to realize that we were wrong.

‘The Sales Deck’ is dying.

The core narrative it contains is more important than ever, but the single Master document is being remixed, replaced, and rethought. In its place has sprung a constant stream of customized content.

This piece aims to explain why ‘The Deck’ is dying, and share what we’ve learned about how to build content that actually works in its place.


A New Seller’s Mindset: SaaS’s Relationship Revolution

Once upon a time, software was sold in giant multi-year, multi-million dollar contracts. Sellers controlled the process, because they controlled the information.

‘The Deck’ was built for this era, when a field rep would travel to perform a polished PowerPoint presentation for a prospect — delivering all of the information to all of the key stakeholders, in one key meeting. With multi-million dollar contracts on the line, this model made sense.

But things have changed.

With the rise of subscription-based SaaS models, revenue shifted from the one-time purchase price to a recurring revenue model, spread out over many months and years. If the seller stops delivering value, the revenue stops, too. Today, the buyer — not the seller — is in control.

Today, buyers Google problems to educate themselves first, before even talking to a salesperson. Sellers don’t have the chance to perform that polished PowerPoint presentation, because buyers have already read that information on your website.

Customers today don’t want a one-time presentation. They’re looking for an ongoing conversation.

But here’s the challenge: Ongoing conversations demand a constant stream of content and visual assets. There simply aren’t enough hours or designers to support these conversations anymore.

We’ve reached a breaking point.

Do you let your reps go rogue and just talk to customers? You could. But without assets to focus (and capture) the conversation, you risk your voice slipping into the rest of the noise…

Source: My inbox, before lunch

What the Attention Economy Looks Like

When was the last time you picked up your phone for a number you didn’t recognize? Or knew every sender in your inbox? 👆

Chances are, it’s been a while. And your buyers are no different.

Take a Sales Enablement buyer, for example. According to Nancy Nardin’s work mapping out the Sales Tech Landscape, there are more than 56 issues any given Sales Enablement buyer faces, with dozens of companies trying to reach you to solve each one:

Source: Nancy Nardin

More problems means more solutions. More automated selling means more emails, more speed, more noise.

As a result, buyers have become nearly impossible to reach:

Source: Hubspot and Brevet Group

How to Break through the Noise

If cold calling is no longer economical, email automation has flooded the market, and even meetings can’t seal a deal without tenacious followup, we need to rethink the formula.

“Content is the new outbound call” — Jacco van der Kooij

In this new environment, relevant content may be the only viable lever sales organizations have left to earn buyer attention.

Next week, we’ll dive into what this can look like throughout the funnel.

You can even join us for a live discussion of the topic, with friends from Sales Hacker. Go ahead and sign up here.


Thank you to Jacco van der Kooij, HubSpot, Sales Hacker, Nancy Nardin and the countless others who have helped me to better understand this landscape in writing this piece.

About the Author: Alli McKee is the CEO and Founder of Stick.ai, a communication visualization platform built for B2B Sales and Success teams so that you can actually connect with your customers. For more, visit www.stick.ai.

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 stick.ai.

Alli McKee

Written by

CEO and Founder, Stick.ai - 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 stick.ai.

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