B2B team watching a pitch deck presentation - Bartley Partnes Business Accounting

How to Build a Pitch Deck and Open Your B2B Sales Potential Fast (Part 1 of a two-part series)

You’ve followed all the traditional paths toward better sales.

    • Your website looks different, with a more engaging design.
    • SEO research pinpointed your keywords, now dotted throughout much-revised content.
    • You’ve done everything you can to engage online prospects by selling to them the way they want to buy.
    • Customer support on chat and mobile can answer complicated customer queries.
    • Leads are flowing in from Google and other social media ads.

Yet, somehow, with all of the smoke, there’s no fire.

You’re disappointed because even though buying interest is popping, you’re failing to convert new prospects into new buyers. It’s more than frustrating.

The possible reason? You’re missing a pitch deck in your weaponry to give your efforts a cutting edge in an intensely competitive market. Follow this article – presented in two parts by Bartley Partners’ consultancy division – a groundbreaking submission from every angle.

What is a Pitch Deck

In its most common form, a pitch deck (alternatively referred to as a PD) is a PowerPoint presentation (or similar) of around ten slides, often duplicated in a PDF format for easy application. It consists of three fundamental items working together:

    1. Content (i.e., Text)
    2. Infographics
    3. Images

A PD is a go-to methodology for organizations raising funds or marketing. The context of this article is the latter – marketing – a way to empower modern sellers. Fundraising PDs are traditionally larger in slide volume, including a number of them that focus on financial modelling, budgets and venture capitalist requirements. Sales pitch decks have relatively less complicated propositions, which communicate the core brand benefits to the captive audience in a hard-hitting way. CEOs and senior management worldwide agree that this one tool is the smarter way to sell and onboard reps at the same time. If your goal is to support your sales with intelligent resources, a pitch deck is a big move in the right direction.

Who is a Sales Pitch Deck for?

Any B2B entity looking to expand and compete qualifies. Healthcare, financial services, construction, real estate, supply-chain, Saas, engineering, wholesale, IT, automotive, and market research industries are but a few that come to mind. It also works phenomenally well for high-end B2C marketers.

Whom is a Sales Pitch Deck aimed at?

A pitch deck enters the process at the point when a prospect contacts you, expressing interest in your product or service. It’s a powerful tool for engaging prospects when meeting one-on-one or when a small decision-making group is the order of the day. Used in this way, it quickly converts curiosity into conviction and triggers a sale. It has a built-in way of delivering the right message when a deal is near its close.

The customer experience (CX) consists of a series of touchpoints that combine to keep the buying motivation positive. One of the pivotal ones is PD interaction because it comes close to the end, making a lasting brand impression, and consolidating customer retention. Many opinion leaders hail the PD as unbeatable and fundamental to driving sales. Comments like “it was our quickest time to value” and “it helped us to close more deals in less time” are not uncommon.

What makes a good Pitch Deck?

To demonstrate effectiveness, we are going to use a real-life case study (company name changed to Acme Builders for anonymity). Alongside this, see our tried-and-trusted guidelines that get B2B deals concluded more often than not.

1. Content is everything

Well, not exactly everything – pitch deck design also counts. However, if the content is off-point or challenging to follow, no degree of good design will make things happen. On the other hand, convincing text with good flow inside a mediocre design can still work in your favour. Of course, the two in unison are the ultimate (more on the design aspect later).

2. “Less” is better than “More.”

Remember, you’re interacting with your prospect directly in the same space, or even virtually, but the mood is decidedly personal. It’s far apart from a website visitor navigating landing pages under his or her “own control” and pace. When a pitch deck is between you and the audience, the presenter should hold the initiative over the process. Also, keep in mind, you often have a limited attention span to get your message across.

Unfortunately, bad habits in the PD creation corrupts its power to persuade. Here are some of them:

    • Sellers mistakenly believe that the more they say, the better. There’s a mindset that says, “I’ve got the prospects undivided attention now, I’m going to give them the Full Monte.” It’s a fatal error.
    • When you write mini-essays on a slide, the audience invariably reads faster than you can talk. It gets ahead of the narrative. That, or they get lost in too many words.
    • Once you lose the thread of the presentation, it’s hard to get it back. Prospects throw in awkward questions and untimely objections, taking the conversation in another direction.
    • In short, they disrupt your dialogue. Don’t give them the opportunity. Keep them guessing as to what’s coming up on the slide. Inject some intrigue in the content, especially in the early stages.

The best litmus test of a pitch deck’s worth is that it has a pretty good chance of carrying the ball over the line all by itself. In other words, it’s homerun without you at the helm.

The takeaway is this:

    • Make every word and every line count.
    • Limit the number of lines on a slide.
    • If you are using an infographic, make sure it’s straightforward and communicative in seconds, not minutes.
    • Let images give your content the oomph that words can’t express.

The Acme Builders Case Study is an excellent example for an opening slide.

Here we have the first slide of a construction contractor PD presenting to a commercial or residential prospect. It represents:

    • Only two succinct vision and mission messages
    • Great use of images that speak louder than 1000 words.
    • As an opening slide, it gets the brand identity across in seconds.

How to build a Pitch Deck - Opening Slide Example

3. Identify almost right away with the customers’ pain.

Nothing breaks down customers ‘resistance like connecting to their frustrations and issues instantaneously. It’s the one slide you can put a few lines on, especially if you want to expand a little on each. One caveat – don’t mention the problem unless you’ve got a sound solution for it. Also, in keeping with “one message at a time,” use the slide 95% for pain focus, giving only a hint of the benefits you intend to expand on next.

How to Build a Pitch Deck - Customer Pain Slide

Our Case Study – a 95% pain-focused slide. Good use of images.

4. Hit them next with the solutions.

Modern B2B buyers want a differentiated journey – looking for unique presentations, a better, more personalized buying experience. A solutions slide does the trick. It’s the converse of the pain slide – made up 95% of your solutions, communicated in an appealing, no-nonsense way. Infographics work well in this part of the presentation to hammer home your meaningful differences.

The solutions slide is pivotal, in the sense it should answer the question, “Why us?” in a competitive environment. What gives you a significant advantage? The 5% content remainder circles back to the pain, as a reminder of what resides on the previous slide.

In our Acme Builder’s case study, the following is an effective solutions slide that sticks to the winning formula. This slide does a great job of selling itself, even without you saying anything.

How to Build a Pitch Deck - Solutions Slide

5. Process, process, process

You’ve heard the term; the devil’s in the detail. Well, never is it more pertinent than when the seller explains the company’s system of working with the customer.

    • A process fraught with unanswered “what ifs?”, miscommunications, contractual small print, and escape hatches is a customer turnoff.
    • The process slide is where you need to put your best foot forward to ease minds on the road ahead if they commit.
    • Sometimes explaining the process can be quite lengthy. To reiterate, underwhelm the audience with content volume by splitting the process into two, even three slides if necessary.

In this case, Acme Builders followed the guidelines by presenting its 6-step contractual process divided by two. It also kept the audience on track by implying “there’s more to come.” The highest performing content aims at brevity with no wasted words. Acme stuck religiously to that rule.

How to build a pitch deck - process slide

The hard yards in PD development are behind us.

We’re about halfway through. The remaining part of the Pitch Deck is where you get to show off your stuff, knowing you have a prospect more than interested to see the rest. Don’t miss Part Two of this business consultancy focus provided by Bartley Partners. If you want advice on getting your pitch deck in position, contact them to find out more.

Part Two will deal with presenting your services, customer reviews, a message from the CEO, and settling on a compelling design.