Six Tips for Modernizing your Sales Deck, Closing the Odds, and Nailing the Deal

sales deck theaterWalk into a room, find a stranger, stick out your hand, and introduce yourself. As a social and business convention, this format will likely never change.

Walk into a pitch situation. Chances are, your audience already knows who you are. Chances are: they don’t care. Or to be specific: they only care to the extent it’s relevant. And that’s where your sales deck ought to start.

Since founding MarketSmiths in 2010, I’ve read 50+ pitch decks. So many begin, “We are a such-and-such company, providing such-and-such products or services.” While it’s nice to know this, what’s nicer—and more effective for riveting your audience—is how you make this relevant.

I’ve gathered a handful of relevancy tips for giving your company a pitch deck makeover. Use them with glee—or give us a ring.

Relevancy Tip No. 1. Lose the “we.” Start with “we,” and the eye-glaze begins. “We” is universal: it’s also deeply self-involved, disconnected, borderline narcissistic…a B2B selfie. Instead, shift your focus to “you.” 

Relevancy Tip No. 2. Start with context. If you’ve come up with a new vector control method for malaria-infested areas, let us know how dire the problem is. If you’re placing women into senior technology roles, let us know how rare this is—and how bright the future of a diverse technology workforce.

Relevancy Tip No. 3. Give them goosebumps. Movie-going audiences love scaring themselves at horror flicks. They relish the blossoming, wavering, and re-igniting of lost love. They enjoy watching MLK Jr. ham it up—and shift mountains.

Audiences—and business viewers are no exception—want to feel. They long to connect, to be inspired, to laugh with delight. Honor your audience’s humanity—and lock both their eyes and attention.

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Relevancy Tip No. 4. Tell a story. Nothing new here. Examples leave readers breathless. Case studies can thrum with vibrancy. A business cliffhanger? It’s possible…even probable. You can always anonymize—and leave your NDAs intact.

Relevancy Tip No. 5. Don’t overwhelm. Consider sticking your extra bits—process steps, pricing details, team bios, certifications —into an appendix or separate leave-behind version.

Relevancy Tip No. 6. Make graphics do the heavy lifting. As a copywriter, I’m the first to say you don’t want to make them read. If your audience’s lips are moving and their eyes are glued to the deck..you’ve failed your mission. Bring out the pie charts, the bar graphs, the cute infographics.

So go forth, leverage relevancy, and conquer. And let us know how it goes!

A champion of high-end content, Jean is a living tribute to copywriting for humans. In 2012, at a TEDx talk, she declared her now widely viewed “War Against Bland.” The visionary founder of MarketSmiths, Jean leads her growing team to captivate, inspire, and motivate readers. She has helped thousands of global clients generate revenue from words (up to 12,000% ROI), and transformed the writing of hundreds of seminar attendees at the SXSW Interactive Festival (2014 and 2015), SXSW V2V (2014), the Small Business Summit (2014, NYC), and other venues.

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