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Q: We would like to create a sales presentation promotional CD for our existing and potential customers. We would like your ideas on the design of the presentation too as well as your presentation services and I would appreciate it if you could give me a quote for this job.

Marketing Assistant
Design & Manufacture Company
North West

A: Presentation design covers everything regarding the content and structure of your presentation.

In part one we looked at the situations a sales presentation was required to cover. Today we’re going to examine all the elements of presentation design and find out what really works.

Keep to 15 slides

Companies always tend to show overlong presentations.

20 to 30 or more slides is not uncommon.

I’d suggest the first target in designing an effective presentation is to get the slide count down to 15 slides or less.

This means being ruthless and stripping away unnecessary content, which is really quite pleasurable and easy process to do.

Simply look at each slide and say “so what?!”

Does the slide really deliver key information the buyer needs to see?

If it doesn’t them cut it out, until you’re left with a list of information that’s much shorter, far more easily digestible, and more potent for its brevity.

Think from the buyer’s point of view

Smart programme design always starts from the buyer’s point of view.

So here’s something: Every day buyers and specifiers get hammered by reps pushing presentations at them, Each presentation has the same recurring theme – we are mighty! We are mighty!

While it’s understandable that you want to impress on the buyer how big or smart or powerful or effective your company is, it can grate if that’s all you hear all day.

So start your presentation with something the buyer and everyone in the room can agree on.

Briefly cover the state of your marketplace. Don’t labour it, but make some smart point that will get heads in the room nodding as you start to introduce your proposition. Obtain agreement over something you all have in common.

There are so many “state of the marketplace” comments to make, eg

> The effect of far east manufactures

> Changing digitalisation and the impact of new technologies

> New legislation, trading conditions, or seasonal influences.

The point is to pleasantly surprise the buyer by saying something smart, rather than trot out “we are mighty – we have 500 this and 4 million that … “

How to convince

Back on the theme of finding alternative ways to express ourselves than “we are mighty – we are mighty”, we convince by showing what we deliver.

Match the buyer’s need to what you deliver and tell them.

In practice this means taking your top three unique selling points, and expressing them as unique deliverables that no competitor can match.

Effective programme design is structured around what you deliver, and not what you think the buyer ought to know about you.

They don’t believe a word you say

Whenever you make a claim, buyer’s eyes glaze over. While they may smile and nod politely they don’t necessarily believe your claims.

So the moment you make a claim, prove it absolutely there and then.

Don’t let an unproven claim linger in the air.

If you say your product or service can deliver 500 of this, or save 300 of that, then quickly and briefly show the proof.

Good programme design ensures no nasty traces or withheld doubts linger on.

Use testimonials

The buyer mightn’t believe you, but they may well believe your customers.

So feature customer quotes at key points in your presentation.

Be flexible. Have quotes to match different situations, rather than use the same blanket catch-all quote.

Testimonials can be simple text, or text and photo with logo and caption, or as video where the customer speaks to camera, or an unseen interviewer standing off camera.

In this way, the design of your presentation credibly wins your customer’s confidence at exactly at the right time.

Adapt to circumstances

Good presentation design has flexibility high on its list.

For example, you might have 15 great slides but the buyer might only need to see 6 of them in order to be convinced.

The buyer might also need to see 1 or 2 extra slides covering specific points in the contract or proposition you have in mind.

So adapt your presentation to each situation.

Use the built-in flexibility of your presentation and tailor it to the buyer’s exact needs.

It’s not all about price

Okay … maybe it is all about price.

But regardless of price, the buyer has to be certain you can deliver what you say you can deliver.

And any added-value features that you can bring out to help mitigate the price obviously need to be given due prominence.

Effective design will always mitigate price, without always actually saying so!

Always have a proposition

Every presentation has a desired outcome, and this needs to be designed in.

So explain the desired outcome.

Make your presentation, show your unique deliverables, prove your claims, and have testimonials to support what you say.

Then deliver your proposition.

State what you want. Close.

Let the buyer see what you’re after, the conditions you need, the level of cooperation your require. Be precise.

If they know precisely what you want then they’ll help you figure out how to get it, rather than treat you in a generic supplier way.

More detail on presentation design points here


Effective presentation design is more than just making your existing presentation look and feel more impressive.

It’s a grass roots heart searching examination of all that’s best and worst in your sales presentation.

> You need to keep it short, less than 15 slides

> You need to think from the buyer’s point of view, and be interesting and smart

> Focus on what you actually deliver to the client, and avoid describing your internal processes and systems, no matter how good they are

> Prove all claims. Never assume you’re believed.

> Use testimonials to support your claims

> Always adapt your presentation to every single circumstance.

> Always state your proposition

Presentation design is about structuring your sales message for maximum effectiveness.

© Studio Rossiter 2007

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