Locked gates symbolizing pitch deck purgatory

Are you in pitch deck purgatory?

The pitch deck: The 8-10 slides that must tell your organization’s story in a crisp, clear, compelling way. The deck many marketers painstakingly create, only to complain that once it gets into the hands of Sales, it gets mutilated, complicated, out of order… the list goes on.

The good news is that creating the perfect pitch deck doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are 3 tips for getting out of pitch deck purgatory:

  • Co-create a message map for each pitch deck
  • Invest in good design
  • Train salespeople on using the pitch deck

Co-create a message map for each pitch deck

Just as you would create a message map for a presentation, create a message map (even if it’s a short one) for each pitch deck you create.

We recently worked with a client on a large project where we had to produce 11 pitch decks, along with corresponding solution sheets, web copy, value propositions, and use cases, in under 2 months.

The client delivered great messaging input to our team. But we stumbled at the beginning.

Why? Because the input documents didn’t tell a compelling story that would hook our client’s target audience.

We quickly changed our process to create a message map for each pitch deck.

What’s more, we involved key sellers in co-creating the map. By including some of the people who would be using the pitch deck, we obtained alignment and buy-in from Sales for each deck.

Once we implemented the new process, everyone was pleased with the output.

Invest in good design

There is a reason we’ve all heard the saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” It’s true. Pictures and diagrams explain your solutions and services, make what you’re saying more memorable, and make abstract concepts concrete to paint pictures for your audience.

The initial pitch is your first, and sometimes only, chance to hook your audience and get your story heard. To do that, in addition to telling a great story, your pitch deck needs to:

  • Be legible: Avoid small type and hard-to-read colors.
  • Look professional: Ensure it reflects your brand’s look, style, and tone.
  • Capture and hold audience attention: Great graphics can make the difference between a pitch deck that grabs your audience or bores them.

If you don’t have designers in-house, it’s worth hiring an agency or freelancer to ensure your pitch decks delight your audience.

For more on using visual aids in presentations, read this blog.

Help your salespeople use the pitch deck

Once you’ve finalized your pitch deck, record two of your best salespeople giving your pitch for other salespeople to watch and learn from.

Why two people? Because no two people give the same presentation the same way, and seeing two different styles gives others comfort that they can still be themselves while expertly telling your story.

Businesspeople on a video meeting where one is presenting a pitch deck.
Train salespeople how to present your pitch deck for increased buy in and better results.

What if, after creating your pitch deck, some salespeople complain? Find out the reasons behind their complaints, then talk it through with them.

For example, I’ve had many salespeople want to add more words to the slide. There are two common reasons for this request:

  • “I want to use it as a leave-behind, and they’ll need more explanation.” If that’s the case, then create a solution sheet as a leave-behind that tells your story in more detail. Or stash these details in Notes view.
  • “I want to make sure I state the entire message for each slide.” If you receive this excuse, encourage your salesperson to watch the trainings again and then practice giving the pitch.It’s your sales team’s job to know the material they are pitching. They should not need to read every word on the slide – that bores the audience.

Consistency is key

Another common complaint comes from salespeople who tell you they know their clients best, and they want to create their own decks. Remind them that you need everyone in the company singing the same consistent song.

Why? Research shows that telling a consistent brand story increases your company’s value, and telling an inconsistent story can cost your company millions of dollars.

Creating a clear, compelling pitch deck that everyone in your organization buys into can be a daunting process. By creating a message map, investing in design, and showing salespeople how to use the deck, your deck becomes likelier to hook your target audience and get your story heard.

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