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How to Create a Great Sales Presentation

How to Create a Great Sales Presentation

If you follow our blog, you’ve probably seen our posts with tips on how to create a great presentation. But even if you haven’t, one of our first pieces of advice for creating any presentation is to start by asking the simple but essential question that too many ignore: who is my audience?

And in the case of a sales presentation, that question is the most important part of the entire design process. Part of why it is so important that you ask this question is that the answer seems obvious: the audience is your potential clients, right?

Yes, and no. They are your potential clients, but they are also people with unique interests and wants from your presentation, and if you want to close the deal, you need to find ways to address those things.

So to get you started, here are five sales presentation tips that will help your next sales presentation resonate with your audience.

Build with purpose

Some presentations are intended to convey essential information to a specific group. Others are meant to create excitement and sizzle in a keynote-style format. But sales presentations are often called on to do both of these things, as well as persuade and convert customers to engage in the sales process.

That’s a lot to ask of one presentation. And that’s why one of our favorite sales presentation ideas is that they should be focused, economical, and punchy.

To get there, you can start by crafting a narrative, or story, that structures your presentation. This will help you see what your larger message is from slide to slide, and it will help you to parcel out information in small chunks, making each more memorable and avoiding information overload in your audience.

Write story-driven headlines, not descriptive titles

Stories are one of our favorite tools for improving presentation. Storytelling techniques help you to organize your content so that it flows from introduction to conclusion and keeps your audience engaged along the way. 

At a basic level, stories are how we show that something has changed. That could be how the world looks different after defeating the evil empire in a sci-fi movie, or it could be how business will boom when the audience switches to your widget. But in order to tell a story, you need to put the information in context and show the audience what has changed. An easy way to do that is to start writing for benefits instead of features. Here’s what that looks like.

In a fiction story, you might see an arc like this: 

  • A young girl lives in a village that is terrorized by a dragon

  • She leaves home to defeat the evil dragon

  • Along the way, she learns to fight

  • After slaying the dragon, she returns home and is greeted as a hero

In this example, the arc of the story goes like this:

1) where things start, 

2) where things are going

3) how we’ll get there

4) what happens at the end

So using this formula, let’s look at a series of slide headlines from a pitch presentation:

  • A large brand dominates a market

  • A new competitor is formed and launches a product

  • They improve their offering and build a brand

  • Today, they are leaders in the market

Each of these stories uses the same structure. Looking at both, you can see how a more traditional “story” format can be applied to a business setting, and how that structure organizes the content in a way that will engage the audience from start to finish.

Don’t sweat the details

The downfall of many sales presentations is what you might call “death by a thousand details.” It’s the tendency to feel like you need to explain every product feature, every minor upgrade, or every piece of information that might-possibly-somehow-at-some point be relevant. We get it: it can be tempting to list every detail of the product or service you’re trying to sell, particularly when you know the product better than anyone. 

But the reality is, this level of detail can often be counterproductive. Instead of seeing the big picture about your product or service, the audience is trying to manage all of the countless pieces of information that are bursting from every slide.

One of our best sales presentation tips is to stay focused on explaining what your product/service is by showing what it can do for your audience.

Speak their language

Similarly, when you’re trying to convert new customers, it’s important to remember that not everyone lives and breathes your brand, your product, or even your industry. That’s why our next sales presentation idea is to avoid jargon, buzzwords, or insider terms whenever possible. By using clear, simple, and direct language, you’ll not only improve the memorability of your presentation, you’ll make the audience feel welcome and included.

Every pixel counts

Everyone is busy, and no one likes wasting time. So when your audience’s attention (and your next big sale) is on the line, it’s critical that you make sure every word, image, and slide is doing exactly what it needs to do, with no extra or wasted content. Not only does a cluttered presentation look unprofessional, it is likely to include extraneous information that slows down your meeting, and makes it harder to understand your key messages. This is not only an essential sales presentation tip, but one that you can apply to every presentation you create.

We’ll be the first to admit that there is no “one size fits all” approach to presentation design. So even these key sales presentation ideas need to be flexible. For example, we discussed how to assess your audience, but equally important is how to assess the presentation itself. Are you delivering it in person, online, or simply sending over a sales presentation? All of these situations will impact the way you write, design, and deliver your presentations.

The key takeaway from all of this is that you should always be thinking about your audience. It’s not about what you want to say but what they want to hear, and if you create your sales presentations with them in mind, their needs will always be at the center of your message.

Update (02/24): we’ve revised this article to add some new techniques for sales presentations

Looking for more information about presentation visuals and beyond? Check out our resources for expert advice and tested strategies.

About the author

Danielle John is the founder of VerdanaBold. She has more than 25 years as an award-winning designer and creative lead, directing the visual expression and production of thousands of high-value new business pitches, C-level presentations and internal presentations for major global brands. When she’s not busy at VerdanaBold, she can be found antique shopping and spending time with her husband and two kids.



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