Sales Deck Design for Modern B2B Buyers: Making the Shift from the Old Way of Thinking

March 7, 2023

If you do a Google search on sales deck design, you're going to come across a litany of articles that talk about making your presentations more visual, less wordy, and avoiding cluttered slides. While all of this is 100% accurate, there's another level of sales deck design that modern B2B sales teams need to take into consideration. This level goes beyond the actual design itself and encompasses thinking like an architect, rather than a graphic designer. It also involves looking at your sales decks from the perspective of your sales cycle, rather than just as a "company deck".

In this article, we will take a look at the old approach to sales deck design and compare it to the new modern way for B2B sales teams. We’ll also explore how smart B2B sales decks can make selling your products and services more efficient for your sales team, and paint a better picture of your brand to your prospective clients. 

Obsolete Sales Deck Design Thinking: 5 Problems with Traditional Sales Deck Design

If you've been in B2B sales long enough, you've likely heard the expression, "just send them the company deck." It’s an old phrase thrown around that assumes all buyers are the same and one presentation is all that’s needed to close a deal. If that’s your company and it works, awesome. But for most of us in B2B sales, our cycle is long and requires multiple touchpoints before closing a deal. Therefore reassessing the design of your sales presentations must be well thought out. 

Let’s look at the 5 major problems in traditional sales deck design thinking:

  1. Too much focus on the company: Traditional B2B sales deck designs tend to take a "me" approach, focusing solely on the company, its products, and its achievements. This approach neglects the buyer and their needs and misses the opportunity to put the buyer into the product story and see themselves.
  2. Not personalized enough: Personalization in sales decks goes beyond simply adding the buyer's logo on the cover slide. To truly engage prospective clients, sales decks need to show that the seller understands their business and how the product or service can help them. 
  3. Overemphasis on features: Traditional sales presentations often emphasize the product features and specifications of the product or service, which typically results in a long list of bullet points. This feature-focused approach can lead to cluttered presentations that overwhelm the buyer.
  4. Poor storytelling:  Storytelling can be a powerful tool in sales decks, but traditional designs focus on a linear approach, rather than one that weaves in a strong narrative to help engage the buyer and convey a memorable story in the presentation
  5. Lack of visual oomph: Traditional sales presentations often rely on generic imagery rather than engaging visuals. This can make it challenging for potential buyers to quickly and clearly understand the product or service being offered. Additionally, using generic imagery can make your brand appear indistinguishable from the competition, rather than standing out.

Creating a Sales Deck System That Speaks to Modern B2B Buyers

As we mentioned earlier, the concept of the company deck is outdated, and it’s time to focus on building sales deck systems that align with and cater to the buyer’s journey while standing out from the competition.

As designers, we need to approach this with a different mindset, one that is akin to that of a UX designer rather than a traditional designer. Building a sales deck system is similar to building a website. It requires a thorough understanding of the different buyer scenarios and the creation of organized presentations that caters to their needs.

Let's break it down into two steps:

Step 1: The Architecture

The first step is to think about the architecture of the sales deck system. It is crucial to involve all key stakeholders in this process, including sales, marketing, creative, or anyone else who can provide valuable insights into understanding the buyer's mindset throughout the sales process.

For this phase, we typically use programs like Figma, which allows for online wireframing and collaboration within the organization. Here, we create a schematic of the sales cycle, including the initial touchpoint, necessary follow-up presentations, product or service validation, ROI demonstration, product demos, visualization, and proposal delivery. In this phase, we consider all potential touchpoints throughout the sales cycle, so we can start mapping messaging and content to each.

It is important not to leave anything out in this phase. There are no wrong answers, and we suggest putting everything on paper, digitally or otherwise. Take a step back and revisit the plan in a few days, and perhaps bring in a different group of sales reps from your organization to get their opinion. Validate if this sales deck structure meets their needs when they're selling your product and services. 

We can’t stress enough that it is critical to have full alignment between sales and marketing before moving on to the next step of building out your sales decks.



Sales flow presented in Figma

Step 2: The Build

Now that we have our architecture in place, we can put our UX hat to the side and put our designer hat back on. From this point, we like to look at building sales decks as designing a television commercial or a film. The power of storytelling in sales stories must take a buyer through a very specific narrative and leave them wanting to see the sequel.

Here are 5 tips that we like to implement in our B2B sales deck process:

  1. Keep it Short: We believe the right length for a B2B sales deck is between 10 and 12 pages. It's an optimal amount to keep your clients engaged and focused on your core messaging. There's nothing worse than a prospective buyer opening up a presentation to find that there are 60 pages. You want your viewer to open your presentation and visually see that this is not a massive time commitment for them. You want them to engage immediately.
  2. Keep it Simple: For those who are selling complex products and services, we understand that it's tough. You sometimes have to provide detailed descriptions and long lists of bullet points to define how a product or service works. However, this is where your designers come in. You should be thinking about basic design principles. If you have a page that is cluttered with copy, simply break it into multiple pages. In this case, we'd rather our clients have multiple pages to convey a message rather than cluttering a page with too many thoughts and bullet points.
  3. Keep it Focused (on the Customer): Your sales deck should be customer-centric, highlighting the specific needs and pain points of your potential clients. Nobody wants a generic sales deck. You need to make it a point to add personalization whenever possible, and this goes beyond simply adding a logo to your sales deck. Look for those moments where you can extract real information about your prospective buyer and weave it into your sales story.
  4. Keep it engaging: When possible, move away from stock imagery for sales presentation images. In most cases, the sales deck is the differentiator between you and your competitors, and it's important that you find visual ways to explain how your products or services work. This may require enlisting designers with special skill sets such as animation, illustration, or even enhanced interactivity to help bring those key features to life.
  5. Keep it relevant: Go big on data and statistics in sales presentations. We love using powerful visual statistics to help enforce messaging or a point that we are trying to get across. This could be a statistic about the marketplace or how you've helped other clients achieve success. Whatever it is, from a design perspective, try to accentuate these moments because they will help validate your product and service, and if designed right, can be visually appealing.

Designing for Success: Finding the Right Partner for Your B2B Sales Deck

If you did a search on presentation designers or presentation design agencies, you're going to come across 10 pages of options, all of which have beautiful portfolios illustrating their design capabilities. However, it's important that prior to hiring a presentation design agency, you look for one that truly understands the B2B landscape and has a rich background in production capabilities spanning from web design to content creation.

As you begin to vet out design partners and look at their portfolio of work, here are seven questions to ask to help find the right partner for your B2B sales deck design needs:

  1. What is your experience working with B2B companies?
  2. Can you provide examples of B2B sales decks you have created?
  3. How do you approach customer-centric design and personalization in your work?
  4. What is your process for building out a sales deck system that supports the entire sales cycle?
  5. How do you incorporate data and statistics into your designs?
  6. What is your approach to presenting complex products or services?
  7. How do you measure the success of your sales deck designs?

With over 20 years of experience building websites and creating content for startups to Fortune 500 companies, Nuvue has developed a process specifically tailored for B2B leaders. Our formulaic approach is built to scale and evolve as your organization grows. In addition, we bring a technological solution to the table that enables your sales team to present your sales decks with a click of a button, while providing your organization with rich insights into how your sales decks are performing and how your team is using them.

If you want to learn more about how Nuvue merges design and technology to help B2B organizations present with clarity and efficiency, schedule your “Hello Call” today!