The Ultimate Guide to Great Marketing Material for Sales Presentations

 
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We’ve touched on what constitutes Sales Enablement and how to utilize it as well as how to give great Sales Presentations, those articles being written by people who are vastly more qualified on the subject than I am. I mean, they’re experts on the subject and I’m a designer, so duh.

There is, however, a subject that’s at the core of what we do here at Salesframe that’s also something I’m confident in talking about, so here goes.

Why most sales and marketing materials suck and what you can do to make them not suck

Typically, materials for sales presentations, such as slides, pictures, data sheets, product catalogues, videos etc. can be divided in two groups: stuff created by salespeople and stuff not created by salespeople. Usually, neither one serves their purpose as well as they could. Both for different reasons. To really break this whole thing down, let’s start with the basics.

What are marketing materials for sales presentations?

Any content printed or digital, that is to be used by salespeople in their endeavors to sell their products or services. This includes brochures, PowerPoint presentations, video clips, spreadsheets and honestly if it helps, cat memes. Typically, these are things to be shown to the customer in a sales meeting. But you know all this already.

Why are marketing materials for sales presentations?

Now this is a much better question. Any materials created for or used in sales presentations exist, or rather should exist, for the sole purpose of supporting a presentation given by a human person to another human person. Materials are not a presentation. They are presentation support. They aren’t there to do your job, but to help you do your job.

 Batman © Warner Bros. Television Distribution

Batman © Warner Bros. Television Distribution

Materials are not a presentation. They are presentation support. They aren’t there to do your job, but to help you do your job.

Who should make marketing materials for sales presentations?

Not salespeople, not the marketing team, not the sales director, strategist, consultant or the ad agency. Not alone, anyway. Making effective, impactful sales material is the job of sales and marketing together. Emphasis on the word together. The actual material, like, say, PowerPoint slides, should probably be made by marketing people. Copywriters, designers, etc. However, they’re not experts on what goes on in the field, what the needs of the customers are or what messages customers respond to. That’s why to make the best possible content, they need constant feedback and guidance from the sales department. I can’t stress enough how important it is for sales and marketing teams to be in constant communication with each other.

To make the best possible content, marketing needs constant feedback and guidance from the sales department.

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Salespeople creating materials has a few problems. For one, it’s not their wheelhouse. They’re much less likely to make materials that look good and have a clear, succinct message than someone whose job it is to do exactly that. Secondly, that’s not what they should be spending their time on. Salespeople have enough on their hands without having to think about font sizes or logo placement. Thirdly, when salespeople create their own materials, those materials rarely get shared to and used by the rest of the sales organization. That means that each salesperson wastes their time on separately making something that could’ve been made once. That’s insane.

What kinds of marketing materials should one have?

Short answer: any kind of material that helps. Long answer? Well…

Here’s the big, uncomfortable truth: Customers don’t care about you or your product. They only care about what you can do for them. So, if you just start with presenting product features, you’re like someone who didn’t read the contract at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. You lose. Good day.

Your material, just like your presentation, needs to tell a story that convinces the customer that a) you understand their situation and b) you can help them.

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Your marketing material, just like your presentation, needs to tell a story that convinces the customer that a) you understand their situation and b) you can help them. You will undoubtedly face many different customers, whose situations are varied, so you can’t present them with the same materials. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should create bespoke materials for all your prospective customers, or even that you should always modify your materials to fit each meeting. Especially for first, introductory meetings, it’s best that you have a varied selection of materials that you can draw from to quickly and easily cobble together a bespoke presentation.

Why, how, what — The magic formula

Use your marketing material to take your customer on a journey. Start with why you’re even having this meeting. The best way to do that is to introduce them to the world we live in right now. Say, for example that you’re selling a computer security service. It would make sense for you to introduce your topic by showing some stats about how much digitalization has changed the way people do business, how unprepared many companies are to the world of tomorrow etc. Start with a statement and follow it up with a few facts. Make sure this intro is relevant to your customer. You might have to make different ones for whatever industries your customers represent.

Now that you’ve got their attention, follow up with how to adapt to and succeed in this changing world. This, of course, is prefacing your solution. Laying the groundwork. There are the winners, or those who utilize the full potential of whatever change is underway in their field and there are the losers who don’t. Nobody wants to be a loser. By now, the customer should be very interested in what exactly does it take to count themselves as one of the winners. Tell them.

By now, the customer should be very interested in what exactly does it take to count themselves as one of the winners. Tell them.

 Aladdin © Disney

Aladdin © Disney

Tell them that this is your product and here’s what you can achieve with it. Show them the benefits and the possibilities. Wow, yeah, that’s pretty impressive. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be safer, to be respected by their peers, to make more money?

But hey, just one thing. Why should I trust that you can do for me what you say you can?

Because you’ve done it before, that’s why. Finish your presentation with your credentials. Show references, customer cases, testimonials, solutions you’re created for others in their field. If it’s a service you’re selling, introduce the people who will be helping your customer. That is why you’re trustworthy. That is why they should believe that you know what you’re talking about.

Now, I can’t make your presentation for you and I can’t put words in your mouth, but if you follow this formula and create materials to support it, you’re sure to have more successful sales meetings. That’s the formula Steve Jobs used when he blew our minds with Apple’s product launches back in the naughties.

Yeah, okay, but that’s not what I meant by “what kinds of materials”

Right. You meant more literally. Less “what kind of a story should I tell” and more “what should my slides look like”. I got you. I’m going to give you some basic guidelines here, but you should definitely check out my more in-depth articles on Better Slides and Better Graphs (with pictures!).

 Batman © Warner Bros. Television Distribution

Batman © Warner Bros. Television Distribution

  1. Keep it simple. That means one picture and one message on one slide. People will either not read long blocks of text at all, or they’ll read them and not listen to you. It’s better to have 100 slides with one sentence on each slide, than 33 slides with three sentences. If you have bullet points on a slide, keep them to an absolute maximum of six. The fewer the better.

  2. Reveal complex concepts one point at a time. This is tied to point number one. If you overload your audience with information, they’ll shut down and stop listening. This means that you might want to start with one line on a graph before showing a second one. Make sure they got the first thing before introducing the second thing.

  3. High contrast, big text, clear fonts. Make sure your information is as easy to read as possible.

  4. If you’re going to show a video, show it. Don’t pretend it’s a slide and talk over it, it’s hard enough for the human brain to follow a video. Preface it, show it, explain it. One thing at a time.

  5. Keep a uniform style. Typically, the best is to have one font and one background for all your slides, but make sure your other materials fit in, too. Especially if you reorder your materials for different presentations, it’s best to have materials that’ll visually work in any order.

  6. Keep everything on brand. Every piece of material, as well as your company’s website, your business card and preferably even the tools you use should look like it was made by and for the same company.

Did you scroll down here without reading the whole article to see a summary?

Well, you’re in luck.

 Office Space © Fox

Office Space © Fox

  • Marketing materials for sales presentations aren’t just slides, but also videos, websites, spreadsheets, brochures etc.

  • Marketing materials are not a presentation. They are presentation support. You are the presentation.

  • Marketing materials should be made by marketing people, with constant input and guidance by sales people.

  • Customers don’t care about you or your product, they only care about what you can do for them.

  • Build your presentation deck to answer these questions in this order:

  • Why are we talking about this?

  • How can the customer succeed in this new era of whatever their industry is?

  • What is the solution you’re offering and why should I trust you?

  • Keep your materials simple, easily readable, uniform in style and always on brand.

Take these lessons to heart and you’ll have the best presentation deck on the block in no time.

If you’d like to talk more about how to best manage, distribute and present your sales and marketing materials, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Thanks for reading.

Mikko Oittinen, Creative
+358 44 271 5515
mikko.oittinen@salesframe.com