Sales Decks that Close Business with Pete Kazanjy
The sales deck is an underrated art form. At their best, they are able to connect with potential customers in such a way that leaves the prospect thinking, “Wow. This is the solution I’ve been looking for”.
At their worst, on the other hand…well, we’ve all seen them.
Pete Kazanjy, founder of TalentBin and friend of SalesCollider is a master of building pitch decks that sell. He’s delivered a number of talks on the topic, most recently at a SalesCollider event, and has advised dozens of startups on the best methods for reaching their target customers.
Pete’s had quite an interesting career, particularly from a sales perspective. He didn’t start selling until he and his TalentBin co-founder found themselves selling to enterprise-level customers after a company pivot. Neither of them was particularly well-versed in sales, but he volunteered to take on the task of learning sales.
Over the next few years, he assembled a sales team of 20 reps (along with 20 customer service reps). When Monster.com acquired TalentBin in 2014, they brought Pete on as the VP of New Product Sales. Not too shabby for a founder who taught himself to sell on a whim.
Recently, Pete’s been working on Founding Sales, a book he publishes in sections online. Both Pete and his book are great resources for any founder who is nervous about getting out there and selling their own product.
Here are a few snippets of advice that Pete had to offer our founders about building pitch decks:
Demos are Great but Not Sufficient Enough
One of the reasons why pitch decks are so important is that most products don’t just speak for themselves. Your product is probably great, but it’s definitely not the steam engine or the lightbulb—you’re not going to be able to just sit back while everyone stares at it in amazement.
Pitch decks give you the opportunity to explain why anyone should care about your product. “If you haven’t set up proper context for the prospect, framed their mental model and teed up the pain points, you’re going to end up just rehearsing a bunch of features,” Pete says, “It’s not going to resonate”.
Instead, you should think of your pitch deck as a supplement to the demo itself. A good deck will enable you to paint a picture of the market landscape and to illustrate why your product has value in that landscape.
Weaponize Your Sales Narrative
Your pitch should be structured in a way that makes the customer realize that they need your product before you ever even get to the solution. As Pete explains, you should build up to the demo by presenting what the problem is, who has it, what changes in the world have enabled it and why other current solutions are not sufficient.
Once you show that there’s a necessity for your product at the present moment, then you’ll be ready to demo it.
“Just diving into the solution before you present the problem is totally putting the cart before the horse,” Pete says, “Tee up the issues that your solution addresses. You can do it on a ‘pain point by pain point’ basis”.
Highlight the Cost of the Problem
One of the most important things you need to illustrate in your sales narrative is how much money your product could potentially save them. Prospects, after all, want to see numbers. They’re not going to waste time or resources on buying your product if they don’t think the problem is worth spending money on.
“With the growth of SaaS, people have a lot of things that they could potentially be implementing,” Pete says, “What you have to do is crystallize that this is in the top three things that they need to solve”.
He elaborates by showing a deck slide produced created by a sales productivity software company. In the top right corner of the deck, an infographic reads: Only 33% of rep time is spent actively selling. In larger font toward the center of the deck, big bold text reads $75 per hour cost of seller time.
In a very simple format, the deck was able to educate its audience about under productivity rates. “The way you contextualize this is by saying ‘and by the way…you pay them $75 an hour’,” Pete says, “Two-thirds of the time, they’re just setting that money on fire”.
Ultimately, a strong pitch deck is able to show the prospect where they’re setting money, time or other resources on fire. If you can prove to them that you have the fire extinguisher they need then you’ll be in good shape.