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Seal the Deal: Sales Presentations That Don’t Suck (Summit Replay)

Selling & Closing

This video training was originally presented at the 2019 Sales Hacker Success Summit. In it, Founder of Startup Hypeman, Rajiv Nathan, shows you how to do sales presentations that don’t suck.

What You’ll Learn

  • Why use sales presentations?
  • When to use one?
  • How to create one by leveraging the entertainer’s effect.
  • The Hamilton model to build a killer deck.
  • Steps you can take to improve today.

The Video

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Outline, Timestamps, and Transcript

Rajiv’s opportunity of a lifetime (00:00)

Re-Introduction (05:49)

Why use sales presentations? (08:03)

The three types of customers (08:56)

When do you use a sales presentation? (12:25)

The purpose of a sales presentation(12:40)

The three distinct stages of sales deck (14:22)

The Entertainer Effect (17:14)

The awesome person who can do rad shit (19:10)

The Hamilton Method (20:16)

The Introduction (27:24)

Duel 1 (28:40)

Duel 2 (31:40)

Duel 3 (33:09)

Credibility (33:57)

Involve the customer in the deck building process (37:47)

Key Takeaways (39:40)

Rajiv’s Opportunity of a Lifetime (00:00)

Welcome back to the Sales Hacker Success Summit. My name is Rajiv Nathan, AKA RajNATION, and I am the founder of Startup Hypeman.

This is Seal The Deal: Sales Presentations That Don’t Suck. Let’s dive right in.

It was the opportunity of a lifetime. In 2014, I was working at a digital product agency, and my team had the opportunity to pitch to a major entertainment brand on building a loyalty program for their number-one TV show.

Now, when I say major, I mean major. And no, just because you see an NBC camera on the slide, it was not NBC.

They produced some of the most popular TV shows ever, and trust me when I say this particular show that we had an opportunity for, you’ve definitely seen before.

If we were to win this brand, it would’ve been the largest deal our company had ever pulled in. I’m talking multiple years and legitimately eight figures per year — 10 million dollars plus per year.

It would’ve been such a big opportunity that my manager told me beforehand, “Hey, if we win this, just so you know, we’re going to have to restructure your comp plan, because otherwise the company’s going to go broke paying off your commission.”

But it was on me to lead this charge.

We spent dozens of hours coming up with the perfect strategy. I pulled all the experts from our company into a room to make sure that what we were doing was flawless. We carefully crafted the deck, and we pulled in every discipline to make sure that their component made sense. We made sure the strategy was bulletproof. We made sure the presentation looked and sounded perfect.

Pitch day rolled around, and four people from my team flew out to their headquarters on the West Coast for a live pitch.

It was there I found myself sitting across the table from the executive producer of literally one of the most popular TV shows of all time. A show I had grown up watching. And this was our chance to shine, to win a 10 million dollar plus deal.

All that hard work was about to pay off, big time. We plugged in our laptop, pulled up PowerPoint, and began.

Now, I thought one hour later we’d be headed back to our hotel, popping some champagne to celebrate victory. You know, a little bit of the bubbly.

Nope.

Instead, you know what happened? Not that.

See, instead, we experienced what I now call a Sales Deck Fatality. One hour later, the executive producer was treating us like a piece of red meat — undercooked red meat — meticulously picking apart our presentation.

“Oh, your strategy is off. Your data is inaccurate, your assessments about our company are false. The impact is off.”

All of that.

It was like the business version of playing the video game Mortal Kombat where we’re getting our asses handed to us. Until finally a voice in the corner yells out, “Finish him.” And then the executive producer reaches into his pocket, pulls out a spear and goes, “Get over here.” Pulls our heart out, then murders us with his words and leaves our heart bleeding on the table.

It was rough. The meeting ended with someone else on the team walking us to the door saying, “We’ll be in touch.” They never got in touch.

We left that meeting with our heads down. The ride back to the hotel was complete silence. The flight home, insufferable.

We had blown it, plain and simple. But how could this have happened? We were arguably more qualified than our competitors, with better technology, more experience, and in our minds a damn good strategy, too.

What did we do wrong that it all went downhill so quickly?

It was our presentation. Our first four slides looked something like this.

 

And maybe this looks familiar to you. See, we started out in the top left with the classic NASCAR slide, tossing a bunch of logos on the screen like it’s a NASCAR riding around the racetrack. We brag about how these are all companies who are on our client roster.

From there, we went into the proven solutions slide where we explained the overview of our software. We used all the catchy buzzwords, like holistic, data driven, patented, and customer-centric. Anything you could think of.

From there, we went to the tech stack slide where we’re like, “Hey, don’t really understand this good software, but it’s backed by really good technology. We build it in the cloud, API integrations, 99% up-time.” All those.

And then, from there we went into the suits slide, where we showed a lineup of head shots of our executive leadership team, all the years they had been in business, and why that made us the most qualified for the job.

After that, we had a few more slides with some detail about our company, and then we dove into our plan for them. Now, this format was our downfall. And it may seem ridiculous now, but guess what?

Most sales presentations actually look like this today — which is a big problem.

This is a total snooze fest. It doesn’t show the buyer that you care about them. It shows that, well, you care about yourself, and that’s kind of it.

Chances are it looks and sounds the same as what your competitors are doing if they’re using a deck. Which means the buyer is going to look for his pencil to stab their own eye with by slide three.

I once heard someone say, and I really liked it, “It’s funny that we build things in PowerPoint, because most presentations aren’t powerful and have no point.”

Now, that day sucked, but after that sales deck fatality, I set out on what has now become a five-year journey dedicated to figuring out how to make a point and make it with impact. Along this journey, I found inspiration in the most unlikely of places.

See, if I had a do-over, I would’ve done this… I would’ve modeled my entire presentation on the Hamilton musical, and my advice to you today is to do the same.

Re-Introduction (05:49)

Hello again, everyone. As a reminder, my name is Raj Nation, AKA RajNATION. This webinar that you’re watching right now is called Seal The Deal: Sales Presentations That Don’t Suck.

Again, since the day of that sales deck fatality, my professional life has been dedicated to studying and executing how to do this stuff. Now, I have always been obsessed with communication in its various forms.

I’ll give you some background. I am founder of Startup Hypeman, but I am also a hip-hop artist by the name RajNATION, and I also teach yoga as well.

My background is, at minimum, diverse. But after that fatality incident, my journey took me on this winding road, and on a deep dive into communication, presentations, storytelling — whether that’s in a business meeting, on stage, or in a classroom.

What we’re going to cover today is the result of my findings. Let’s talk through our high-level agenda for the day. Basically, real quick and real simple: why sales presentations, when to use one, and if you are going to use one, how to create one by leveraging the entertainer’s effect.

We’re then going to go Ham, and talk through the Hamilton model which will lead us into the outline for you to build a killer deck. Finally we’ll look at steps you can take today. And lastly, it wouldn’t be a webinar without a special bonus offer at the end, so stick around because that’s what we’ve got for you.

Throughout the content today, I just want to call out three things.

Number one, you’re going to get brutal honesty from me.

Number two, I am aware of nuanced based-on-industry sales process, price of your product, et cetera. I can’t come out here and be one of those people who’s like, “Hey, just do this one thing and you’ll 10X your sales in 10 seconds, regardless of your industry.”

But what I am providing you here is the philosophy, advanced strategies and the framework for most B2B selling environments — the framework for making a point and making it with impact.

But I will do my best throughout the way to speak to potential situation nuances where appropriate. The last thing I want to call out is that throughout the day, throughout this webinar, I am going to use the word presentation and deck interchangeably. Let’s dive in.

Why Use Sales Presentations? (08:03)

Let’s start here: Why use sales presentations?

Well, maybe you’re asking yourself, “Why do I even need a sales presentation?” Maybe you’ve asked yourself this before. Perhaps you’ve been able to get by without using one.

Customers rarely, if ever, demand a presentation from you, so why do you even need one?

Well, the honest answer is you don’t.

Wait, what?

I told you a little bit of honesty. Let me qualify that a little bit more, though. You don’t need a sales deck unless you want to win more deals.

I say that because in most cases, it is possible to capture a certain portion of your market without any type of deck. But if you want to capture more of your market and get higher dollar deals, a sales deck is going to go a long way towards getting one.

The three types of customers (08:56)

To explain this even further, every business has three types of customers.

Your first type of customer is the “I already get it” group. These are the buyers who require little to no explanation. They’ve already done all their research, they’re well educated, they know exactly what they want and they kind of just need an order fulfilled.

Your second customer type is the “I’ve been burned” group. These are the ones who signed up with one of your competitors, had a terrible experience, but they know they still need that product or service. They come to you with a bad taste in their mouth and they pretty much just need you to say to them, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to do that to you. Oh, and by the way, our product is amazing as well.”

Both of these groups are often ready to buy almost right away.

And then there’s the third group. And this is what I call the “guide me” group. For most B2B companies, the “guide me” group represents your largest customer base — largest in volume as well as deal size. The “guide me” group is collecting information and thinking about doing something, but they’re confused. They have questions and they need someone to guide them through the process.

Today’s content is focused on winning this “guide me” group so you can get higher value deals from your largest potential base. And this group needs a sales presentation. Why?

Because in today’s environment, product alone will no longer sell — unless you want to be commoditized.

See, with groups one and two — the “I already get it” and the “I have been burned” groups — you oftentimes have no wiggle room. And because they are ready and eager to buy, we tend to let the urgency of the deal take precedence over everything else. We tend to meet them at their asking price, even if that means discounting. Groups one and two will commoditize you.

With the “guide me group,” you’re giving away money if they commoditize you. And they will, if you try to win them by simply pitching product or pitching your service and saying how great it is.

It is an ultra competitive landscape, so you’re not only fighting commoditization with the “guide me” group, but you’re fighting the other providers in the market. You’re fighting the buyer’s desire to actually not make any decision and keep doing business as usual. Right?

It’s not just that you’re fighting the fact that there are other people out there, or that you’re fighting an industry standard. You’re fighting them potentially doing nothing at all, which is perhaps the biggest behavior change that a person has to make.

To win the “guide me” group, you need to stand out to them and stand apart from your competitors. This is where story sells.

And speaking of your competitors, there’s a decent chance the buyer is shopping you against three or four others. There’s also a decent chance that you and your competitors are all obsessed with your own product and nonstop showcasing.

Story is what’s going to sell.

It’s especially true in the SaaS world. I’m sure you’ve seen or been on a demo call that was a 60-minute showcase of an admin portal. Hell, maybe that’s the demo you’re giving right now. But story is what will stand apart, story is what will separate you from the rest.

When Do You Use a Sales Presentation? (12:25)

Moving into that next slide, when do you use a sales presentation? Let’s talk about timing here. If you’re going to use a deck, when is it appropriate?

To answer that, we have to first gain alignment on the actual purpose of a sales presentation. Nearly every salesperson and marketer gets this wrong.

The purpose of a sales presentation(12:40)

What would you say is the purpose of a sales presentation? I’ll give you like five seconds to think of an answer.

What is the purpose of a sales presentation? Simply to gauge the buyer’s level of emotional buy-in so that you can qualify or disqualify them for the next stage of the process.

That’s all. Right? It’s that simple. Gauge their level of emotional buy-in.

When you reorient around this purpose, it’s going to change the demeanor of your reps. It will change the type of information you choose to share, and it will ultimately change your outcomes.

I’m very intentional in saying you need to gauge their level of emotional buy-in to qualify or disqualify as opposed to persuade them or convince them. Because if your mindset is to gauge their level of buy-in, you’ll build presentations that naturally filter in the most qualified buyers, and weed out unqualified buyers as early as possible.

Versus…

If your goal is persuasion, to convince them of your solution, you are going to end up creating presentations that turn them away. Well actually, perhaps even more than that, it will create presentations that more or less reinforce your own biases.

And then we wonder why they don’t like us!

You must gauge their level of emotional buy-in to move them to the next stage — or figure out if they get to the next stage of the process at all. Now, generally speaking, there are three distinct stages in a sales process.

The three distinct stages of sales deck (14:22)

For most companies, a sales process starts with discovery, then moves into demo or strategy, and finally advances to the proposal if all goes well. Depending on what exactly you’re selling, you may cut out the proposal stage entirely and try to close the deal on a demo call. Maybe they pay with a credit card online and don’t need to see a proposal or a contract, or perhaps some companies will combine discovery and demo call into one stage altogether. Right?

There are several ways you can go. You can mix and match with those, but generally speaking, we have discovery, followed by demo or strategy, followed by proposal. Right?

And each of these are stages where you can leverage a sales deck.

I mentioned before that we’re gauging emotional buy-in. Now, the level of that buy-in increases with stage.

What is it at each stage?

Well, at the discovery stage, it’s the buy-in to the demo or the strategy call. At the demo or strategy call stage, it’s the buy-in to the proposal. And at the proposal stage, it is the buy-in to the terms and contract.

We’re just trying to get them to the next stage in the process. And not only does their level of buy-in increase with each stage, but the effort you put in increases as well.

The further you get in the sales process, the more customization and personalization. And the more time you’ll spend on the deck, right?

The more customization and personalization in creating the deck, and the more time you spend creating it, the more time you’ll spend delivering the presentation as well.

Basically, what I am saying is, if you’ve seen Happy Gilmore before, you need to be like this. Putting the ball into the cup. Just a little tappy. Tap-tap-taparoo.

Fortunately, this is what most reps are doing: They are screaming at the ball, “Why don’t you go into your home?” They’re trying to close the deal too soon. And coming off like Happy Gilmore here in the process. And it’s where you face customer resistance.

You get stuck with, “We’ll think about it,” or you get ghosted and the deals in your pipeline get filed as closed lost/client went silent, or closed lost/budget.

Hit the ball in the cup by tap-tap-taparooing towards your finish line.

Well, from there, how do we actually begin to tap-tap-taparoo?

Through something I call the entertainer’s effect. When we think about it philosophically, how are we going to create presentations? The entertainer’s effect is our starting point.

The Entertainer Effect (17:14)

In the entertainer’s effect, what you need to do is STOP THINKING BUSINESS!

Stop thinking like a business person, because it’s leading to boring-as-shit presentations. It’s burying you in the weeds of your product or service and disregarding the customer.

Instead, think like an entertainer. The reason I’m telling you to think like an entertainer is because an entertainer has one goal — make the audience feel something. Elicit that emotional response. Get the buy-in.

When you think like an entertainer, you’ll think in these terms.

And don’t just think like an entertainer, but think like an entertainer and act like you are selling out Madison Square Garden. Right?

If you were put on stage in front of a sellout crowd of 20,000 people to “play” in front of them, would you feed them 20 slides about your backend technology?

Hell no!

You’d ask yourself, “What can I say and what can I do to get them to cheer me?” You would be solely focused on making it a great experience for them.

Let’s take a lesson from someone who HAS sold out the Garden on multiple occasions: Rapper Jay-Z. See, Jay-Z had a lyric from a song many years ago that I really like, where he compared himself to popular underground rappers at the time, Talib Kweli and Common Sense.

And he said, “I dumbed down for my audience, and I doubled my dollars. Truthfully, I want to rhyme like Common Sense. But I did five mil. I ain’t been rhyming like Common since.

What he’s saying is, “Hey, if it were up to me, I have the talent to be the most lyrically-dense, socially-conscious rapper out there. But I realized if I was really going to make it big, I had to meet my audience where they were.”

In essence, what this means is be in service to your audience.

The awesome person who can do rad shit (19:10)

And with this idea of service in mind, there’s one more graphic I want to show you that I think really drives the point home.

 

We all love Super Mario, right? I love showing this graphic. You have the person who’s the potential customer. The small Mario. Then you have the fire flower, which is your product. Those two things together equal Mario on fire, killing bad guys, shooting fireballs.

That is what you are selling — the awesome person who can do rad shit.

You’re not selling the flower, your product, you are selling the outcome or result.

Let’s figure out how to sell that awesome person who can do rad shit. Because now the question is, how do you actually build a sales deck that stands out and stands apart?

Well, remember I told you I found inspiration in an unlikely place? The source of entertainment, the Hamilton musical. What we need to do is go Ham in our presentations. If you’re not familiar with the story, you’re going to learn about it right here as I break down their storytelling methodology.

The Hamilton Method (20:16)

What’s so compelling about the Hamilton musical? Let me just say, this is the single most effective piece of storytelling I have ever seen and been a part of.

And that’s why I’m sharing it with you today. Because if we follow their model, you’re going to see a lot of similarities to how it can drive your own presentations forward.

Breaking down Hamilton, it’s really interesting because the first thing they do in Hamilton is give away the ending.

When the curtains open, Aaron Burr, the main antagonist, walks onto the stage and the first lyrics he sings are, “How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean, by providence, impoverished in squalor, grow up to be a hero and a scholar?

Right out of the gate, they essentially ask you how is it even possible for someone to have every single odd stacked against them and still go on to be an American hero? And they’re basically saying, “Hey, for the next three hours while you’re in your seats, we are going to prove to you that this is possible. That’s why you’re here today.”

And they take it a step further than that as well. Towards the end of that first song, Aaron Burr shouts, “I’m the damn fool that shot him.

At the very beginning they give away the ending, but now you’re hooked because you’re dying to know how it all happened, right? You already know the ending, but you’re not like, “Okay, I’m good. I’m out.” You’re actually curious, right? Now you’re asking, “Wait, how are we going to get there?”

Now, with that introduction, you’re in. They build up tension over time between Burr and Hamilton, and to help drive the tension forward, there are three duels in the play. These duels help get you to that end destination.

The first duel is called the 10 Duel Commandments and involves two inconsequential characters. Structurally, this first duel is in the play to explain:

  • 1700’s America
  • The concept of dueling culture
  • How honor codes were a big thing
  • That dueling was a thing with ground rules around it.
  • And also there were certain people who had to be involved

What they’re doing is taking the audience of 2000s America and defining the world of 1700s America. In defining and outlining that world, they’re getting us not only just to see that that’s the case, but they’re getting us to accept that that’s the world we’re entering now, and embrace that as universal truth.

We now buy into the concept of dueling. Here’s what Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator, had to say about it.

“The audience needs to understand what dueling was like back then. This was not drive-by’s, this was not heated people taking their guns out outside of the bars. This wasn’t beef in the same way beef is today. It was super codified. There was a ritual about it, it was legal arbitration with guns.”

That’s the importance of that first duel.

More tension builds between Burr and Hamilton, and then we get to the second duel, where a character who we are emotionally invested in gets shot and gets killed — much to the surprise of the audience.

And there are tears in the crowd at this point as the audience realizes that loss is real and it does have a significant impact.

Even though we know dueling was commonplace, we do see with this second duel that there were real consequences to getting involved in a duel. The impact is felt by that person’s family members, and the loss is a significant thing. Right? We’re emotionally invest at this point, and we kind of get our emotions out of the way as it relates to dueling.

Now, this walks us into the ending.

Up to this point…

  • They’ve given away the ending at the start.
  • They’ve explained dueling culture.
  • They’ve defined the world.
  • Now they’ve shown us loss is real and has significant impact.

By the time we get to the end of the play, when Hamilton and Burr pick up their pistols, guess what? The ending feels inevitable at this point. Right?

We know what’s going to happen because they told us at the beginning. Now we see how that journey got here. And we, like that story, had a loop that finished.

It’s not just that we know what’s going to happen and that it’s impactful. It’s also the fact that we are not leaving this play crying out bloody murder. Because legitimately let me just think for a second. This is the Vice President of the country at the time, shooting the former Treasury Secretary.

Imagine in modern America, if a Vice President shot anyone. We’d be up in arms, and the Vice President would be jailed. To not have that kind of a reaction, and to not cry out bloody murder, they had to have that build-up to get to this point.

Which then gets us to an emotional state where, instead of the bloody murder call-out, we are leaving the theater reflecting on and discussing the life and legacy of Alexander Hamilton.

That’s exactly what the creator wanted. Remember at the beginning, they asked the question, “How does this person overcome all the odds to become a great American hero?” By the end of the play, we are leaving the theater saying, “Wow, what a great American hero.” And that’s what they wanted.

And here’s what Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator, had to say about this.

“Every single element in the show, at every moment, was serving the story. The story was not a list of events on a historical timeline, it was the emotional journey that the characters needed, that Hamilton and the other key characters needed to make.”

I want to read that second half again.

It was the emotional journey that Hamilton and the other key characters needed to make. It was not a list of events on a historical timeline.

The emotional journey is exactly what you’re aiming to capture in your own sales deck.

I told you if I had a do-over, I would avoid sales deck fatality by following the Hamilton model. And that is exactly what I’m recommending for you right now. Don’t let yourself get killed. Instead, build a killer sales presentation.

Your winning sales presentation follows the Hamilton model: an introduction, followed by three duels. It’s only four sections total that your presentation has. Each duel represents a section.

The Introduction (27:24)

Starting with the introduction, give away the ending upfront.

In your own introduction, this is where you answer the question, “What is the destination for your customer?”

Where are you trying to take them, right? Just like Hamilton opened by giving away the ending, you’ll do the same.

Show them the endgame you’re striving towards. You might think it would work against you to show this right away, especially if you’re trying to build towards this anyways.

I like to think of it as going to Disney World. Think about when you were a kid, and your parents said, “Hey, get in the car. We’re going to Disney World.” You’re like, “Yeah!” And you’re super pumped the whole way, and you’re super obedient because you don’t want Disney World to be taken away from you if you were to act out.

Now imagine if they said, “Hey kids, get in the car. We’re going to drive for 21 straight hours and we’re not telling you where we’re going.” You’d be like, “No!” And you’d act like little turds the entire drive, kicking and screaming along the way.

If you want to avoid your customer internally kicking and screaming, give them Disney World first. Because then, just like in Hamilton, they’re going to get curious as to how you’ll get them there, and that’s when you’ve really got their attention.

Duel 1 (28:40)

With that ending given away in the beginning, now we enter the first duel of your deck. This is where you define the world and the three primary questions you’re needing to answer in this section:

  • What does their world look like?
  • Because of that world, what problem has bubbled up?
  • What crossroads does that problem present, forcing them to pick a path?

What’s key in the first duel is you’re gaining alignment on some basic truth first, before telling them they have to change. It’s key, because it forces them to either agree or disagree with you.

Ideally they agree, and if they do, you’ve gained an additional level of emotional buy-in. And when you gain that, your customer will more likely visualize the destination you’ve laid out as your presentation advances. And moreover, it helps put them in a position to feel like it’s their presentation and not yours.

I encourage you to be bold with your question, and take a stance. It’s going to help your audience self-select themselves in or out, which creates more qualified buyers.

And a pro tip I’ll add here: In a lot of the presentations I see that are adopting this type of an introduction, or this type of a section to their deck — where they’re still missing the mark is in sticking. When they define the world, they are staying within the confines of the business environment.

There’s a whole concept around suspending disbelief that helps people understand that they are now entering a story, and that they want to be part of it. In order to suspend your audience’s disbelief, you need to take them out of that business moment for a second.

Take them out of the business environment. Instead, what you need to do is create a situation. Define a world that has nothing to do with their business first.

But, if you get them to agree that’s how the world operates there, you then draw the parallel to how that’s exactly how this world of yours is operating today.

Find a pop culture situation, or a historical event, et cetera. But find something external from their business — something not even related to their industry — and define that world and make it analogous to the situation at hand in front of them in their business.

You will get much more favorable results if you do that.

By the time you’ve gotten to a proposal stage, there should be no doubt about whether they’re going to agree with your stance.

But, at top of funnel discovery, or demo call, if you find out if they’re actually not on board with you in that world you’ve presented, you can choose to end the call, and you’d just get 30 to 45 minutes of your time back.

Duel 2 (31:40)

That brings us into the next duel, the next section, where we convey loss and impact. The three questions to answer here:

  • Why is change necessary?
  • What do they lose by doing nothing and holding their current position?
  • And what’s the impact of actually making a change?

Once you’ve finished duel number one and presented the crossroads, you’ve now thrown an inflection point in front of them. And like Neo in the Matrix, they can either take the red pill or the blue pill.

You’re building the case for the red pill, which is making a change. To avoid being pushy and a hollow salesperson, acknowledge that they could stay as they are, right? What do they lose by doing nothing?

You obviously want to say the consequences of that, but also don’t make it seem like they’re going to die, or their business will set on fire and they’ll never live. Because reality is, they will, to some extent, be able to operate without you.

State the consequence, but then also state what are the things they could still expect to be happening that are still fine. And then we bring in that impact of doing something about it and making a change.

I want you to understand that we’re not yet talking about your product or your service, or your company, or your brand. To call back to the Mario graphic, up to this point we’re just showcasing them as the awesome person who can do rad shit.

Duel 3 (33:09)

After you have successfully showcased the buyer as that awesome person, you easily walk into your third and final duel, which is really an inevitable ending at this point.

And the three questions you’re aiming to answer here:

  • What is your plan of attack to get there? What is the product or service, or strategy you have?
  • What destination is that going to bring them to? You’ll restate the destination.
  • What makes you credible? This is where we’re talking about case studies.

I’m a big believer that video testimonials are your best case studies, but when you don’t have them, before-and-after examples are your go-to. Something like weight-loss ads where you see the before and then you see the after show here’s where they were and here’s where we got them to.

Credibility (33:57)

I also want to mention something that 99% of sales people never think about. Credibility is not only about customer success. It is not only customer case studies. It’s also reminding them of any rapport you have built up to this point.

If you’re on discovery call and it’s your first time talking to them, you don’t have any rapport yet. But if this is further down the funnel, say the proposal stage level, this is where you want to get them. If this is where they need to make a decision, dedicate an entire slide to simply reminding them of how far they’ve come along with you.

This is where you have maybe your slide says,

“We’ve already met with executive leadership and learned their feedback. We’ve sat down with your IT department to talk through scope, or to talk through integrations. Our conversations thus far, between you and me, have been very favorable.”

Things like that.

Show for them the rapport you have with them to that point. How far they’ve already gone in the process with you.

That is a key element of credibility that most people miss on.

And this is how you go from the sales deck fatality to achieving flawless victory.

If you follow this model, people will want to do business with you — not because your product or service is good, or I should say not only because of that, but because on top of that, they recognize you as an expert in the field. They have built up more trust in you.

At this point, when you give them the story, they’re not buying products anymore. They are buying vision. And they are buying your ability to help them achieve that vision. And when that happens, the value of what you’re pitching increases.

Oftentimes, as sales cycles drag on, the scope tends to decrease, right? The deal size tends to go down. Maybe they were initially excited and then they go and talk with their budget, their finance, find out if they have less budget, or maybe they realize, as price starts adding up, that they don’t need all the things they thought they did.

Or, simply as the sales cycle drags on, on the salesperson side, you’re just getting a little more antsy and nervous that it’s not going to close at all, so you’re more willing to throw out discounts to get them to do something.

But if you follow this model, the Hamilton model, and you tell a story in this respect, again, they will recognize you for your expertise beyond your product. They will buy into big picture vision, and when that happens, the value increases.

Rather than value shrinking over time, the deal size increases over time.

This is the outline I wish that I knew when I was staring a 10 million dollar deal in the face many years ago.

It’s the outline that I now follow when building sales decks for Startup Hypeman clients, and it’s helped them bring their close rates as high as one in three.

It’s also the outline I follow for my own sales process to help me close larger deals with less price negotiation, and I no longer endure the dreaded losing deals at the proposal stage. Because who wants to put in all that work only to lose?

I want to bring something back up, so you don’t get it twisted. I’m bringing this back up again because what I just gave you was the outline for a successful sales deck. But remember — how much information you include, how long you spend on it, how much you customize it, how much time you spend pitching — it increases with each stage in the sales process. Your discovery call deck will naturally be more high level than your proposal stage deck.

Involve the Customer in the Deck Building Process (37:47)

And there’s one other thing I want to add here, because nearly everyone overlooks this part — or they don’t even think about it.

Remember, we’re gauging emotional buy-in as we move down the funnel. To help gauge that buy-in, get a read on their temperature and figure out if you’re headed in the right direction. Involve them in the deck building process.

Once you’ve put together your first several slides, send them a draft and say, “Hey, just wanted to check with you. Here’s what we’ve come up with so far. Is this what you had in mind?”

What that’s going to do is make them part of the process. Don’t think you have to surprise them on pitch day, because then you’re just setting yourself up to put in a lot of effort for potential disappointment, like what happened to me in my blown, eight-figure deal.

Right? We didn’t send anything to them in advance.

But as you move down the funnel, send them some of your drafts. You wouldn’t do this at top-of-funnel. You wouldn’t do this on the first call. You’d do this on like the second or third call.

As you move down the funnel, send them some of your draft slides. “Hey, are we on point with this?” Because now they have a deeper investment in seeing you succeed.

If they are part of this process, they have much more buy-in now. And if it’s part of a larger team that you have to present to, now they become that champion to drive it internally because it’s not just your presentation now, it’s partly their presentation as well, and they want to see themselves succeed.

They don’t want to know the thing that they were involved in got shot down. They help drive it internally much better.

Key Takeaways (39:40)

That brings us to nearly the end of this webinar, but there’s just a few final takeaway points that I want to leave you with. If nothing else, if you weren’t convinced before, I hope you are now that sales decks help you capture your largest and most valuable customer base.

Most decks are dry, self-centered, and miss the point. If you are using them, be in service to your audience and leverage the entertainer’s effect to sustain interest. And use the Hamilton model to seal the deal.

I also mentioned before, it wouldn’t be a webinar without some bonus goodies, right? Well, that’s what we’ve got for you.

Real quick, just some free things here. I recommend that you watch the Steve Jobs iPhone keynote, the original iPhone that came out in 2007. Watch his keynote presentation because it very closely mimics the same format we followed here.

I also really like this Instagram account, @thegooddeck, because what they do is just post sample slides from different companies to give you design inspiration.

I found them just through my own Instagram searching, and I really like their account. I’m not an affiliate with them or anything. I don’t even think they have anything to sell. I just think it’s a good account to follow if you want some inspiration on design.

And then, the bonus that we’re giving you, Sales Hacker and Startup Hypeman, teaming up to give you this bonus. It is a sales deck story builder. This is going to be a free PDF download that basically allows you to map out your sales deck with some prompts to walk you through each of those sections I shared with you before. You can download it below the video at the top of this post.

That brings us to the very end here.

Again, my name is RajNATION, founder of Startup Hypeman. Thank you for your time today, everybody. I had a ton of fun doing this webinar for you. I’m super excited to be teaming up with Sales Hacker to have brought this to you.

This is, this was Seal The Deal: Sales Presentations That Don’t Suck. Again, my name is RajNATION. I hope you enjoy the rest of the Sales Hacker Success Summit.

Hypeman, out. Word up, raise up.

Known as the Heavyweight Champion of Story, Rajiv 'RajNATION' Nathan is Founder of Startup Hypeman, helping startups not suck at pitching and telling their story so they stand out to customers and investors and stand apart from competitors. He was named an "Agent of Change" by Huffington Post, has given a TED Talk, and been featured in Inc, Forbes, and more. He's also a hip hop artist, yoga instructor, and host of the popular show Startup Hypeman: The Podcast.