“It’s a complicated offering and we really can’t get through it in less than an hour.”

That’s what I was told by a start-up technology company I met with at the request of a friend. My friend, the majority investor in this company, asked me to review their sales presentation — a 50+ slide presentation loaded with features and functionality.

Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, considered by many to be the greatest American speech of all time, defining democracy and our purpose as a nation, took three minutes to deliver. So, why would it take anything more than 30 minutes to describe a company, it’s offering, and benefits to a prospective customer? That’s 15 times longer than Lincoln used at Gettysburg!

In my business, I see a lot of presentations — the majority are poor.

Companies spend too much time bragging on themselves and extolling their greatness as opposed to focusing on the meaningful ways they aid the interests and alleviate the concerns of their customer. Customers could care less about the things you do, they’re interested in the things you do for them.

Customers buy benefits, not features. Features and functionality exist to support the benefits you offer. Get to the benefits first.

I don’t believe there is such a thing as the right or wrong number of slides in a sales presentation. That said, never have more than a 10 slide sales presentation. If you need more than 10 slides to convey your value and benefits, something is wrong. Limit yourself to 10 slides and challenge yourself to get to the main points faster. You don’t have the luxury of time with a prospect — you need to lock their interest early.

An interesting exercise is to make a presentation from the customer’s perspective, addressing information the way they are likely processing your conversation with them. Use the following titles for each slide and put information on the slide that answers that slide’s question. Compare this presentation to whatever you have today. Which is more meaningful to your prospect?

  1. Opening Slide
  2. “Who Are You?”
  3. “What Do You Do for Me?”
  4. “How Do You Do It?”
  5. “How Are You Different?”?
  6. “Why Should I Believe You?”
  7. “What Does It Cost?”
  8. “Do You Offer a Guarantee?”
  9. “How Do We Start Doing Business Together?”
  10. Closing Slide

What do you think?

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