What is a sales presentation?

A sales presentation involves introducing your product to a group of decision-makers or broadening their knowledge about. It is usually accompanied by visuals (slide deck, handouts, prototypes, graphs). Sales presentation is more common for B2B sales than B2C ones. It is a great opportunity for a company to pave the way for further partnership. 

Then, what is a sales pitch? Most of the time the terms ‘sales pitch’ and ‘sales presentation’ are so intertwined in the context that they blur together. However, a pitch is less psychologically demanding activity than a sales presentation. A pitch is in a way a quick sales presentation. Making cold calls can be an everyday pitch.

Types of sales presentation

Depending on the presentation length, means of communication and general requirements sales presentations can be informal and formal:

Informal sales presentations:

  • Elevator Pitch. It is a brief summary of your product value proposition. It is a race against time (you have to make do with 30 seconds to 2 minutes of pitch – the time span of an elevator ride). You choose carefully what to say because there is no time to pitch your product in a roundabout way. Interestingly enough, though this kind of pitch lacks depth, it is sincerity and simplicity that helps build credibility and trust in such a short amount of time.
  • Cold Call Pitch. Some salespeople think that a cold call pitch compares unfavorably with other marketing options available. It holds true today, but calls can’t be underestimated because they involve two-way communication with a buyer who may provide you invaluable feedback on the product. The pitch length can last from several seconds (at least you tried in this case) to unlimited time as long as you keep a buyer engaged. Though nowadays potential buyers are engrossed in work, it is art to get them to pick up the phone we have a guide on cold calling to help you master this art.
  • Cold Email Pitch. Although emails are easy to overlook, they are still effective. The trick is in an eye-catching and compelling subject line that would drum up interest in what you can offer. Email campaigns give less room for communication than the other means of pitching a product, but it gives buyers room for thought and evaluation while simultaneously educating them about your product.

Formal sales presentations:

  • Prearranged sales presentations. Usually, before a sales presentation, buyers have already been introduced to your product and you’ve already revealed their pain points. The nuggets of information you’ve managed to dig up will be the cornerstone of your sales presentation. This type of sales presentation lasts longer and expectations of you are much higher, therefore thorough preparation is required. 

As a salesperson, you often can’t pick and choose which type of presentation to utilize. However, one major question remains open and the answer is up to you: what is the best strategy I could employ to convert a potential buyer to a pretty real one?

2 sales presentation strategies: red pill and blue pill

At the stage of choosing a sales presentation strategy, you have to make a choice just as Neo in The Matrix has to: a choice between a red and blue pill, a choice between truth and ignorance. What do we mean by red and blue pills when sales presentation strategies are concerned? 

  • Summary-of-Benefits Presentation – blue pill. This strategy focuses only on presenting benefits of the products and providing a favorable evaluation of the product in question. However, what this approach tends to overlook is the evaluations of the competitive products. It may remind us of a blue pill that doesn’t give a comprehensive picture of the realities of life (or the realities of the market, in our case). However, if you have to do an elevator pitch with no time to mention competitors, the strategy would be applicable in this case.
  • Agenda Sales Presentations – red pill. This strategy allows a buyer to put together a full picture of the market. Using the first strategy you offload market research on a buyer while the second strategy relieves a buyer of such a burden, especially if a buyer lacks systematic knowledge about the market. It is a red pill in a way that sheds light on the whole market and doesn’t present a product as a perfect solution because of the more viable options available at the market. But the redeeming feature of this strategy is that you come across as much more sincere and knowledgeable of your market than in the first case.
2 sales presentation strategies: red pill and blue pill

Judy A. Wagner and Enping (Shirley) Mai conducted a field experiment to examine these strategies in action. They concluded that sellers who stuck to the agenda sales presentations were more successful than those who made use of a summary-of-benefits approach (source).

Well, suppose you’ve chosen the strategy to employ in your presentation. Let’s switch over to the backbone of the presentation – the structure.

How to make a sales presentation?

The general structure of this presentation is pretty simple: an introduction, a main body and a close. However, each part entails its own tricky business if we look at them from a psychological and visual point of view.
In this part, we’ll focus more on a formal presentation that requires an arranged meeting with decision-makers. But the tips introduced here may be applied in other types of sales presentations as well.


Psychology hacks

  • Show that you value the opportunity to present a product. At the start of the 2007 iPhone presentation, Steve Jobs said: ‘This is a day I’ve been looking forward to for 2.5 years’. No doubt that the audience felt that Steve Jobs was eager not only to promote his product, but also share his joy with the audience who could benefit from the product. Therefore, don’t forget to mention that you appreciate the opportunity that a buyer has offered.
  • Don’t speak about your company at great lengths, provide only necessary details. Buyers are more inclined to listen about the solution you offer than about the company itself. The point is that a litany of your company’s achievements is of no use to your buyers if it has nothing to do with their pain points.
  • Make use of jaw-dropping moments. If you do something unexpected and make buyers sit up and take notice, chances are the emotion will stick in their memory, neuroscientists suggest.
  • Tell briefly what you are going to speak about. Though this point contradicts the previous one, it is also essential to allow buyers to build expectations. If you give them a short plan of your speech, they may then keep better track of the presentation and know when you are going to end.
  • Remind buyers that they can ask questions during the presentation. Some questions should be answered straightaway, otherwise a buyer may lose the train of thoughts.

Design hacks

  • Add a company’s name and logo on the first slide.
  • Don’t forget to add the date of the presentation on your first slide as well as your name in case a buyer mishears it.
  • When picking a color palette for your presentation, use colors that match the colors of your company’s logo.
  • Don’t make your presentation too colorful.
  • Convert your presentation into a PDF format. Just in case. 

Main body

Psychology hacks

  • Tailor the presentation for a buyer’s company needs. List the pain points you’ve discovered earlier. Providing a more personalized experience for a buyer shifts focus from just selling a product to solving buyer’s problems.
  • Find a happy medium between providing social proof and facts and figures. A research on sales presentations has shown that salespeople tend to use more testimonials in their presentations while buyers expect more facts and figures in them (source).  Although a real story is a powerful tool, buyers need a more direct approach. Therefore, try to back social proof with more statistical data.
  • Review competitive products and compare them with your product. It is an integral part of an agenda sales presentation we’ve covered earlier. Even if some of the competitors also present viable options, focus on what makes your own product stand out from them. 
  • Teach buyers something new. The more you know about both your product and the market in general, the more credible you come across. New information keeps buyers engaged which adds more value to your presentation.
  • Be enthusiastic. Yeah, this fact is axiomatic. But don’t take it for granted. Enthusiasm is contagious as any positive emotion. But still many salespeople miss the opportunity to make use of the power of enthusiasm.
  • Interact with your buyers. Prompt them to contribute to the presentation, too.

Design hacks

  • Accompany slides with relevant pictures. Pictures of “before” and “after” greatly contribute to the overall presentation.
  • Visualize facts and figures with graphs, tables, charts, infographics. 
  • Avoid writing your text vertically in chart or graph axes. Rotate the text to make it more readable.
  • Make sure that the text font and size are suitable. 
  • Separate different chunks of information into separate blocks. Use the rule of thirds (3 words, 3 blocks of information)
  • Use icons to decrease mental efforts to understand a text.
  • Leave some blank space on your slides.
  • Make use of triggers to start animations on your slide.


Psychology hacks

  • Provide a powerful close. Conclude that you’re certain that product is a silver bullet for particular problems a buyer has.
  • Invite a buyer to incorporate the product to experience its benefits just as other clients have already experienced. Dispel the doubts, encourage a buyer to see the product’s positive effects firsthand.
  • Encourage a buyer to ask questions. Show that you’re open to giving answers, even the tricky ones.

Design hacks

  • Add follow-up steps on your last slide including such options as a follow-up call or a meeting.
  • Mention contact information on the final slide. Add links on your social media.

What to do after the sales presentation?

After the presentation, your task is to keep a buyer committed if he or she expressed interest in your product.

  • Send your presentation to the buyers so that they can take a closer look at it. 
  • Arrange a follow-up call or a meeting that would be devoted to organizational details.
  • Make sure that a buyer informs you when he or she is ready to close the deal.

After all, isn’t a sales presentation a great opportunity to open up and fight anxiety? We hope that our guide would help you not only to drum up the sales of your company, but also to boost your personal growth on your sales journey.