11 common sales deck mistakes that ruin a presentation

Estimated reading time
5 minutes
24th August 2022
Author: Sabrina Stubbs
Posted in: Content Production, Sales, Strategy & Planning

If you are like most salespeople, you probably spend a good chunk of your time putting together presentations.

In fact, LinkedIn found that companies are investing most in solutions that boost the efficiency of their sales teams. This is to enable salespeople to spend more time selling (currently at under 37%) and less time on repetitive and administrative tasks.

But are you making common mistakes that can ruin your presentation, losing time, resources, and potential prospects? In this blog post, we will take a look at some of the most common sales deck mistakes and how to avoid them … 

1. Making a sales pitch presentation without having a clear message

The most common mistake that most people make with their sales pitch presentations is not having a clear message. Without a clear message, you can’t outline the structure of your deck (more on this later). So before you start creating slides or buying sales presentation software, take some time to think about what you want to say. If you don’t know where to start, try writing down three paragraphs that describe what your company or product does and how it helps customers. Then stick with those three key points throughout your presentation.

2. Slapping together a sales pitch deck at the last minute

Another common mistake is creating a sales pitch in only one or two days, which usually results in a poor-quality presentation. If you want to create a memorable and effective sales presentation, it is important that you take your time and put some effort into it. Venngage, a free infographic maker, recommends its customers like Salesforce or AirBNB take 5-10 hours to prepare per pitch. That way, they can be sure that their sales deck looks good but also contains content that will resonate with the target audience. But even if you are pressed for time, remember: it’s better to create something (even if it’s not perfect) than nothing at all!

Zuora example sales deck

3. Having an unclear structure or journey 

If we had to guess, we’d say this was probably one of the biggest reasons that salespeople fail at creating presentations in general: they don’t think about what content they need to include and how they should present it. So before you launch straight into building your presentation, make sure that you draft out a clear structure or outline to follow.

4. Not including enough visuals (or not making the visuals good enough)

Not including images or videos in presentations (or including them, but not formatting them correctly) is another common mistake people make with their sales decks. To have an effective presentation, you can’t rely entirely on words. You need to include some good quality and appropriate visuals; pictures, charts, graphs, and infographics. But don’t just drop in random JPEGs with no explanation of what they mean. Think carefully about what each slide should show and how it relates to the rest of your deck.

man presenting common sales deck mistakes

5. Highlighting features more than benefits

One of the most common mistakes that people make is focusing too much on product features and not enough on benefits. If you want your deck to be successful, it needs to show how the features you are describing help customers and solve their problems. And you should be able to explain why those benefits are important as well.

6. Including too much text or filler content

Another common mistake is including unnecessary information or “filler” content in a sales deck, which makes it seem like a last-minute job rather than a well-planned, organized one. When you’re putting together a sales deck, it’s important to make everything in the presentation optimized and concise. Every slide in your presentation should build on the message of your sales deck.

Blue Circa Agency sales deck example

7. Focusing too much on yourself and not enough on the customer

76% of buyers say they expect personalized content from marketers and salespeople based on their specific needs. Therefore, do not center most of the presentation on yourself and what your company does, but rather on why it matters to customers. People want proof that your product can meet their needs as a customer/business. Knowing what’s important to buyers means understanding your ideal buyer journey first. Then you will know what to focus your sales deck on, whether that is features, benefits, case studies, statistics, surveys, testimonials – or something else entirely.

8. Including too much technical jargon

We use jargon because it has been proven to be an effective method of attracting customers and selling products. But jargon should only be used when speaking to “technical” employees; that is, employees whose jobs are technical (i.e., IT). When used by or towards employees who perform non-technical roles in your company, things can get misunderstood. 

Including too many technical terms and words often ends up confusing prospects. If you are unsure of whether or not your audience will understand the words you’re using, err on the side of caution and try simpler language instead. Remember that you shouldn’t assume anything about your audience, and that includes their jargon knowledge.

“Instead of saying that Microsoft Office software would do boring tasks like compile data … Microsoft sought to sell it as a ‘solution’ to everyday problems … Steve Jobs promoted the ‘experience’ of using an Apple computer way back in 1984 – before many people could see why they’d want one these pricey, clunky boxes in their homes.” – Allison Linn, former economics and financial journalist for @NBCNews, @Todayshow, and @CNBC

WeWork sales deck example

9. Generally too much information is a common sales deck mistake

Including too much information might make your audience feel overwhelmed. Even if you think that something should be included in your presentation, remember to keep it short and succinct. Especially since people tend to tune out when they get overloaded with information. Storytelling is a useful tactic employed by successful companies like Microsoft and Destination New South Wales to simplify complex topics while still engaging and inspiring prospects. 

10. Not including any emotion

Another big mistake that most people make with their presentations is leaving out the human element. It is a disservice to your human audience to leave out any compelling stories or interesting experiences that can help drive home points about your product or the audience’s challenges. In other words, remember to include some kind of emotional component – whether it be humor, a personal testimonial from a customer, authenticity in your messaging, or some other human element.

11. Missing a valuable call-to-action (CTA)

Last but not least: don’t forget to include a CTA at the end of your sales deck! This will help people follow through and take action on the information that you’ve given them. Common CTAs include calling a phone number, sending an email, getting directions to a location, or clicking through to a website. Wherever possible, end with a valuable offer that people can’t resist such as a free trial or personalized service. 

professional woman in a meeting

Now you can avoid common sales deck mistakes!  

As you can see, there are many ways to ruin a sales deck. But with the right design and planning, your pitch can be more successful. Choosing the right tools, like Turtl or Venngage, can help salespeople create beautiful visuals that will make presentations stand out. And hopefully, these tips help you produce a stunning sales deck in no time, that will impress potential investors and clients alike! 

Turtl