During a client engagement in which I was reviewing the client’s sales deck – and noting that it took a particular thematic form that was a bit different from what I typically see – I was asked, “Are you familiar with Zuora?” I noted that I knew the company, but I was then told that my client had designed its sales deck around one created by Zuora and celebrated in this article. In case you want to wait to follow the link, the article is entitled “The Best Sales Deck Ever,” and it denotes and describes aspects of a sales deck used by Zuora sellers (the contents of which were found in public domain).
Of course, I was anxious to see and review the “best deck ever,” because, well why not? I always want to improve (and counsel my clients accordingly). And I definitely was impressed with the stage setting, storytelling, low levels of technology, high implication of business benefit/success and customer attribution. I’m sure you will be as well when you look at the content.
But amid this celebration of excellence, I did have a few caveats:
- As noted in the linked article, for this technique (introduce world/industry transformative notions, relate product/service to ensuing opportunity/problem, differentiate and explain benefits, support with customer attribution) to work, there must be adequate information and training created and transferred between marketing (and/or product marketing) and sales. Coming up with meaningful and contextual examples of industry or market shifts isn’t always that easy, and heading down an obtuse or confusing path is a risk. Additionally, at some point, the seller has to relate products/services/solutions to the big shifts, and those links can sometimes rely on nuance. Everyone has to be on board to ensure agreement with and confidence in the story line.
- It’s likely that not every seller will have the chops to tell such a high level or (in some cases) somewhat theatrical story, particularly about technical products or services. This harks back to the need for training and play acting, but it also suggests that organizations might have backup plans for some sellers. Additionally, not every sale situation calls for this method – BDRs/phone sellers may not have the luxury to paint these pictures. Being situationally aware and determining what works best for each sales situation is key.
- Not every buyer will want or need to hear this otherwise exciting story. Some buyers – either because of where they are in their buying process or their background (i.e., IT vs. business buyer) – may not need to hear this. They might want more in-depth technical detail if they’re on the precipice of a buying decision, or they may need to understand more directly how or how quickly they get to value. Once again, sellers and marketers must be attuned to their buyers’ situation, background and needs at the various times they interact or engage.
- Will this story work in the channel? For providers that sell both direct and via channel partners, the partners may not have the wherewithal to tell the story the same way. Product and channel marketers may have to re-tune the pitch or perhaps ratchet it down a few levels for it to resonate with partners.
Let me close by saying that I really liked the concept and delivery of this (and my client’s) sales deck. But we did agree that one size does not fit all, and we also recognized that such an approach did require a variety of resources working together – in a “connected model”, as we’ve written about in Tech Go-To-Market research – to ensure that the excellent story and deck worked as often as possible. That’s not just marketing/product marketing and sales being connected, it’s also “connecting” with the state and timing of the buyer.
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