Should you use PowerPoint for your sales pitch?

There are a lot of people who say “no” – but I think that they are mostly saying that you shouldn’t use PowerPoint (or Keynote) badly (even if they don’t realise that there’s an alternative) for your sales pitch.

Used badly, PowerPoint makes any corporate sales pitch suck

  • Too many bullet points, read by the presenter – answer: use visuals not bullet points
  • Presenter doesn’t prepare, but uses the slides as a cue – answer: use visuals not bullet points, and make sure presenters are prepared
  • Too linear, not at all interactiveanswer: divide the presentation into sections and take a non-linear path
  • Doesn’t stand out, just the same as what everybody else is doing – answer: use visuals not bullet points
  • Top sales people don’t need PowerPoint (I hear this from company founders a lot) – answer: think about what works for the average rep as well – they often need more support.

The common criticisms of PowerPoint use in corporate sales pitches are really about using it badly. (Although we have a few more nuanced views on what’s wrong with how people use PowerPoint in sales presentations.)

Used well, PowerPoint is a powerful tool for your sales pitch

  1. A PowerPoint sales pitch allows you to capture the messages you want to have presented – straight from the minds of your best sales people – and to distribute these messages in a way that others can use too.
  2. PowerPoint allows you to show photos and video clips. Try doing that with a whiteboard.
  3. PowerPoint allows you to show change, and evolution over time using animation. These are important in selling (e.g. for a before-and-after comparison, or even to show how something works). Whiteboards and printed material can’t do that.
  4. PowerPoint – done well – can support your corporate brand and visual identity. Why abandon your brand when you engage people in conversation?
  5. It’s relatively easy for sales people to learn how to present visual slides well – easier than it is to remember how to draw a series of whiteboard diagrams, or to deliver a speech with no visual aids at all to a sceptical audience.
  6. PowerPoint uses clicks. Sales people can easily pace the flow of information during their sales pitch. It’s easier to do than sketching, and easier to control than videos.
  7. PowerPoint is ubiquitous. It’s easy to make a quick edit to text or figures in a slide. Try doing that with Flash or your custom app. (And even your least tech-savvy reps can create something beautiful with minimal effort.)
  8. PowerPoint sales pitch content is quick to distribute. Just send out the slides – ideally with a narrated version and speaker notes so that people know how to use them well. Without visual aids that can guide sales people, you might need to bring them all in for training.

Don’t get me wrong – at BrightCarbon we think there’s a place for whiteboarding, and 3D props, and trying to do things differently. But let’s not ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’. PowerPoint – with the right visuals, animation, and design – is a great tool for a corporate sales pitch.

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Joby Blume


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