The best sales presentation isn’t really a presentation. It is a great conversation that converts a prospect to a customer. When prepping for your next great sales opportunity, figure out how to create a genuine connection with the prospect, engage through storytelling, and ultimately problem solve on their behalf—in just a few minutes. It’s an art form supported by real data. And it works.

How to stop presenting and start connecting

Presenting is a one-way street, and your audience knows it. Presentations allow your audience to daydream, check email…or do anything except focus on what you’re saying.

When creating a compelling presentation designed to inspire a productive conversation, you need to make it relevant to your audience. The same content does not work for every prospect and needs to be customized. Do your research, plan how to guide the conversation to draw out specific pain points, and identify where they need help. This will determine how you present the solution to their problem.

The magic number of PowerPoint slides for a sales presentation

PowerPoint has received a bad rep over the years, but it’s still a great tool when used correctly. The words and images on the slides should support what you are saying, but keep in mind you are not reading aloud to kindergarteners. People can read slides, but you are there to draw them in with an engaging story. Plus, you need to stay agile, and slides with a lot of detail are too constricting.

Guy Kawasaki, creator of the 10 20 30 Rule for PowerPoint, described 10 slides as the optimal number to use for a presentation, 20 minutes as the longest amount of time you should speak, and 30 point font as the smallest font size you should use on your slides. Other experts draw a firm line at nine minutes, citing data that the human brain times out at the nine-minute mark, and presentations resulting in lost deals lasted an average of 11.4 minutes.

The ultimate take-away is this: Prepare to keep it short. And prepare to go long.

In other words, read the room and be flexible. If you’ve done a good job engaging your prospect in conversation and they continue to talk and ask questions, stay agile, listen intently, and keep them engaged by illustrating answers with compelling anecdotes. Keep in mind, the PowerPoint slides are a guide and it’s OK to skip slides and follow the path set by your prospect.

Listen to this: Tell stories

You’ve done your homework, so think ahead and have a cache of stories you can share. Keep stories short, but include a few colorful details.

For example, if deadlines are of utmost importance to your prospective client and that aligns with your company’s strengths, tell a short story that illustrates why and how you’re a good fit. Perhaps you can talk about how your team routinely pulls together and puts all hands on deck to meet client deadlines. In fact, your office recently converted a conference room into a space designated for power naps, opened a tab with 24-hour deli, and keeps a fridge full of free energy drinks—all for the purpose of working around the clock to meet deadlines.

Congrats, you’ve illustrated why meeting deadlines is in your wheelhouse in a memorable way. Now, they will remember your brand as the energetic team poised, ready, and eager to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

This has been a great conversation and it sounds like a perfect fit. Let’s get started!

In closing, always ask for the sale. It doesn’t need to be a cheesy line. Simply recap why you’re a great fit and show genuine enthusiasm for the project. Give them confidence that you understand their challenges, you’re easy to work with, and can get the job done with minimal hassle. Ultimately, isn’t that what we all want?

Is your sales presentation a routine monologue that isn’t closing deals? The experts at id8 create inspiring sales tools designed to engage prospects and get results. We love to think of creative, compelling ways to tell your brand story and we’ll definitely increase your close rate. Contact us today!