Practical Tip: Suggested Sales Presentation Flow/Outline

Why-What-HowThis is a sales presentation flow designed to reel in your audience. Too many presentations jump right into the solution without a set-up – like telling the punchline and then winding your way back through the set-up when the joke falls flat. You might recognize this flow from the Stanford Pitching and Presenting JOLT -“How to Make Your Story Compelling.” Also use this for thought leadership presentations without as much emphasis on what you’re selling, unless it can be presented without seeming self serving.

This flow applies to presentations of any length, but you would cut down or omit slides for shorter time frames. The slide specs below are primarily designed for a one-hour presentation to be delivered to a captive audience (and your job is to make them captivated). You would not talk “at” an audience like this in small-group customer settings – you might, however, use this flow (with or without – mostly without, slides) as the basis for a conversation with the client or prospect. Too often we walk in with a stack of sides expecting an executive to sit through them – not going to happen.

  • Max 10-20 slides – preferably much less
  • Suggested Content framework (approximately):
    • Slide 1 – Title
    • Slide 2 – opening hook
    • Slides 3-5 – WHY there is a problem (e.g., with the way things done today) – not just what the problem is but why it’s such a problem
    • Slides 6-9 – WHAT companies should be doing about it (or realized they needed to do about it, if case study)
    • Slides 10-13 – HOW you have uniquely solved the problem – intro of the offering (service approach, product, solution) with emphasis on its secret sauce and revolutionary business value (vs functions and features or generic capabilities)
    • Slides 14-16 – Example of this in action (either customer examples/anecdotes or showing what’s so cool about the offering)
    • Slides 17-19 – (at your discretion) additional tips, additional layer of onion re the offering, how it’s priced (e.g., subscription model), additional examples, etc.
    • Slide 20 – call to action – invitation to see the demo, schedule a follow-up or one-on-one, customer site visit, etc. with contact info — if you’ve done a good job above, the audience will initiate action without prompting (that’s the ultimate in an effective presentation).
    • Q&A (in small settings, this is best handled throughout, so as to engage the audience and make the meeting interactive)


  • Above all – design your material through the audience’s eyes, which may mean throwing all of this out and starting fresh – tailor to your audience
  • Focus on the business message – emphasize business outcomes and value creation – what’s in it for them?
  • Do not try to cover everything about your offering – key in on the most distinctive aspects of the offering – what makes it unique
  • It is critical that you engage the audience emotionally
  • The slides are not the presentation – they are there to support what you’re saying by making it more memorable – minimal content – you should be able to cover your material without slides. You want them listening to you, not reading or watching your slides.
  • Make it entertaining – Look for ways to make the content more interesting with props, sound, graphics, images, multimedia, stories, audience engagement, etc.
  • Take the Stanford Pitching JOLT (crash course on “How to Make Your Story Compelling”) for more tips and more in-depth discussion.

Please give attribution when sharing this information: Copyright © 1999 by Lina Group, Inc. from the Apollo Method for Market Dominace™.

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