Are you in the process of raising funds or looking for potential investors? Creating a sales pitch for your project or company is an essential step in establishing connections and setting up meetings.
Table of Contents:
- What is a pitch deck?
- Pitch deck vs. business plan
- How to create an effective B2B sales pitch: golden rules
- Common mistakes in creating a pitch deck
- Start-up perspective: Filip Sobel, CEO of Staffly
- Investor perspective: Marek Kapturkiewicz from Innovation Nest
- Pitch deck examples and templates from leading companies
- The role of the sales pitch in promoting a start-up
- How much a pitch deck costs
- What tools to choose?
When your business idea is worth only a buck, a well-prepared sales pitch can help multiply the value of your contribution millions of times. So how do you write a B2B sales pitch that will be memorable and win the hearts of investors? The recipe is simple: spice up the data with a pinch of magic and don’t forget to use plain language (for example plain English).
What is a pitch deck?
A pitch deck is a 10-20-page document that presents your company. It’s essential to explain what product or service you sell and how you deliver it (the so-called Unique Value Proposition – after all, you are offering something valuable to the customer, right?). You should also include information about your target audience/customer, how you sell your product or service (price, promotion, etc.), the state of the market and your competitors, your business model, and how you plan to monetize your value proposition, and information about yourself and your team.
Pitch deck vs. business plan
If you are wondering whether having a detailed business plan is enough to replace a pitch deck, sorry to disappoint you. A business plan is a comprehensive and practical reference document that describes the company you want to create or the project you want to launch. It evolves as the project progresses, but it remains a guidepost on the business path.
On the contrary, a great pitch deck is a shorter, more visually appealing document intended for prospective customers. It should be written from the perspective of a potential investor and its goal is to attract partners to the project, such as business angels, investors, sponsors, content partners, partner business owners, suppliers, etc. It can also serve as a guide when preparing to speak at a conference or give a sales presentation.
How to create an effective pitch deck template
Don’t copy a pitch deck presentation just because it has received good funding. However, it is always a good idea to get inspired by an effectively formulated message. You can also ask for feedback from potential investors and go through customer testimonials to learn what appeals to them.
Below are some golden rules for writing an inspiring investor pitch deck:
- Be concise!
A pitch deck must be specific and to the point. It must keep the investor’s interest, as they often have limited time to read it. After reading your pitch, they should recognize that it presents a viable or even successful project.
- Use visuals!
A picture is worth a thousand words. This applies to any sales presentation: oral or written. If well thought out, charts showing sales or profitability projections, pictures of your product, diagrams describing the supply chain, or customer experience can all be effective in convincing a banker or investor.
- Ask tough questions!
When building your sales pitch, consider the tough questions you were asked during the development of your product or service. Being open about potential problems and showing the courage to address them can help convince an investor.
- Pitch it and make them fall in love!
If the pitch is just the first stage, prepare for the next: the in-person presentation. Here is where your charisma and entrepreneurial spirit shine through. Convince the target audience that you walk the walk!
Common mistakes to avoid
- Information overload
Be careful not to overwhelm the reader, especially a potential investor, with too much information. Don’t try to fit everything onto one slide. Each slide should answer one simple question.
- Boring, repetitive template
Bring your start-up presentation to life using creative templates. Break patterns to keep your audience’s attention.
- Inflating numbers
Never inflate the numbers presented in your sales pitch. Make sure you verify any statistics you include. If you want to provide more data, it is best to do so in an annex.
Start-up perspective: Filip Sobel, CEO of Staffly
Filip Sobel, the CEO of Staffly, is creating a platform that aims to match lower-level employees in selected industries with job openings in the market. He wants to help employers reduce turnover in such positions, which can reach up to 60%. Filip shared with us how he constructed the successful pitch deck that helped him raise his first round of funding.
“At the time, we modeled it on the brilliantly simple AirBnB and Uber pitch decks,” recalls Filip. He structured his investor presentation to show on a dozen slides:
- The pain points that this product was meant to address
- The target market in which the company wanted to operate (and its size/value)
- The characteristics of the product
- The business model (how the founders planned to make money)
- A plan of action (a draft is OK too!)
- The team (a very important element of success!)
- Competitive analysis and product advantage (how the proposed solution is better than what other players are offering)
- Past performance (optional)
- Assumed revenues (e.g., over the next two years)
- What the Staffly team was looking for (funding may not be the most urgent need – mentoring may be more necessary)
The effectiveness of Filip’s sales pitch is evidenced by the amount of funding raised in December 2020. In the first round from the Czysta3.vc fund, they raised PLN 1 million (over USD 240,000). Just two months after its launch, Staffly was nominated for the 2021 Fintech Summit Awards, with major companies such as Toyota, Leroy Merlin, and Action having deployed their platform.
See Filip’s story (and winning pitch deck) here: Filip Sobel.
Investor Perspective: Marek Kapturkiewicz from Innovation Nest
From an investor’s perspective, a good pitch deck quickly shows that the start-up is addressing an important problem relevant to a large audience. According to Marek Kapturkiewicz, an experienced investor and partner in the Innovation Nest fund, this is the fundamental challenge.
The pitch deck must provide future equity fund shareholders with key information, such as whether the problem being solved is highly relevant to a large target group, whether the end customer strongly “gets” the value delivered by the product, whether the solution is innovative and in what area, and what stage of development the company is at and what its business model is.
However, constructing a sales presentation will not succeed if the fledgling company lacks a clear understanding of its audience and its pain points, needs, and tasks. This understanding should be overlaid by a proposal for a solution that addresses these issues. Proper mapping of the competitive landscape, a clear business model (subject to future iterations) and defining where the company is located are also essential.
Many startups experience these challenges. Sometimes, for example, a founder may think that an activity or process is optimized 90% of the time, but it turns out that this is only a fraction of the whole process that the customer has to go through. Such a solution is more like a vitamin than an antibiotic. Therefore, it is important to verify beforehand what you are offering in terms of relevance to the greatest pain point, whether it is physical, emotional, or social, as well as resistance to competition. “Is what I am selling really an antibiotic or just a dietary supplement?”, explains Kapturkiewicz. Only then will you be able to formulate a value proposition for your investor deck.
An example of a serious social problem, and a large target market, is mental health. According to statistics, one in three workers in developed countries will face problems in this area.
Another common problem for start-ups is insufficient or misleading identification of the stage the company is at. Investors only finance companies at selected levels of development. Therefore, consider whether you are at the initial (problem/solution fit), growth (product/market fit), or maturity (business model fit) stage.
Being true to yourself is also important for some investors. As Marek Kapturkiewicz puts it, there should be a “BeYourself fit” – do you genuinely feel that this is a project or company you want to pursue, that you identify with and are passionate about, and that you want to devote your energy and time to? This is easier to assess if you communicate authentically and in tune with yourself, so be sure to personalize your pitch deck.
As Marek Kapturkiewicz notes, fundraising (including pitch deck writing) is a process that follows the regularities of the sales process. The prior experience of the founders, supported by facts and recognition in the start-up ecosystem, is particularly important. In short, before you start wondering how to create a pitch deck, take care of your personal brand!
The final version of the document should fit into the client-problem-solution triad and present information in the right order. If you need support, consider using a ready-made template, such as the Business Model Canvas created by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur. This framework will help ensure that all areas are covered.
Here is a recipe for the best pitch, as seen from the investor’s point of view:
- Make sure your solution is an innovative answer to a highly relevant problem for a large audience (prospective customers).
- Ensure your target market is large and scalable and that you have described your business model clearly and convincingly. Show how many customers you have and what stage of development your company is at. Don’t forget to include your business model. Customer testimonials might be a good choice.
- Rethink how you present data to make it very clear.
- Ensure the document is comprehensive but concise.
- Move additional information to an appendix at the end.
According to Mark Kapturkiewicz, artificial intelligence can speed up research, provided the right questions are asked. Do not be afraid to admit to investors that you used AI tools and show them the questions that were formulated. However, the information provided by AI should be treated as preliminary material.
Many well-known companies that are now market giants started as start-ups and had to go through their share of struggles as they optimized their pitch decks. Here are some pitch deck examples and templates from well-known brands that may inspire you or provide a solid foundation for writing your own sales pitch:
A great example is the sales presentation of a Lyon-based investor start-up Tilkee (note that it’s in French). Their document tracking solution raised €3.5 million in a second round of funding in 2018, five years after raising seed capital of €500k. Tilkee’s slides are simple and effective, with a presentation consisting of 20 slides (pitch deck Tilkee).
Do you need a pitch deck presentation to promote a start-up?
A well-prepared sales presentation is essential for your business – it’s your secret weapon to convince people of your project and getthem to cooperate with you. A perfectly presented, clear pitch deck can change everything. Remember that investors have no time to waste and need concise content. Whether your goal is to raise funds or simply present a start-up, a solid pitch deck is essential. Even if you can manage to present it on a single slide, it will make it easier for you to talk about your business.
Is a pitch deck enough to raise funds?
This depends on many factors, including the quality of the document, the potential of the business idea, and the interest of investors. Well-crafted pitch decks can certainly help attract investors but are not a guarantee of success. It’s important to continue refining your business idea and presentation to increase your chances of success.
To convince potential customers to invest in your idea, you need more than just a clear, up-to-date, and aesthetically pleasing presentation. You also need to be able to showcase it effectively. Think of your pitch as a story that you, the narrator, must bring to life. A live presentation deepens your communication with the investor and allows you to establish a deeper connection with your audience.
By mastering the art of pitch presentation, you can transform a static presentation into a compelling narrative that captures your audience’s attention and increases your chances of getting the investment you want. Remember, it’s not just about the slides; it’s about the power of your words and the impact they have on your audience and customers’ business.
Pitch decks serve well as team presentations
The same principles that make a sales pitch effective for external presentations, such as clarity, customization to the audience, and persuasive power, also work well for internal team communication. If you want to present your project to an executive committee, board of directors, or your manager, consider using the pitch deck method to create presentations that will really grab the attention of those around you.
How much does a great pitch deck cost?
The cost of creating a sales pitch can vary widely, from zero to several thousand zlotys. Good sales pitches take time to develop, and while online tools can help with content and graphics, it may be worthwhile to enlist the help of a professional graphic designer to “package” the content in the best way possible. For the content creation process, you’ll need someone to take care of the structure and choose the right words. It’s the details that make the difference and show your professionalism. One tip is to estimate the financial investment in the pitch deck in proportion to the amount of funds you are trying to raise.
What tools to choose?
There are many software options available for designing a pitch deck. Some popular free tools that make it easy to create presentations include Slidebean, Canva, Prezi, and SlideDog. Paid tools for creating clear, aesthetically pleasing slides include PowerPoint and Keynote.
There are also solutions that use artificial intelligence to quickly draft a pitch deck template, such as Copy.AI Pitch Deck, Beemer, and Gift.ai. Regardless of the tool you use, it’s important to save the document in PDF format so that it remains readable by your audience regardless of the medium they view it on.
If you need help creating a sales pitch, feel free to get in touch with us! As an experienced team of content creators and B2B marketers, we can provide guidance and support to help you create a compelling pitch deck for you to attract investors and leave a lasting impression.
Gallup's Strategic Maximizer and professional optimist. She is responsible for sales and customer service. Marta develops creative processes and procedures, specializing in creating teamwork flow. Previously, a freelance writer and Account Manager in PR agencies.
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