Should you use a sales deck on the sales discovery call?

barista editorial board

March 23, 2022 / 5 Min Read

There are different doctrines on what should be done on the first sales call. The common practice is that the first sales meeting isn’t about selling, rather It is a discovery call aimed to understand whether the client is qualified or not, and what are her main needs. Others may say that the client came for a demo, so you should add demonstration to your discovery call. But what about decks? Are they holding back discovery? Do they come across as too pushy? Or do they provide the needed structure for the call? 


What is a sales deck?

A sales deck is a slide presentation used to support a sales pitch or structure sales meetings. Sales sides often outline the problem the company can solve to the prospect and the main value proposition they offer. It includes an overview of the product or service and may include case studies of success stories from other clients.


Before you gather slides, define your discovery call goal

Don’t ever enter a meeting without defining what do you wish to get from it and how do you plan to do so. You should have a goal for every meeting. There are three main first meeting goals as you can read on our previous blog about setting meeting goals:

  • Qualify the client 
  • Reveal the client’s main problems and build trust
  • Move to demo (now or in another call)


Each one of these goals requires different plan, and each plan should be supported by different materials suited for the discovery call. The plan is also depends on the prospect you’re about to meet, so make sure you research your prospect properly before hopping on the discovery call. 

While many salespeople focus on making their sales decks shiny and fun, they do little to ensure that the slides address the prospect’s needs and align with their sales meeting goal.


Which decks are suitable for a sales qualification call?

The qualification process is aimed for to the seller to understand whether the prospects’ circumstances make them a good fit for the product she sells. In other words: should a salesperson spend time on this prospect. For inbound leads, where the buying intent in the product is more implicit, account executives may skip qualification, especially when they have their inbound SDRs do this for them. If the conversation is generated through outbound, then having the primary theme of your first call be about qualification makes more sense. Especially for known commodity products where buyers are actively looking for a vendor within a known space or category. 

For leads that you are more familiar with, it probably makes more sense to have the qualification call without a deck, as you know how to engage them and you just replicate your best practices and tailor your call structure for the specific prospect. 

However, as client do expect to see something in the first call, for less known leads a deck could be helpful. Demo is not a good fit for qualification, and a good sales deck may help to structure the qualification meeting. Having a deck provides structure for reps. Whether that’s around guiding the discovery or presenting your offering. Moreover, for teams that are less savvy, this reduces the complexity of the conversation vs. having to navigate the product.

Starting the qualification call with 2-3 slides that help to visualize the value proposition can help you understand in 5 minutes whether you even need to have this conversation.


Which decks are suitable for a deep discovery call?

According to Gong’s data, selling with slides decreases success rates of the sales discovery call. Does it mean you should evict sales decks from your first calls? Well… it depends on your meeting goal and how educated your prospect is about your product. 

In general, the main goal of a discovery call should be to reveal the most urgent pains of your prospect and to understand the buying process in their organization. If successful, you’ll leave the call armed with how to demonstrate best your solution and with a map of to navigate the deal. 

Slides are not needed for the sake of that purpose. A well rehearsed and planned discovery call could be engaged and effective by solely interacting with the client. However, a discovery call that is not personalized may come across like one sided interview. Then,  you can either use a deck to guide the discovery and help the prospect understand your value proposition through visualization. Alternatively, you can front load the discovery call or in order to tailor the presentation based on what you learned earlier in the conversation.

The Factors That Will Decide Whether to Use a Sales Deck

Having a sales deck is useful for storytelling your value proposition through mapping strategic outcomes. You can drive urgency by showcasing real business impact and use social proof case studies for validation. In addition, it helps to structure your meeting and help to communicate complexities through visualizations. On the other hand, sales slides could hold back mutual conversation which will probably make your client get bored. 

All things considered, using a deck on the first call probably makes more sense for:

  • Evangelical products – where prospects are less likely to be familiar with and may lose attention when trying to imagine them by themselves.
  • Outbound generated opportunities, or prospects with little context as to what you do – visualizations and social proof may help these prospects get an idea of what is the main value proposition they could get by buying your product.
  • Initial calls with low level stakeholders – To get your foot in the door and prepare for the next decision make call.
  • More enterprise, expensive products  – In these cases the buying process is going to be a long journey, and a well prepared deck could smooth your prospect in to it.


Test your discovery call game plans

These are not a common truth and in no way should be considered as rules. Like everything in sales, there is no one size fits all. Optimization is an evergreen process of experimentation, and top sellers are aware of that. Join forces with your sales enablement team to create decks for different scenarios you encounter, try them out for different use cases and se for yourself what fits your prospects, and what fits your style.