Creds decks have the power to back up your bold claims and show potential new clients that you’ve got what it takes to turn their dreams into reality. In just a few short slides, you can prove that your business has been there, done that, and knows exactly how to tackle any challenge that may come your way. So, why do most creds decks suck?
You’ve spent years crafting your skills and sharpening your ideas but now you’re tasked with an entirely different challenge: selling them. You’re not short of leads. The prospects are there and they’re yearning for a solution to their problems. But they’re anxious about making the right decision. There’s so much to consider and vast amounts of information available. And they’ve probably got a lot of options.
So, how do you get them to listen to you? How do you convince them that you are the right partner to take them forward? Cue the creds deck. Creds decks are so much more than a list of previous successes. Done right, they establish credibility and expertise, inspire trust, differentiate you from competitors, and paint an honest picture of your business.
Unfortunately, most creds decks aren’t done right. We’re going to show you how to create a compelling creds deck that truly connects with your audience, shifts their beliefs and makes them wonder why it took them this long to find you.
What is a creds deck?
A creds deck is essentially your company portfolio. It’s a collection of your very best work, presented in the most flattering way. Typically, the messaging of a creds deck focuses on two main areas. Firstly, it needs to showcase your products and services, the difference you make, and the evidence to back it up. These are your demonstrable successes – case studies, results, the impact, previous projects, etc. Second, and just as important, every component, from the visuals to the story, should accurately capture who you are as a business: your personality, your values and your mission. The audience should get a feel for your business identity through every slide. How you present this information depends on who you are and who your audience is, but creds decks need to do both if they’re to successfully persuade someone to invest.
Here comes the tricky bit. While the purpose of a creds deck is to show off your skills, the worst thing you can do is use this opportunity as an excuse to indulge in your success. There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your work, but there’s pride and then there’s outright bragging. No one wants to work with a narcissist. The focus needs to shift from you to your audience. Naturally, you’ll still talk about yourself, but in a client-centric way. So, the emphasis switches from reeling off your successes to how your successes make you qualified to help the person you’re talking to. Fail to make this switch and you risk total audience disconnect.
The problem with most cred decks
Speaking of narcissism, most companies try to cram everything into their creds deck, so instead of being a greatest hits album, they become a playlist of everything you’ve ever made. The songs don’t follow on from each other. There’s no harmony. No continuity. No order. This won’t resonate with the listener. They want to hear about how you can address their specific needs and help them attain their personal goals. Clients are smart. If they get a whiff of irrelevance, they’ll lose interest. And if you use generic, nonspecific messaging, they’ll see right through it. Plus, I’m sure you’ll agree that your future clients are worth the effort of a tailored experience.
The home advantage
Creds decks also have the advantage of flexibility: they can be delivered remotely, from the convenience of your home. If for any reason, you can’t present in a face-to-face setting, there’s no reason why you can’t replicate the experience via a video call. You never know when a worldwide contagion’s going to sweep the nation, right? Creds decks give you that flexibility to sell your services in the online and offline spheres, without compromising on impact.
Building a creds deck in 9 steps
1. Audience first
The best way to approach your creds deck is to treat it like any other presentation. And what comes first in any other presentation? The audience. Like we said, too many companies focus on themselves. Before you start detailing how many offices you have and how many employees you’ve got, think about whether your audience even cares.
Companies with a focus on scaling up, for example, will likely see the benefit in your global locations. Others won’t give a toss about how many offices you have, but they may be enticed by the philanthropic string to your bow, seeing an opportunity to boost their CSR credentials. And this is exactly the point, the creds deck needs to be tailored to different audiences.
Think about who you’re pitching to through the lens of “What do they care about?”. Pinpoint their needs, motivations, challenges and expectations, and then use this information to draw parallels between their current reality and your solutions.
2. Personalise that page
Once you’ve thought about your audience, you can begin to piece the creds deck together. Starting unconventionally with… page one. This initial page needs to propose an idea so tempting they can’t click x.
In order to be compelling, your proposal has to resonate with them from the very first page. There’s no shortcut here, the only way to do this is to do your research. Get to know who you’re talking to so you can describe a situation they will identify with. Address a familiar scenario, reference some of their key challenges and set yourself up as the organisation with the keys to unlock their success. Personalise it to fit their situation, while introducing your own overarching value proposition.
Empathy is the driving force of a creds deck. The first page should prove to them that you get it. You understand where they want to go, you understand what’s holding them back and you know how to take them there. It should give them an inviting snapshot of what’s to come and a reason to keep listening.
3. Let the audience dictate their experience
Nothing creates an audience-centric presentation quite like a self-directed experience. Instead of building a linear deck, where audiences have no choice but to sit through every slide politely, give them the option to choose what they want to look at.
If you’d like to keep it simple, opt for a two-route menu system that enables them to jump to a particular slide, and back to the main menu. If you want to create a more dynamic experience, design a navigation system around their challenges. Create a menu that lists a set of pain points, with each one linking to your solution. This way, you can show that you already understand their challenges, and you’ve solved similar challenges before.
If case studies, rather than challenges, are the driving force of your messaging, you could even add layers of navigation for different verticals, or the brands that are most aligned to what they do. Ask them if there’s a company they aspire to be like and show them something similar you’ve worked on, or the real deal if you’ve got that connection under your belt. Navigation in presentation software can be as flexible as you want it to be, just remember to give your audience the power to choose where the conversation goes.
4. Show off what goes on behind the scenes
Your audience aren’t just interested in the final product, they’re keen to know how you got there. Odds are, you’re not the only company offering a solution to their problems, but what will distinguish you is the story you have to tell and the people behind your success.
The human element doesn’t come across in finished products, but in the struggle, the creativity and the development from the original ideas. Be transparent about the process – the highs, the lows, the time pressure, the deadlines, those late nights you spent trying to fix a software malfunction. Show them the mood boards and initial drafts that came before the polished piece. Explain how you overcame what seemed like an insurmountable challenge. In being transparent about the reality of the journey, flaws and all, you’ll evidence just how much passion goes in, from inception to final delivery.
Being honest about the challenges you faced gives you authenticity and shows grit. This will inspire confidence that no matter what, you’ll find an answer and get the job done.
5. Turn features into benefits
Features mean nothing without material business benefits. You should be applauded for devising a solution to their problems, but even if you’ve come up with a revolutionary idea with seven patents and first-of-their-kind features, so what? Features can be read on a specification list. Benefits need to be demonstrated.
Perhaps you’re saving them time, making their processes more efficient, cutting costs or reducing the possibility of downtime. Whatever it is that will change their lives, transpose it into a language that your audience understands, and don’t presume they’ll immediately grasp what these benefits mean for them. Explain the benefits in the context of their working environment, or better yet, show them an angle they may not have considered before. Don’t just say it will solve their challenges, demonstrate how it will and why you can do it better than anybody else.
People buy based on their emotions, but justify their purchases with logic. The features give them the logic, but the benefits stir an emotional response, and it’s this that will feed that motivation to purchase.
6. Let your clients do the selling for you
The purpose of a creds deck is to sell. We know it, you know it, and your potential clients know it. But that doesn’t mean they deserve to sit through soulless marketing spiel and slide after slide of humble brag. And don’t assume they’ll simply take your word for it.
The vast majority of people won’t part with their hard-earned money without some evidence of the tangible successes you’ve had with other companies. And for those who are on the fence, the right testimonial could be the push that lands you a new client. The herd effect is a powerful force. People feel safer making riskier business decisions if others have done it before them. Demonstrating a proven track record of success, with quotes from other people, will reassure prospects of your authenticity and credibility.
The best creds decks give enough evidence to satiate everyone’s appetite. Some are swayed by the human impact; others may be numbers people. A glowing review from a happy customer, placed next to some high-impact data visualisation, could be all it takes to cement your success.
7. Keep it short
It’s good to be passionate about what you do, but try not to let that passion cloud your judgement about audience engagement. You may want to showcase every asset from your highly-successful marketing campaign or every page of a brochure you created, but your prospect probably has other things to be doing. You need to learn to edit. Only show the aspects of your offering that solve a problem for your audience.
Some slides will deserve more attention than others, but that’s your call. Dedicate more time to the topics that matter most for the audience, and to explain the most meaningful components of your overarching argument. Follow a pace that you’re comfortable with, but keep it snappy and stick to the point.
8. Leave the ‘About Us’ section until the end
Out of the hundreds of presentations we’ve seen, one of the most common slipups is talking about yourselves upfront. Imagine you’re a potential client with a niggling pain point. You accept a meeting invitation with a company claiming to have an answer to your problems. The meeting commences and the first thing they do is tell you about their history, awards and company culture, and this ends up eating into most of the meeting time.
Establishing your credibility is vital, but the quality of your ideas and previous successes will do this for you. Leave the ‘About Us’ section to the very end and make it optional in your navigation system. Most prospects should be sold on you before you reach this part.
9. You are the driving force of the creds deck
Don’t forget that your slides are there to support you. Think of them as tools that’ll help you get your message across. You, as the presenter, are always the focal point of the presentation.
Ultimately, you’ll convince prospects with your authenticity, knowledge, tone, body language, confidence, and aura. All of this is really important because, together, they’ll shape your prospect’s judgement of you.
Even through a video call, your passion should shine through. This is why practicing is so important. You can use the slides as visual aids or reference points, but when it comes to the moment of delivery, it’s you who’ll be centre stage, with your slides playing a supporting role.
Optional, but recommended, extras
It’s easy for busy companies to dismiss an opportunity to have a face-to-face conversation with you by asking you to send creds deck instead. This is convenient for them, but not so opportune for you, because you run the risk of the deck being lost in a busy inbox. Always try to push for a meeting. Your creds deck alone won’t be enough to persuade your audience. Without an in-person delivery, much of the passion that manifests through tone, gestures and unscripted answers to questions, will be lost.
If there’s no in-person meeting on the horizon, you can still use this to your advantage. Find out as much as you can about them via email, Linkedin or whatever their preferred communication platform is. Ask questions about what they’re currently working on, what’s filling up their time and what would relieve their pressure. Doing this is another way of evidencing that you genuinely care about helping them, and equips you with valuable information that you can use to personalise your creds deck, in preparation for the face-to-face meeting. Building this relationship online could be what charms them into setting up a video call, or making the time to give you that meeting in person.
At times, creating a creds deck may not feel like one of the most enjoyable aspects of self-promotion. Some people worry that a presentation won’t capture the brilliance of what they do, but with our tips, you can make sure every slide does your work justice. Or better yet, give the responsibility to someone else. As a full-service presentation agency, we’re fully equipped to take care of your creds deck for you. There’s no time like the present. Get your creds deck ready now, that next big prospect might be looking for your company as we speak.