Think about it: Are your firm's sales presentations and pitch decks something you'd actually want to be on the receiving end of?

If you're completely honest, the answer is: Probably not.

In a world where people are used to being constantly entertained, sales presentations and support materials are still an area where dullness reigns.

According to statisticbrain.com, the average attention span for a person today is approximately eight seconds. Flash a PowerPoint slide on a screen and you've got eight seconds or less to engage your audience before you lose them, and completely miss your chance to make a sale.

So, what can you do to make your sales presentations and materials more dynamic and engaging? The answer is to use them to tell a story. From the simplest meme, to a six-second Vine video, to an article online, to an epic miniseries on HBO, the most successful content these days tells stories. And your sales materials should, as well.

Here are some simple tips that will help you weave storytelling into your sales presentations and support materials.

1. Open with a bang
Start your sales presentations with something big, just like movies and television shows do. Insert a film clip, impactful graphic or bold statement. Find a quick and concise way to explain what you're going to reveal in the pitch that will get viewers excited. Remember: You only have eight seconds to get their attention.

Not sure how to make a fast, impactful statement? Talk to your best wholesalers and salespeople. It's likely they they have a line they use to grab attention during sales meetings.

2. Use simple and clear language
Face it: Your sales presentation is not The Hobbit, Harry Potter or Star Wars. Your customers and clients will not take the time to learn a new language or terminology related to the things you sell. Find ways to explain benefits and features in clear terms they'll understand.

3. Don't print the script
Always remember: The slide is the slide, the script is the script. Movies don't run their scripts on the screen. You shouldn't print your script on your PowerPoint slides. The best storytelling practice is to use an evocative photo and a few powerful words on the slide and let the speaker tell the story.

4. The image is the supporting player
Think about it: Good social media, advertising and video images are simple, evocative and carefully framed. In a similar way, if you're using your sales tools to tell a story, the related images should be simple and support it. Make sure pictures, charts, graphs and tables are clear and readable to your audience. Don't let complexity or clutter get in the way of effective storytelling.

5. Connect the dots
The best television series do a great job of connecting scene to scene and episode to episode. Great sales presentations do the same thing. One slide connects to the next. A section transitions to the one that follows. It can be jarring when there's a big disconnect between slides or sections of a sales presentation. It's worth it to take extra time to work on careful transitions.

6. Find the right actor and make sure they practice
Do you think Meryl Streep gives great performances without training, practice and rehearsals? Of course not. And as good as they are, it's unlikely the people on your sales force are as talented as Meryl Streep is. It's worth getting your sales people the public speaking training they need to become good presenters. Also, make sure they take adequate time to rehearse before they give a pitch. Another thing to consider: Not everyone is a great speaker. Don't press people to present who are not good at it.

7. Know the ending
Have you ever wondered if the author of a book had the ending in mind when they wrote it? A disconnected narrative that doesn't pay off in the end can be very dissatisfying. It's the same with the sales process. You need to understand how your sales cycle is going to end before you create the materials that support the journey to the close. Knowing the ending will help ensure all the sales steps along the way will pay-off with the desired outcome.

8. Hire a writer and director
Not everyone is a natural born storyteller. You may need help telling your sales story the right way. It's worth partnering with an agency that has experience in developing compelling sales messages and supporting them with presentations and sales materials that drive results. 

Carpenter Group was been developing world-class promotional materials for leading companies for more than 35 years. Contact us today to learn how we can help you tell your company's story and develop effective sales presentations and materials to support it.