Wondering what to include in the traction slide of a pitch deck? The traction slide of a pitch deck should present information about how your product or service is already showing its value. This can include current sales, growth, valuable partnerships, endorsements, pre-orders, or data from a pilot study outlining current consumer interest.
In this article, for those that are wondering how to start a business and more importantly how to pitch it, I’m going to unpack these aspects of the traction slide of a pitch deck. I’ll take you through each of these elements, how to present them, and why you should spend some time considering exactly what to include in your traction slide.
What to Include in a Traction Slide
By the time you present the traction slide of your pitch deck during your presentation, you will already have shown potential investors what problem you are trying to solve for consumers, how you will solve it, the market you will be competing within, and the product/service you will be offering.
All of this has laid the foundation for your traction slide. The proof is in the pudding, and that’s exactly what your traction slide should offer. It’s a way for you to show that your concept is more than just a dream.
With the traction slide of your pitch deck, you can show that your business idea works in the real world. This is done by showing key performance indicators for your product/service. This data will entice investors with persuasive facts.
Performance Indicators of a Traction Slide
So, when thinking what to include in the traction slide of a pitch deck remember that the first order of business is to ask yourself what are these performance indicators?
The truth is, different businesses will have different indicators at their disposal. It all depends on how far along your business is in terms of development. The more mature the business, the more persuasive performance indicators will be available.
Let’s start with the most powerful performance indicator of all – growth.
Now, you might think that profit would be the most important indicator. While profit is extremely important, many businesses that are pitching for subsequent investment might not be making a profit just yet. After all, it costs money to build infrastructure or launch a product/service.
Investors love profit, but they understand that growth is the best indicator of a great return on investment. Your business might be losing money each month, but if your growth stats show that soon you’ll be in the black and then making a substantial profit, that will be enticing.
On your traction slide, you can show growth in terms of years, quarters, or months. I highly recommend showing month on month growth, as this is the best indicator of how your business is performing right now. The simplest way to show this data is with an easy to read graph.
While growth is a powerful performance indicator when it comes to startup fundraising, it isn’t the only one. There are other ways to present business performance on your traction slide. You could use one or two of these to supplement your growth stats, or even replace growth entirely if you don’t have that data yet (more on that below).
Let’s say you don’t have a month on month sales yet because your product/service hasn’t launched: How can you show your product/service has traction in the real world?
You could have a slide showing valuable partnerships or endorsements. If you are working within a niche and have the backing of investors/companies with the influence to propel your product/service onward when it launches, then you can show this here.
Partnerships or investment names are always more effective here as this means you have agreements in place. Endorsements can also be used if an investor/company gives you permission to use their brand during your pitch. An example could be “leading brand X has offered to stock our product in 500 outlets once we launch”.
Be careful here. If you are in negotiations with others, only reveal what you can. Never breach confidentiality, and never over exaggerate. Telling investors that you are “in negotiations” with a huge brand is not the same thing as receiving a polite email from that brand wishing you good luck.
Pre-Orders and Pilot Studies
When considering what to include in the traction slide of a pitch deck, if you don’t have partnerships or endorsements, then you could show pre-orders to show the path of a potentially profitable business. These are either sales that have already been made or commitments to a sale at launch from consumers.
You could also use data from a pilot study here, though you need to be very careful with this. A pilot study is used as a preamble to full market research. It’s essential data showing how consumers in your niche are interested in your product/service.
If you ask 1,000 people within your target demographics about your product, and they say they would definitely think about buying it when it launches, then you could include a statement like “our market research shows that 700 out of 1000 consumers in our target demographic would consider buying our product on launch”.
You could also use social media numbers here as well if applicable and you have laid the foundations of establishing our brand. This data is all about showing a best-case scenario for your product/service once it reaches the market.
However, you might be better served using this information in the market slide of your pitch deck, as some investors may feel you are stretching how much traction you really have in an attempt to secure investment.
What if I Don’t Have the Data for my Traction Slide?
If you don’t have any traction material – or what you do have isn’t very strong – I recommend skipping the traction slide completely. Focus on the other parts of your pitch deck making them more persuasive.
How to Present a Traction Slide
Lastly, when you are at the point of figuring out what to include in the traction slide of a pitch deck, note that your traction slide should be presented with three ideas in mind: Brevity, Accessibility, and Persuasion.
For Brevity, your traction slide should be presented in as concise a way as possible. This means keeping things short and to the point. Don’t spread your traction slide across several slides. Keep it to 1 – 2 slides with no more than 3 bullet points in each.
Accessibility refers to how accessible your traction slide is. You need your slide to be easy to understand. I employ a “first glance” philosophy with this. If your audience can’t understand your points with a quick glance at your traction slide, then it is too overcrowded or complex.
Finally, Persuasion focuses on how likely any point made will encourage people to invest. Prioritize those points which are most persuasive.
If you have other performance indicators outside of this, you could include them in an appendix or refer to them in your question and answer segment at the end.
Remember that storytelling plays a key role in fundraising. This is being able to capture the essence of the business in 15 to 20 slides. For a winning deck, take a look at the template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.
Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
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