The most effective prospect-facing collateral is the result of collaborative sales and marketing teams. While the marketing team is responsible for the development and design of sales collateral, it is marginally effective if it doesn’t incorporate the needs and goals of the sales team.
With the dog days of summer in full effect, now is a great opportunity for sales and marketing to brainstorm together and determine the existing sales collateral that could use a facelift, or what new materials need to be created.
All too often, we find that marketing and sales are misaligned when it comes to collateral creation, with marketing teams creating messaging and content that doesn't match the sales process or speak the language of the target prospect. This can be time-consuming and sometimes costly on behalf of the marketing team, and can often be avoided with involvement and input from the sales team.
Before marketing gets started on any new collateral, they should meet with sales and go through the following thought process of who/what/where/when/how. The answers to these questions will guide the identification of materials that the sales team truly needs and will use.
- What is the goal? Before creating any collateral, you need to understand it purpose. Ask: what is the desired outcome of this piece? How do we want our target persona to act after receiving it?
- How it will be used? Knowing the sales process stage at which a piece of collateral will be used can be used to guide its format, length, and level of detail.
- Who will be receiving it? Target personas must be understood before creating collateral. Once prospect's interests, business pains, and how they consume information have been identified, content can be written and tailored in a way that will be of interest to them.
- When/where will it be used? Electronic and printed formats vary greatly, so this should be determined prior to collateral development. If it’s a printed piece, such as a handout, it should be created with longevity in mind, to get maximal use and avoid constant reprinting. If it’s electronic, it can more easily be updated.
Once you’ve gone through this process, it’s time for the marketing team to create some collateral! Below are several ideas to consider this summer, that we deem as necessary tools in any winning sales process and for any winning sales team.
- Case studies: Customer success stories that give the prospect a true narrative about how your product or service solves the problem they are experiencing. Case studies often incorporate customer testimonial, and prove that your company is credible and your product works. Case studies are a good early-stage tool to use before providing actual references further along in the sales process.
- Fact/product sheets: Supporting materials that give the prospect more information about your company and products/services. Fact sheets boost credibility in initial prospect meetings and interactions, and are also a good tool to attach to follow-up emails after a first call.
- Corporate slide deck: A slide deck used for presentations in many stages of the sales process, from initial conversation until proposal presentation. We recommend creating a well-branded template and a standard “core” deck, along with additional slides that can be added or removed depending on the type of presentation, length, audience, etc.
- LinkedIn profiles/pages: Everyone in the sales organization should have a LinkedIn and your company should have a page as well. LinkedIn is a tool with multiple purposes; it puts a face to the name when a prospect searches someone on your sales team, it is a great way to connect with prospects after an initial call, it is a helpful aid in list-making and blueprinting, and it allows for sharing of content with networks of customer and prospects. Marketing can develop a structure for LinkedIn profiles, as well as create and manage the company page.
Finally, don't forget training. Whenever new collateral is made, the sales team needs to be trained on what it is, how to access it, and how to use it.