The salesperson working for a small company may worry they have too little sales collateral, while those who work for very large companies have so much sales collateral they must organize it to make it useful. When organizations include all the information on the internet in their sales collateral, the resulting link or stack of documents can surpass the length of Tolstoy's War and Peace (928 pages).
Few contacts will take more than a passing glance at your sales collateral. For example, legacy sales collateral (e.g., the history of your company, bios of board members, logo pages, printed testimonials, “Why Us?” sheets, etc.) is ignored by most potential clients. Before producing anything, you must understand what might create value for buyers and what will find its way into their actual or virtual trash bin. It’s also important to consider how you use collateral because it is a crutch, something outside the conversation that is supposed to create value for a client.
A Short History of Sales Collateral
Before the internet, a lot of money was spent on designing sales collateral that would provide contacts with information about the company, an outline of the company’s products or services, and proof that the company could help the client improve their results. These glossy, four-color documents were necessary, and in some ways, they were helpful to both the salesperson and the client.
Personally, I have never been interested in carrying sales collateral because I am uncomfortable with all crutches. As the internet is now a giant repository of sales collateral, there is no reason to provide paper documents, but let’s look at what a modern approach includes.
From “Why Us?” to Value Creation
Imagine you have a problem. You open your browser and search for some ideas about how you might improve your results. The first site you explore has a lot of information about the company and its product, but you are disappointed there was nothing that helped you learn about why you have your particular problem. The second site also disappoints, as there is nothing you find helpful. On the third try, you find a site that provides you with information that not only explains why your results are suffering, but also what you need to learn to improve the outcomes causing your trouble.
There are still sales organizations that lose prospective clients by not providing the information they need when they need it. In this example, the third site had resources that provided a greater level of value because the information was insightful. It felt like the company understood the problem better than you, the client, did.
In a time when almost everything you might want is delivered directly to your front door overnight, modern buyers will not appreciate having to wait for answers to their questions. No matter your industry, your website is part of your prospective client's buyer's journey. If it doesn't provide the insights buyers are looking for when they start their research, someone else’s will.
From Paper to People
One company I work with has online videos that provided me with the entire buyer's journey. After watching 45 minutes of videos, I was ready to buy. The videos proved the company understood what I was trying to do, and explained in detail why the status quo wasn’t working for me and what I would have to change. The other sites I looked at had social proof, but none taught me anything beyond what I already knew when I first arrived at their websites.
Most websites are far more helpful than most older forms of sales collateral. In my case, I was online late on a Friday night, and neither of the two people in the videos were actually there with me. However, there were human beings talking to me, so I didn't have to scroll or read. The written word is helpful and necessary, but videos can be even more powerful.
The New Sales Collateral
The new sales collateral is more than something you leave behind. Instead, it's a set of multimedia tools that help the client on their buyer's journey. For example, social proof that used to be a quote from a client is now a video testimonial. The white paper is now an explainer video, blog post, or another rich resource that teaches the contact something they need to understand and provides deeper insights. This approach to sales collateral helps you create something that works with the sales conversation. However, because the clients can review this content independently, it doesn’t act as a crutch in the same way as printed collateral that you bring into a meeting.
The new sales collateral extends from the first contact with a prospect who is looking for help. This is an inbound approach, but the same resources should be used in an outbound approach. The full-cycle salesperson can use this new collateral to create value for their clients before ever meeting with them. By providing them with insights about their challenges, you can sometimes start them on their buyer's journey. When what you send doesn't start them moving forward towards change, at least you become known as an expert and authority.
Your new sales collateral should:
- help with the buyer's journey
- improve inbound and outbound approaches
- provide insights to prospects before meeting them
- establish you as an expert and authority
In today's sales environment, your collateral should create value for your clients. If the collateral doesn't help your prospective client, it isn't helping you.