B2B sales often demand face-to-face meetings and interactions, but you can only control the conversation for as long as you’re in the room. Once you’re out the door your prospects will talk among themselves, and take time to consider your offer. Most often the decision is made after you leave, and includes several people who were not in your meeting. The real decision-making begins after you relinquish control of the situation.
So what can you do to maintain a strong presence even after you’re gone? One of the best strategies is to create and distribute strategic leave-behind pieces, which your prospects can review while they make that final decision. The strength of that piece could determine whether they remember the right bits of information from your pitch, whether your brand stays top-of-mind, and ultimately, whether they choose to move forward with your company.
The key benefits of using strategic sales collateral include:
- Creates brand credibility for your business
- Explaining why choosing your company is better
- Collateral defines and differentiates the brand
- Extends the average engagement in a sales call
- Identifies key points in the sales conversation
- Tells your story better than the prospect can
The different types of sales collateral should not be confused with advertising. They differ because sales collateral is normally used considerably later in the sales process, not in awareness or attraction stages. In most cases, companies will utilize their sales collateral once a company has identified a potential buyer and they are being contacted by the sales department. Then collateral may be used multiple times in the remaining stages of the buyers journey. Good collateral helps move prospects through the journey, and documents their path.
Equally, sales collateral is not a promotional item. The sales collateral is a paper piece that has a specific job to accomplish at a specific point in the sales cycle. Sales collateral strengthens brand image, keeps the message clear, focuses buyers on pain points, increases closing ratio, and shortens sales cycles. But only if it’s used correctly.
Important Sales Collateral Items
- Leave behind call reminder
- Sales Call Discussion Points
- Testimonial sheet
- Case Studies
- “About Us” company data sheets
- ROI demos
- Product whitepapers
- Sales presentation visual aids
- Thank you notes
- Business cards
Do not create a gap between the value of what your collateral types and sales reps are delivering and the quality of your product or service offering. Offering a unique level of service, distinct pricing, or a fine product will be ignored in a poorly designed collateral piece printed off the office copier. (Steak doesn’t look as tasty served on a piece of cardboard box!)
Invest in high-quality materials.
When you’re going to print a brochure or booklet, make sure to choose an experienced printer and invest in high-quality materials, as you would for most B2B sales strategies. If your paper is thin and gritty and your design isn’t centered, it’s going to leave a bad impression with your potential customer. Invest in thicker stock with a gloss or other specialized coating. It might cost a little more, but it’s going to leave potential clients with a much stronger impression of your brand.
Consider the level of the decision makers you’re trying to reach.
Honestly assess whether every piece of sales collateral moves the engagement forward, or if it serves as a liability. Make the necessary adjustments.
Companies of all sizes need to be concerned about perception. Their sales materials can’t beg the question, “How long have you been in business?” or “Do you have the capability to meet our needs?”, because if they do, the sale is lost. Sales collateral is an effective way for companies to deliver their brand message and brand quality to buyers. Good materials make businesses and sales reps look like leaders in their industries. If you are serious about making traction in a market, these materials must send a message of strength, trustworthiness, and quality.
The best collateral builds and maintains strong brands. It forges a connection between the buyer and the seller. Strong collateral communicates superiority and competitive differentiation. It enables companies to stand out among all the others. Good collateral makes an impression, carves out real estate in the prospect’s brain, and influences buying decisions. It
If you don’t have talented marketing designers in house, consider outsourcing. For more on smart outsourcing, click here.
Designing Better Sales Collateral
Start each piece with an engaging B2B sales headline, and commit to telling or reinforcing at least 30% of your message visually.
The first thing people see when they look at your leave-behind will be what forms the strongest impression with them. Even when a rep has delivered the best sales pitch of their life, you still need a strong headline to anchor your piece because it will be viewed later, out of context. What’s the one thing you want people to remember about your products or your company? Try to avoid jargon here. Keep the headline short – 10 words or less.
Keep the branding at the forefront.
One of the most important roles of your leave-behind will be accurate branding for the people in your meeting. These prospective clients may be meeting with multiple close competitors of yours. By the end of the week, meeting members will have trouble remembering who’s who. Keeping your branding strong, visible and recognizable on each page of your leave-behind materials will ensure that you stand out from the competition and earn more B2B sales. Use both visuals (including coloration and image selection) and verbal tone to accomplish this.
List key takeaways on a sheet left during a discovery call.
Most people aren’t going to read every word of your piece; they’re going to scan for high-level takeaways instead. You can cater to this audience by ensuring that the most important takeaways from your presentation are prominent, preferably with standout bullet points. Again, don’t reduce your story that your prospects have heard a thousand times. Get to the core of your business case, and use numbers to prove your arguments if you can.
Create pieces with references and/or case study information.
Social proof is one of the most persuasive things you can offer your prospects, so try to include a handful of references or testimonials in a leave-behind piece. Even better, include some case study-like information, such as what specific results you were able to get for your past clients.
Remain concise and to-the-point.
Don’t go on extended, colorful narratives about your brand’s core values, or lengthy explanations about your processes. Instead, keep things as concise and focused as possible. People reading this material want fast, easy-to-understand points. If they see dense paragraphs, they’re probably going to throw it away. After drafting your original version, run through the piece and eliminate anything that isn’t necessary, including superfluous words and sentences that make redundant points.
Offer contact information.
You likely dropped off some business cards during the meeting, but you never know how your sales collateral could get separated. Including a website link—especially if your site is loaded with valuable content—is also a good idea, to give your prospects more opportunities to discover and interact with your brand.
B2B selling requires finesse. B2B closing requires a complete picture of a complete solution. Sales collateral is a key piece of that equation. Need help defining your message or creating strong pieces for each step of the sales process? Click here.