The best sellers use tailored sales collateral — materials developed by their business to support the sales process — to engage prospects at the right time with the right information to close deals faster. Today’s most effective collateral bears little resemblance to the jargon-heavy brochures of years past. In fact, modern sales collateral pivots away from the vendor’s perspective and instead incorporates insight from credible third parties. According to Gartner, “content that features a third party telling or validating a story is inherently more credible and trustworthy than the same story told by a vendor.”
Answer These Four Questions to Develop Effective Sales Collateral
None of this is news for top-performing sales and marketing teams. But as buyers’ expectations evolve alongside rapid technology disruption in every industry, it may be increasingly difficult for sales and marketing to consistently develop collateral that influences revenue. The key to successful sales collateral is to map the content to your buyer’s needs by asking these simple questions:
- Who are we selling to?
- What questions do they need answered and when?
- Who do they trust to answer these questions?
- What content will most effectively answer their questions?
Build the Foundation for Sales Collateral that Connects
Answering these questions will define the basics of your buyer personas. Let’s say your company sells a modern application development automation platform, so software developers and their managers are both target buyers. Here are the questions that matter and some example answers:
- Motivation (such as, “How can I accelerate release velocity?”)
- Purchase process (ex. Hacker News > open source > free trials > deep-dive demo with sales engineer)
- Influencers (fellow developers, VP of Development)
- Preferred communication styles (Anything but email)
These insights are a critical part of developing sales collateral that connects with your prospects and differentiates you from your competition. Though acquiring this information may seem daunting at first, the plethora of research on a vast range of buyer types, plus the many tools that make surveying and actually speaking to your existing customer base cost- and time-efficient, have significantly lowered the barrier to real understanding of potential buyers.
Develop Sales Collateral that Maps to Your Buyer’s Journey
Once you have a strong foundation of anecdotal and data-based intelligence, you can confidently develop collateral that aligns to the purchase process, often called the buyer’s journey, so your sales team can answer your prospects’ questions with credible information that matches their current decision-making stage.
To continue our software developer example, it’s unlikely a developer prospect will want a support pricing document when they’ve just begun researching modern development processes. However, they may very well want access to a notable technology analyst’s side-by-side comparison of popular development methodologies. You can also give your prospect relevant information that differentiates your platform by following up a 300-level demonstration with collateral that details the technology integrations and coding languages your product supports.
Regardless of the stage, it’s critical to map sales collateral to your prospects’ motivations at any given time. SiriusDecisions found that 71% of sales leaders say that their sellers fail to connect their solution to prospects’ needs. So, just as best practices guidance and credible third-party advice is influential early in the buyer’s journey, detailed case studies that align with the prospect’s use case and demonstrate a clear return on investment will be critical in the decision-making stage.
Sales Collateral Only Works If It’s Easy to Use
You understand your buyer, their motivations and influences, and their journey to a purchase. By leveraging credible third-party voices, insightful data, and existing customer stories, you build a sales collateral repository that likely includes:
- Third-party research
- Best practice guides
- Sales presentations
- Customer case studies
- Product overview and deep dive materials
- Pricing guides
Now that you’re in the last mile to influence revenue with sales collateral, how do you enable sellers to learn about, find, and use this content? How do you track their use and see if they’re aligning collateral to the appropriate buyer’s journey stages? How do you know what is generating real buyer engagement and what’s falling flat?
Sales enablement technology can answer these questions and offer a comprehensive platform for organizing, using, and analyzing the effectiveness of sales collateral. By providing your sales teams with a single workflow for intuitive content management, just-in-time training, efficient communication, and dynamic pitching, you’ll maximize the value of sales collateral in shortening deal cycles.
Sales collateral is paramount to buyer engagement. Follow the steps outlined in this blog to build a strong foundation for creating compelling collateral, and then explore sales enablement technology to turbocharge your sales execution.