“Sales Collateral” immediately brings to mind brochures, sell sheets, integrated datasheets (PostgreSQL), case studies, white papers, and similar other printed or digital content. Businesses spend significant effort and money to produce and distribute them in the hope of supporting their sales process.
Unfortunately, traditional sales collateral is no longer effective. Changes in customer behavior have drastically affected how and even if your content is consumed.
It is time to rethink the relevance of sales collateral in your B2B sales process.
Over the past decade, our behavior as prospects and customers has changed drastically:
The non-stop stimulations on social media and the internet, as well as continuous interruptions from mobile devices, have significantly reduced our attention span and affected how we consume information. It is very difficult to attract attention and retain engagement with traditional text-heavy sales collateral.
The constant bombardment of sales solicitations via ads, emails and phone calls has saturated our attention. We have learned to raise effective barriers to preserve our sanity. This has made it difficult for sales teams to get in front of their customers, engage them in conversation, handle their objections and infer their intent from their body language. Lack of in-person access prolongs the sales cycle.
We have all been empowered to self-discover solutions to our problems. We have all turned into “do-it-yourself” (DIY) buyers. We care very little about vendor’s features and benefits. We are more focused on how does it solve our problems. Most sales collateral fails to satisfy our preference for undertaking our own customer journey.
Given these changes in consumer behavior, continuing with traditional practices in sales collateral development will inevitably waste precious resources and severely hurt your business’s sales performance.
Here is a practical guide to overcoming these limitations, rethinking sales engagement and delivering content that will fuel sales enablement.
New Norms for Customer Engagement
The four rules listed below will help you deliver content that overcomes these new challenges of customer engagement:
Keep It Bite-sized – As far as possible, keep each piece of sales content brief. There are a few exceptions that we will discuss later but in general, if a piece of content can be consumed in 30 to 90 seconds then the audience is likely to view it right away and share it with others.
Focus on Wow! – It is sad but true that most audiences hate reading. Focus on communicating your message with crisp infographics, illustrative photos, clear animations and short videos with the use of an online video editor. Even a unique logo you can create with a logo maker can leave a greater impression than plain text.
Enable Personalization – Remember sales enablement content is not marketing content consumed by anonymous website visitors or ad clickers. You already know who you are talking to. Make sure the content focuses on their context and their problems. Design and organize your content so that it is easily personalizable by your sales team. (We will show you how to do that.) CRM tools can help you to do it in a better way.
Engage on Mobile – 80% of your audience views your content on mobile devices. Make sure that it is easy to view, binge on and then share all via mobile devices.
- Keep It Bite-sized – As far as possible, keep each piece of sales content brief. There are a few exceptions that we will discuss later but in general, if a piece of content can be consumed in 30 to 90 seconds then the audience is likely to view it right away and share it with others.
- Focus on Wow! – It is sad but true that most audiences hate reading. Focus on communicating your message with crisp infographics, illustrative photos, clear animations and short videos.
- Enable Personalization – Remember sales enablement content is not marketing content consumed by anonymous website visitors or ad clickers. You already know who you are talking to. Make sure the content focuses on their context and their problems. Design and organize your content so that it is easily personalizable by your sales team. (We will show you how to do that.)
- Engage on Mobile – 80% of your audience views your content on mobile devices. Make sure that it is easy to view, binge on and then share all via mobile devices.
Most of the existing sales collateral was designed with the assumption that the sales person was primarily responsible for engaging the customer. The primary purpose of sales collateral was to inform the customer on your offering and overcome their objections. With today’s changed customer behavior, however, this is no longer a valid assumption.
Your sales collateral has to evolve into Engagement Objects that will engage the b2b buyers when and where they want and empowers them to embark on a personalized customer journey. These Engagement Objects are designed to progress the customer through the decision-making process. They are easily personalized by a salesperson. They motivate the recipient to immediately view them as well as share them with other stakeholders. They will shorten your sales cycle and dramatically improve the salesperson’s effectiveness.
The next section lists and describes the essential engagement objects that will fuel your company’s sales enablement.
9 Engagement Objects to Fuel Sales Enablement
The engagement objects listed below will align your offering with your customer’s business problem, assist them in building a business case and in procuring budgets, instill confidence in your offering and help them build an internal consensus.
Teasers - The first piece of communication to determine if a specific problem has been experienced by the recipient and whether they would be interested in further investigating the problem and possibly explore solutions to that problem. Explainers - An essential content piece that will help the salesperson leverage initial conversation to align the prospect’s problem-solving strategy with your offering and uniquely position you with respect to your competitors. Guided Tours - Enables your salespeople to engage the prospect without the delay or costs of scheduling a pre-sales resource and developing a customized product demonstration to deliver inspired moments of “ah-ha” when prospects envision how using your product solves an important problem. Loss Calculator - Draws a crisp and vivid contrast between an attractive Future (achieved with the removal of the problem) and a negative, unwanted Present (resulting from the existence of the problem) to induce a needed shock to the customer, quantifying its current cost of doing business as usual. Buyer's Guide - Navigates the prospect through the buying process by providing them guidance that positions your company's offering as the “best overall” solution, builds a business case to procure budgets and mitigates the risks inherent in undertaking change. Case Studies - Describes the journey that one of your customers took in solving a problem with your offering and establish that other companies have solved similar problems using your solution. That makes your solution seem less risky and its benefits more believable. Interview Podcast - An unusual but very effective sales tool. A series of immersive, lean-back audio recordings of customer interviews to learn about how other successful customers selected and implemented your product to inspire your new prospects. Rich Media Slide Library - A game changing practice that enables a sales person to easily and quickly assemble an engaging and personalized presentation that is perceived by the audience as highly relevant to their needs and retains their attention during the entire pitch. Proposal Template - Traditional sales proposals are the root cause of many lost deals. This new practice guides a sales team to summarize the buying journey and deliver a comprehensive proposal that retains relevance, positions you as a trusted partner and accelerates decision making.
The Engagement Objects are listed roughly in the order in which they will be exposed to a prospect during the sales cycle. Depending on the complexity of your offering, different decision-maker roles, industry focus and applications of your solutions, you may have one or more of each Engagement Object types.
For example, if you are a startup with a new product, it is fine to start with a single Teaser and Explainer, a couple of Guided Tours, up to a 10-slide Presentation and one Proposal template. As your business grows, add additional engagement objects to improve your sales performance.