Is your collateral right for selling in today’s dynamically changing world?
Collateral has been a vital part of the sales process since time began. Many believe prehistoric cave paintings showing herds of animals and bundled crops may represent some of the earliest sales presentations and records of completed deals.
The evolution of sales collateral has been glacial because of how people sell hasn’t changed all that much over time. In most cases, it’s been done in person. And salespeople have always depended on support materials to help them explain their products and services and why their offerings are different and better. Stone tablets were replaced by printed pieces. Eventually, brochures and sell sheets were supplemented with videos and electronic marketing and sales collateral.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced thousands of years of sales stagnation to officially come to an end.
The last two months have changed how people sell — and do business overall — more quickly and dramatically than any period in history. Work-from-home orders have turned selling into a virtual experience. Digital selling has been successful for most businesses. These types of transactions are typically faster and more cost efficient. It’s unlikely that organizations will ever return to the old way of doing things now that they’ve been forced to develop better options. If anything, selling will only accelerate into a more efficient and even more virtual future.
What does this mean for sales collateral?
It’s likely that old-school printed or pdf brochures will finally go the way of the dinosaur. The same is true of cookie cutter Powerpoint presentations. The COVID-19 pandemic may be the meteor that finally takes out these old-school marketing cockroaches once and for all.
Characteristics of modern marketing collateral
Today’s marketing and sales pieces should be developed to:
- Drive conversions. The right collateral will get your buyers to take the next steps in the sales process, ultimately compelling them to close deals. Monitoring collateral usage through a sales enablement system like Mobile Locker’s will help you determine which pieces are moving people forward and which are having little, no or negative impacts.
- Educate customers. Education is the most critical component of the sales process. It’s how you make buyers feel confident about purchasing from you rather than your competitors. Collateral should make your value proposition clear to prospective customers.
- Answer questions and overcome objections. Most buyers have knowledge gaps or personal biases that could prevent them from buying from you. Good collateral responds to questions or objections even before people can articulate them.
- Maintain connections. Selling is rarely ever once-and-done. It takes many touch points to engage prospects and move them toward closing deals. Having a complete end-to-end collateral plan aligned with your marketing and sales process will keep communications going and customers engaged.
Examples of modern collateral
Here are some ideas for digital replacements to printed brochures and static sales presentations.
Why not repurpose your old brochures as micro sites? They make it possible for people to learn about your products and services — and your organization — at their own pace. Alternatively, sales reps can guide customers through them during calls. They’re better than brochures because they allow you to track buyer interactions with the content, helping you gain insights about what they’re thinking and feeling. Also, micro sites let you embed videos and other experiences that move your brand marketing from a one-dimensional, linear page turner to a more human, multidimensional and dynamic experience.
Content includes anything from blog posts and ebooks to email newsletters and white papers. They are a great way to generate interest in your business, gather leads, educate consumers and encourage people to share the pieces with those in their networks, who are also likely buyers.
Content lets you provide in-depth information on topics related to your business. To build credibility, it’s important that your content come across as impartial and be fully supported by data, facts and research.
Make sure your content includes prompts and calls to action that move prospects forward in the sales process and encourages them to take action. While you’re at it, distribute your content through a sales enablement system like Mobile Locker’s. It will help you understand which pieces are performing as intended and which aren’t hitting the mark.
Infographics are an ideal way to convey information in a virtual world. If designed correctly, they provide clear and concise representations of complex information and concepts. Remote buyers can engage with them alone or guided by sales reps. The right picture really is worth a thousand words — or more — when it comes to explaining the value of your products and services in a virtual world.
Product and service pages
Convert your old product sheets and pdfs into interactive pages on your website. Don’t limit yourself to text and images. Use things like videos, infographics, charts, graphs, data tables and interactive experiences to bring your products and services to life. It will help differentiate your offerings from those of your competitors.
Leverage metrics and user data to ensure you’re providing the right information to get people to take action.
Case studies and testimonials
Case studies and testimonials have typically been after thoughts, marketing add-ons used to close deals. Now they’re one of the most critical pieces of marketing and sales collateral. People today have unlimited access to information and they’re skeptical of anything supplied by companies. They’re more likely to believe things conveyed by people who are similar to them.
If you can demonstrate to your buyers that your products or services work for other people, it will help convince them that they’ll work for them, too. Well-crafted, meaningful success stories are a great way to build trust in a virtual world. Encourage different types of customers to share their experiences. It will provide you with a library of case studies and testimonials that are relatable to as many people as possible. Share them in videos and other media that help them feel real and authentic, not flat, packaged or edited.
Product and service demonstrations
Is your product or service difficult to understand? Invest in videos and interactive experiences that make their value clear. Show people how they’ll use them while doing their jobs. It will help them understand how they’ll make their every day lives better. This will make it less likely they’ll walk away from sales because they don’t “get it”.
No two people are alike. That’s why sales presentations must be customizable and dynamic to meet individual needs. In a virtual world, it’s smart to hand over the keys to buyers so they can be in control of their own sales journey. It might make sales reps uncomfortable, but once they get used to greater collaboration in the selling process, they will be able to close more deals.
Should your in-person sales scripts be the same as those delivered over the phone or via Zoom meeting? Probably not. It takes a different level of detail and descriptiveness to explain products and services long distance. It’s also important to ask more questions to understand how buyers are responding because it’s harder, or impossible, to read body language in a virtual experience.
If you distribute scripts through a sales enablement system like the one offered by Mobile Locker, it’s easy to regularly update them based on the latest “best of” learnings.
You’re changing how you market your products and services. It’s likely that your competitors are, as well. Move your comparison documents online so you can update them in real time during this extraordinary period of dynamic change.
Collateral can keep you competitive during the COVID-19 pandemic
It’s critical that you update your old school cockroach collateral to reflect today’s new marketing and sales realities. The investment will pay off in better buyer experiences, which will help you close more deals, even in today’s challenging environment. Contact a friendly and helpful Mobile Locker rep to find out how we can help you make the change simple and easy.