B2B Sales Collateral should advance the sales process                              based on buyer needs.

For companies of nearly all sizes, marketing materials—even print materials—are a must-have.

It starts with understanding the need-orientation of the sales process. Each complex sale brings different decision makers, and your brand positioning should be reflected and translated for each buyer segment.

When sales get a call from a prospective buyer requesting more information, what do they have to send? That embarrassing tri-fold brochure they just ran off the printer? Maybe some direct mail postcards from the trade-show three years ago? Or better yet, some of their stale partners’ materials they’ve been using. Even if they don’t expect to have a large request for sales materials, they will have requests. If you don’t have some semblance of professional materials that speak to what you bring to the market, you simply won’t be taken seriously - nor should you be.

 Collateral materials as competitive tools.

Have you ever been underwhelmed by the investment a large company has made in the quality of their marketing materials?  They miss the opportunity to deliver their value proposition and competitive differentiators through compelling marketing materials. They miss the chance to show their audience how they can increase their revenue, make their lives easier, or save them money by telling them how they’ve done it for others. They miss the chance to position themselves ahead of their competitors as the obvious choice.

New technology solutions need to look the part.

Tech companies of all sizes need to be concerned about perception. For small companies, this is often a specific challenge. For small companies looking to penetrate an industry, bring a product to market, and compete against entrenched players, they need to look the part. 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. Marketing materials are still an effective way for smaller companies to deliver their unique selling proposition to buyers.

Collateral carries the brand.

You know, of course, that the best collateral builds and maintains strong brands. It forges a connection between the buyer and the seller. It communicates superiority and competitive differentiation. It enables companies and new technology solutions to stand out from all the others.

 The point is that good collateral makes an impression, carves out real estate in the prospect’s brain, and influences buying decisions. It helps make a competitive statement and win business. Too many companies fail to see collateral as the strategic asset it can be. They don’t use it to highlight past performance and showcase the difference they’ve made to their customers. And they don’t utilize it to shape and changes buyers’ perceptions about the company. These organizations fail to leverage marketing materials as powerful and effective mechanisms for carrying the brand.

 Collateral as a sales tool.

It’s all about the sales team. Sales people need tools if they’re going to be effective.  Collateral materials give sales representatives the resources they need to be effective in sales meetings. They also provide the tools they need to create appointments and follow up. Not having great—or even good—collateral is a tremendous liability in this process.

When new product solutions are launched, and websites go live, they create excitement within the organization. Collateral should be used to reinforce that brand energy.

Often, collateral can also more effectively and powerfully tell your story than even your sales team. Compelling visuals, headlines,  case studies and success stories can tell your story. Testimonials that speak to ROI and competitive differentiators, whether included in the case studies or elsewhere throughout the sales materials, are meaningful messages. Other leave-behinds that apply in some industries, such as white papers, will also continue to demonstrate your clients’ expertise long after the sales meeting.

At the end of the day, do not sell the need for collateral short. It allows you to advance the lead from suspect, to prospect, to closing business.