In this post we'll be giving you five examples of how well known pieces of sales collateral can be aligned to the buying process with great effect.
Just to remind you, while your customers processes for buying may be very different, the common buying process we refer to in this post features the stages of identify need, research solutions, technical evaluation, commercial evaluation, negotiation, purchase and post-purchase behaviour.
Here are the five examples:
Can be aligned to: research solutions, technical evaluation
Corporate brochures are not suitable for every business. However, if you have multiple sales people or are exclusively a services business, they are essential. They lend themselves to earlier stages of the buying process when prospects are trying to rule out and rule in multiple potential providers. In services businesses, they can also contain sufficient information for technical, or functional, evaluation. Corporate brochures also come into their own on those rare but real occasions when your prospect has not read your website or similarly researched your company prior to a conversation taking place - for example, at tradeshows.
Can be aligned to: research solutions, commercial evaluation, negotiation
You make not think of your company sales presentation as collateral but you should. Don’t let your sales people struggle with production of on-brand, on-message presentations, bring it in to your marketing. A different kind of presentation is required for prospects at the research stage as would be for those evaluating you commercially or negotiating (the latter needing compelling cost, ROI or competitor comparison information), but working together with sales your marketing team or agency should bear the burden.
Can be aligned to: technical evaluation, commercial evaluation
Product brochures, flyers or datasheets can all perform the function of moving your prospect through the technical evaluation stage. If you are able to share pricing in them, they can also support commercial evaluation. Think carefully about what your prospect needs to know about the product and create collateral that is appropriate. If your product is mechanical and specification is the key factor, a datasheet might be appropriate. If you sell software and the workflow is imperative, you probably want to produce a longer brochure.
Can be aligned to: every stage
Case studies are the content wild card and can be used to help prospects move through every stage of the buying process. The trick however, is to write each case study with a specific stage of the buying cycle in mind. If you don’t, your case studies will all come out reading quite similarly. Case studies produced without a stage in mind will still be effective in the research stage but you will typically have to try much harder to produce something that is effective at the technical evaluation, commercial evaluation or negotiation stages.
Post sales service and support collateral
Can be aligned to: commercial evaluation, negotiation, post purchase behaviour
Given that post sales service and support are so often the factors that differentiate businesses from one another, or prevent existing customer from leaving, we are surprised how often company's hide them from prospects or shroud them in mystery. If your customers love your service and support, be proud and shout about it - produce post sales service and support collateral. It could be the very thing your prospect needs to justify your premium price to superiors.
The next steps
So there we have it. Five ways in which a common piece of sales collateral that you have probably produced in the past can be created anew to align properly with way potential customers buy.