Drowning in your own sales tools? Follow these rules.

Ever heard this? “My prospect said if I could provide this one tool, they would convert to our product.”

“I could close this account if I only had this specific brochure.”

“We can’t make our numbers because we don’t have the right collateral.”

“Our region/customers are different; we need our own, unique materials.”

If you’re like most marketers, you probably have. And these may be real opportunities for your entire sales organization. Or they may just be what that one rep needs. But in many cases, these are knee-jerk reactions that won’t yield any real results.

As marketers, we’re programmed to respond to our customers’ needs, whether internal or external. Someone in our sales force asks for a new sales tool, and we immediately divert resources to create it – to be good team players.

But that means we might end up with a large library of sales tools: sell sheets, brochures, tri-folds, videos, presentations, value calculators, case studies, white papers, etc., etc., etc.

So what’s wrong with having lots of sales tools?

Over time, you can build a pile of sales materials so large, reps can become overwhelmed and frustrated:

  • Reps (and marketing) don't know which tools are most effective.
  • Reps use different materials and get different results.
  • Marketing and sales management don’t know which materials are being used.
  • The value of individual tools is unknown.
  • Older collateral no longer represents current positioning/messaging.
  • Tools and materials do not work together.
  • Sales materials are developed, but never actually used.
“In many cases, these are knee-jerk reactions that won’t yield any real results.”

Best practices to take control

First, cut down on library additions.

Every time someone requests a new tool, ask these questions:

  • Is this a real need? In other words, will it drive customers to action and increase sales?
  • How will we determine the effectiveness of the tool?
  • Does the tool have value for the entire sales team or just in limited circumstances?
    • If limited, does the new tool warrant being added to the library? (“Someone else might use it” is not a valid reason.)
  • Is the new tool worth the cost to develop (including the cost to human resources)?
  • Can it replace an existing tool?

Next, declutter your existing library.

If you suspect your sales collateral library has gotten too large, there are a few things you can do to consolidate and make the library more effective.

  • Take stock. Do a quick review of all materials to ensure the positioning and messaging is current. If not, is it even worth redoing?
  • Run a survey. Ask your sales team what materials they are using. Formulate questions around how often materials are actually used, not how valuable people think they are.
  • Meet for a review. Hold a cross-functional collateral review that includes sales management, top performers and regional representation. Have participants bring samples of the materials they’re using; there are often surprises, but that’s the point!
  • Create guidelines. Develop detailed descriptions for each piece you decide to keep, including directions on when and how to use them. If it’s not worth investing the time to develop these guidelines, the piece is probably not worth keeping.

This is a case where more is not necessarily better. Strategic leadership means focusing on the tactics that will best drive your business – and cutting out everything else.

If you need help consolidating and updating your sales collateral library, reach out to us. We can even help you create new pieces (if you decide you really need them).

Blog Author: Rob Mart, Ph.D., MBA, Former B teamer

Tags: Branding & Advertising, Consulting & Training

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