Sales tools are great for educating your target audience

Sales tools help your target audience – whether internal to external to your organization – learn about your product or service offering and are typically tangible in nature.  Found in many forms, common sales tools include items such as collateral, product demonstrations/freemiums, videos, presentations, customer testimonials, ROI calculators, analyst reports or third party reviews, and websites.  If done well, your sales tools can help you turn a prospect’s interest into a sale, creating revenue for your business.

Based on your organization’s size and objectives set for extending your reach, you may need multiple types of sales tools to roll out your offering to the market.  Depending upon which sales tools you pursue, you will likely need the help of one or more of the following:

  • Writer
  • Designer
  • Printer
  • Programmer
  • Sales representative
  • Public relations assistance
  • Support personnel and vendors

To increase recall, branding and messaging must be consistent and aligned with other sales tools your company has produced to limit confusion. A style guide will help you achieve this.  Of course, the extra help required for execution adds to your costs and complexity with regard to managing how you extend your reach, so selecting the right tools is important. 

Set objectives

First, what your objective is for the sales tool?  Should the tool educate or convince prospects to try your product?  A CD with different collateral options available on it electronically may be appropriate for the prospect who wants to do more research, but if your prospect is further along in the buying cycle, a printed brochure or data sheet with a discount may be more appropriate for closing the sale.  The more complex, or different, your offering is to the market, the higher the probability is that you’ll need a variety of sales tools to make a sale.  Whenever possible, try to select sales tools that can serve multiple purposes and situations; this will keep your development costs down.  As your operations get more sophisticated, developing a core set of sales tools for each product or service offering will become second nature.

To assess which tools to use, ask yourself….

What is its purpose?

  • Grab attention
  • Educate prospect
  • Show features and benefits and/or competitive comparison
  • Leave-behind as a reminder of the offering
  • Build trust, brand recognition, and loyalty
  • Entice prospect to take action:
    • Learn more about offering
    • Contact your sales representative
    • Try the product out
    • Answer a survey
    • Compare your offering to other solutions
    • Purchase the offering or take advantage of a discount
    • Tell a friend
    • Recommend the offering to others

How will it be used?

  • To grab attention of prospects walking by a trade show booth?
  • By a sales person in an offline meeting who wants to leave something with the prospect to help them remember the offering?
  • On a website that prospects can access to obtain detailed information they may desire?
  • To introduce or educate those without internet access?
  • Convince a prospect to purchase the offering?
  • For customers to share with others?

Where will the sales tool be used and is electronic or printed format preferred?

  • Trade show – printed and electronic options may be desirable
  • Webinar –  printed and electronic options may be desirable
  • Online sales meeting – electronic options
  • Offline meeting – printed version
  • Product display – printed version
  • With a direct mail piece – printed version
  • Seminar – printed and electronic options may be desirable
  • Professional networking event – printed and electronic options may be desirable

How much will it cost to produce? 

  • Typical collateral projects include a writer, graphic designer, images (If not owned), and printer. ($)
  • Depending upon complexity, a product demonstration or freemium offering can include one or more programmers, special software, web personnel, manufacturing, graphic designer, and writer. ($ – $$)

Messaging

Messaging will depend upon whether you are implementing B2B or B2C marketing tactics and whether the purchasing process is complex or simple. When the purchasing process is complex, the user, influencer, and buyer have different roles. When the purchasing process is simple, the user is the buyer, and there’s limited, if any, influence from others on the decision.  The more complex the purchasing process is, the more likely it is that you’ll need various types of tools to target messaging to those roles.  For instance, enterprise software products may offer a freemium or product demo to entice users to try their product and include literature focused on business benefits that is targeted to the purchase influencer and buyer, who may be department or company managers responsible for budget allocation and final purchasing approval.  A toy manufacturer selling yo-yos for kids, on the other hand, would likely not give product demos away to kids; they might have store demonstrations or a videos showing the use of the product instead, and provide messaging on product packaging that appeals to parents and kids.

Messaging issues to address

  • Do prospects know who your company is and what you offer?
  • Do prospects know what the product or service is or do they need background on basic features and benefits?
  • Will prospects need to try out the product before purchasing it?
  • Are prospects comparing your offering against others?
  • Would customer success stories or testimonials help persuade your prospect to purchase your offering?
  • Do you need to include an incentive – like a discount or reward points – for them to try your product or make a purchase?
  • How will prospects purchase your product or service, and what will it cost?
  • Is technical or customer support important?
  • Are there upgrade or complementary products your product must be compatible with to entice the prospect to purchase from you?
  • Are financing options important?

Tips!