Sales collateral is a key component in the sales process.
However, a surprising amount of it never sees the light of day.
Studies have shown that much of this essential content goes unused by sales teams.
This article aims to explore the usage rate of sales collateral and suggest ways to improve it.
Understanding Sales Collateral
Let's delve into what sales collateral means. At its core, sales collateral is any form of media used to help sell a product or service. Whether it's digital files or printed material, the main aim here is to put across the value and perks of the offering to potential customers.
There's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to sales collateral. The range is wide, inclusive of brochures, datasheets, demos, and product guides. However, the effectiveness of these materials is tied to two factors—their relevance to what the buyer needs, and their timing in the buyer's journey. When there's a mismatch between content and the buyer's needs, underutilization becomes a common problem.
Sales collateral doesn't just come into play at one stage of a buyer's journey—it has a key role throughout. From the initial awareness stage to the final retention stage, it can sway the outcome. If it's aligned well with the buyer's expectations and journey, it can boost sales and bring in new customers. But quite often, usage falls short because of a variety of hurdles.
Challenges Leading to Low Usage Rates
A major issue is the gap between marketers, sales teams, and customers.
Marketing Team Issues:
Marketers at times create content that doesn't match the buyer's journey.
This mismatch leaves the content unused as it fails to meet the customer's precise requirements.
Hence, aligning content with the buyer’s journey is critical.
Sales Team Challenges:
Sales teams often struggle to track down or access the right collateral.
Information about fresh collateral may not reach them, thus leading to its minimal usage.
The absence of personalizable content is a disadvantage as well. Salespeople aim to customize their approach to clients.
Creation Process Complications:
Content made in isolation without inputs from sales or understanding of customer needs often falls short.
A significant problem arises from creating material without considering what the customer truly wants.
This gap creates hurdles, thereby decreasing the usage rate of the sales collateral.
Complex collateral repositories can be a pain to navigate.
It can be tiring and time-consuming, especially without a streamlined system.
It's necessary to consider mobile accessibility.
In this digital age, collateral should be easily accessed on mobile devices. Yet, this simple requirement is often overlooked.
Regular updates to the content are necessary to keep it fresh and relevant.
If collateral is not regularly refreshed, users may lose interest causing a drop in usage rates.
Strategies to Improve Sales Collateral Usage Rate
The way your sales collateral is used can be greatly improved through a few strategic measures.
Align Content with Buyers' Journey
A key strategy is all about ensuring your content fits the buyer's journey. This involves understanding what information buyers need at every stage of their journey. By properly identifying these needs, you can create collateral that is highly relevant.
A useful trick is to keep your buyer personas up-to-date. Remember, the more your buyers feel connected to the content, the higher the usage will be.
Bridge Gap Between Marketing and Sales Teams
The sales and marketing teams need to work together closely. Their collaboration is crucial for improving the usage of sales collateral.
Start by encouraging communication between these two teams. Invite sales reps to marketing meetings. This can help uncover gaps in content that might be hindering its use.
Once you know where the gaps are, create plans to fill these gaps. Also, make sure both teams share common goals. This will lead to better alignment and thus, more usage of the collateral.
Enhance Accessibility and Organisation
Finally, make it easy to find and access your sales collateral.
How can you do this? Try to organise content in line with how the sales reps prefer to navigate it. Provide all the necessary information about new collateral, so they are aware and can use it.
Importantly, ensure your content is accessible across all devices. As more people use mobiles and tablets for work, it's essential that your collateral can be easily used on these platforms.
By implementing these strategies, you're sure to see an improvement in your sales collateral usage rate.
Types of Sales Collateral and Their Impact on Usage
The kind of sales collateral used can have a big impact on usage rates. Understanding your potential customers (buyer personas) and their queries can guide the creation of effective collateral. Both the marketing and sales teams should contribute to its production. By having a variety of collateral types, you can appeal to a broader audience, thereby increasing usage.
Different stages in the buyer's journey call for different types of sales collateral. During the consideration stage, brochures, catalogues, research reports, and product comparison guides are effective tools. As buyers reach the decision-making stage, case studies and testimonials become more important. For the advocacy stage, customer referrals play a crucial role.
The format of the collateral is also integral to its effectiveness. Visual content like infographics and videos is often more engaging for customers. This can lead to an increase in usage. Using digital interactive content can further boost engagement levels. Collateral that is both easy-to-share and printable is particularly helpful for sales reps, offering them flexibility in how they use it.
The Role of Sales Enablement Tools in Improving Usage
Sales enablement tools play a significant role in making sales collateral more user-friendly. Here's how:
Management, Distribution and Tracking
These tools help organize, share, and monitor sales content.
They offer vital insights into what’s effective and what’s not.
Put simply, these tools make it easier to access and use collateral.
Guiding Better Collateral Creation
Analytics from sales enablement tools reveal what kind of collateral works best at different steps.
This knowledge guides the creation of more relevant and useful content.
Regular input from sales teams can pinpoint where these tools need to improve for better usage.
Optimization and Repurposing of Content
It's possible to reuse existing content to suit different stages of the buyer's journey.
Tweaking content based on feedback and data keeps it relevant and impactful.
Such actions help keep sales collateral adaptable and dynamic, thereby increasing its use.
In wrapping up, it's clear that increasing the use of sales collateral is no small task. It takes careful strategy and deliberate action. However, with the right tactics, it's entirely achievable.
Firstly, ensure the content aligns with the buyer's journey. This will make it more relevant and useful to prospective customers.
Next, it's essential to break down walls between teams. Both marketing and sales need to be on the same page for this to work. When both teams understand and value each other’s roles, the quality and utilization of collateral improves.
Also, easy access to collateral can't be overstated. Sales teams need to be able to find and use these materials quickly. That means effective organization and mobile accessibility is a must.
Remember, the kind of collateral used also matters. Different materials are suited for different stages of the buying process. So, understanding the buyer and using the correct collateral at the right time will enhance its usage.
Finally, don't underestimate the power of sales enablement tools. They can help manage, distribute, and track the effectiveness of sales collateral. And they provide vital data to guide future content creation.
By taking these measures, businesses can significantly increase their sales collateral usage rate and ultimately, boost their sales.
Frequently Asked Questions
What types of content can be considered as sales collateral?
Sales collateral refers to a variety of content types that are used to aid the sales process. This could include but not limited to, brochures, datasheets, product demos, and guides. The key aspect is that the content supports the selling of a product or service, either by providing more information, demonstrating value or illustrating benefits to potential customers.
How does the buyer's journey relate to the effectiveness of sales collateral?
Every step of a buyer's journey from awareness, consideration, decision-making to retention stages requires different types of content. Sales collateral that aligns with the information needs at each of these stages will be more relevant and thus more likely to be utilized. This is why understanding your buyer personas and tailoring your collateral to their needs is so important.
How might a disconnect between marketing and sales teams affect sales collateral usage rates?
When there's a disconnect between these two teams, it often results in content that doesn't align with the buyer's needs or the sales process. For example, marketers might create great content, but if it doesn't address the questions or concerns that prospects have in the sales process, it won't be used. Similarly, if sales representatives don't know about new collateral or can't easily find and access it, they can't use it.
Can technology play a role in improving sales collateral usage rates?
Absolutely. Technological tools, often referred to as sales enablement tools, can greatly improve the accessibility, distribution, tracking, and management of sales content. This not only makes it easier for sales teams to find and use the right collateral but also provides valuable insights into what content is working best and where improvements can be made.
Is the format of the collateral important for its effectiveness?
Yes, different formats may appeal to different buyers or be more appropriate for certain stages of the buyer's journey. For instance, visual content like infographics and videos can be more engaging for customers, while easy-to-share and printable formats might be more advantageous for sales reps. Similarly, digital interactive content can increase engagement and make the sales process more dynamic.
How can existing sales collateral be optimized for better usage?
Existing content can be repurposed or updated to cater to different stages of the buyer's journey. This is based on feedback from sales teams and analytics provided by sales enablement tools. When sales collateral is continually optimized in this way, it ensures that it remains relevant, effective, and adaptable, leading to an increase in usage rates.
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