Sales Collateral Success Tips: 4 Questions to Ask Before You Write

So you are finally ready to write that piece of marketing material that your sales department has been begging you to write for months. You know all the marketing mumbo jumbo about how your product or solution is better than any other thing out there. You know all the industry jargon and buzz words to include. You “know” because you read all the industry pubs and you keep tuned into the sales department – gathering feedback from the executive team and their people with feet on the street, who talk to sales prospects day in and day out.  And they’ve told you what to write… and what sales needs to close the deal easier, faster and for more dollars.

But if you take a step back for just a moment, you might just find out, what you don’t know is of the most critical importance. At times we all get so close to the products and services that we represent, that we are guilty of “drinking the company Kool-Aid.” Meaning we lose perspective of who we are marketing to and what our potential buyers actually think and need.

Understanding the answers to the following 4 questions and the impacts to your sales collateral strategy and messaging can make a huge difference to the effectiveness of your marketing materials. Ask these questions before you write any sales copy to arm yourself for success.

  1. Who is the intended audience? Consider whether your sales targets come from a business or technical orientation, and know the titles and job responsibilities of your prospective buyers. Understanding the persona of your perspective buyers (their goals, concerns, preferences and decision process) is critical to the development of engaging collateral. Avoid the “one piece will appeal to all” approach even if your buyers vary greatly from industry to industry or company to company. If necessary, write targeted collateral for each audience to maximize the effectiveness.
  2. What problem is your reader trying to solve? All too often sales collateral is written from the perspective of the vendor with little or no understanding of the business or technical issues the reader is trying to solve. If at all possible, talk to actual customers and ask them to explain the problem and how your product/service solves the problem. You may be surprised in the differences between your vocabulary and your customers’. Using their descriptions and terminology will make your collateral more impactful.
  3. When in the sales cycle will the collateral be used? The interests and attention span of your target buyer will vary greatly throughout the sales cycle. Let the stage define the depth of content and focus of the collateral. Early in the information gathering stage, keep the piece short and high-level with industry relevant and vendor neutral analysis of the topic. During the evaluation stage, supply your readers with more depth and useful product/service specific information that can help support the their decision process.
  4. Why should the reader spend his/her valuable time reading your collateral? Your prospective buyers are busy people, who suffer from complete information overload. To be worthy of their time, your collateral must offer something of value that cannot be easily accessed from other sources. Become familiar with content offered by competitors, analysts and media within the industry you serve. Strive to offer something with unique perspectives and value.