Can you think of any sales asset with more history than collateral?
Nah, me neither.
Sales collateral has been around pretty much forever (well, not exactly, of course, but you know what I mean.) Just think of these historic brochures, product sheets, and sell sheets that we still occasionally discuss in marketing-related college courses (or use in trivia, like the first brochure, for example.)
But there’s a problem with sales collateral today. It seems so, well, dated, doesn’t it?
I mean, sure, we still create some forms of brochures or product sheets, but most of our work is online now. Do we even need sales collateral at all? And if so (spoiler alert: we do), what are the best types of sales collateral that we should be creating?
Well, let me answer those questions for you, starting with the role of sales collateral in our work.
So, what exactly is sales collateral (and what is not)?
In his HBR article, Philip Kotler defines collateral as “materials that help the sales force attract customers and close deals.”
I love how broadly he defines what sales collateral is. The definition doesn’t focus on anything specific besides the outcome that these types of sales materials are supposed to help deliver – more customers and sales.
But it makes sense. The only thing that connects blog posts, brochures, eBooks, sales videos, and other collateral types, after all, is that they complement your sales process and allow you to move your prospect through all stages of the buyer’s journey.
In other words, all these materials are nothing but resources you and your sales teams can draw upon when needed to reach and engage prospects (or even, as in the case of some collateral, help you identify ideal prospects better), provide them with useful information, and help you close the deal.
But the definition reveals something else; it tells us what sales collateral is not.
Note the word, materials in the definition. This suggests that sales collateral is something that exists and has been created to help you attract more customers and close deals.
And so, using that logic, a single cold email you send to a prospective customer is not sales collateral. It’s something you created specifically for that person and, most likely, can’t reuse further.
But a cold email template, a case study, or a social media message blueprint are all examples of sales collateral. Other sales reps can use those materials, too and use them to fuel their sales funnels.
How to use sales collateral across the entire sales cycle
Just like there are three main stages of the sales cycle (awareness, consideration, purchase), there are also countless types of sales collateral for each stage.
Let’s go through them one by one.
The awareness stage is all about discovering that a product or service exists. It’s where customers start their buyer’s journey, after all. And so, to ensure that they learn about you and to attract them to what you sell, use sales collateral aiming to raise brand awareness:
- Various types of content, such as blog posts, long-form content, and SEO content.
- Lead magnets – eBooks, whitepapers, content upgrades, and more.
- Webinars and other interactive events that leads can sign up for and attend.
- Landing pages, competitor alternatives listings (like our list of Lemlist alternatives,) and more.
Customers at the consideration stage have usually interacted with your company. They understand their problem, and they view your product or service as a potential solution.
But they aren’t ready to buy from you yet. They, most likely, evaluate other solutions and compare you with your competitors. Sales collateral you use at this stage, therefore, should aim to build trust and communicate the value customers would receive if buying from you.
This is where product sheets, product landing pages on your website, video overviews, case studies, product guides, buyer guides, and other materials help a lot.
The decision stage is about buying. So, whatever materials you’ll show clients need to assist them with making the final decision. Some of the best sales collateral for this stage include pricing pages, product demos, comparison pages (like our comparison of Postaga vs. Respona, for example,) and more.
But what about email outreach? Is sales collateral even useful for email cold calling?
Since Postaga is a sales outreach tool, I thought I’d address this question too.
So, firstly, the answer is a resounding yes.
As you’ll shortly see, many different types of sales collateral work perfectly in email outreach campaigns. Here are just some suggestions for what sales collateral to send in cold emails:
- Links to your recent content, like blog posts, for example.
- Invitations to webinars.
- Links to interactive brochures.
- Case studies, white papers, proprietary research, pricing guides, the list goes on and on and on, actually.
Secondly, and this is another argument for using sales collateral in cold emails, email outreach works at the awareness stage, usually. So, whatever you’ve normally been showing potential prospects would work in an email too.
It’s that simple.
What are the best types of sales collateral that you could use today?
OK, I hear you – An audience overview is not something you could use directly to make more sales. But at the same time, this document is probably the most powerful type of sales collateral that you could create. Why? Because it forms the foundation for pretty much every other piece of collateral, as well as your sales process.
An audience overview contains all the information you have about your buyer personas, ideal client profiles, and more. It collects those people’s background information, their roles and positions at work, the size of the company they work for, their decision-making abilities, and to problems and challenges they face.
And needless to say, that’s the information you use when planning how to reach those people, engage them, and convert them into leads and customers.
Outreach email sequence templates
Here’s a common problem I’m sure you’ve experienced as well – At some point, you always run out of ideas on what to do next to engage a prospect. There are only so many things you can say in emails and so many attention-grabbing voicemail messages that you could come up with. And unless you have a clear strategy for following up, eventually, you are going to run dry.
This is exactly what this type of sales collateral helps you overcome. With a strong outreach cadence, you know exactly how to follow up with a prospect and when.
RECOMMENDED READING: 5 Winning Sales Cadence Examples to Grow Your Pipeline
A sales playbook is your manual for closing deals. It’s a document that includes information on how to make sales in your organization, what processes to employ, but also how to overcome the most common challenges that your colleagues have faced before you.
It’s a document you reference when you’re stuck. It’s what you use when a prospect surprises you with something new. And it’s what helps you constantly stay productive and on top of your game.
A solid playbook will include an overview of your company’s sales process. It will give you access to tutorials, hacks, email and call scripts, audience information, and everything else that will help you get great at your job.
Sales decks have this amazing ability to capture the prospect’s imagination, explain the problem you’re solving for them, and make a case for your product or service.
Don’t believe me? Check out this incredible sales deck from Zuora:
(You can also read about what makes this slide deck so amazing here.)
Notice how with several simple slides, Zuora takes a viewer on a journey that ultimately takes them to realize one thing – They need the company’s solution.
That’s the power of slide decks. And given how often we deliver our pitches virtually, using Zoom or Microsoft Teams, it only makes sense to invest in a powerful deck to use during those calls.
Case studies and video testimonials
Case studies are indispensable for showing potential customers how someone else has already solved the same problem as them using your solution. In fact, this is the best type of sales collateral to build trust and prove the value of your product. I’d even go as far as to say that no other sales collateral type could do it better.
Video testimonials are a variation of a case study. The main difference between those isn’t necessarily the narrative – Both case studies and video testimonials focus on your customers and show how your solution has helped them. They do vary in format, though. A case study can be a lengthy document outlining the customer’s situation and showing data points as well as other info. A video testimonial, on the other hand, is usually short and easy to digest, even when watched while browsing your site.
Content marketing assets
You can’t make sales today without content. It really doesn’t matter whether you focus on cold calls, email outreach, or try to engage prospects on LinkedIn or social media. Eventually, you’ll have to send them a piece of content. It might be a short document providing more information about your product. It could be an article you or another person in the company wrote about a challenge the prospect experiences. It could be a link to your guide or one of the hundreds of other content types. But it’s a given; you must use content when selling.
Now, content is usually a domain of marketing. That said, you could use much of that sales collateral in your work too.
There are probably, hundreds of different content types you could use, and here are the ones that you absolutely should have access to when selling:
- Blog posts
- Long-form content guides
- SEO content
- Landing pages
- Product overview or feature overview pages
- Comparison pages, and more.
Most people consider explainer videos and sales decks the same. Well, they’re not.
First of all, a sales deck is usually shown to just one client at a time. An explainer video is something you can use at scale – you can include it on your website, share on social media, and distribute it to clients in many other ways.
Also, explainer videos are typically shorter and more accessible. They focus on presenting the problem and explaining how your product fits in as a solution in a highly-visual way.
Just look at this amazing explainer video from Ethical Coffee chain to see what I mean.
Just like sales cadences tell you what messages to send when outreaching and following up with prospects, sales scripts guide you through conversations with them. A solid sales script is your reference point to help you keep the conversation going. It tells you what to cover in each call, when to introduce the most crucial information, and how to get prospects to agree to the next step in the sales process.
Lead magnets and reference materials
Marketers use lead magnets to attract and generate leads. And it may seem that this is the extent to which this marketing collateral could be used. But it’s not true. Just like content marketing assets, lead magnets can help you enrich client conversations and provide them with additional information and reference points to make a buying decision.
Here are the most common types of lead magnets that work perfectly well as sales collateral:
- Content upgrades
- Free tools
- Research papers.
Price sheets may seem like a thing of the past. And yet, look at what this company does on their pricing page – They give customers access to a pricing sheet that also includes price comparison with their competition.
And they’re right in doing so. Price is a big differentiator in their industry, and with a simple price sheet, they make it easy for customers to compare them with whatever other options they consider.
Podcasts are one of the most exciting content types today, which is proven by their constantly growing adoption rate. According to this data, 155 million people, or 55% of the population, have listened to a podcast. And 75% of Americans are aware of the medium.
But podcasts help you do more than just build an audience. You get to present to potential buyers. You become an expert in their eyes. And you connect with them better than through any other content channel.
In short, podcasts help you start the sales conversation before you’ve even engaged with a prospect!
Plus, you can use podcasts not only to attract new prospects but share relevant episodes with prospects as you engage them in your outreach, for example.
I suppose this is the most obvious type of sales collateral. You need a website to sell today.
- It’s the entry point and introduction to your brand for many prospects.
- Website is also where your content lives. It’s the reference point you give your prospects when they look for more information.
- It’s the foundation of your entire online visibility too.
- And if you sell online too, a website is where prospects become customers.
And that’s it…
These are the most effective sales collateral types that you should be using today.
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