When making decisions, we often try to defer to expert opinions—because we can’t be experts in everything! And when it comes to making business decisions, customers need to be well informed about how a product works before they buy. So, while it’s a salesperson’s job to close a sale, sales collateral can help sales teams inform their customers and give them confidence that they’ve made the best decision. The more informative the collateral, the more informed a customer will feel.
In this article, we’ll cover some examples of sales collateral, why it’s such an important part of the sales process, and how sales collateral relates to the buyer’s journey. Then, you can read our simple guide on how to create and implement sales collateral that sells.
What is sales collateral?
Sales collateral is a term that refers to the materials a sales team uses when closing a deal and managing customer relationships. It’s all the information that sales teams use to help guide potential customers down the sales funnel. Some people also refer to it as sales enablement content.
Sales collateral is useful at every stage of the sales process, from establishing a connection with potential buyers right down to the purchase itself. It’s even used post purchase as part of customer retention strategies.
Some sales collateral is just used internally. These types of materials help a sales rep gain a deeper understanding of the product or service they’re selling, like data sheets or sales playbooks. Other sales collateral is distributed to customers as marketing materials, like brochures or demo videos, and typically draws in potential customers at the early stages of the sales funnel.
Why is sales collateral important?
Sales collateral is useful regardless of your Sales team’s particular sales strategy. It supports your team, brings in new leads, builds credibility with potential customers, and arms your Sales team with all the information they need to make a sale.
Supports your Sales team
Internal sales collateral help sales professionals gain a deeper understanding of what they’re selling. This shines through in their interactions with customers—they’ll come across as more credible and trustworthy because they’ll really know what they’re talking about.
Distributing relevant sales collateral also gives sales reps an opportunity to make contact with a prospective customer. For example, if your company has a seasonal promotion, you might produce a special e-brochure for the occasion. Sales reps can attach this in an email to new and existing customers, starting a conversation that could end in a sale.
Early on in the sales funnel, sales collateral produced by your Marketing team can generate leads by getting target customers excited about what you have on offer. This might include social media posts or online advertisements that are created specifically to engage potential buyers and generate leads.
Builds trust with prospective customers
The best sales collateral is full of useful, accurate, and relevant information. When your sales reps know your business inside out, they provide their expertise to every customer interaction they have. Customer-facing sales collateral can build on the trust provided by a deeply knowledgeable Sales team. Distributing sales collateral content based on reliable information boosts credibility with your customer base even after direct contact with a sales rep.
Empowers your contact
A recent study showed that 55% of business-to-business (B2B) buyers rely on sales collateral content to make purchasing decisions more than they did a year ago.
The decision to make a purchase rarely rests with one person alone. In business-to-business sales, a whole team often has to be convinced for a purchase to be made. Even in business-to-consumer (B2C) deals, relationship partners or other family members are likely to be involved in the decision stage if a significant amount of money is being exchanged. With effective sales collateral, you can help your point of contact bring other decision-makers on board, regardless of the kind of deal you’re making.
Types of sales collateral
Sales collateral comes in lots of different forms and can be distributed through a variety of media. There are essentially two key types: traditional sales collateral and digital sales collateral.
Traditional sales collateral examples
Traditional sales collateral refers to almost all content produced outside of the digital realm, typically print media. Although digital media is often cheaper to produce, so many of us look at screens all day to the point where we’re used to filtering out content provided in a digital format. Instead, physical sales collateral can help customers to really connect with the information at hand.
Data sheets provide a summary of the product’s features and a description of how it works. They usually present technical details, specifications, and classification data. But they also often provide marketing content and reasons for potential customers to buy.
Data sheets are a versatile form of sales collateral. They can be used by sales reps to help gain a detailed understanding of a particular product. Data sheets also give customers empirical data about the product you’re selling, so they can feel empowered to make an informed purchasing decision.
Corporate brochures are usually more visually engaging than data sheets. They’re often bound—rather than produced on individual pieces of paper—and printed on thick, glossy paper with appealing imagery. They present quick facts, quotes, summaries, and statistics in a visually engaging way, highlighting the key bits of information clients likely want to know.
A sales playbook is a standardized framework on how to make a sale. It’s only used internally by sales reps, and it includes sales strategies, best practices, and other protocols for sales teams to follow during the sales process. A sales playbook also provides extensive details on the company’s product or service, enabling sales teams to have a comprehensive understanding of what they’re selling before they approach a customer.
Digital sales collateral examples
As the name suggests, digital sales collateral is produced and distributed exclusively in a digital format. When it’s being used as marketing material, digital sales collateral becomes easy for sales reps to distribute regardless of physical location. If it’s just being used internally, it’s easily updated and accessed, usually through a shared intranet server.
Landing pages are web pages that are specifically designed for users to land on when they click a link from an advertisement. These links might appear on social media, in an email, or even as a search engine result.
Landing pages are particularly useful early on in the sales process, which is why they’re often produced in collaboration with the Marketing team. They act as your customer’s first impression of your company and they help guide them toward your call to action (CTA).
Emails can be used as collateral at every stage of the buyer’s journey. You can write your emails in a variety of email templates and automatically send them out to a mailing list as part of a campaign.
You can also send automated emails that will be sent to individual customers later on in the buying process, like when a purchase becomes more likely. This could happen when someone puts an item in their online cart but hasn’t checked out yet. Here, you could have an automated email sent out to remind the customer that they have an item in their cart or offer any assistance if they’re hesitant about making a purchase.
Demo videos [MR1] show how a product or service is used, often in great detail. Great demo videos don’t only show how a product is used but also highlight its benefits, like how it addresses certain pain points experienced by a company’s target audience. They work as marketing material very early on, but demo videos can also be used in a sales pitch once leads have been qualified, demonstrating why your product is better than the competition.
How the buyer’s journey helps sales reps use collateral
The buyer’s journey is a framework that breaks down the sales process into 4 distinct stages: Awareness, Consideration, Decision, and Retention/Advocacy. Understanding the buyer’s journey stages helps with choosing what kind of sales collateral to use in your customer interactions.
The awareness stage is the opening part of the sales funnel. The kind of sales collateral that is used at this point introduces your product or service to prospective customers, often those who aren’t already familiar with your brand.
Social media content marketing
Social media platforms are a great place to post marketing content. Your brand’s social media profiles likely have followers who have not yet made a purchase but who find your content interesting in some way. These social media platforms have algorithms that suggest your posts to users with similar demographics to your existing customer base, but you can also improve your reach with boosted posts or paid advertisements.
Blog posts help get your brand noticed on search engines. As text-rich webpages, often including multiple forms of media, blog posts are a great opportunity to make use of search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, including keywords and meta tags.
Blogs are pieces of content in their own right, meaning they can help cultivate a deeper understanding of what your brand stands for and how your products or services work. With open comment sections, blogs can also create a sense of community and build up a mailing list.
Newsletters are usually sent out via email to prospective customers. When creating a newsletter, using your own template can be very useful. An email template can cut down on the time spent designing the email itself and it can help establish an engaging narrative.
All your sales collateral should ideally include a CTA, but this is a particularly important feature for newsletters. A CTA often leads potential customers to important information about a particular promotion or other time-sensitive updates. However, don’t include too many CTAs, which could overwhelm your readers.
Once it’s clear a prospect is in the market for the kind of product you’re selling, you enter the consideration stage. This is when customers often compare products based on a variety of factors, including quality and price.
The consideration stage is the time to provide sales collateral that gives buyers the information they need before they make a purchasing decision. One of the best ways to do this is to demonstrate your unique selling proposition (USP). A USP is a statement that forms the basis for all of your company’s branding. It describes what you offer your customers and what sets you apart from the competition. It’s important to keep your USP in mind throughout the buyer’s journey, but it’s particularly crucial in the consideration stage.
Catalogs are a type of traditional sales collateral consisting of a physical booklet that shows a range of products or services offered by your company. They also aren’t just for including merchandise, like in the form of a mail-order catalog. For example, if you run an events venue, you might produce a catalog illustrating the rooms and services available throughout your property.
Research reports bring together the findings of an investigation and present them as accessible insights. They’re great for demonstrating the value of your product or service in terms of proven data.
A sales presentation is a catchall term for lots of different kinds of sales collateral, from interactive webinars to individual pitches. They’re often made up of sales decks, which are a series of slides that form the basis of the presentation and a correlating script for the presenter to follow.
The decision stage is the point in the buyer’s journey when prospects become paying customers. The most appropriate sales collateral for the decision stage encourages buyers to take that last step in the sales process and make a purchase from your business.
Sales scripts can be used by reps at various stages of the sales process, but they’re particularly useful when bringing deals over the finish line.
Great sales scripts bring together strategies that have been proven to encourage buyers to make a purchase. They include everything a sales rep might find useful in a call, from questions to talking points. An overly formulaic approach can come across as impersonal, but when sales scripts are used flexibly, they provide reps with creative strategies to finalize their sale.
Product demos can take the form of demo videos, as previously mentioned. But when you’re working with a qualified lead who is close to making a decision, demoing the product in person can make all the difference. As with everything at the decision stage, the more personalized the sales collateral, the better.
Free trials give customers the opportunity to use the product or service themselves and see if they like it. Given the chance, buyers will often continue to use a product past the free trial stage, especially if there is an automatic conversion to a subscription package if the customer decides not to cancel.
Retention and advocacy stage
After the decision stage, sales collateral is still important. The retention and advocacy stage focuses on building loyalty over the long term and encouraging existing customers to recommend your brand to other potential buyers.
The best sales collateral at this stage focuses on customer success and buyer satisfaction through great customer service and a deeper understanding of your user base.
Loyalty programs for existing customers
A recent study by Bain & Company showed that just a 5% increase in customer retention rates can increase profit by more than 25%. That’s why rewards programs keep customers coming back for more deals. They’re particularly popular in travel-related industries through a points system or in the retail sector through loyalty cards.
Knowledge bases provide well-organized, easily accessible information. Just like other kinds of sales collateral, some knowledge bases are for internal use, and others are for external or client-facing purposes.
At the retention and advocacy stage, a knowledge base might take the form of a company intranet to help customer service reps answer complex questions. Or it might be an external knowledge base for customer self-service, like an FAQ page on your website.
Taking account of customer feedback is essential for the continued success of any business. A customer survey can help you understand what’s working and what can be changed, both in terms of marketing and the product or service itself.
Sales collateral best practices
There are many different types of sales collateral out there. But regardless of which kind you’re creating, there are tips that can apply to each category.
Maintain brand consistency
Your sales collateral represents your company. Codifying your brand identity is essential, especially when you have lots of different people creating a variety of sales materials.
One of the best ways of maintaining brand consistency is by creating a style guide. Most people think of style guides as just including directions for tone, spelling, punctuation, and maybe formatting too. But you should also include design elements in your style guide, like typography, logos, and other forms of graphic design.
Build a library of sales collateral content
Good quality sales collateral can be used over and over again, whether it’s a great demo video you share with different customers or a well-produced email template that you know will help you push through a deal. When your sales collateral is recycled, it can provide an even better return on investment, and that’s why you need to keep it stored in an organized library.
Building a well-organized repository for your sales collateral means that your Sales team can quickly find the sales collateral most relevant to their situation at a moment’s notice. You should upload it to a company intranet or keep it in a shared file resource.
These databases should also be clearly organized with an easy-to-use navigation system. It’s easy for sales collateral to get lost in personal files or in the back of the cupboard. When so much time and so many resources have been spent creating that content, you need to make sure it doesn’t go to waste.
Invest in your sales enablement content
Investing in professional copywriters and designers will make a huge difference to your sales collateral. When your content is well produced, it becomes easier for your reps to use and fosters high-quality customer engagement. Professionally made content also ensures better longevity for your sales enablement content, meaning it can be used again successfully in the future.
Encourage collaboration between Marketing and Sales teams
Lots of your sales collateral will be created with input from both your Sales and Marketing teams. The industry term for sales and marketing alignment is known as smarketing.
The sales collateral that your Marketing team produces will help to bring leads into the sales funnel, which can help your Sales teams understand what attracts potential customers at the very beginning of their journey. Alternatively, the Sales team often has real-time insights into customer pain points and preferences through direct experience, and this can be incredibly helpful for the Marketing team when creating their materials.
Once you’re able to align your Marketing and Sales teams, they’ll be able to learn from each other and create better sales collateral content together.
Create buyer personas
Buyer personas are profiles based on various segments of your target audience. These segments can be created out of certain shared demographics, goals, interests, behaviors, contexts, or even a combination of them all.
Buyer personas help you direct your sales collateral toward sections of your audience that are based on data. They can help you predict which approaches or kinds of content will work best according to the information you already have about your customer base.
One of the simplest ways to gather data for buyer personas is through customer relationship management (CRM) software. CRM systems bring together the information you already have from your customers and analyze it to generate useful insights. You can also use CRM to track your progress with metrics across the buyer’s journey and optimize your approach in the future.
Prioritize training your Sales team
Your Sales team can only use the sales collateral they create to the best of their knowledge, which is why the right training is essential. By understanding the most effective ways to implement sales collateral through every stage of the buyer’s journey, your Sales team will be able to make the most of the content they create.
Turn prospects into customers with the right sales collateral
By aligning your sales collateral with where your customer is in the buyer’s journey, you can ensure that the sales collateral you’re providing is as relevant and helpful as possible. The best sales collateral supports your Sales team in guiding customers through every level of the sales process from the initial purchase and beyond.