The Role of Sales Materials in a Digital World

The Role of Sales Materials in a Digital World

The Role of Sales Materials in a Digital World

By John Jantsch

The digital world has complicated the customer journey. Where customers used to have to reach out to salespeople if they wanted to learn more about a business, they can now do the bulk of their research into a company online. They can pour through the pages of your website, read reviews from existing customers to glean the unvarnished truth about your business, and peek at your social media presence to get a better sense of your personality.

With these digital marketing channels doing so much of the heavy lifting in representing your brand, do you really still need sales materials? Will a prospect really leaf through your catalog or read your brochure?

The answer to these questions is a resounding yes! Sales materials still hold an important place in the customer journey. Whether your sales team is meeting with prospects in person or via video call, there is still a place for presentation materials and leave-behinds.

Why Sales Materials Still Matter

Some businesses have convinced themselves that digital marketing is all that matters in 2020. But printed materials remain an important piece of the puzzle. In fact, the U.S. Postal Service did some research into the effectiveness of print over digital marketing channels (of course, they have a vested interest in proving that print still holds value!), and what they found was fascinating.

People who read printed materials spent a longer time engaging with the material, had a greater emotional reaction to the content, and were more likely to place higher value on the product or service outlined than those engaging with digital materials.

Sales materials can help you do all of the following:

  • Build trust. When you spend the money to get nice printed materials made, it makes a strong impression. You signal to prospects that you’re not some rinky-dink operation. You’re a professional business who cares enough about what you do to spend the time and money on creating high-quality, lasting materials.
  • Leave a footprint. We’re all bombarded by digital messaging each day. From hundreds of emails to banner ads across every site, it’s easy to tune out that digital noise. If you can leave something physical behind, like a brochure or postcard, you’re far less easily forgotten.
  • Show, don’t tell. We all know that old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. There’s certainly some truth to that, and leaving behind print materials that are filled with eye-popping visuals can help you show off your business in a whole new way.
  • Add value. Hopefully you’ve already got a website that’s filled with great content and smart content upgrades. Sales materials can take things one step further. By sharing new information with prospects who meet with your team one-on-one, you give a sense of added value and they come to like and trust you even more.

How to Make Sales Materials Count Today

While sales materials do still have a place in today’s world, it’s undeniable that digital marketing has changed the landscape and influenced what works and what doesn’t when it comes to creating great sales materials. Here are some tips to help you create materials that catch eyes and make a lasting impression.

Invest in High-Quality Materials

This might sound like a no-brainer, but sales materials—whether printed or digital—will only work in your favor if they look great. Fliers on printer paper, hastily run through a black-and-white copy machine, will not inspire a whole lot of trust. Same goes for a poorly formatted PowerPoint. It makes you look sloppy and leaves prospects guessing about how much time and effort you put into caring for your customers.

Your sales materials must continue to speak for you long after the actual meeting with your prospect is over. So make sure they look nice! It’s worth investing in the creative—smart copy, bright visuals, great design and layout. If we’re talking print materials, it’s also worth your while to send it out to a professional print shop, rather than trying to do it on your office printer. Companies like Vistaprint and Moo allow any business access to fast, affordable, high-quality print options.

Personalize Everything

Personalization is a must in today’s sales and marketing world. Google reports that 61 percent of people expect experiences and interactions with a brand be tailored to their preferences. Your sales materials should be no exception to the personalization rule.

With the proliferation of low-cost, high-quality print services, it’s entirely possible for you to create several variations of the same brochure, catalog, or product sheets that are tailored to the needs of different segments of your audience.

Let’s say you’re a marketing consultant who focuses on small businesses (sound familiar?). Perhaps there are certain niches you focus on: home service providers, early education and childcare providers, and local car dealerships. Even if you offer the same marketing packages to each segment, you can create a brochure that highlights case studies from the specific industry and speaks to how your marketing method is applied specifically in your prospect’s field.

You can get great results in sales with low-tech personalization, too. Consider asking your salesperson to write a hand-written note (on a branded postcard, of course!) to slip into the brochure or catalog they’re leaving behind with their prospect. That attention to detail can make a strong, positive impression.

Continue to Add Value

When we talk about great sales materials, we’re talking about materials that continue to add value. Sure, your branded magnets, tote bags, and pens might be fun little add-ons. But how often does the tote end up at the bottom of someone’s desk drawer and the magnet find itself relegated to the side of the office fridge?

Branded tchotchkes don’t further your conversations with prospects, whereas great sales materials do. Make your leave-behind something that adds value. It shouldn’t be the white paper or Ebook that’s available for download on your website. Instead, make your sales materials information that prospects can’t get by simply going online.

Additionally, the content of the sales materials should fit in with your broader sales conversations and marketing strategy. The content shouldn’t come out of left field. Instead, it should help guide the in-person discussion between your sales rep and prospect, and then serve as a reminder of all their discussion points for the prospect who looks back at them later.

Encourage Collaboration Between Sales and Marketing

The best way to ensure you’re creating meaningful sales materials is to get your marketing team involved in the conversation. The customer journey today is far more convoluted than ever before, and it means there’s an unprecedented level of overlap between what your sales and marketing teams do.

Don’t leave your sales team to write and design their own brochures. But on the flip side, don’t let your marketing team create the content blind. Your sales team has the boots-on-the-ground experience and can share real-world insight into what works and what doesn’t in terms of messaging.

They can also let the marketing team know about gaps in their sales presentation and how printed or digital materials can help fill them. The marketing team, in turn, can finesse the messaging of the sales team, bring consistency to presentations and materials, and elevate sales materials to the appropriate level.

Sales materials, whether or printed or digital, still have an important role to play in today’s customer journey. While you might feel tempted to let your digital marketing and sales reps do all the talking for you, there’s still value in providing a meaningful, thoughtful leave-behind to complement sales discussions.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Sales.

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