If your sales team has ever measured how much time it spends generating sales materials and collateral it uses to close deals, it’ll almost certainly recognize the size of the challenge — when it comes to keeping all those one-pagers and customer-side sales materials current and on-point, it’s a huge commitment. 

According to the Aberdeen Group, getting sales materials together in the right way can account for as much as 30 hours of a team’s monthly output. 

Meanwhile, over at marketing, creating sales enablement collateral is also taking up valuable time … but marketers and sales teams are seldom even using all of what’s generated — or even a lot of it. Sirius Decisions reports that nearly two-thirds of marketing collateral ends up falling by the wayside.

So, how can sales leaders improve this scenario? How can these materials be better crafted, easier to make, and add less to everyone’s already significant workload? 

The answer is to gather info across silos, streamline efforts on the creative side, and foster a closer sales-marketing relationship in the first place around collateral. One-pagers and other sales tools should be a project of collaboration. Read on for five strategies to start that process within your team.

1. Open the dialogue about better sales enablement collateral

Here’s what you don’t want, your sales reps cobbling one-pagers together at the last minute before a pitch. And here’s what marketing doesn’t want, sales teams pinch-requesting collateral on a tight deadline. Both circumstances eat up critical time for everyone, and neither stands to generate the collateral that best serves your reps … or your prospects. Start a new chapter in your sales-collateral book by calling key reps and marketers together to discuss a better, longer-term approach. Make it clear from the outset that the goal is not to assign blame for poor collateral of the past, but to build the best materials via a fresh process that takes the whole business forward.

2. Identify your best players, learn and teach from their collateral

The next step is look at case studies  of collateral that can be attached to campaigns and pitches that have worked. These should be drawn from both sales and marketing. On the sales side, you want to find reps who consistently, successfully close business within their client set. In those cases, you’ll find through-lines and ideas that can fuel the template for your collaborative sales-marketing collateral. “No one has a better pulse on where customers are finding value in the product or service we are selling, the questions they ask before buying, and the pain points that the product or service addresses,” said David Waring, editor at Fitsmallbusiness, regarding sales reps.“ By incorporating that feedback into all our content we are able to convert at double or triple the rate we were before we started talking to our salespeople.”

3. Prompt your sales reps to augment collateral across marketing’s campaign types

Collateral isn’t confined to one-pagers. Similar to how your best reps can help create materials that augment every other rep’s arsenal, so can sales give marketing the tools to create outreach that generates new leads. “For example, 911 Restoration recently launched a social-media campaign,” said Scott Ryann Kennard, search-engine optimization specialist and writer at 911 Restoration. “Part of the R-and-D for that campaign came from the sales department telling us the demographic they have found to be the most favorable.”

4. Expand the scope of your collateral-intelligence gathering

Tapping internal intelligence to create best-case collateral can go even further than sales-marketing collaborations. “With the information gathered from telemarketers, customer service representatives, and even technicians in the field … [we] are able to tailor our content, and even the voice/attitude behind it, to match what the customers want to see,” Kennard said. 

5. Talk to your customers

A final key step is to survey the actual end users of every piece of collateral that your newly informed efforts generate. Whether it’s at the level of the team leader or manager, or it’s a survey that your reps bring to clients later on, find out from the people who converted — or did not convert, in the end — what worked and what didn’t make sense about your team’s materials. Is your sales documentation enticing, informative, and relevant? Does it stand out? Bring that feedback to your follow-up sales-marketing meetings.

Sales has the power to drive targeted, useful, and thoughtful collateral — materials that do the trick for both sides of the sales-marketing equation. Your goal is to enable every rep to earn a second meeting with every client, and then to close the deal with supporting documentation that’s informed by the whole picture your company’s different departments help create. Start with the very materials they’ll need to do that. Reach out across silos and bring your collateral conversation into a more collaborative space.

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[PHOTO: Flickr: Creative Commons: 10ch: https://www.flickr.com/photos/10ch/3347658610 ]

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