Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Why Your Salespeople Don't Read Your Brochures

Simple - Because they don't help your sales force sell your stuff.

Your brochures are for telling your target buyers (there's those personas, again) why your stuff is the best thing since pockets on a shirt - presuming that your target buyer has a burning need to transport small items on the front of their clothing.

But your buyers are not your sellers.  Your sellers need something that helps them remember all that info you stuffed into their heads at the sales training session you did two quarters ago.  The brochure your customer reads won't help.

The cure: Make a brochure for the sales people.

Remember your sales force is another buyer - create a persona for them and what they need to solve their problems:
  • They have to choose from a myriad of products to sell, especially at bigger companies
  • They have to learn how speak to your customers using the right language
  • They have to know how to handle common objections
  • They need to know what landmines their competitors are going to lay for them
  • They need to know how to get to quota faster (or at all)
  • They need to get to 'No' faster so they have time to get to quota, etc.

Call it whatever you please: Battle Card, Cheat Sheet, Shower Card, Easy Reference Guide, Quick Reference Guide, etc.  Just make sure it addresses their needs, in their language. 

 Ones that I've created and had sales teams use in the past have had the following structure:

  • One physical piece of paper. 
    It's okay to use both sides but try to keep it to one sheet.
  • Printed in 10 or 12 point type
    Mouse type won't get read
  • What Does It Do?
    25 & 50-word product descriptions for those mythical elevator rides.
  • What Problems Does It Solve?
    Top 3-5 real business problems in one sentence bullets
  • How Does It Work?
    Short section on key features and components.  This is a good place for the architecture graphic.  You can also add on what the offering includes.
  • Who Is It For?
    Subtitled: Who makes a good prospect?  A product for everyone will get sold to no one.
  • What are the key differentiators for the offering?
    Be honest.  No MABUSHI here.
  • General Pricing Summary
  • Top 3 Objections
    Include the suggested response to each.
  • Top 3 Probing Questions
    To help get the conversation started and explore the problems listed in the first section. 
Like car mileage and parenting, your results may vary.  You may want to include a section on customer testimonials or drop the pricing section to suit your needs.  The idea is always to give your sales staff tools they can and will use. It should NOT be a comprehensive regurgitation of all your training materials.  Limit it to the highest value points - your sales people can review the other training materials if they need a refresher or more details. 

And one last suggestion: Laminate it for them so they can keep it in their briefcases for quick review or pinned to their cube wall.

Next Up: Another type of sales staff brochure for enterprise or complex sales


  1. Sales guides are used inside some of the bigger tech companies. The ones I've helped create at places like Hitachi Data Systems include pain points by role within the prospects' companies (i.e., showing what the product or service being sold can do for the problems of people in different positions), extensive competitor comparison charts, arguments to use to counter the sales arguments made by competitors, frequently asked questions and answers, charts of the available sales tools for use at various points in the sales cycles (e.g., presentations, white papers, graphs and charts), as well as an elevator pitch. Sales people LOVED the compact format (a booklet as well as a CD-ROM with active links inside the sales guide PDF), because it helped educate them without weighing down their briefcases while traveling.

  2. CynSieWil,

    Absolutely right. It sounds like you did your persona development right for the sales team: you understand what they needed, the problems they were encountering as well as knowing how they consumed information and the format they wanted.

    Just for clarification, the tool I describe above is a distillation of all that work. It is not where you start, it's the last one you finish because it is based on everything you know.