Sales Collateral Best Practices for Every Stage of the Sales Funnel (with Examples!)
Sales collateral is a collection of educational and persuasive documents describing a company and its products or services. Sales teams use sales collateral as a tool to inform prospects and customers, with the goal of influencing them to make a purchase.
In order for a company to get the most value out of their sales collateral, it’s important that the content of these documents, as well as how they’re actually utilized, align to where each individual buyer currently stands in the purchasing process.
We refer to the various stages customers go through during the buying process as the buyer’s journey, which we divide into the following stages:
- Awareness: Buyers start their journey by becoming aware of a problem that needs solving.
- Consideration: Buyers weigh the pros and cons of your solution against their alternative options.
- Decision: After some research, and nurturing from your teams, prospects decide whether or not to purchase.
- Growth: New customers experience growth through education and guidance you provide during onboarding.
- Delight: Buyers enter the delight stage when they feel supported by your company and become brand advocates.
Collateral can be a compelling way to nudge prospects further down the sales funnel and keep the momentum going throughout your pipeline. This is especially useful if you’re a B2B company like us and experience longer sales cycles, larger deal sizes, and need to win over the full buying committee before closing a deal.
In this post, we’ll go over the essential types of sales collateral you need in your toolbox, as well as some of our own most effective examples and best practices for designing and using collateral.
In this early stage of the buyer’s journey, your prospects are just now figuring out that they have a problem that needs solving. In many cases, they might have recognized their need but have yet to get acquainted with your offering.
Take advantage of this opportunity to introduce your brand with a company overview that positions your products or services as the best possible solution to the day-to-day pains they’re experiencing.
For example, think about buyers at a trade show who are considering new vendors to partner with. This would be an opportune moment to hand them awareness-stage collateral like your company overview.
In our company overview, we include our mission statement, a summary of our 6 core services, a client testimonial, and some brief operational details about our organization and offerings. Think of it as a homepage on a piece of paper.
The goal of your sales collateral for the awareness stage is to capture the attention of top-of-funnel prospects and drive them to want to learn more about your solution.
Buyers in this stage might not be considering a purchase as a solution yet, but this type of collateral gives you the chance to plant the idea in their head that an offering like yours may be the perfect fix for their problem.
Use case for your company overview: Aside from the trade show scenario, your sales development rep (SDR) might use an awareness stage collateral piece like the company overview in a follow-up email to leads who have yet to accept a sales meeting. By giving them the broad view of what value you provide, the SDR can spark their curiosity and encourage the prospect to schedule a sales meeting or demo for a more comprehensive rundown.
In the consideration stage, prospects are exploring all options for solving their problem: your solution, your competitors, and other alternatives that may not be a product or a purchase.
One type of sales collateral that works well for this stage is a product (or service) one-pager, which gives an overview of relevant value propositions for your offering and how they can be seen as a solution to the prospect’s pain points.
The service overview pictured here is for our outsourced marketing service and lists the different areas of support our service provides. It addresses the specific pain points our prospects experience, such as the high costs of building and training an internal marketing team vs. our outsourced solution.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Another sales collateral piece your reps can use in this stage is an FAQ. Having a list of the most frequently asked questions helps to address prospect concerns before they even have to voice them.
In the consideration stage, it’s important to position your solution as better than your competitors while the buyer is considering all of their options.
The FAQ lets you highlight all of the practical details that give you a competitive edge and that might even end up as the deciding factor that convinces a prospect to choose your offering over another.
Consideration stage collateral should be more in-depth and detailed than awareness stage collateral, addressing more elements of the BANT sales methodology, such as the prospect’s budget and timeframe.
Use case for product one-pagers and FAQs: Your salespeople can use these collateral pieces while nurturing qualified prospects to show those buyers exactly how your solution fixes all of the individual pain points that have been identified prior to the consideration stage.
The decision stage is the part of the buyer’s journey where a qualified opportunity makes their choice about whether or not to purchase your solution. Your goal in this stage should be to encourage them to buy and help them navigate the buying process, which includes winning over the full buying committee for B2B deals.
Case studies are powerful pieces of sales collateral for the decision stage. By using success stories from past customers that are similar to the prospect’s company, case studies help prospects visualize exactly how your product or service might help them.
In our BigCommerce case study pictured above, we describe how our service was implemented into the client’s existing processes as well as the measurable outcomes that followed. Your case studies should mention both operational and financial wins, giving buyers an idea of how your solution can help with both.
Use case for case studies: Salespeople can send prospects case studies that provide an example from within the prospect’s own industry. These tailored examples illustrate what a successful use of your product or service looks like, and can be shared with the prospect’s leadership (who likely have more authority in purchase decisions).
As opportunities get closer to making their decision, a more personalized approach to selling becomes necessary. A client presentation is a piece of sales collateral that outlines potential benefits and expectations, specific to the buyer it’s presented to.
The client presentation slideshow we included here sets expectations about our day-to-day processes, provides our recommendations for that particular client, and outlines exact costs and potential ROI.
Use case for client presentations: These presentations are most often used by salespeople as they attempt to finalize and close a new deal. Presenting this information to every person who gets a say in the purchase decision can be an effective way to get the buying committee to come to a consensus, as well as to address any last-minute concerns that may still be lingering.
The growth stage is the first post-sale stage we include in our buyer’s journey. It may come as a surprise that sales collateral can be valuable even in these stages after the deal is closed.
In the growth stage, buyers go through the process of onboarding and implementing their new purchase into their existing processes. Your goal in this stage is to make sure they get the most out of your solution, anticipating where value can be added to the deal.
Collateral like your onboarding documents (which might be useful when setting expectations in the decision stage too) can be used to guide buyers through the implementation process and ensure successful adoption of your solution.
In the kick off overview for our appointment setting service, we outline all of the administrative and operational components that are needed for effective implementation and a strong partnership with the client.
In this stage, it’s important that customers are set up for success from the start, in order to increase renewals and avoid cancellations from those who never properly implemented your solution.
Also, consider opportunities for an increased deal size that can arise in this stage when you present further options to customize or supplement the product or service they’ve purchased.
Use case for onboarding documents: Your customer success managers can use this collateral to foster customer satisfaction, leading to an improved renewal rate. As the SMs address each phase of implementation, they can use a piece like this to cross-sell or upsell new customers on additional products or related services that would add more functionality to the solution.
In the case of our appointment setting example, our collateral for this stage might highlight how adding another SDR could bring in more qualified appointments, or how utilizing our marketing services can provide more warm inbound leads for the SDR team to call on.
In the delight stage, the customer relationship ramps up as they continue to use your product or service and depend on you for support. Your goals in this stage should be to increase sales through customer satisfaction, customer retention, and brand advocacy.
Types of sales collateral that can be used in the delight stage include:
- Customer appreciation flyers that request feedback about their experience and invite them to leave a review about your product or service
- Informative brochures that teach customers how to increase the utility of their purchase, especially through the use of your additional offerings
- Exclusive coupon offers that incentivize customers to send you referrals and become advocates for your brand
Use case for delight stage sales collateral: Your success managers or customer service reps can send these types of late-stage collateral to customers who come to them for guidance. As the customer’s key point of contact in your company, these reps should make sure customers have what they need to succeed with your product or service and are informed about all that you offer.
Best practices for designing sales collateral
- Stay on-brand: It’s important that your sales collateral maintains a cohesive brand identity, in order to create a strong connection between your company and the value you provide. This is why your marketing team should be responsible for creating each piece of sales collateral, so that all uses of your logos, fonts, and colors are consistent.
- Practical formatting: Sales collateral should be formatted with the buyer in mind—easy to follow and designed for readers to scan quickly. This can be as simple as organizing information into lists or emphasizing main points in different colors.
- Include a clear CTA: Each piece of collateral needs a call-to-action or clear suggestion of the next step the buyer should take. Depending on the sales funnel stage, this might be a hyperlink to learn more about your product or maybe a salesperson’s direct line to discuss finalizing the deal.
Best practices for using sales collateral
- Segment by persona: Start with well-defined buyer personas for your different types of buyers, then segment prospects and customers along dimensions like common pain points and their roles in purchase decisions. Smart segmentation helps when deciding what content will be most persuasive for the individual, like choosing between technical or economic value propositions.
- Map your buyer’s journey: Different buyers take different steps before deciding to invest in a new solution, and it’s important that your teams know exactly how to help your customers through each stage of their buyer’s journey. Predicting each customer touchpoint helps your reps know when and how to provide each piece of sales collateral.
- Team accessibility: Reps should be able to easily find certain collateral pieces at critical points in the sales process. Your sales collateral documents should be stored in a central location that can be accessed by the appropriate teams (sales, sales development, customer service, etc.). Security is also a concern for how these documents are stored, as more personalized collateral may include sensitive customer information that needs to be protected.
With an effective process for designing and distributing your sales collateral, you can keep potential buyers informed and help them recognize the value in your product or service.
Sales teams must focus on how to address buyer needs and concerns at every stage of the sales funnel when developing their collateral strategy. We hope you find these best practices and sales collateral examples useful as you develop your own collateral strategy and system.
If you need help creating engaging collateral for your teams, feel free to explore EBQ’s marketing services to learn what we can do for you.