13 types of critical sales and marketing collateral
Sales collateral helps salespeople close deals. Creating a toolbox of resources gives you an opportunity to nurture relationships and push deals forward, whether you want to generate more leads, have an excuse to reignite a conversation or develop trust with stakeholders.
This article is for sales and marketing professionals who want to reduce the time it takes to close sales and increase the likelihood of success.
In this post, you’ll find out how sales collateral can drive revenue. We’ve listed the 13 main types of sales collateral, how to create them and the impact they have, so you can figure out what’s going to make a difference to your business.
What is sales collateral?
Sales collateral gives potential customers the information they need to make a decision. Providing useful, timely information builds confidence and trust in what you do. Sales collateral is a crucial part of sales enablement and the goal of both is to give your team access to sales and marketing materials that make it more likely your company will win a sale and reduce the time it takes to complete deals.
Potential customers are overwhelmed with options, so sales reps need to provide value to develop interest and nurture conversations. Sales collateral offers a variety of ways to do that, for example:
Whitepapers can explain an important industry trend, strengthening the argument for why a customer needs your service
Case studies demonstrate the impact your service has
Email templates save time and make sure you have the best possible chance of success.
How sales collateral can benefit your business
The main goal of sales collateral is to educate prospective customers, move deals forward and help them to get to the decision stage. Specifically, sales collateral can help you to:
Provide a reason to get in touch
Showcase your expertise
Empower your contact
1. Generate leads
Sales involves a mix of outbound and inbound work; you’re either reaching out to potential clients or they’ve got in touch with your company.
Creating and sharing sales collateral is a key way to drive inbound inquiries. Start with your customer, why do they need your product or service? Developing assets that help them with that challenge is a great way to identify intent and get the details you need to start a conversation.
These assets could include whitepapers, webinars, ebooks, guides or videos. The key is to make them useful enough that users would be willing to share some data (like an email address or phone number) in exchange for the information.
Bear in mind that you normally need to provide a significant amount of insight to justify someone sharing their data. If it’s information they can find easily elsewhere, they’re unlikely to give you their personal information.
2. Provide a reason to get in touch
Salespeople need to keep in touch with clients during the sales process.
Often delays will crop up while stakeholders are being consulted or budgets secured. There are only so many times you can ask if they’ve had time to review a proposal, but sales collateral provides a great excuse to get in touch.
Think about what insights can help your prospect or are particularly relevant to where they are in the sales process.
Most types of sales materials create a reason to get in touch, but case studies are particularly powerful during the later stages of the sales process because they demonstrate the impact a service has.
3. Showcase your expertise
It’s important to build trust with potential clients and sales collateral offers a great way to showcase your expertise.
A company that translates software could create guides or a podcast about how to launch in a particular market. An accounting firm that acts as a part-time financial director could share blog posts explaining the value of forecasting or how to apply for a loan.
4. Empower your contact
The person you’re selling to often has to convince their manager that the investment is worthwhile. Hopefully, you can get the person who controls the budget on the call, but that’s not always the case.
Sales collateral gives your contact the material they need to convince the person signing off the budget. Handing their manager a brochure or sharing a whitepaper is much more powerful than simply relying on your pitch to them, relayed second hand, to convince a stakeholder.
Perhaps it’s a case study that shows the return on investment (ROI) of work you did with a similar company, a testimonial from a happy customer that faced a similar challenge as your new prospect or a whitepaper that sets out why they need to get ahead of an emerging trend.
When should salespeople use sales collateral?
Sales collateral helps move deals forward and can support every stage of the buyer’s journey.
Awareness stage: Generate leads
Consideration stage: Demonstrate expertise
Making a decision: Build confidence
Your entire sales organization needs to be aware of the sales collateral that’s available, so make sure marketing initiatives are shared with not just sales representatives but also the customer success and account management teams. Remind them in sales meetings and ask them what other types of content you could create to support them.
Look for opportunities to leverage your sales collateral
Creating sales collateral is time-consuming, so think about the different ways you can leverage the assets you create.
For example, if you’re writing a whitepaper, you can adapt the copy to create several blog posts that encourage people to download it. Salespeople can then link to relevant sales collateral in emails and proposals.
What sales collateral has the maximum impact?
Start by thinking about the goal a specific piece of sales collateral has. How is it going to support your sales process?
Start an open conversation between your marketing team and salespeople to identify opportunities.
Look at your sales data. Are there stages of the funnel where more deals drop off than you want? Concentrate on sales content that can support part of this funnel. Do you want to increase the average deal size? Whitepapers can help position your company to solve bigger problems.
Once you have a goal in mind, you can think about what subject the collateral covers and what content type makes the most sense. Here are a few sales collateral examples to get you thinking.
An engineering company that needs to convince a number of stakeholders when discussing a multi-year project: An in-depth whitepaper on a relevant engineering trend or technology will demonstrate familiarity with the topic and develop trust.
A content marketing agency that’s identified new sectors to target: A series of downloadable guides on leveraging content marketing in that sector, which answer the specific challenges such as ideation, marketing, etc.
B2B SaaS company trying to get people to upgrade to a paid offering: Demo videos that show a feature that’s relevant to the way a free subscriber is operating.
13 types of critical sales and marketing collateral
When you know what impact sales collateral can have, you can think about what type of assets you need.
1. Case studies
Every company should have customer case studies that help to educate customers on how a product or service works and demonstrate the results you achieved. That social proof has a big impact.
Case studies explain a customer’s challenge and the brief, the work you completed and what happened as a result. Try using this format:
Including metrics strengthens case studies. For example, a web development agency might have increased a customer’s ecommerce conversion from 1.5% to 3.0%. In this case, potential customers would be able to estimate the impact a similar uptick would have on their revenue and therefore justify the investment.
The more relevant the case study to a potential customer the better. You want them to identify with the challenges an existing client had and desire the same results, and quoting someone with a similar job title really helps build that familiarity, too.
Make sure you have at least one case study for each of your main customer and buyer personas and services.
Case studies can be used to produce blog posts, while shorter versions can be used in proposals. In each case, focus on the problem and present the information from one or more case studies as a guide to a particular challenge.
Case studies are particularly effective during initial meetings and the proposal stages of a sale. They provide tangible examples as it’s much easier for a client to understand the impact of a product through a story about a business like theirs.
2. Whitepapers and ebooks
A whitepaper or ebook is a report or guide that provides a comprehensive explanation of a particular subject. When used as sales assets, whitepapers usually promote a particular product or viewpoint that supports a company’s offering.
By taking a detailed stance on an issue, whitepapers demonstrate your expertise. In fact, white papers are one of the most effective sales collateral, as 82% of decision- makers use white papers to help make purchasing decisions, making them a powerful tool in B2B sales.
They could be about an important trend in consumer or company behavior that’s relevant to your clients, such as:
A whitepaper on the popularity of TikTok and the benefits of building brand accounts for a social media agency
A whitepaper on radical candor and how to apply the approach by a management training company
Often the argument being made in the whitepaper is synonymous with the argument for why customers need your services, making the whitepaper a powerful platform to make your case.
The key is to focus on a niche that your customers are really interested in, so find out what questions salespeople are getting and see if there is a topic that always comes up. You can also talk to team leaders or managers about the big-picture trends.
Whitepapers offer you a chance to position your company as thought leaders. You’re not just selling a service to meet an immediate need, you’re helping your customer develop their business for the future.
Whitepapers help generate leads and can also be used as a touchpoint to reignite conversations that have gone cold or convince stakeholders.
Check out an example of an ebook by downloading our Sales Strategy Guide below.
9 steps to creating the perfect sales strategy (with free template)
In this handbook, we’ll walk you through what your sales strategy needs, plus there’s a free strategy template to get you started!
3. Self-published books
Self-published books provide a platform to share in-depth insight, making them a great opportunity for business leaders or influencers to demonstrate their expertise.
Self-published books work well for companies that offer consultation or training because they provide a way to showcase your USP, support the sales process and add extra value for course sales.
Copies can be distributed electronically or printed by a self-publishing company, while ebooks can be downloaded and read on various devices. Companies often mix book sales, which recoup some of the costs, with free editions that are given to sales prospects.
Self-published books normally run to 150-plus pages (around 41,000 words) and require a significant time investment by the author. It’s possible to use a ghostwriter, but that comes with a cost attached to it, so although it is a good approach, it can be a serious investment.
Self-published books can be given out as marketing collateral at events and shared with prospects that are in your sales funnel.
Research supports a salesperson’s arguments. It’s great if you can highlight a new trend a customer can take advantage of or show them the impact your product has.
Using an external data research firm, one that creates unique, original data for its clients, adds weight to your findings, providing you with a better chance of creating a PR opportunity. Otherwise, you can survey your customers or the industry more broadly.
People are skeptical, so make sure the questions and the results presented don’t have obvious biases. Try to identify trends that you’re seeing in the market, rather than shoehorning an issue.
Research generates interest and helps establish expertise. Your research can be shared with potential customers through sales presentations, by email or included in blog posts or whitepapers.
Creating a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) provides a resource for potential customers to make sure the product is relevant to them and behaves in the way they expect.
FAQs help deal with potential objections. A customer may lose interest in a new product or service if they can’t quickly and easily establish how it works. For example, someone may need to know if your marketing tool plugs into another piece of software they use.
It creates a useful resource for salespeople too, giving them a bank of information they can refer to where they can find details they don’t know.
It should be a living document. If your support or sales team keeps getting asked a similar question, adding it to the FAQ means everyone has access to the answer and you’re not repeating the work every time.
FAQs support the consideration phase of the sales cycle.
When product documentation increases to a sufficient level, you can present the resources as a knowledge base with individual articles going into depth on particular topics.
Datasheets (also known as buyers guides) provide information on how your product works, from the physical attributes of the product to the impact it has.
A high-end golf brand could provide statistics on the “loft”, “lie” and “offset” of a golf club, as well as the color and weight. The details are important for consumers who are making comparisons with similar products and the level of detail helps establish expertise.
A company managing Google advertising could provide statistics on the amount of pay-per-click (PPC) spend they manage and the click-through rates for particular sectors, which would establish social proof.
Salespeople can share data sheets with customers during the consideration phase. Getting into the weeds on product details is a great way of cementing the idea of using a product in the buyer’s mind.
7. Company introduction
The pitch salespeople make to introduce your company can be reinforced by a document that gives more information.
This is normally a short presentation or corporate brochure that outlines who you are and what you do. It serves to educate the contact, who has likely just found out about the business, on how you can help.
It also provides the person you’re pitching to with an easy-to-share resource that they can give to other stakeholders.
Try to pitch the amount of detail at the right level. If you’ve had a 30-minute intro call, an intro deck with half a dozen slides should be enough. You’re just looking to get the key details across and they aren’t invested enough to read reams and reams of information. If it’s a long-term project, you might provide a lot more detail.
Company introductions can include:
What your company does
Your values and value proposition
An introduction to your products and services
Company introductions are often most useful at the beginning of the sales process.
8. Proposal templates
Proposals are commonly used to explain how your company will deliver a product or service. Creating a template will save your salespeople time, make sure they are following best practices and keep branding consistent.
You could have a company-wide template that every proposal is based on or create several to match particular customer personas or products.
Proposals are normally delivered by a document or a presentation.
Sales proposal templates are usually used during the final stages of your sales funnel.
9. Sales presentation decks
If you present your product or solutions to clients you will need to create a sales presentation deck.
A good presentation uses social proof (like the case studies mentioned above), storytelling and statistics to sell something that will solve the key challenge or pain point that a prospect is facing.
You can use presentation decks in any sales pitch: You don’t necessarily need a presentation that you can take a prospect through in person; you could create decks that your sales team can just share with leads to view in their own time or send to colleagues.
Sales decks can be presented to prospects at any stage of the funnel, so you’ll need to understand where in the decision process a prospect is in order to tailor the deck’s content to them.
Download the Sales Presentation Templates ebook
Nail your sales presentations with this guide containing the 8 slides you need and tips on how to make them.
10. Email templates
Following a structured sales process means salespeople will often find themselves in similar situations. Identifying common types of emails and creating email templates saves time and encourages best practice (looking for something specific, why not check out our cold email templates.
Talking to salespeople about the purpose of emails they send at different points in the sales process will identify opportunities to create templates. Sales collateral examples include:
Cold outreach emails to a particular persona or sector
Follow-up emails after a call
Emails to schedule a meeting or a product demo
Proposal emails or quotes
Emails to leads who have gone cold
Talk to your team to find out best practices and what has worked in the past? Have experienced salespeople developed unique approaches that are paying dividends?
Implementing email templates throughout your sales process has a compounding effect because it increases the likelihood of success of you hitting a number of touchpoints.
Email templates can be used throughout the sales process.
Videos are engaging and easy to share, making them a great way to engage potential customers.
It’s never been easier to create and promote sales videos. A high-quality webcam and the editing capabilities that come as standard with operating systems are enough to get started.
Individual salespeople or leaders within your business might want to create video sales assets. Think about the conversations they’re having every day and try and identify specific challenges customers are facing that relate to your product or service, for example:
Skincare product formulation courses. A debate on whether an indie brand can become mainstream
WordPress development agency. Top tips for improving WordPress website speed
One-to-three-minute videos are enough to cover a particular topic (like our animated video on sales objectives below). At this length, it’s easy for people to engage and there’s no need to invest in expensive production, but it’s common to have longer, interview-based videos used as sales assets too.
Video content can support every stage of the sales funnel. Stuart Pringle, director of Make the Break, explains how videos are helping him book calls:
“I find that if the product is web based, like a SaaS product, then sharing slides is often ineffective. The person you spoke to on the phone may ‘get it’ but what about their colleague who doesn't know you or your brand? I've started using Loom to record short two-to-three minute demos. I've got much more traction in the last 12 months from sending a video. They see my smiling face, they see the product in action, they haven’t been given yet another PowerPoint. I'm getting call backs off this approach.”
12. Print collateral
Giving a prospect printed materials is a good way to make them remember your company. No doubt, they’ll pick it up again when they leave a conference or get back to the office.
Examples of printed sales collateral include:
Product data sheets
Print collateral supports sales meetings, ranging from a lead showing interest at a trade show stand to a prospect visiting a company office.
13. Direct mail
Direct mail has been a mainstay of sales collateral since 18th-Century postal catalogs and it’s still effective today. We’re bombarded with online advertising and the cost per click is going up. Meanwhile, it can be hard to get people to engage with cold calls. What’s more original than getting something in the post?
You can target customers by region or use existing CRM data.
Piggybacking on an existing list, such as a trade magazine or local newspaper can save costs. Look for companies that target a similar customer base with a complementary offering.
Including an offer with a code you can track allows you to see how effective campaigns are. Conversion can be improved by giving potential customers the details of a local point of contact or individual salesperson rather than a call center phone number.
Types of direct mail and their benefits:
Letters. Personalized letters are engaging.
Postcards. Show off a new location or make an announcement at a low cost.
Catalogs. Showcase products and services.
Company brochures. Introduce your business and explain what you do.
Sample. Send samples of your product.
Direct mail is a great way to generate leads.
Sales assets provide value to potential customers and create touchpoints that build trust and develop relationships, an approach that is crucial for modern sales. Get it right and they can help you drive revenue.
The investment you make in sales collateral creates an amplifying effect too. Over time, the individual sales assets you create can contribute to an ecosystem of content that generates leads and warms up prospects.
It all starts with thinking about what part of your sales process you want to support and the value you can provide to sales prospects. What insight is going to demonstrate the need for your product or service? Answer that question, and you’re well on your way to creating the right sales collateral for your business.
Download Your Guide to Perfecting Your Sales Proposals
Everything you need in your sales proposals to win more business, how you can automate the process and a free template to get you started.
Share your thoughts with our Community
Start or continue the conversation with like-minded sales and marketing professionals on our Community.