Selling is not a simple process. It takes a complex skill set that includes the ability to:
- Understand and connect with different personalities
- Identify problems and present solutions
- Use persuasion to form opinions and drive decisions
- Uncover and process detailed prospect and client information
- Manage and track actions and time with precision
Sellers must be great researchers, information processors, producers and also great communicators. Yet there seems to be a lot of emphasis on helping sellers on the first three and not so much on being great communicators. For example, there is much discussion about resources that provide access to data for research and tools for customer relationship management (CRM). However, the tool that helps sellers communicate ideas that impact buying decisions is rarely given emphasis. Sellers can be research pros, information processing dynamos and Johnny-on-the-spot when it comes to taking actions. However, without materials to help them connect, solve, persuade and drive decisions – in other words communicate – success can be hard to come by. As a marketing communications professional who has worked closely with sales teams for a good portion of my career, I find myself asking why communication materials are not managed with the same emphasis as other sales tools?
Perhaps it’s because in many organizations there is a division of power? Marketers are the creators – they make the communication aids. Sellers are the executors – they deliver the communication aids that are available to them. Therefore emphasis in the sales process is placed on execution. Maybe it’s that while research, time and progress are fairly universal commodities, communication aids are highly specific and custom-made? Providing access to data and information can be done on a nearly global scale. The same goes for building solutions to help with time, contact and productivity management. But the organization itself has to make communication aids to fit its own needs and purposes.
Regardless of the reason, an organization’s printed collateral material is an important sales tool to persuade and impact the buying decision. Because of the physical nature of graphic communication materials, they’re often the only chance a prospect has to get their hands on the brand. They are the true touchpoint in the sales process. Print is the junction where sales, marketing, branding and the target audience come together physically as one. For this reason printed communications are deserving of the spotlight that they never seem to get.
Organizations readily invest in specialty CRM and research tools for their sales teams. But they manage, source and execute materials that directly impact buying decisions with improvised spreadsheets, notes, email and phone calls. At best, sales collateral purchases are shoehorned into general-purpose procurement and enterprise resource planning solutions. None of these tools are built for the procurement of custom-specified and produced printed materials. Now is the time to start using the right tool for the job of producing printed communication materials that are critical to sales success.