Sales Literature, Useful or Wasteful?

“Send me some literature” the sales rep hears from the other end of the line.  The new or naive sales rep confuses this with interest on the part of the prospect, when in fact the seasoned sales professional knows this is by-and-large an appeasement or at least a ploy to get you off their back.  So, to send or not to send?  Rarely is the answer I usually give.

Understanding that at times it is necessary to mail literature to a prospect, but generally it is a waste of your company’s money, and your effort.  In the case where I’m cold calling and a client simply says, “send me some literature” I usually respond by asking for their email so I can send them a PDF of my capabilities.  By doing this I’ve done two things.  I’ve captured an email address for future correspondence, and I’ve saved my company over $15 (the estimate these  days of mailing a corporate brochure via First Class).  This includes not only actual brochure, envelope, label, business card but the time it takes to collect, assemble and mail the brochures.

Then there are the times sales reps would “stop by” to visit me un-announced (see another post about cold-calling), and when they’re unable to see me, they leave behind countless catalogs and brochures, unrequested, and quickly deep-sixed.

So here are my SOP’s regarding sales literature.

  1. Sales literature only gets mailed if there is a true need for it.  That the prospect is truly interested in the product, and there’s no way for the rep to visit the prospect to review the literature together.  Seasoned sales reps can tell when someone’s really interested, they just have a hard time admitting this, and besides, to everyone else it looks like sales activity.
  2. Generally, if your reps work local and someone asks for literature, if there seems to be genuine interest ask for an appointment to get acquainted and review the literature together.  “That’s great Bob that you’re interested in our products, I’m going to be in your territory on Thursday and have some time in the afternoon, would you take just 10 minutes to get acquainted and review the literatur together.  I promise to respect your time and be be brief, would 2:30 be ok?”
  3. If the rep can not get an appointment to review the literature in person, then one is made by phone so he/she can review the literature with the rep when it arrives.  “Bob, I’d be glad to mail the literature to you.  I’ll mail it today and it should arrive to you by Friday.  I would like to take a few minutes and review it with you to be sure you we’re all on the same page. So how about I call you Tuesday at 9am which gives you some time to review it, and we’ll take just a few minutes together on the phone, would that be ok with you?”
  4. Use eMail.  Convert to literature to a PDF, and when requested tell them it’s on the way, and ask if they’d have a few minutes to review it on the phone right now.  If not, when might they have a few minutes.  Then enter the email address into your CRM right away so your company can put this prospect on the mail list for future emails.  Be sure to tell the prospect when you email the brochure that you’re going to add him to your list of email specials that come out occassionally.

Now, having said that, I like having sell sheets to leave behind.  8.5″ x 11″ sell sheets are cheap to produce in full-color (my company does them for as low as $550 for 1000 pieces). Sell sheets should focus on a particular product or series of products, be brief, and offer a special of some sort.  These types of leave-behinds are generally accepted and will often hang around on the desk or inbox of the prospect, thus extending the awareness of the rep’s visit.  You can even use left-over postcards from a recent mail campaign as leave behinds…  These work well to reinforce the mailing you did some time ago.  But I do prefer something a little larger that stands out…

The bottom line is, sales literature is expensive to produce and even more expensive to mail.  And if your company is sending regular direct mail, sending out brochures is usually and exercise in futility. I’ve managed marketing departments where I outlawed it, sales continued to increase, and we dramatically cut our literature/postage expenses, and kept our sale people on the phone. 

In this day and age, use brochures you can email, or use your website to highlight your companies capabilities, products, and specials and drive all traffic there… That’s what the web is for, and so many companies have no idea how to use it effectively and efficiently.  Do it, and you’ll look like a genius, because I’ll be you dollars to donuts your competition is still stuffing envelopes.

Good selling!

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