Providing prospective clients with impactful materials that succinctly and effectively convey your story, value proposition and differentiators is a crucial step in any B2B sales process. A compelling brochure, one-pager or pitch deck could be the difference between a prospect taking the next step with you or moving on to a competitor, making them a critical component of the sales and marketing toolkit.
But ensuring this collateral is well-written, visually appealing and overall effective is far easier said than done, especially within highly technical spaces with long sales cycles, such as B2B fintech. Read on to learn about some common mistakes that industry firms make when creating these valuable materials – and how your organization can course-correct if needed.
The Problem: Failing to Tailor Collateral for Intended Use Case or Target Audience
When creating sales materials, it’s critical that everyone involved has a crystal-clear understanding of who the target audience is and where each piece of collateral fits into the overall sales process. Do your salespeople prefer to talk through your decks live on calls, or do they tend to send them via email as a follow-up item? Will you be printing your sales sheets and handing them out at conferences, or will they be digital-only? Are you trying to reach the C-suite, technologists, partnership managers or all of the above? Failure to account for these considerations can have a negative impact across the board, from the length of the materials to the terminology you use to the balance of copy versus visuals and beyond. Understanding the main objective of each piece of collateral is key, and the corresponding expectations and norms of each target audience and use case should drive the creative process.
All these practical elements – including purpose, audience and distribution channels – must be considered and clarified at the outset of the process. These details can help determine the timeline in which materials should be finalized, the parties who need to review them, how the marketing and design teams can best support the sales process and more. For example, if your salespeople use pitch decks primarily as a presentation tool on live calls, they might require more visual components and fewer words to tell your story and capture the audience’s attention. Conversely, if your decks are typically sent via email as an additional resource that prospects can get a sense of the product themselves, there’s a strong case for making them more text-heavy and informational. The same goes for sales sheets: a glossy flyer handed out at a trade show should be visually and verbally distinct from a PDF sent as a follow-up to a sales call.
You can also consider saving on the cost of physical materials altogether (plus travel expenses) by signing up for virtual events. You may have to put in some extra work to identify the webinars that are the best fit for your firm, but the savings can make it worthwhile.
The Problem: Absent or Hard-to-Read Contact Info/CTAs
The core aim of sales collateral is to turn prospects into clients. They are meant to explain, educate and inspire, but all these outcomes are in service of the larger goal to drive business growth. Materials that don’t provide basic contact information for your company – an email address and website, at minimum – are missing out on a huge opportunity to invite prospects to engage further. The same goes for materials that bury this information in the fine print. In addition, the absence of a powerful, explicit call to action (CTA) – “Learn more,” “Scan the QR code” or “Contact us to schedule a free demo” – means potential clients could be aimless or confused in terms of next steps, reducing the overall effectiveness of your collateral.
Providing your contact information in a clear, easy-to-read manner is hands-down the simplest step you can take to invite prospects to take the next step. For maximum visibility, consider presenting this information in a bold, eye-catching footer on your sales sheets, or on the first and last slides of your pitch deck. While a general email address and website URL are the bare minimum, we recommend providing a number of different touchpoints if you can find a way to incorporate them: a phone number, an individual salesperson’s email address or even a QR code that takes readers to your website when scanned.
The Problem: Weak Visuals and Diagrams
Although some may view the design and aesthetics of their sales materials as less important than the copy conveying the product’s features and value proposition, a lack of visual clarity can be detrimental to the overall message. Convoluted diagrams, excessive text and distracting use of colors or graphics can all lead to confusion and disinterest from prospects. Misalignment with your company’s other brand elements and public-facing materials, such as your logo or website, is another common pitfall in this area.
It’s crucial that your sales materials reflect the core principles of good design. If you’re creating diagrams, they should be highly intuitive, with the benefits of your product clearly emphasized. Make them large enough to read without zooming in or squinting. In addition, you should avoid any visual representation that is overly complex, as it will only weigh the sheet down with dense content. Be mindful and selective regarding the design elements you choose to implement (sometimes simplicity is better than accuracy) and avoid being redundant in the surrounding copy. In addition, be sure to leave enough white or blank space on your sheet or slide – you’d be surprised how quickly a page can start to feel cluttered when all design elements are accounted for. Above all, remember that a sales sheet should be a pleasant, easily digestible read. Give your readers just enough to stoke their interest, provide a basic understanding and inspire them to learn more, and leave the minute details to your salespeople.
The Problem: Brand and Messaging Inconsistency
For a prospect, there’s nothing more disorienting than receiving a product sheet or sales deck that looks and sounds completely different from the firm’s website, social media channels and the like. Discrepancies in messaging, tone and visuals will undercut your message at every turn, both consciously (“what is this provider really trying to tell me?”) and unconsciously (an inconsistent approach to marketing can connote a lack of focus, insubstantiality and even carelessness). It’s vital to remember that your sales collateral does not exist in a vacuum – it’s part of your larger brand and should reflect it as such. This need for brand and messaging consistency is by no means unique to sales materials, but they’re one of the most common places where B2B fintechs can get off track.
While it’s far easier said than done, the only answer to this problem is to ensure all your people and materials are telling a consistent story and reinforcing it with consistent visuals. Many well-established firms already have a clearly defined visual brand and plenty of on-message language to deploy. Your sales sheets, for example, should be making the same points as your existing Products or Services webpage, and incorporating a testimonial from a past press release can be a great way to tie it all together. But other firms, especially early-stage fintechs, may not have this foundation in place, which points to the need for a fulsome corporate or product messaging exercise.
Conclusion: Alignment Is Crucial
In sum, sales collateral for B2B fintechs should be informative, visually appealing, actionable and relevant to your audience – all while adhering to your existing brand guidelines. You should avoid investing too much time in creating these materials without a rock-solid brand in place – you’re all but guaranteed to get more mileage out of your efforts if your messaging and visual profile are fully locked in. By encouraging collaboration between your sales team and your marketing team, firms can reach a level of alignment necessary to produce compelling, top-notch promotional materials that drive company growth.
Sales and marketing collateral is just one of the many deliverables Forefront offers as part of our brand and website projects. Check out our case studies, explore our full list of services or drop us a line to learn more about how we can arm your sales team with impactful materials.