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To Brochure or Not To Brochure…

That is the question I am asked by business owners who are planning their sales and marketing campaigns. The first question I would ask is, “How do you plan to use it?” Here are the answers I receive:
• “As part of a direct mail campaign.”
• “In the sales call to help explain our capabilities.”
• “As a leave-behind item to remind prospects of our capabilities.”

Let’s take a look at each option:

If it will be used in a direct mail campaign, how much is the investment and what percentage of your prospects will actually read or keep your brochure? My experience is that only 8% of the population reads these items and even less keep them. That assumes, of course, that the brochure lands on the desk of your intended prospect. Direct mail response rates are between 1% and 3%, so is the investment worth it? If the campaign is followed up with a structured Prospect Pursuit Plan which includes phone calls, emails, invitations, give-aways, etcetera, it could be a good first step. If it provides the courage for a salesperson to make a follow-up call (AKA: Linus’s Blanket for Sales) that’s not a bad objective either. However, pinning revenue goals and expending a significant amount of a marketing budget on a beautiful one-time-touch brochure will not give most companies the results they are hoping for.

The second option, which is to use the brochure as part of the sales call has problems associated with it.
• If it is used in the beginning of the sales call, it automatically puts the sales person into the “presentation mode”. It disengages your customer almost immediately and focuses on “the pitch”. You might as well wear your “I’m a SALES Machine” t-shirt into the appointment. The prospect figures out quickly that you aren’t there to really understand his problem and trust is broken.
• If the brochure is brought out in the middle of the call, it shifts the sales person into talking about features, benefits, solutions and pricing too soon. Most importantly, it does not position you as a partner/advisor to your prospect because relevant questions and high-level problem solving are not the focus of the meeting. (By the way, if you use a corporate flipchart/binder to sell, you have the same problems.—Not to mention that you are now selling with the same level of sophistication as college kids who sell steak knives to their parent’s friends!)

The third option, is to use the brochure as a leave-behind.
• This has some value if your company employs physical walk-ins as part of its prospecting plan. If it is VERY well-produced it can add to the credibility of your company. However, it will never make the sale for you or be a factor in the decision to buy from you. If it’s poorly produced, don’t bother.
• If it’s used at the end of a sales appointment, to remind the prospect of your capabilities, you probably executed a poor call, and the brochure will hit the round file! If the prospect is qualified, an excellent sales professional should walk out of the meeting with a signed contract or a clear next step and another appointment. Unfortunately, many calls end with the BROCHURE BRUSH-OFF. The BROCHURE BRUSH-OFF goes like this:
SP: “Here’s some information on our product/service. It explains some more details about us. Do you have any questions?
P: “Not right now. I’ll get back with you when we are ready to make a change.”
SP: “Is it ok if I check back with you in a week?”
P: “Sure, thanks for coming in.”

Congratulations! The BROCHURE BRUSH-OFF was executed perfectly by the Prospect.–And the Salesperson let it happen!Who’s in control or your sales process?

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