5 Tips for Successful Sales Collateral

November 11, 2014


Many people might be surprised to hear this, but sales collateral— even printed on paper—is still an effective way to help sell your products and services. Even with all of the great modern digital technology that we can use to promote our businesses and connect with clients, it’s still a good idea to have a few pieces of sales collateral, such as brochures, pamphlets, sales sheets or other supplemental information that you can present in person or bring with you to a networking event.

Why is sales collateral still so important for solopreneurs and freelancers? And how can you use your sales collateral to close more sales and attract clients?

Your prospective clients are busier and more bombarded with information than ever before, and good sales collateral can help put your best selling points front and center. Sales collateral gives your prospective clients a way to see a concise overview of who you are, what you do, and why it matters to them. The best pieces capture the attention of your prospective clients, explains in just minutes why your services are helpful to their goals, begins the process of building trust and opening a larger conversation, and can serve as an ongoing resource that your prospective clients can refer back to as part of their process of deciding to hire you.

Here are a few ways that freelancers and solopreneurs can improve business with sales collateral:

1.    Show What Makes You Different

The key with any sales materials is to highlight what makes you stand out from the competition.  If you’re a freelancer, your brochure or pamphlet or introductory postcard should convey a clear sense of your personality and style—what you’re like to work with, which areas of expertise you specialize in, and an overall sense of professionalism. Also, try to include simple case studies, short success stories, or testimonial quotes from actual clients (using their actual names and titles).

Try to offer a small sampling of your best work samples, even if it’s a one-page document with partial screen captures of your three favorite projects. People can look at your full portfolio on your website, but your sales collateral can offer just enough of a “taste” of your work to get them interested to see more.

2.    Keep it Simple

It can be tempting to send lots of different documents to your potential clients in the hope that they’ll want to read everything about you and you can answer every conceivable question—but this is a mistake. Most prospective clients get overwhelmed if you send them too many pieces of sales collateral. Start with high-level information first. For your first conversation with a client, give them a brochure that introduces you and explains more about your business. Later in the process of building a relationship, you can provide more specific case studies, testimonials and other supplemental information to answer additional questions that the client might have. Try to pique the client’s interest and get them to ask to learn more.

Also, don’t list prices in your brochures or pamphlets. Leave the conversation about pricing for later in the process. You can give your prospective clients a price quote based on the specific scope of their project and their needs; don’t let yourself get pinned down by listing prices on sales collateral. As a freelancer or solopreneur, you need to maintain flexibility to charge differently for different projects and different clients depending on the complexity and scope of work. For an awesome one-hour read on how to effectively price your services, check out FreshBooks’ Breaking the Time Barrier.

3.    Keep it Short

Lots of sales collateral is too wordy. Get to the point. Try to eliminate 50% of the word count while still keeping your message clear. When sales materials are crowded with text, it’s too hard for readers to process the message. Leave plenty of white space, and make sure you’re only saying what really needs to be said so you’re emphasizing the key selling points.

Also, keep in mind that most people don’t read every word of sales collateral—they scan through it. So break up your copy into “chunks” that are well suited to your readers’ attention span. Use bold font headers and bullet points as needed to break up big blocks of text. Or if you want to be even more concise, consider sending a small postcard (via mail) to each new prospective client. This could be as simple as a “Thank You” postcard with your photo, the name of your business, and a handwritten note on the back reminding the client of what you talked about, where you met, and what you hope to be able to deliver for them on their next project.

4.    Be Precise

In my line of work, I see a lot of sales brochures. And this might sound obvious, but you would be amazed at how many brochures are written in such vague terms that it’s impossible to know what the company actually does. Freelancers and solopreneurs are not immune to this. If your brochure uses vague words like “solutions provider” or “professional services,” you might be losing sales before you can even get the prospective client on the phone.

Your sales collateral needs to quickly, concisely, and clearly introduce your company by explaining what you do, who your ideal customers are and why your services are important to them.

5.    Supplement the Sales Process

Many freelancers and solopreneurs rely on their websites to educate customers about what they do and to generate sales, and that’s totally fine! But in addition to your website and your in-person networking and referrals and social media and every other way you get new business, collateral can still be a great way to supplement the process. For example, having brochures with you at an in-person networking event gives an easy way to keep in touch with new business prospects that goes beyond a simple business card. People are often more likely to remember you if they have that physical reminder of a brochure or pamphlet with your company logo.

Sending sales collateral as part of your series of discussions with a prospective client is a great way to keep in touch. For example, you could call a new client prospect that you met at a networking event, and say, “It was great to connect with you—may I send you a brochure so you have a quick overview of what I can offer to your company?” This way, you have a reason to contact the client again and keep the conversation going.

Sales collateral will not replace your website anytime soon, but it can be a good  “helper” to inform clients about what you do, help distinguish you from the competition, and help build relationships. The best sales collateral gives a precise, concise introduction to tell your prospective customers what you’re all about, while giving you opportunities to keep following up with clients. Whether it’s in print or in digital format, don’t be afraid to invest some time and resources in producing some good-looking, informative sales collateral to help your business make more sales.


about the author

FreshBooks is the #1 accounting software in the cloud designed to make billing painless for small businesses and their teams. Today, over 10 million small businesses use FreshBooks to effortlessly send professional looking invoices, organize expenses and track their billable time.