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Collateral Damage: Are Brochures Derailing Your Sales?

When companies introduce new products and services, everyone isexcited and upbeat - especially the sales force. They have a newreason to go back to old customers, a chance to knock outcompetitors and ...

When companies introduce new products and services, everyone is
excited and upbeat - especially the sales force. They have a new
reason to go back to old customers, a chance to knock out
competitors and the potential to have a great year selling.

Yet all too often, things don’t quite work out as planned and
sales come in slower than everyone projected. The tension rises.
Marketing and Sales start pointing fingers, blaming each other
for the lackluster results.

Sound familiar? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this
happen in my years as a consultant. Lots of factors are involved,
but today we’re going to look at one that salespeople have total
control over.

Recently I worked with a company who had just introduced a new
technology product. It was way ahead of the competition and had
a strong value proposition. I spent a day out in the field with
one of their salespeople to get a better understanding of their
sales process.

He was a real nice guy. He’d been with the company for thirteen
years and always done a decent job. We had an appointment with a
good prospect - someone he had called on before, but never done
business with. The sales rep’s plan was to leverage this meeting
into a full-blown needs analysis.

Everything started out fine, but within 10 minutes he was heading
into deep trouble. It all started when he mentioned his
excitement with their new product. The buyer asked some techie
questions that the sales rep understood. They talked some more.
Then, the buyer asked the near-fatal question, “Do you have a

Now you’re probably thinking that’s a good sign - that this guy
was interested and the sales rep was doing a great job. Well,
that’s just what the sales rep thought too.

He quickly pulled one from his briefcase and laid it on the desk
between them. The buyer leaned forward and started reading. “Can
it do this?” he asked, referring to a specific capability. “How
about that? What speed? How does it connect?” The barrage of
questions continued for what seemed like an eternity to me.

The sales rep was getting even more excited. He pointed out other
features they’d stressed at the launch meeting, highlighting how
much better they were than what else was on the market. The
buyer’s head was nodding, as if in agreement.

I knew things were going downhill, but couldn’t do anything to
stop them. I was only there to observe. At last, the killer
question emerged: “How much does it cost?”

The sales rep, trying to deflect it, explained that a full
assessment was needed to configure the system properly. He
suggested that as the next step, but the damage was already done.

“You’d be wasting your time,” the buyer said. “There’s no way we
can spend that kind of money right now. Besides, it can’t ...” He
proceeded to pick apart some minor detail about the system.

The sales rep looked puzzled, not understanding why this
qualified buyer would so quickly reject the new product -
especially when it had such a financially attractive value
proposition. He was never able to get the meeting back on track.
We left with no follow-up planned.

You know what the problem was?

It was that darn brochure! By bringing it out so early, the
sales rep lost control of the sale process. He didn’t uncover any
problems, difficulties or dissatisfaction with the current
system. He didn’t explore any business ramifications or find any
pay-offs for making a change. No wonder the buyer said it was
too expensive.

Worse thing is, the sales rep dug his own grave; everything that
happened was totally preventable.


1. The untimely use of brochures and other marketing collateral
quickly derails even the best sales efforts with highly qualified

2. If your sales process requires multiple calls and involves a
variety of decision makers, keep your new product or service
brochures in the car on the first call.

3. Use early sales calls to focus on the customer, their goals,
processes, challenges, issues, bottlenecks and needs.

4. Save your brochures till later - you may never even need to
use them!

Jill Konrath, President of Selling to Big Companies, helps small
businesses win big contracts in the corporate market.

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Jill Konrath is founder of, a web
resource that helps small businesses win big contracts in the
corporate market. To learn more about how to get your foot in the door, create
urgent needs for your services and develop profitable long-term
relationships, check out .
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