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Most companies spend their marketing budgets generating market awareness, but spend precious little equipping their sales force with the knowledge to sell. And in today's economy, selling is anything but easy.

That's why developing effective sales guides is so critical. A good sales guide educates your sales force on how to position and sell your offerings to the prospects most likely to buy.

It also functions as a reference tool, organizing details for just-in-time access to help sales people take control of the sales process.

An effective sales guide helps to build confidence in your offering so that sales people feel comfortable presenting it to customers and confronting the competition.

And a good sales guide motivates your sales force to sell.

Unfortunately, many companies publish ineffective sales guides that can ultimately cause revenue to slip. Listed below are some of the most common sales guide mistakes, and ways to avoid them.

Mistake 1: Failing to involve the sales force

Many marketing departments develop sales guides with little or no input from their “customers”—the sales force. The result is a document that is disconnected from their real-world challenges and only serves to widen the chasm between sales and marketing.

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Gwyn Finnell (gwyn@hoffmanmarcom.com) is a senior marketing consultant for Hoffman Marketing Communications, Inc., a business and technology writing company specializing in strategic sales guides, white papers, and collateral. For more information, visit www.hoffmanmarcom.com.