Are you are a startup, early or mid-stage B2B company and struggling to make your numbers? If so, it could be the result of poor or non-existent sales enablement processes and associated assets (aka a sales kit).

Early-stage companies often don’t have a well-defined sales process, sales training is typically “on the job” and  sales tools are provided on an as-needed and ad-hoc basis.

So, how do you fix these problems? You need to focus on enabling the sales team to improve their odds of finding and closing deals. You need to determine where they will get the greatest return on their efforts, and what the Ideal Customer Profile looks like. 

Beyond marketing infrastructure that provides air cover for sales (i.e. corporate website, advertising, social media, press releases, events, etc.), marketing needs to deliver  a core set of assets that empower an effective sales team. These include, but aren’t necessarily limited to the following:

1. Create a Compelling Elevator Pitch Spending the time to develop an elevator pitch that describes what you do and your value proposition for a specific buyer is critical to the sales process. You only have about 30 seconds or so to get a person’s attention, so you need the right sentence or two that encourages the person to ask for more information and keeps them interested. Once you have the basic elevator pitch in place, produce 50, 100, 150 and 200 word statements and commit to using them in all customer facing communications.

2. Product Content In today’s digital marketplace product literature is almost always distributed in PDF files, integrated with the website or embedded on a jump drive. Gone, for the most part, are the days when you printed and inventoried glossy brochures and data sheets. The design of these digital assets should be consistent with your brand identity and the content in these documents should align with your message and value proposition as described in the elevator pitch. It is very important to ensure your customer facing assets contain consistent messaging to reinforce your brand and value proposition.

3. Introductory and Promotional Emails Use the elevator pitch messaging to produce a few emails that a sales executive can use to engage a prospect. These need to be short and to the point. The first sentence or two is key. Be sure to include a call-to-action. You probably won’t get this perfect the first time, so be prepared to refine the emails with sales input. Discard the ones that don’t work, use the ones that do and refine as needed to improve response rates.

4. Brief Company/Product Overview Presentation Build and script a short (no more than 15 slides) presentation that introduces the company, its products and value proposition. Scripting the presentation is important, but perhaps more important is providing a video of the presentation as a training tool. You can present it to the sales team, but they will have to see it several times to internalize the messaging. The absolute best way to get someone comfortable with the presentation is to have him or her present it to the management team.

5. Expert Validation Prospects don’t trust vendors. They know from experience that vendors oversell their capabilities. They Google your company, research the product category, review competitor websites and look for independent industry experts to validate their assumptions. Most early-stage companies don’t have the resources to influence the influencers, like  GartnerIDC or  Forrester. With a bit of research you will be able to find third-party content to validate your story and make it available to your prospects and customers.

6. Value Proposition & ROI  Nearly all B2B buying decisions today are based on a return-on-investment (ROI) assessment. The ideal ROI assessment is quantitative, but it can be difficult to develop and defend without a case study or two. Sans a specific ROI number, strengthen you value proposition to include the qualitative aspects of your solution — like lowering operational costs, increasing revenues, lowering customer churn, etc. This is relatively easy to do and your first attempt won’t be perfect. So, use your early customer interactions to refine and validate your ROI message. Build a ROI calculator if you can and let your prospects do their own analysis.

7. Customer Reference and Briefs What is better than a customer reference? Nothing. Getting your customers to provide references to prospects and testimonials for your product or service is very powerful. Most happy customers are willing to provide 1-on-1 references to other prospects. However, case studies and supporting quotes in a news release are even more impactful (albeit harder to obtain). Beyond references, develop short 1 to 2 page customer briefs — describe the problem, how your solution solved it and the resulting benefits.

8. Use Case Demo Videos I have seen technical founders consumed by product demos. They like doing it because they love to show off their invention. But, as the demo volume increases it gets in the way of more important tasks. As a side note, the technical founder doesn’t always do the best demo. They tend to focus on what the product does and often fail to point out the problem the product solves. Producing short (under 10 minutes) videos that focus on specific use cases is valuable for prospect education and reduces the demand for your most precious resource (your visionary — who should be used to close a deal, not qualify it). I want to emphasize that the demos should demonstrate a relatable use case for the prospect, that is; not simply a feature/function demo of the product.

9. FAQs Documenting frequently asked questions is a great resource for your employees, prospects and customers. Beyond simply documenting the questions, the FAQ can set you apart from your competitors and further explain your product or service in a simple Q&A format. Keep track of common questions and document them along the way. Encourage prospects to visit the website and FAQ page prior to your first meeting.

Providing these marketing assets will no doubt help your sales enablement process, but what is more important is frequent, open and honest communication between sales and marketing. The sales team is the ultimate customer for these assets, so treat them like they are a paying customer and make sure they value your service. And once you roll out these above tools, be sure to sit in on sales calls with customers and sales meetings for a few weeks to discover what is and isn’t working.