One of the fastest ways to increase sales of your product is to educate the sales force on the key features and benefits of the product, unique advantages of the product, how to sell the product, and the competition. This can be done through sales training, a written sales guide, and/or an audio or video file. A podcast, sent out with the sales guide as a summary, is a particularly useful tool because sales people generally spend a great deal of time in the car.
The sales guide will vary drastically depending upon the target audience.A sales guide for a distribution channel, for example, might be one page. A sales guide designed for a direct sales force to sell a complex set of products may end up being multiple binders. In all cases, conciseness and good organization is important because sales people don't have much time to read and they need quick access to the information.
Sale people make money when they are on the phone closing deals - so they often won't take the time to read a detailed sales manual. It is therefore critical that the sales guide be as concise and hard-hitting as possible. However, this objective should not compromise the quality of the information.
Eye catching formatting - You want the document to be a great reference manual (no one will read it cover-to-cover). Information should be very easy to find so there should be a good table of contents (if it is a large guide); large, clear headings for each section and subsection; and index and/or glossary of terms. Diagrams, tables, and illustrations are best used to summarize complex information.
Concise length - The length of the document will vary dependent upon the target audience. For channel sales people, one to two pages is best as a quick reference that they can throw in their brief case. Even if you need a large sales guide to go through detailed demonstrations and competitive information for a direct sales force, providing a quick reference summary in addition to the full guide is ideal.
Pronunciation - A new sales person may be unfamiliar with the buzz words of your specific industry. Pronunciation must be called out wherever necessary and in the glossary of terms.
Well marked customer sections - Sales people will often copy parts of the sales manual and hand it to customers. Sections of the manual must be clearly identified as being customer consumable or not.
Consistent updates - A sales guide that goes out of date is useless. Consistent updates will keep your product in front of the sales person and keep them abreast of developments within the company and new competitive announcements. For this reason it is desirable to have an internal web site that has all the latest and greatest information. The printed sales guide should reference the website as a resource for updated information.
The most important packaging item to consider is how the guide be updated. If it is one or two pages, it can easily be replaced. If it is many pages you may want a binder where sections can be updated. This can often be a problem though because sales people don't always have time to put new sections in a binder. Ideally you would just replace the entire guide when updates are required, but can be time consuming and expensive. In any case the sales guide should ideally have a searchable on-line version.
As mentioned previously, a audio file or podcast is a great addition to the sales guide. I prefer to make the audio somewhat entertaining so the sales person is not bored to tears listening to it.
Video are also generally effective if you are trying to show how to demonstrate a product.
The package should come with a one page (front and back) introduction and summary.
I have found the following to be the fastest way to write a Sales Guide: