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Why brochures should not be a favourite of the salesperson

A couple reads through a brochure. FOTOSEARCH
A couple reads through a brochure. Many sales are lost when salespeople depend on inanimate stationery to sell instead of capitalising on the human interaction. FOTOSEARCH 

Brochures don’t sell, salespeople do. Kenyans are well known for their lack of a reading culture. A glossy, creatively designed and cleverly worded brochure won’t change that.

Salespeople who carry brochures as the largest part of their sales arsenal serve only two purposes, none of which the brochure was intended for: they waste costly stationery and they shoot themselves in the foot.

Institutions go to great lengths to populate their receptions with brochures and because sight is the most powerful of senses (plus they come for free) brochures will attract and help a client while away his time in the queue.

Clients will pick it because of the images of the exotic places on it; they will even pick one because its shaped like a pyramid. But attraction is one thing and buying another.

Salespeople who make presentations with their trump card being the strategically laid out brochures have a long way to go. They find themselves “selling” by taking the prospect through each of the aspects within the brochures. And then the defensive prospect uses the very ammunition against the sales person.

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After the didactic presentation, the salesperson waits for the prospect to keel over and buy but instead he says, “Leave me with these brochures to read and then I’ll get back to you. Your contact is on them isn’t it?”

And just like that, the sale is lost. The prospect won’t read the brochure. At best he will dump it in his drawer or car. Ultimately, it ends up as trash.

But why do sales people convert themselves to brochure distributors? My take is that they are in denial. They don’t read nor act on brochures dished out to them by other salespeople but somehow they expect prospects to read theirs.

Another reason is that they don’t know any better — now that they have gotten the appointment, what else do they say besides what’s in the brochure?

And then there is the sheer terror of having to make a presentation. It’s easier to just jot down a name and number on the brochure and whisper a prayer that the prospect will read and call.

It gets worse. Even the few who make an attempt at reading will be convinced that the brochure is hiding the small print and will, therefore, be skeptical about acting on it.

Does this mean that brochures are useless as part of the salesperson’s arsenal?

Especially for the service industry, they are not necessary. Human interactions are what sell, not an inanimate brochure. If the salesperson must carry the brochure or flyer, it should be submitted as a last gambit.

After the salesperson has presented and the sale made, a brochure may be given to remove buyer’s remorse. Given after the sale, the salesperson does not impede himself.

So why do brochures exist? Because human beings are a paradox. On one hand we won’t read or act on a brochure, yet on the other hand, we still want to have something to see or touch to prove to ourselves that this service or product is a reality; marketers call it physical evidence.

And so banks have the brochures in their banking halls, chemists have them at their counters and electronic shops have them in the show room.

On occasion though, the prospect reads of this new product or service from a brochure, and what does he do? Buy? No. He seeks out more information from a salesperson.

And the progressive salesperson knows that it is the dynamism of emotions that wins over the prospect, not the static logic of the brochure.

Mr Kageche is lead facilitator Lend Me Your Ears, a sales coaching firm. [email protected]

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