The Definitive B2B Sales Guide Outline

The Definitive B2B Sales Guide Outline


Last week, we described the top six tips for developing effective sales guides. In this post, we describe the eight specific types of information you should include in the sales guide. This can be tailored to the specific needs of your company. It is particularly applicable to companies that aim to sell products or services that incorporate complex technology or address complex business issues. We developed these key sections, which form a type of sales guide outline, based on preparation of multiple sales guides for various clients. Some sales guides may require only a subset of this material, may require additional material not shown here, or may require its presentation in a different order or form. Nevertheless, we’ve found this outline to be a useful starting point in most cases.

About this Sales Guide

The first section of your sales guide should cover the purpose of the guide and describe what’s in it for the sales person. Indicate the typical size of deals to suggest revenue potential, with breakdown into categories like hardware, software, and services if needed.

The Sales Opportunity

The second section should cover reasons to sell this product or service now, and describe what is being sold. The first part summarizes market trends, including what’s driving customer demand for the product, and describes opportunities to leverage. The second part describes the offering itself (i.e., what it is, how it works, key features, etc.) clearly and concisely. Include a value proposition and elevator pitch, key messages, and differentiators. Describe key benefits and provide Web links to more detailed information. Space needed in this section varies considerably with different offerings.

The Customer

The third section should describe the sales prospect. This includes the ideal customer profile, such as key industries, best prospect markers, organization types, job titles and responsibilities, and driving needs or goals. This section also covers the impact that the customer can expect when they implement the offering. This includes indicating how the offering meets customer needs and benefits gained. This section also describes a successful customer. This can be done by providing several brief customer success stories in problem/solution/benefit format.

The Competition

The fourth section should describe the competition, including a competitive landscape that ideally compares key capabilities that are important to the target customer. This section then describes how to beat the competition. This should include the differentiators and capabilities that the sales person should focus on—ones that set the offering ahead of the rest. Explain them in more detail and provide any supporting facts if possible. This part should also help the sales people address key competitor strengths that will pose serious roadblocks to sales. This section also describes situations in which you tend to lose and tend to win.

Sales Resources

The fifth section should include a range of sales resources. For example, to initially qualify prospects, provide key information needed to qualify an opportunity, such as the types of customer problems or needs to seek, additional attributes of likely prospects, the attitude of a likely buyer (e.g., hates risk, values customer satisfaction, propensity to outsource, etc.), and when to stop the sales process so the sales person avoids wasting time. This should also include questions to ask to qualify prospects.

Additional important resources include a one- and/or two-minute drill (elevator pitches that summarize key messages for initial sales calls). Include other questions the sales people should ask to increase chances for success, such as who is involved in making decisions and what the process is like, budget questions, etc. The goal is to identify potential roadblocks in advance and plan to overcome them. This section should also include potential objections and responses to these objections.

The Sales Process

The sixth section should describe the sales process, including the sales engagement model and resources needed; how to obtain sales support and what resources are available when; and resources and contacts.

Pricing and Configurations

The seventh section should include pricing and configurations. If this is too lengthy, it can be summarized here, with links online for more detailed information.

Additional Online Resources

The eight section should include additional resources on topics such as the following:

  • Solution delivery
  • Key partners/contributions
  • Support
  • Product positioning
  • Second-level qualifying questions
  • Information to compare options

To see these suggested suggestions in actual outline form, click here.

What do you think of our sales guide outline? What sections would you add or remove? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

For the last 30 years, Hoffman Marketing Communications has created white papers, collateral, and more recently multimedia, on complex business issues and technologies. Sign up here to get your free copy of our White Paper on White Papers to learn the ten best practices for creating effective white papers.