How to Build Your Sales Kit

By Michael Chase. This page is available under the Creative Commons Attribution License

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Capital equipment markets are competitive, the products are complex, and the buyers are sophisticated. Each equipment buyer has unique requirements and views the issues differently.

To secure orders, your sales team needs a robust sales kit filled with the selling tools that will allow them to substantiate your value proposition and competitive advantages over the entire sales cycle. That sales kit also needs to be configurable to address each individual prospect’s situation and needs.

Going Ad Hoc is Not an Option

Perhaps you still think the standardization of a sales kit is a waste of effort because every selling situation is different. However, a lot can go wrong with an ad hoc approach:

  • Price is always going to be an issue. Your ability to get value-based pricing depends on your ability to prove and reinforce your unique value at every step in the sales process. You cannot count on an ad hoc set of presentation slides packed with random features and benefits to get you there.
  • If you have not fully locked down your selling specifications and ensured consistency with your selling materials, you risk over committing, which will lead to customer dissatisfaction and potential revenue-recognition issues.
  • Without a thoroughly developed and supported case for buying, you will default to tactically answering prospect requests for information or responding to competitor attacks. You will spend the entire sales cycle “fetching rocks” instead of getting your value and position established. This is good for the competition, but not for you.
  • Against a competitor who can skillfully orchestrate a sales cycle, you will appear amateurish. It would be like an American football team showing up for the Super Bowl without practicing and without a playbook. There would be lots of effort and creativity on the field but no coordinated effort and no chance of winning.
  • You will lose control of your message. You will be at the mercy of anyone touching the sale to position the issues however he or she sees fit. This can no doubt lead to countless mistakes, retractions, and even losing the order.
  • Without a grab-n-go set of materials, you will be caught flat-footed when you are asked to make a presentation to a prospect who just arrived in your lobby unannounced.

Your sales kit needs to be a comprehensive set of tools designed to substantiate your value during a sales cycle. It ensures that no matter where the selling is happening, the approach is consistent with what the best minds in your company have determined will work. Your sales kit is the foundation from which you train sales and field marketing personnel to secure purchase orders at the prices you deserve.

Sales Kit Structure

Imagine that you took your home toolbox and dumped it out on your workbench. You would see a random collection of gadgets. This random collection would offer no clue about what these tools are supposed to do or how to use them. Your toolbox is not useful until you have an objective and instructions for what tool to use when.

Suppose you bought an assemble-it-yourself bookcase at your local furniture store. When you get it home, you crack open the box and pull out the instructions. The first page shows you a list of the tools you need to pull out of your toolbox to build the bookcase. All the subsequent pages show you when to use each tool. The build-a-bookcase objective, complete list of the tools needed, and guidance on using them enable you to turn a pile of parts into something useful.

The same principle applies to your sales kit. It is also not much use without a clear objective, an at-a-glance inventory, and guidance on its use. Your sales kit’s objective is to provide your sales team with the tools to substantiate your value proposition. The following two views of the sales kit will get you an at-a-glance inventory and usage guidance:

  1. A hierarchal bill of materials
  2. Sales tools use by sales cycle activity

Bill of Materials View

The first view of your sales kit structure is like a piece of equipment’s bill of materials. At the highest level is the parent assembly, supported by all the elements beneath it. For a sales kit, the parent assembly represents the objective. Your why-buy presentation goes here. Everything beneath it in your bill of material is there to substantiate the case your why-buy presentation makes for buying your product at your price.

See the example bill of materials view of a sales kit in Figure 63.

Bill of materials view of a capital equipment sales kit
Figure 63: Bill of materials view of a capital equipment sales kit

Sales Cycle View

Before you describe how to use your sales kit, you must define your sales cycle. For example, you can frame the capital equipment sales cycle in the five phases shown in Table 26.

1ProspectIdentify sales leads
2QualifyDetermine if a lead is ready to buy
3Establish ValueSubstantiate your value proposition
4ProposeFormally codify terms of sale
5CloseNegotiate and obtain the order
Table 26: Example five-phase sales cycle

And then, with the sales cycle defined, you can then associate items in your sales kit with sales cycle phases. See the example in Table 27.

ProspectQualifyEstablish ValueProposeClose
Print media
Customer profile
Discovery guide
Value model
Position proofs
Product specs
Proposal template
Quotation generator
Negotiation guide
Table 27: Sales kit item association with sales cycle phases

It is helpful to maintain both the bill-of-materials and the sales-cycle views of your sales kit. Fortunately, most electronic content management systems make it easy to tag content with its content-type category and its sales cycle phase application. For example, you could tag a promotional video as media (category) and prospect (sales cycle application).

Core Content

Sales kits are like snowflakes. No two are the same. However, the following are must-have components:

  • A why-buy presentation
  • Position-proof presentations
  • Data to support your claims

These three content categories are your core content. They are core because you stand little chance of substantiating your value during a sales cycle without them. It is your fully fleshed-out case for why a prospect should buy from you at your price. See Figure 64.

Example sales kit with core content highlighted
Figure 64: Example sales kit with core content highlighted

Why-Buy Presentation

The why-buy presentation is the cornerstone tool of your capital equipment sales kit. It is the ten to fifteen slides that tell your value story and set the framework for everything else in your sales kit. It is the grab-n-go, top-level case your sales team needs for why a customer should buy your product at your price.

Proof Presentations

Proof presentations are the next level of detail for each position you take in your why-buy presentation. For example, suppose your why-buy presentation contains the following positioning statement:

Mr. Melty saves PV wafer manufacturers ~15% in capital expense. Its:

  • 5 kW rhenium heater produces the fastest process times.
  • Closed-loop, dual-zone temperature control ensures the highest yields.

The positioning statement establishes two positions: “fastest process times” and “highest yields.” Each position needs a proof presentation that makes a detailed case for your competitive advantage. If the positioning statement had taken three positions, you would need three proof presentations.

Proof presentations respond to the prospect who says something like, “I’m interested in learning more about your process-time advantage” or “Yield is critical to us, but I do not believe yours is the highest.” The proof presentation is the next level of detail to keep the sales process moving and focused on your positions.

Data Slides

You must have data to substantiate all your equipment performance claims made during a sales cycle. Among the must-have data sets are those needed to support your positions.

Organize the data slides section of the sales kit around key equipment performance areas, such as throughput, yield, and reliability. Each data set contains performance data under different test conditions reflecting the various use cases you would expect to find in the market. These stand-alone slides contain the data, test conditions, and a headline with the conclusion that you want the prospect to reach.

Note that these data slides are not stand-alone presentations. These are the single-slide building blocks from which you can build tailored presentations. See the example in Figure 65.

Example position proof data slide
Figure 65: Example position proof data slide

Beyond the Core

The beyond-the-core content that belongs in your sales kit will vary. It depends on your sales process, how your prospect buys, the design of your sales channel, and the roles and responsibilities of members of the sales team. Here are some examples of beyond-the-core content you might include.


The media category includes brochures, datasheets, websites, blog posts, articles, videos, and similar content. All this content must reinforce the product’s value and positioning as articulated in the why-buy presentation.

Customer Qualifiers

The sales team needs to find prospects who fit your target market and are ready to buy. All the tools to qualify prospects and clarify the specifics of their use case go here.

Quoting Tools

Everything that you need to configure and quote your product goes here. Examples of items you might include are product configurators, price lists, product specifications, and proposal templates.

Value Model

You based your value proposition on a value model that framed the economics of the target customer’s buying decision. Turn that value model into a user-friendly tool so salespeople can tailor the master value proposition to individual prospects.

Other Content

There is no limit to the content that can populate an effective sales kit. Here are some more ideas to consider as you design yours:

  • Frequently asked questions for internal use
  • Comparison to previous model presentation
  • Presentations to support equipment options
  • Presentations to defend against expected competitor attacks
  • Regulatory compliance certificates
  • White papers
  • Content for newsletter, blog, or social media

The Presentation Deck of Cards

Now it is time to address the conflicting requirements of creating a standard sales kit and addressing a large variety of sales situations.

To explain the approach, let us use the metaphor of a deck of cards. In a card game, you select cards from a deck to produce countless different hands. The definition of a good hand depends on the game you are playing. The same concept works with the sales kit. Here, the sales kit is your deck of cards, and the game you are playing is your specific sales situation.

See Figure 66 for the three steps to turn your presentation deck of cards into a winning hand.

Three steps to select sales materials for a specific sales situation
Figure 66: Three steps to select sales materials for a specific sales situation

For example, suppose that a prospect has asked your company to make a Mr. Melty product presentation. Your efforts in qualifying this prospect showed that yield performance is the prospect’s primary concern. That is great since yield performance is one of your competitive advantages. Given your prospect’s focus on yield, you would take your why-buy presentation and supplement it with several slides from your highest-yield proof presentation. You would also grab a few data slides showing Mr. Melty’s yield performance in the prospect’s use case. Put them all together and you have your winning hand. You must build the presentation material in your sales kit with the deck-of-cards concept in mind to make this work. All the slides from the why-buy, proof, data, and any other slide ware must have a common look and feel so that they can be seamlessly mixed and matched.