A sell sheet is basically your calling card to a company. It is used throughout all industries to show a company your products benefits. There is no one size fits all when it comes to sell sheets. The formatting can be anything you want it to be. They can be very professional looking with graphs and illustrations or photographs. They can be on high gloss paper or paper with a dull finish. The major point of a sell sheet is to convey your products benefits in a short and concise manner on one or two pages of letter sized paper.
The sell sheet is comparable to the blurb you see on the back of a 300 page novel, but with illustrations. When you pick up a book and read the back jacket it gives you a short overview of the books storyline. You don’t need to read the entire 300 pages to get an idea if this book would be of interest to you. Based on that blurb the Writer is hoping to peak your interest in their book enough to buy it. The same can be said for the sell sheet. You are using this format to get your idea in front of a company representative with the hopes that they will read it, understand it, see your products market potential and want to know more.
One question that pops up all the time regarding sell sheets is how many pages do you make them? IN my opinion no more than two pages. There is no written rule saying they can’t be longer than two pages, but based on my experience two pages or less seems to be the best approach. The reason goes back to what I stated above with the book example. Do you want to read the entire novel or the short blurb on the back of the book to get the person’s idea?
Another reason for the two pages or less applies to the statement of getting your verbal pitch down to 30 seconds. It is all a matter of time. The person hearing your pitch or reading your sell sheet does not want to waste a lot of time trying to “Get” your idea. The quicker they “Get” the idea and understand it does a couple of things for you. One, if they “Get” the idea quickly and like it you are that much closer to getting the licensing agreement you are wanting.
The second is if they “Get” your idea and its usefulness quickly they can also see that the public may “Get” your products benefits just as quickly, which means sales for them and you. No matter how good your product may be if the company feels they will have to educate the consumer before they “Get” the idea, they may pass on it. Depending on the (ROI) Return on Investment calculation the company will decide whether it is worth the cost of educating the public on the product or if it just isn’t going to be worth the time and investment.
Can the company get the public to understand your products benefit using a graphic on the package or will it require a TV commercial to get the benefits across and drive sales? These are all things that are considered by the company when you present your idea.
So, what exactly do you put in the sell sheet to get their attention? You want your sell sheet to put your best foot forward. If you send your sell sheet via email make sure you send it in a format they can open. Often an Inventor will use software they have on their computer to make the sell sheet, but forget the receiver doesn’t have the same software and won’t be able to view it. You run into the same issue if they have a different version of the software than you do. This can hamper certain features of your presentation not to work or can rearrange your formatting making everything look confusing. Most people have the ability to open jpegs and PDFs. It is best to ask the receiver if they have a compatible program before sending them your sell sheet via email. You need to ask if their company has a size limit on what will be allowed through their server.
Below are some things you need to make sure are included in your sell sheet:
Make sure your contact information is on every page
Put your best short description of the products benefits
List any patents or other documentation your product has that would be of interest to the reviewer.
Make sure any photos or illustrations you have are clear and give the best visual of your product
If you have a website make sure you list it if it shows other products you have licensed
If you have a prototype or product samples available use this phrase “Prototype/Sample available upon request.”
Things you don’t want in your sell sheet are:
Telling them how long you have been working on this in your garage. (They don’t care how long or where you have been doing this. They are only concerned about will it make a profit?)
Letters from your family members telling the company how much they love your idea.
Making demands on how much you want for your idea. (Get the company interested in the product first and then you can negotiate terms once they start discussing contracts)
Don’t tell them the product has to look exactly as it does in the sell sheet or there is no deal. (Companies modify products to fit their consumer base. If you can’t see your products design changed then you need to produce it yourself and leave companies alone)
Don’t overload your sell sheet with graphs, charts, and a lot of mathematical statistics. (If you think more detail is needed to prove your product works as you claim add a note that more detailed information is available upon request. Get their interest first before you hit them with tons of information).
Give your finished Sell Sheet to a person you know will give you their honest opinion no matter if it hurts your feelings. Make sure you have signed a non-disclosure first to cover both of you. Don’t tell them a word about your product beforehand and simply let them read your Sell Sheet. Once they are done ask them to tell you about your product and what it does and see if they get the product. Do they miss seeing the benefit of the product, how it works, seem unclear exactly what you are trying to “Get” across to the reader? This is a good indicator that you may need to tweak your Sell Sheet.
As with anything this complicated I have not covered every situation, but this is a good place to start.