...I love this one! The worst part is many sales people actually send it, when often it's nothing more than a polite blow off. I'll give some perspective on this request that will help you get more control of what you spend your time on and help you identify who you should really send literature to.
First, let's define what literature really is and then determine the best way to use it. Literature is a marketing tool, not a selling tool! Let me repeat, literature is a marketing tool not a selling tool! What I mean by that is literature should be used to maintain awareness (leave behind after the call) or as a way to make impact quickly on a large group of people to flush out prospects (mass mailing) and create selling opportunities.
Literature should not be used as a crutch in a selling situation when a prospect has shown "interest". Pulling out a piece of literature on a sales call will focus the prospects attention on the "piece" rather than on their problems. A request for literature on the telephone will often have the sales person do nothing more than "lengthen the selling cycle" by sending it and forcing an additional follow up call.
As I have mentioned a request for literature is sometimes a blow off but it may be a request driven by real interest. Let's create a response that will help to "filter" out real interest from no interest. The key here is to not send literature but get more information.
Try responding with:
"Thanks, I'd be happy to send/get it to you, was there something specific you were trying to find out." or
"There is a lot I can send you were you looking for something specific?"
A "real" prospect will have a specific answer identifying what they have interest in. The "impostor" will usually respond with "nothing specific, just send what ever you have". Suddenly, by using a selling tool (question) rather than a marketing tool (literature) we might find out what they are after and have a discussion (face to face) or make an appointment (telephone call). Both of these situations have us moving the sale forward, or making an "advance". If, on the other hand, they have no specific interest at this time you could always send or leave literature as a leave behind awareness piece, aka marketing tool.
Next time you get the request "send/leave literature", create a "filter" that will help you determine "prospect or time waster?" Bottom line, you'll stop wasting time and shorten your selling cycle!