Consider the following numbers: 53; 90; and 29,997.
53%. That’s the number of B2B decision-makers who are able to differentiate themselves from other vendors during the buying cycle based on the sales experience they provide to their prospects. That means your field sales reps are the primary influencers when it comes to whether your prospects pick you or your competition. The question then is: How comfortable are you that this is happening? And what are you doing to help them take advantage of this influential position? If your answer is: “We arm our sales reps with valuable sales tools,” take a look at the next number.
90%. According to the American Marketing Association (AMA), that’s how much sales collateral created by marketing is never used by sales. Why is that? The next number may help explain the problem.
29,997 feet. That’s the difference between the 30,000-foot view many marketing messages provide and the three-foot level view, which is the distance between salespeople and customers when engaged in a conversation.
That’s a big gap.
The elevator pitch is dead.
Marketing spends a lot of time developing the so-called elevator pitch. Here’s the problem. In the rarified air at 30,000-feet, that provides a feel-good summary of your story. It’s what makes everyone proud to work for your company. It’s filled with lofty ideals, big words, and corporate platitudes that look great on a banner in the cafeteria, but quickly decompress and fizzle to nothing when they get to the one-on-one customer conversation.
You need to translate your messaging in a way that is relevant to your prospects’ story. The conversation starts with the challenges your customers’ face, the risks these challenges pose for their desired outcomes and how your capabilities uniquely solve these problems. Summarize those into a distinct point of view that helps customers see why they can no longer stay in their status quo, and you just might get them to care enough to hear about your story.
Sales tools need to fit the sales process.
The sales tools you provide to your salespeople must not only match the messaging (see above), but must also align with actual selling tasks identified by the sales process. These activities include emails, phone calls, face-to-face conversations, team presentations and other communications. The tasks also include getting appointments, prepping for sales calls, providing follow-ups and leave behinds, as well as virtual and stand-up presentations. The best coaching and customer-facing tools must be easily identified by salespeople as matching a specific activity they regularly perform, and served up in the form in which they—and your prospects—want to consume your messages.
This isn’t NASA—you need training, not launches.
Marketers tend to avoid the issue of actually training salespeople on how they can more effectively deliver your brand and product messages. Part of this is because marketing does not engage with sales management or sales training leaders. New messages are launched like a rocket into space, trusting the content will land where it’s supposed to and be used by those who find it. One way to ensure your new messaging is effectively adopted in the field is to embed the content in the context of teaching new conversations and presentation skills to your field sales reps. Salespeople are always looking for an edge. By integrating new messaging with training they value, you will significantly increase the uptake of new content in the field.
Avoid no brand’s land.
The gap between 30,000-foot messaging and the field’s 3-foot conversations could be called “No Brand’s Land” – where all good branding efforts disappear because what comes out on the other side doesn’t resemble what went in at the top. But, it doesn’t have to be that way if you follow these three steps:
- Build messages that live in your customer’s story–not yours.
- Put messaging into tools that match the selling tasks at hand.
- Embed the messaging into sales skills training to smooth the transfer and add value to the user.
Tim Riesterer is chief marketing officer and SVP of strategic consulting for Corporate Visions. He is also the co-author of Customer Message Management: Increasing Marketing’s Impact on Selling.
(Photo courtesy of Bigstock: Jump)