Twisted But True: High-Quality B2B Marketing Messaging Dramatically Reduces Sales and Marketing Effectiveness - Assess Your Messaging with This Five-Point Checklist
Many executives with an underperforming sales or marketing team think they know what the problem is. Many of them are wrong. If Sales or Marketing are not meeting or exceeding their revenue, profit, and market share objectives or a new product introduction is not meeting expectations, one of the first questions to ask is, “Do we have the customer messaging right?”.
Customer messaging is the words you use, both written and oral, to persuade a prospective customer to do business with your firm. Most customer marketing messaging, like brand messaging, company messaging, product messaging, and even most value propositions, are descriptive. They provide a description of what your company does, the products and services you offer, the features of each offering, and, if done well, a little bit about the benefits of doing business with your company and the benefits of buying your offerings.
**The Missing Messaging Type**
What’s most often missing is great sales messaging. This type of customer messaging is persuasive. It provides compelling and persuasive answers to your prospective customer’s primary buying questions, such as “Why should I meet with you?” and “Why should I change-out my current solution and buy a new solution?” and “Why should I buy this solution from you?”, for each product or service your company offers.
**High-Quality Marketing Messaging Is Low-Quality Sales Messaging**
Sales teams need both descriptive marketing messaging and persuasive sales messaging to be successful. The problem is that most companies provide Sales, and customers, with only marketing messaging. They make this expensive mistake because they do not know about sales messaging and how it is different from the other customer messaging types.
**5-Point Checklist to Assess the Effectiveness of Your Customer Messaging**
To help you determine if your customer messaging is more descriptive than persuasive, consider doing one or more of the following assessments: a competitive collateral assessment, sales collateral assessment, a messaging assessment, a field sales time-use assessment, and/or a field/channel training assessment.
Assessment #1: Competitive Collateral
The competitive collateral assessment is quick, inexpensive, and often startling. Obtain one of your key competitor’s company brochures and one of its product brochures. Black out all references to the competitor’s company name and product name and replace it with your company and product names. How similar are the competitor’s brochures to what you would or could say about your company and product? If they are more than 30 percent the same, then your sales team’s effectiveness is suffering from low-quality marketing messaging.
Assessment #2: Sales Collateral
The sales collateral assessment will help you determine what percentage of your collateral is not considered useful in helping Sales generate revenue. Does your company’s collateral fall into that 80 to 90 percent of marketing collateral that sales groups across the country consider useless? Is your marketing group part of that 70 percent of marketers who give themselves failing grades in the materials they provide to Sales? If more than 30 percent of the collateral fails the usefulness test, it’s likely you have a sales messaging problem.
Assessment #3: Customer Messaging Effectiveness
Another way to determine if you have the right messaging is by conducting a customer messaging effectiveness assessment. Our research indicates that U.S. companies alone waste more than $100 billion every year confusing sales messaging with other customer messaging types. To do this assessment, select one of your products and identify the buyer’s key buying question. Is the key question “Why should I change-out my current solution for a new solution?”? Is it “Why should I buy this solution from you?”? Or, is it both? Next, evaluate your current messaging by reading the product brochure. Does the messaging provide a compelling and persuasive answer to the buyer’s questions? If your company is like most, the answer is no, not really. The answer is often quite weak. It’s another example of how sales and marketing effectiveness is dramatically reduced by using high-quality marketing messaging as if it’s high-quality sales messaging.
Assessment #4: Field Sales Time-Use Assessment
If your collateral and messaging are not good, then a field sales time-use assessment will show that your field sales teams are spending a lot of selling time creating their own collateral and messaging — materials they feel they need to meet their sales objectives and that they aren’t getting from Marketing. This problem is supported by a recent report from the Aberdeen Group, which states that “salespeople spend typically 30 to 50 hours each month searching for information and re-creating customer-facing content.” We all know that sales reps are revenue-optimization machines, meaning that their objective is to do the least amount of work for the most amount of revenue. So, if your reps are spending any time creating customer-facing messaging and materials, then the reason they are doing it is because they need those materials in order to close deals. It’s much more effective to have one or two marketing people create high-quality sales messaging, and then leverage that work over your entire sales team.
Assessment #5: Field/Channel Training Assessment
The last assessment is the field/channel training assessment. What percentage of the sales team feels the new product training is useful in helping the team effectively sell the product? The same question applies to competitive training and training on specific market opportunities. There is typically great friction in these training areas, between Sales who receives the training and Marketing who creates and delivers the training. Just think about your last annual sales meeting. How satisfied was Sales with the quality of the training?
How on earth can Sales and Marketing be effective at selling if the messaging, collateral and training do not help prospective customers, and sales people, understand your company and products in the context of how they help customers solve meaningful problems, and how they help customers generate meaningful business value, better than the competition? Great sales messaging has been proven to be quite effective in connecting these data points and dramatically increasing Sales, Marketing, and company effectiveness.