Guest Post by Ian Smith
We have all heard the rhetoric. If these marketing guys had a target on their backs they would understand what pressure was really like! The sales team is just lazy. They never follow up on our sales leads (goal dust). Or if they do it’s two weeks later when the leads have gone cold. If only our marketing department understood the product we might see some decent brochures, some decent web site copy, some real leads.
And so it goes on. A disconnect occurs. It seems they are on different sides never capable of seeing each other’s point of view.
This lack of alignment is offensive and so unnecessary. The methodology to break the back of this involves being clear on your big compelling story of why you exist, the reason you are in business.
Only once that positioning is clear can your marketing and sales scripts be crafted with alignment.
- Identify the Persona that represents the likely user of your product and tell their story. Make it feel like you are directly talking to their world.
- Create Business Results Sheets that translate the story into specific results you can achieve for customers. Separate sheet for each product. These sheets should spell out great hooks for your sales teams including:
- Symptoms in your customer’s business that indicate your solution would be effective.
- To ensure the significance of these symptoms are appreciated and really understood by the prospect, we need to give examples: say you are selling web site monitoring software that detects errors in web content. You need to articulate to the prospect that at present their web site might be full of errors that could lead to – heavy fines, disciplinary hearings, lost personal data.
- Web sites should articulate through video, white papers, case studies one very important thing – how customers USE your product or service. E.g. as a dedicated direct sales person visiting consumers in their home you will appreciate the convenience and speed of converting you cell phone into a Point of Sale machine.
- All collateral should hammer home these messages again and again. Building them into boiler plates (The About section) on every PR release, external communication.
- Marketing campaigns are now able to target these personas with stories that resonate and products they would use. Scary isn’t it.
- Also because of their deep knowledge of the market the marketing team will produce excellent competitor cheat sheets highlighting why you are unique. Now you can build out really compelling sales scripts.
- Really fine-tune your conversational opening discussions with your prospects, using issues you know should keep them up at night!
- Hopefully sales leads will be of a much higher quality using strong marketing campaigns to (partially at least) self-select prospects with real pain.
- Strong Engagement Strategies (one page strategy summaries per key client) can be crafted because your marketing department has researched some insightful issues that affect that persona in that type of industry.
- No guarantees clearly that every suspect gets it but at least your sales scripts are aligned with your Big Story and your marketing narrative. You sound authentic and natural.
- As you really dig further using diagnostic questions, you will find that your supporting Business Results Sheets and web sites and blogs have been written to support these conversations.
- You will no longer be ashamed to send strange, “marketese” waffle as collateral to try to support your case. You will be able to highlight live on the phone, diagrams, PDFs, videos that confirm and support your message.
- As you clarify just how the customer will use your solution to solve the issue and the results that can be achieved, again you will lean heavily on marketing collateral to demonstrate just how IBM, Oracle, Defense Department etc. achieved great value using your product.
- And if necessary when asked about those pesky competitors you will be able to explain that whilst those companies are excellent companies they are solving different problems to those present in the prospect. You will do this using those excellent cheat sheets produced by your buddies in marketing.
That should help end the war or least start the process of aligning sales and marketing.
Ian Smith is the author of Fulfilling the Potential of Your Business: Big Company Thinking for the Mighty Small Business, which won the Small Business Book Awards for Management in 2012. His blog, The Smith Report, focuses on ways to scale businesses to build value. In 2010 he founded The Portfolio Partnership to help CEOs fulfill the potential of their businesses. As an ex-CFO, investment banker, venture capitalist and CEO, Mr. Smith has realized more than $400 million for shareholders over the past 25 years. He remains a competitive masters track & field athlete and in 2012 was ranked #2 indoors in the world for his age at 400m.