Achieve Better Sales Messaging through Alignment
How to Align Sales Messaging to the Customer’s World
Effective marketing is tuned to the customer’s frequency. The problem: there are more frequencies than ever. A sales message works when it proves that it understands the customer. Previously, creating this kind of messaging meant broadcasting to a defined group.
However, in recent years, sales professionals have discovered that delivering a sales message to a group is often ineffective. Why? Because the group consists of many different stakeholders all with their own needs, biases, and challenges. There are fewer unifying characteristics among groups today. As a result, traditional outreach that aims to address all will in fact only address a few.
This challenge explains the rise of customer data platforms (CDP). These systems use machine-learning automation to centralize data from an array of channels. This information is used to provide “pin-point” marketing to customers. Unfortunately, this technology – expensive and complex – is not a realistic option for most sales professionals focused on hitting the next quarter’s quota.
The solution is to more effectively deploy resources that are at hand. Sales professionals need to use their knowledge about the customer’s industry and needs to individualize each message. They need to devote more time to preparing communication that echoes the thoughts, concerns, and even the specific words that are relevant to the customer.
Here we share three key practices – free of the ramp-up time and cost of sophisticated digital tools – to encourage customers to start a conversation and share details that become critical to winning the sale.
Draft Messaging Relevant to What's Recent
People are naturally inclined to give more importance to information and events that are recent. This tendency is called the recency bias. Consider the example of digital transformation. Most businesses have seen evidence of this growing trend in recent months. Therefore, their attention is more likely to be attuned to messaging that speaks to this top-of-mind topic.
The recency bias is more prevalent today because information is multiplying. Over the last thirty years, the volume of available data has increased by about tenfold every two years. Surging information means that customers are forced to rely on this mental shortcut even more than they have in the past. Simply, when it comes to the program of human decision-making, recency bias is a feature, not a bug.
Sales professionals can use this concept to craft sales messages that are resonant by citing the most current industry trends and challenges. This strategy is one reason why broad messaging does not work. Generalized outreach cannot isolate specific issues relevant to a particular customer or decision-maker.
When a sales professional designs their communication around this bias, they not only capture the customer’s attention but also demonstrate their ability to recognize what is important to the customer. As a result, the customer is more likely to share valuable information because they know that the sales professional has the acumen to make good use of available resources. Research from Accenture supports this idea. In a survey of 8,000 consumers from countries spanning the globe, they determined that “83% of consumers are willing to share their data to enable a personalized experience.” Industry trades, social media activity, and published surveys are all good ways to isolate what matters to the customer now.
How to do it:
- Leverage the recency bias
- Reference information learned from the customer’s social footprint
- Take cues from the latest industry-relevant surveys
- Consider how digital transformation is influencing the customer’s decisions
- Address the characteristics of the customer’s pandemic, and post-pandemic setting
Bring Clarity to What is On the Customer's Horizon
Sales professionals need their messaging to identify approaching trends because customers increasingly place a premium on insights that allow them to see further down the road.
The need for “future-focused” communication comes not only from the uncertainty ahead. It also comes from the competitive advantage enjoyed by businesses that are equipped to make fast decisions. Research from McKinsey found that “organizations that make decisions quickly are twice as likely as slow decision-makers to make high-quality decisions.” Only one-third of respondents believe their organization can consistently make rapid, sound decisions.
Those at the C-level are well aware of the value foresight offers. The same body of data revealed that 57% of executives believe that most of their decision-making time is used ineffectively. Achieving speed and quality in decision making – both necessary for success – means having the right information and the right time. This is where the most effective sales professionals position themselves. They offer insights that are both timely, and accurate.
The largest impending challenge for customers is navigating a landscape changed by the pandemic. This environment represents a unique opportunity for sales professionals because customers are increasingly seeking guidance on how to develop new capabilities in a changing world. Businesses need flexible supply chains, a digital-first strategy, and a more adaptive operation. Now is the time for sales professionals to seize on these needs with messaging that provides the much-needed clarity about how to make those initiatives a reality.
A forward-looking message is what elevates the sales professional to the status of an advisor. Business stakeholders and other members of the C-suite are seeking the expertise of sales professionals who can “read the road.” Importantly, CEOs today are poised to make considerable investments in solutions that will power their future. Research from Deloitte found that 54% of the 110 CEOs surveyed cited “innovation” as the engine of business success over the next 12 months making it the top-ranked driver on the list.
How to do it:
- Get specific about near-term challenges and opportunities for the customer
- Bring urgency to the messaging by focusing on the importance of speed
- Prompt the customer’s curiosity by calling out the unseen challenges
- Use basic language to isolate what matters to the customer
- Underscore the features of the solution that can adapt to a changing setting
Un-Complicate the Connection Between the Problem and the Solution
The customer’s challenges are becoming more complex by the minute. This truth became apparent during the pandemic as businesses rediscovered the level of interdependence between their operation and other supporting entities. This fact has encouraged stakeholders to source solutions that can adapt, scale, and accelerate alongside rapidly changing conditions. As a result, sales professionals face the challenge of articulating solutions that address these needs. Doing so means un-complicating the conversation.
The most effective way to do so is to use concise language which serves the stakeholder’s need for brevity. This need is more prevalent because decision-makers today overwhelmingly seek agility which is less reliant on forecasts that are sensitive to rising uncertainty. With an agile approach, the organization can depend on its adaptability rather than anchoring itself to projections. When a sales professional makes a clear connection between the challenge and the solution, they are serving the stakeholder’s need for agility.
Drawing a clear connection requires skill and attention because it means focusing only on the aspects of the solution that are relevant. For many sales professionals, there is an urge to present the most unique solution characteristics. However, what is unique is not always relevant. Clear messaging means forgoing opportunities to elaborate on what is new and different. One of the most compelling ways to achieve this kind of clarity is through the customer success story. This approach presents the value of the solution within the format of a narrative. This structure keeps the messaging concise because the sales professional only needs to articulate the previous customer’s challenge, their needs, and the result. Moreover, the customer success story signifies the effectiveness of the solution in a non-hypothetical setting.
How to do it:
- Keep the messaging concise
- Commit to focusing only on the aspects of the solution that are salient
- Ensure each part of the messaging flows into the next
- Articulate the solution’s value in real-world contexts
- Avoid buzzwords, industry jargon, and technical jargon
Aligning to the Customer's Pace by Finding Your Sprint
Creating resonant messaging means including these three concepts in a single prospecting strategy.
At Richardson Sales Performance we have done so with our Sprint Prospecting program which is a clear, repeatable, and structured approach consisting of a prepare – engage – advance pattern. This movement embraces the dynamic nature of prospecting and integrates specific techniques, skills, and tools to progress each interaction.
Sprint Prospecting works because it moves alongside the customer’s changes and even benefits from new, and unexpected information. As details emerge the sales professional gains more insight into the customer’s needs. As a result, they can improve their prospecting by delivering focused messaging.
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