Managing Customer Messages

by Britton Manasco | Dec 31, 2006 | Sales Enablement

It may come as a surprise, but the biggest source of conflict between sales and marketing may not be a perceived lack of qualified leads. Rather, Tim Riestererer and Diane Emo, principals with the CMM Group,  found in a recent survey of sales people that their biggest concern is linked to “the
usefulness of marketing messages, training and tools.”

Too often, the content, materials and collateral that marketing is creating is getting pitched in the trash. And sales is spending much too much time trying to create its own sales content and tools. Leads, meantime, often appear too late -- when prospects already are in a decision cycle.

Sales people need to be speaking with prospects and customers
well before that decision is made. In fact, they need to be equipped to be a
part of the up-front strategic decision-making dialogue where opportunities
are created based on business needs. This dialogue is going on at every one
of our potential prospects, the question is: Are your sales people part of
these conversations or are they waiting for leads? When marketing and sales
are getting the message creation and delivery piece right, they are in
a position to lead sales cycles versus wait for so-called sales leads.

In their recent book Customer Message Management, Riestererer and Emo make the case for strong  sales messaging and sales  tools. They consider sales support a strategic issue. "We spend lots of money on creating tools, but we don’t spend the time necessary
to see if they are right … and whether they really work," they contend.

Marketers, they note, treat sales support as a "hit or miss" activity -- a mere "tactical" part of their jobs. "Yet, no matter how you look at it customers – especially B2B companies – rely
on sales people to help them sift through all of the hype, claims and
indistinguishable marketing driven branding and value propositions," they add. "Sales
people, and what comes out of their mouths, need to be viewed as the most
strategic asset marketers have at their disposal when it comes to building a
brand and selling more product or services."

Provisioning sales for challenges in the B2B environment means giving them the messaging, tools and training to engage in compelling and consultative conversations, state Riestererer and Emo. "We expect
them to conduct customer-centric discovery sessions to discover what the
customer wants to accomplish, but we train them on everything they need to
know about our product and what it does. Now, that’s a disconnect. Companies
looking for a competitive advantage and a differentiated market presence need
to re-orient their product messaging and align it with the consultative
sales training approach – which starts with the customer and their business
needs, not your product and its features."