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This question has been answered, and points have been awarded.
Aligning Marketing And Sales
12/10/2012 at 4:21 PM ET
Many of our B2B sales reps want to make sure customers know that our company can offer the same products and services as our competitors. While I understand the importance of making sure customers know what we do offer in comparison, reps are very resistant to talking about benefits that no one else is. It reminds me of the auto insurance companies focusing completely on price in the current market and creating a customer base that focuses solely on that one feature.
Do you find that sales reps in your organization are resistant to new messaging and what methods do you use to get their buy in?
12/10/2012 at 4:39 PM
Although I have no sales reps, it seems to me that the way to align your desired message with the sales reps delivery of the message is to either find new sales reps, OR, to suggest that benefits WILL become part of the sales message (with monitoring via customer sign offs on a sheet that is not an order sheet, but that does confirm that they've understood the benefits as explained to them). No sheet signed by the customer, no pay. Simple really.
A better job on the marketing side. Really, sales people are there to close, to secure the order—not to market. Thinking about this now I'm wondering what your marketing people are doing—or rather, what they're NOT doing to secure the sale FROM the messaging.
12/10/2012 at 5:55 PM
Each of my corporate employers (Procter & Gamble, Frito-Lay division of PepsiCo, and International Playtex) have a formal Sales Training program for Marketing execs. Before you get very far in these companies, every marketing person works in the field for 3-6 months as a sales rep. It's a great way to learn what makes sales people tick, and it invariably changes the way Marketing folks interact with Sales.
That doesn't mean we always agree on every decision, but it does ensure that Marketing really understands its internal Sales audience and knows where the hot buttons are for getting them to deliver the strategic message to customers.
This has carried over into my consulting life, where I always ask clients to let me work in the field with sales reps before I begin to develop plans that will require Sales understanding or direct customer interaction.
12/11/2012 at 5:42 AM
Let us understand the psychology of the herd. Because this is what we are talking about here.
After all, if a sales rep wanted to improve his business, he would choose to offer something that nobody else did because he could charge more for it. If it were his earnings on the line, he would discover very quickly that it paid him big dividends to be different.
So why does he choose not to stand out? Because for him it is safer to be part of the herd (= the team) than not. That means not diverging from the "line". That means doing what everyone else is doing, so he doesn't "rock the boat". So the problem needs to be addressed as close to the top as possible - because if the sales directors start rocking boats, goodness only knows what would happen to the other directors, let alone the company. All of whom like the safety of numbers ...
When all possibilities for differentiation have been ignored, there is only the price left. That is easy to differentiate yourself on because it doesn't take any thinking - or any individuality either. Everyone agrees that it is the field upon which one may play.
In other words, they act as if they are in a herd. Which of course is where it gets dangerous. A friend of mine who is an international banker gives good evidence of how herds can be "steered". That is not something positive - and something he despises too, which is why he is my friend. That there are unscrupulous people around who use these tactics only heightens the danger for a company that relies on the herd mentality to keep their ducks in a row. The difficulty is how to organize a system without it.
It's not impossible, it is not easy ...
12/11/2012 at 4:05 PM
your best technique to move people in the right direction will depend a lot on office politics. For example, you have 100% support from your company president? Does the sales team respect you and the marketing department? Does anyone see this as a problem besides yourself?
Without knowing your exact situation, I would suggest to you that success breeds success. In other words, if you can find a sales representative who is willing to work closely with you, and you can increase their sales by 50% through the use of better messaging and tools, the other sales reps will notice.
I would be happy to spend some time on the phone learning more about your specific situation and technology and sales organization, no charge. Click on my profile and send me an e-mail.
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