Cleaning up the Messaging Mess How to Separate Your Sales Messaging for Improved Sales Results

Each year, companies waste billions of dollars in marketing collateral costs by confusing sales messaging with other messaging types.

Consider the following:

  • Eighty to 90 percent of marketing collateral is considered useless by sales (American Marketing Association).
  • The bigger cost of confusing sales messaging with other messaging types is lost revenue. Poor sales messaging inevitably leads to lower win rates and lost sales.
  • Another big contributor to lost revenue and higher costs is the amount of time sales teams spend creating the sales messaging and tools they need to succeed.Add it all up and you get a $40+ billion a year problem for corporations in America and around the world.The good news? Innovative companies that implement great sales messaging routinely see a 15 to 25 percent improvement in market share, revenue and net income.
  • Sales Messaging Defined Messaging involves the information you use to position your company, products and services in the minds of the people you are trying to influence. It includes brand, company, product, market, application and sales messaging.
  • Sales messaging is the fuel on which all your sales and marketing engines run. The better the fuel, the better the performance. At its core, sales messaging is persuasive. It provides compelling and persuasive answers to your customer’s primary buying questions, such as, “Why should I meet with you? Why should I buy this? Why should I buy this from you?” More important, sales messaging delivers these messages at the appropriate point in the product life cycle and sales cycle.
  • Company messaging is descriptive rather than persuasive. It describes what your company does, your capabilities, the products and services you offer, the markets you serve and the applications or solutions you provide. Done well, it describes the value that people receive by doing business with your firm. Company messaging is typically the content you see in a company brochure or website.
  • Product messaging is a subset of company messaging. It describes what the product does and how it does it. It also includes a listing of features, benefits and specifications. Done well, product messaging describes the value someone would receive by buying. It is what you typically see in a product brochure. In my experience, most market and application messaging is implemented as a variation of product messaging.
  • Brand messaging is usually the tagline associated with your company logo. Ideally, brand messaging creates a Pavlovian association between your company name and tagline. The goal of branding is to create awareness and consideration in your market.No conversation about messaging would be complete without mentioning the value proposition. Most value propositions are a variation on company messaging. They usually consist of a one- or two-line description about what your company does and the value someone would receive by doing business with your company.Some people may consider value propositions to be a messaging type, but in my experience they are usually more informal. They are created by the sales organization at the point of need, and are used in voice mails, e-mails and meetings. Rarely are they documented and leveraged as a corporate messaging asset like the other messaging types.
  • Collateral Messaging Audit How do you know whether your sales and marketing organization suffers from bad messaging? Conduct a quick collateral audit.Start by having your marketing department collect all the collateral materials and tools they created and ask sales three questions about each piece:
  • Where do you use this in your sales process?
  • How useful is it in helping you sell?
  • How much time do you spend creating messaging and tools you need to successfully sell?To determine how much money you are wasting on bad messaging, multiply your total marketing collateral expenditures by the percentage of collateral your sales team considers useless. If your firm is like most, sales will consider 50 percent or more of the collateral to be useless.Once you know the difference between effective and useless sales collateral, create a plan for implementing great sales messaging. Let your competitors continue to make the expensive mistake of confusing sales messaging with other types of messaging, while you become one of the companies that increase market share, revenue and net income by 15 to 25 percent.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Vistage Trusted Advisor Michael Cannon is Chief Executive Officer of Silver Bullet Group, Inc., a strategic sales planning firm based in Walnut Creek, Calif.

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