Developing a sales messaging framework is critical for sales and marketing to have effective meaningful and relevant conversations with prospective customers. Doing so focuses go-to-market resources and expedites customer acquisition.
Many companies devote the time and effort necessary to build a messaging framework that produces a unique selling proposition, tag line and boilerplate. While this is commendable, it is not enough for the marketing and sales teams to be successful. Organizations must go the extra mile and produce a messaging framework that enables the marketing and sales teams to initiate and nurture engaging customer conversations.
Sales Messaging Framework and Customer Conversations
For certain, crafting compelling messages for sales people to use with prospects and for marketing to incorporate in integrated demand creation programs is difficult. As a rule of thumb, the larger the organization the more difficult the endeavor as the number of industries, products and geographies multiply. One approach is to jointly develop a one-pager that summarizes the fundamental messaging components to be used in the sales deck, follow-up emails, web pages and demand creation campaign messaging. The result will serve as the “messaging source code” for all sales and marketing communications.
A Messaging Framework to Support Customer Conversations
Below are the components that should be included when developing a one-page sales messaging framework for sales and marketing.
The before scenario is the business environment a sales rep encounters when they engage with a sales qualified opportunity—the initial state of the customer’s business environment. In the ideal situation, the before picture includes less than optimal accounts of people, process and systems.
Sales and marketing should have partnered to mutually establish the ideal Target Account Profile (a detailed description of what a prospect with a high propensity to purchase looks like) so that sales reps are engaged in truly qualified opportunities. There should be:
- Hooks between what is uncovered in the customer environment and the specific use case one’s organization’s targets
- The core differentiation
- The value drivers targeted to the key personas in the customer buying process
Negative consequences attempt to quantify the business problem, pain or opportunity and can impact upside (revenue) and or downside (expense) for an organization. The issues described in the Before Scenario should be stated specifically, quantitatively and in a manner which highlights the financial impact to the organization.
Negative consequences may describe what is wrong, not optimized and by identifying business issues that may not be real today but are clearly on the horizon. The key is the business is not running optimally, it is now known (and quantified) within the organization and it negatively impacts the business.
The after scenario is a summary of the company’s business environment one’s solution has been implemented. The unique value proposition offered to the key personas in the buying process should be realized. Some of the benefits or gains derived should be strategic in nature while others will be operationally focused. The most important point to emphasize is that the After Scenario is the end state that key personas in the buying process not only want but need, and are motivated to make a reality.
Positive Business Outcomes
As opposed to Negative Consequences, Positive Business Outcomes capture the positive impact the organization could derive from using the solution. These outcomes should include some or all of the promises made in the value drivers as well as the proof points offered during the sales process. Any new finding from a customer should be incorporated into the messaging framework to support customer conversations — so it can be leveraged for all sales reps to take control of customer conversations.
Requirements are the benefits and capabilities that should be included in any successful solution. Stating the requirements is an opportunity for an organization to prime the pump with a prospect. B2B marketers use this opportunity as a “primer” to prospects by providing a non-technical, non-sales and non-jargon ridden informational piece about what is fundamentally key to a best-in-class solution. Savvy B2B marketers weave in their messaging from the value drivers as well as the unique, comparative and holistic differentiation. The best-in-class B2B marketing organizations plant these seeds in the minds of prospects without mentioning their company or their solution — and these seeds move from an unconscious to conscious state in the B2B buyer’s mind.
Metrics are the specific quantitative measures realized by customers, contained in survey data, proven in benchmarking or validated by a third party. Metrics must be completely defendable in order not to back fire so it’s critical there is a credible source underpinning the metric so customer-facing employees can explain them credibly. Often companies will use ranges or guidelines (i.e. “your actual mileage may vary.”)
Proof Points – Anecdotes, Customers and Analysts
Proof Points are endorsements, but unlike metrics they lack specific quantification. Frequently these proof points are anecdotal, paraphrased or quotes from a customer, analyst or subject matter expert. Another difference between metrics and Proof Points is that anecdotes tend to be situational, and as a result they resonate well because they are more personal.
Discovery Questions are designed to uncover whether a prospect is someone who will be successful using the solution. Discovery Questions should be built by reverse-engineering out from an organization’s core differentiation and the specific value drivers. Insightful and probing questions will unveil whether a prospect has a business problem that your solution can successfully solve and provide financial benefit.
Summing Up The Sales Messaging Framework
Developing a strong and compelling sales messaging framework to use with targeted prospects is the backbone for successfully initiating, engaging and nurturing customer conversations. Using the sales messaging framework as the source code for marketing communications will lead to insight-led customer conversations. And, when customers are able to open their eyes to think and see differently it allows for an organization to set the agenda like a row of dominos. A synchronized sales and marketing process will allow for the domino effect – a series of similar or related events occurring as a direct and inevitable result of one initial event.