Sales & Marketing Plays – Four Quadrant

With any team sport, a team’s success is directly correlated to the quality of the Sales & Marketing Plays in the playbook and the flawless execution against those plays.  While the terms “play and sales playbook” or “sales and marketing playbook” have been thrown about in conversation, beneath the surface, it’s clear that not everyone is on the same page.  Below is an outline of how successful plays can be designed, developed and executed within an organization to maximize outcomes.

Sales & Marketing Plays – The Use Case, Value & Product Differentiation

First, there must be a thorough understanding of the use case. This means understanding the solution’s compelling value — and how that value cannot be matched by competitors and home-grown solutions. In addition, inaction must be portrayed as placing the organization at a competitive disadvantage.  Second, quantifying the value of the solution should be quantified for both the strategic and tactical target audiences.  Third, the solutions’ comparative, holistic and unique differentiation should be clearly articulated in terms that resonate with the target audiences.  Sales & Marketing Plays have to be derived from the intersection of the use case, value of the solution and product differentiation.

Sales & Marketing Plays - The Components

Sales & Marketing Plays – Target Market

This one is tricky because with both start-ups and F1000 companies, the perceived value of the market tends to drive the investment – meaning there is a tendency to distort reality.  While terminology can be confusing, it is critical to identify a homogeneous market segment with a high propensity to purchase. Simply put, less is more, or at least, is more effective.

For illustration purposes, let’s say:

  • The total available market is the $123 billion tourism industry inside the US
  • The total served market is $1 billion of English travel guides sold annually
  • The target market of 20-35 year old travelers is $210 million

Size the Market Opportunity Template >>

Sales & Marketing Plays – New Customer Acquisition Versus Installed Based

While Sales & Marketing Plays can and should be created for both new customer acquisition and for installed based selling, it is important to acknowledge that they are two different audiences.  Rather than boil the ocean, pick one or the other to start with.  Many companies focus on new customer acquisition so it may not be a bad place to start.

The process to develop Sales & Marketing Plays starts with creating a tight filter.  The outcome should be to create a scenario that if a prospect is a fit, the close ratio would be close to 100%.  The target market, use case, value and product differentiation have been identified and they become the filters for ideas.  So, the question is, based on those filters, what is the most effective pitch to a prospect?

Ideas for Sales & Marketing Plays may come from sales and marketing people, but these ideas should be vetted by development, services and support personnel. This is because the goal is to onboard a new customer who will be successful, buy more and recommend the organization.  The mutually-agreed upon approach, angle or pitch that fits the use case, provides value and is truly differentiated in the prospects’ eyes is the Play.  As with team sports, each player may have a different role, but the play is designed to serve as the “True North” for aligning resources.

Sales & Marketing Plays – Sales Readiness Checklist

In order to be a Play, the concept has to be specific, meaningful, relevant, differentiated, quantifiable and properly resourced and communicated—thus making the organization sales-ready.  The details of sales readiness are the difference between a promotion and a Play, as the resources behind a play are rich and the results are great.  Specifically, here are some of the deliverables required to successfully execute a play:

Sales & Marketing Plays – Two Minute Message

This document explains who you are, what you do, how you are different and the results driven by the solution.

Sales & Marketing Plays – Market Overview

For the prospect to be receptive, document the major trends and pressures in the market and the corresponding discovery questions. Also,  identify the specific  insights which were uncovered.

Sales & Marketing Plays – White Board

It’s vital to boil the pitch down to a whiteboard story telling session. This requires customer and prospect-facing personnel to outline on a white board, in 5 – 10 steps — the process from market opportunity through solution implementation — with a graphic and 2-3 bullets for each step.

An image depicting Sales and Marketing Plays RolesSales & Marketing Plays – The Sales Deck

The sales deck referred to here is NOT the corporate presentation with the mission statement, the NASCAR slide and all the other stuff that puts prospects to sleep.  See what a sales deck should look like >>

Sales & Marketing Plays – The Demo

This is NOT an expansive set of every product feature shown in a serial manner.  The demo should be something specific to the use case, highlighting the differentiation and communicating value to the target audience (at the strategic or tactical level).

Sales & Marketing Plays – Trap Setting Questions

These are the set of questions that lead a prospect down a path where the differentiation laid out by the organization becomes meaningful, relevant and resonates.

Sales & Marketing Plays – The Reframe

The Reframe introduces a new way to look at the prospects’ business which the prospect has not previously conceived. By definition, this discredits any prior approach or solution offered by a competitor.

Sales & Marketing Plays – Competitive Analysis

This is the acknowledgement that competition exists and one welcomes the opportunity to compete on the organization’s core differentiation that the prospect has  accepted as the playing field.

Sales & Marketing Plays – Proof

While this does not necessarily need to be a customer, it should be information about the value and or differentiation validated by a third party.

Sales & Marketing Plays – Thought Leadership

This can include internal and external thought leaders’ content on the subject at hand. Thought leadership can be communicated through blogs, speaking opportunities, webcasts, white papers, articles, books, etc.

Sales & Marketing Plays – Messaging

The messaging for the Play needs to support the corporate messaging but also needs to be present in presentations, signage, advertising, public relations, the website, etc.

Sales & Marketing Plays – Social Media

Social media platforms need to be leveraged to support the Play.  While this can be part of the corporate story, it’s important that the individual programs dedicated to the Play receive air coverage.

Sales & Marketing Plays – Demand Generation

The use case, value and differentiation will become the source code for an integrated, sustained and holistic demand generation effort. This effort includes social media, content syndication, digital assets, the website, webinars, seminars, speaking opportunities, tradeshows, emails, advertising and public relations.

Sales & Marketing Plays – Sales Training

In order to transfer knowledge, specific training must be developed and deployed.  This is not a one-day, 548 PowerPoint slide session that ends with handing a 3” binder to sales reps.  Ideally, this is interactive training broken down in a 50:50 ratio consisting of “Instruction to Role Playing” and “Question and Answer.”  Afterwards, the training is followed up with weekly webinars and emails to reinforce the teachings, as well as a bidirectional feedback mechanism to support conversations through internal channels.

Sales & Marketing Plays – Sales Portal

A sales portal is critical to keep information current and to disseminate it quickly to all on a 7*24*365 basis.  It should be staffed and managed to ensure that sales reps get what they need, when they need it and in a format that they can use.

An Image depictiong Sales and Marketing Play ComponentsSales & Marketing Plays – Diagnostics

If the Play mentality is adopted and there is no sales traction, the diagnosis becomes relatively straightforward.  Either:

–       The Play is not being run well, pointing to a training issue

–       The wrong Play is being run, indicating that the messaging and value are not valid

–       The right Play is being run well but it is being run against the wrong team — suggesting that the market segmentation is awry.

In the end, Sales & Marketing Plays are not a promotion or a campaign.  A Play is a market penetration strategy requiring that the entire organization be educated, integrated, synchronized, focused and empowered around a single concept – The Play.  There is not one play as there may be several approaches to effectively convert a prospect to a customer.  Start with one, align the resources and flawlessly execute and iterate.  Once traction is made with the first Play, expand your go to market strategy to include the next Play.


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