14% Effectiveness…Who’s Ok With That?

This week, I joined Savo’s second in a series of webinars on sales enablement around my favorite topic, “messaging.” Tim Riesterer, CMO of Corporate Visions and Ken Powell, VP of Sales Enablement & Learning at Sungard were the featured presenters. As much as I’ve worked with these guys, I always learn something from these events. Yesterday, Tim highlighted a statistic from a study by the Corporate Executive Board that gave me a jolt. According to a survey of executive buyers, only 14% of messaging delivered by sales people creates a commercial impact.

That means that 86% of the messaging with which we arm our sales teams and they deliver to buyers creates no impact at all. I’m not ok with that, are you? Of course not. But, what do we do about it?

The issue isn’t that the non-impactful messaging is bad. The issue is that it sounds just like everyone else and, thus, it has no commercial impact on the buyer. To get out of the 86% hole, we must make messages that sound different and that provoke prospects to do something different. Tim calls this breaking the “Status Quo Barrier.” Tim and his co-author, Erik Peterson, cover this in detail in their book¬†Conversations That Win The Complex Sale. The chapter, aptly titled “Bring a Little Bad News: If You Want Them to Care” talks about the need to shake things up so the customer can’t get your point-of-view about his problem out of his mind. In my experience, this is like magic in Marketing and Sales organizations that have driven their commercial engine solely on customer relationships and RFP response. I’ve employed Tim’s and Erik’s approach a number of times to get to messages that really sound different:

  • Identify a critical problem facing your customer
  • Formulate a provocative view of the problem
  • Lodge your provocation

Further to the challenge of getting out of the 86% bad place is the need to equip Sales people with the tools and skills needed to take these conversations in a different direction and leave the prospect itching for more. The Savo webinar covered ways to develop Sales toolkits that deploy tools such as interactive white papers at the right stage of the sales cycle. This gives Sales access to the right information and the right time for more targeted and focused impact. Training for Sales is critical going into a message re-engineering effort. Marketing and Sales should plan to spend as much time developing materials for the Sales team as they do for prospects/customers.

(Image bored used under Creative Commons License)

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