Marketing needs to build specific messages and insight-driven content to stimulate action and conversion, before and after any salespeople enter the conversation.
To improve your sales chances and engage customers, it’s important to identify where your customer is in their buyer journey. Do they need to change supplier? And if so, why should they choose you? Or are you already their supplier, and you need to convince them to stay? These different situations call for different messages, so you need to gain insights into your customer’s roles and challenges, create targeted messaging, and train your salespeople to deliver it correctly.
Engage customers with deep buyer empathy
Your sales force needs to adapt its messaging to the particular situation so it can communicate your added value efficiently and effectively. But sales pitches often focus too much on internal issues, causing commercial professionals to simply act as talking brochures and lose sight of the messages and skills they need to convince your customers.
So instead of talking about what you do and why you think you can do it better, you need to create a buying vision that defines a new set of challenges that align with your particular strengths. For example, the key question that new prospects need to answer – to break their status quo and initiate their buying journey – is: why should I change?
Follow these three steps below to identify where your customers are on their buying journey, work out what specific messaging you need to use, and deliver it correctly…
Step 1: Gain insights into roles and challenges
Wherever the customer is in their buying cycle, to build a compelling case, you first need to find out more about their situation.
- Start by talking to the decision-makers to gain an understanding of their KPIs, challenging projects, and any blocking issues;
- Use contextual interviewing techniques to build trust, create credibility, and gain valuable insights into their specific challenges – and find out what capabilities they envisage will solve them;
- This will help you collect, organize, and build messages for your salespeople to create empathy and demonstrate business acumen;
- Salespeople who understand their prospects’ and customers’ roles and challenges can adjust accordingly, so they’re better placed to influence the buying criteria and improve the returns on their sales efforts.
Step 2: Create three types of messaging
To improve your sales chances, salespeople need to articulate value messages that resonate with customers’ specific challenges and have access to decision-makers who are much better placed to convert leads into deals. But they still need to know how to have successful conversations which promote a shared vision early enough in the decision-making process. It is therefore essential to understand buyers’ roles and relevant business challenges when creating this vision.
For example, staying the same is safe and comfortable, whereas change is associated with threat and risk. If too many deals in your pipeline are being lost to ‘no decision’, rather than to your competitors, your real threat is the status quo – because buyers are deciding they prefer to do nothing instead of change. This means you need tell a story that explains why they should change and leave their current situation, and why they should do it now.
Acquiring new customers and developing new accounts therefore requires messaging and an approach to customer conversations that is distinct from those used for existing customers. So marketing needs to equip your commercial people with three different types of sales messages and tools: ‘why change’, ‘why choose us’, and ‘why stay with us’.
These three messages need to align with each member of the decision-making unit’s journey, which increases the number of conversations, and unfortunately this complexity can undermine sales performance.
But whatever the customer’s situation, you need to explain why their current approach is putting their business at risk. To do this, you need to demonstrate that you know and understand their business, and can deliver insights into what they’re missing that will improve their performance. So, to address your buyer’s situation, you need to equip your salespeople with the right messaging to take advantage of any opportunities at early an early stage – to gain and keep control of the buying cycle right up until the deal is sealed.
Step 3: Train your salespeople to deliver the right message to the right people at the right time
Prospective customers are a different proposal to existing customers – customer acquisition is all about challenging the status quo to highlight the benefits of switching to your solution, whereas customer retention and expansion requires you to reinforce your position as their status quo: ‘why change’ and ‘why us’ messages will resonate with prospects, but ‘why stay’ is designed to foster customer loyalty. Make sure your marketing tells the right story for the right customer. Bearing this in mind, you need to:
- Help your salespeople gain access to executive buyers early in their decision-making process, and work consultatively with those buyers to shape a vision for their solution;
- Build a messaging kit that covers what to say to whom, and when, in order to ensure engaging conversations;
- Train your commercial force, use role play exercises to practice typical scenarios and conversations, share best pitches through the use of videos, promote ‘intervision techniques’, and provide constructive feedforward from the customer perspective.
How can messaging kits help?
Developing messaging kits can help marketing help salespeople gain access to executive buyers early in the decision-making process, and work consultatively to shape the vision of the solution they can provide. These messaging kits offer insight-driven content so your salespeople can engage more deeply with buyer empathy. This can enable sales through having a messaging repository and customer-centric presentations, impacting customer stories, and organizing training sessions for salespeople to learn how to sell certain solutions.