Since it’s so important to success, let’s talk about messaging and the sales force. You must differentiate your business with clear messaging attributes which include:
- An Idea Selling™ storyboard
- Answers to key questions like:
– “Why” they should do this
– “How” they can do this
– “With whom” should they do this
The Idea Selling™ storyboard must be complete but concise. Glean out a 2-3 minute explanation of why examining the Idea is so important for the customer group – The Idea Statement. If the story takes 15 minutes to explain, it is by definition not messaged well, too complex, or too focused on your firm’s capabilities, for this stage of your journey.
The early stage of the journey and the early stage of the portfolio are different from later stages of your journey, and later stages of your portfolio. Also, what you take to market and what you pull through is different from your solution set. Again, you must boil the message down into something that is clear, well defined and easy to talk about in 3 minutes. The rest of the messaging for the Idea Meetings and the Stakeholder Meetings can be created off the initial messaging, but the primary mistake is never getting a clear, concise message to begin with.
Now, let’s discuss enabling the sales force. Please remember that by nature, salespeople live in a different world than everyone else. They have the need to be successful to support their families and much of their compensation is leveraged on success. They spend much of their effort minimizing the chances of failure by working internally in their organization and out to their customers. Over time, the tendency in the sales organization is to encourage the sales rep to do what he/she is good at, to stay with products and services they know really well, and to deal with those accounts and people they already have relationships with.
Therefore, to change that – i.e. to call on different accounts or different levels in the organization – will work against all their risk aversion habits. Thus equipping and enabling the sales force so they can be successful is a significant effort, and should be looked on as such. This begins with a game plan that fully explains the sales cycle for the offer. This will include: the storyboard; how the Service Chain™ will work; how the Idea Meetings will work; how the Stakeholder Meetings will work; what they’re going to draw; and how they will communicate. The game plan must be complete, easy to understand, and supported with visuals and videos that can be repeatedly watched as they begin to learn the offer. The next step in the journey is to provide education on the offer. They will need direct educational support that is intellectual, including role playing opportunities, coaching, and probably someone to go to market with them to show them how it works by example.
In summary, I cannot stress enough the things that are necessary to create meaningful True Solutions™. If you do not pick the right offer and you cannot differentiate well, it is relatively difficult to make up for that without really good positioning documents and sales enablement. If you do not invest heavily and do everything right in getting the positioning correct, and you do not invest heavily in getting the sales force successful, then you run the risk of being unsuccessful and not knowing why.
In the end, you have to remember that customer intimacy is about business model transformation, and the sales team is a key part of this change.