Lack of messaging alignment around how products create value is a problem for most companies. And lack of alignment around communicating the value delivered by a company and its solutions is all too common. There is a lot at stake; Craig Rosenberg cites a research from Sirius Decisions that “B2B organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations achieved 24% faster growth and 27% faster profit growth over a three year period.
Negative Impacts of Non-Alignment
Nothing good can come from lack of alignment. Some of the negative outcomes are as follows:
1. Gradual Brand Atrophy
If there is confusion in the marketplace as to what a company stands for, brand atrophy can set in, seriously eroding mindshare of the target audience. Brand atrophy is rarely a step function – the decay happens gradually and is hard to detect (similar to that of a boiling frog). By the time you detect full-blown brand atrophy, it’s too late or too costly to fix.
2. Delayed Sales Cycles
There is tremendous competition for almost anything meaningful today. Because the buyer has unprecedented access to information about potential alternatives, the moment confusion sets in there is a good possibility that the buyer may disengage completely or worse, engages with someone else. This results in a badly leaking sales funnel not to mention longer (and lost) sales cycles.
3. Inability to differentiate
Too many websites and salespeople are stuck in the “me-too” category. We see this problem every day on websites where the message is so obscure or commoditized that only the few diligent visitors who take the time to look through the underlying pages of detail end up with a clear understanding of what the company does and how they do it differently.
The same problem manifests itself in the behavior of company sales teams. The “naturals” will figure out the value proposition and differentiation for themselves while the rest struggle for a long time and may never get clear about value in the buyer’s context.
Clarity across the board is vitally important – how many versions of the truth exist in your organization?
Getting Started on Being More Aligned
Here are few ways to get started on being a more aligned company.
1. Leadership & Culture
You always start at the top. The need for messaging alignment has to be a priority with your top leadership or else it will fail even before the exercise begins. It is not enough for leaders to say, “alignment is important”; they have to demonstrate it in their actions at an operational level, specifically in the realms of Marketing and Sales Enablement.
You set the stage for rock solid alignment with the sales culture and brand you create and promote within your organization.
2. Understanding and Capitalizing on the Buyer’s Journey
The way today’s buyer will engage with your organization has changed dramatically in just the last few years.
For starters, the buyer engages at a much later time in the sales cycle than ever before. The buyer is also significantly better informed. This means you need to be better organized, more responsive, and always prepared to serve the buyer with the right information at the right points in the sales process.
Another consideration is that messaging is worthless unless it resonates with the buyers’ WIIFM (“what’s in it for me?”) antenna. The place to start an alignment project is to first understand the buyer persona of your target audience.
When the target buyer’s goals, challenges, and status quo are well-understood, you can effectively deploy that messaging in an aligned fashion, which means consistent reuse across your website, blogs, collateral, sales letters, FAQs, proposals, as well as all internal communications.
3. Implementing the Right Tools
You amplify alignment with the right set of tools: It’s important to remember that salespeople always do what’s convenient for them. So, there is a good chance that if the tools you provide to sales make it “extremely convenient” for them to engage the buyer in an aligned fashion, they will probably use them.
Now imagine if those same tools could not only increase sales productivity, but also ensure message alignment?
What would those tools look like? Well, let’s take a step back and look at the three influencing factors that accelerate sales cycles:
- Speed – the need to respond to customer inquiries, product/solution questions, or any other information requests almost instantly
- Consistency – all those communications must be in an approved and aligned format, whether delivered by a tenured rep or a new hire 3 days out of training.
- Relevance – all communications must be relevant to the buyer’s persona and stage in the sales process.
Therefore, sales alignment tools and methods must be designed to support all three influencing factors.
Last but not the least, these tools need to be accessible within – and applicable to – a salesperson’s regular work process. If those same tools can provide utility to all of the day-to-day touch points of salespeople and their customers, there is a tremendous opportunity for these tools to facilitate a better-aligned sales force.
Rajesh “Raj” Setty is a serial entrepreneur and a business alchemist based in Silicon Valley. He currently serves as the chairman of JiffleNow and also as president of WittyParrot. He was instrumental in founding several US or India based technology and publishing companies. Raj has been a member of Band of Angels since 2007 and is an award-winning teacher at the Founder Institute. He has authored and published 13 books so far with his first book being published at the age of thirteen. He has published more than 1850 blog posts so far. You can read his blog and follow him on him on Facebook or Twitter.
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