Thanks to the incredible power of GPS, sales reps will usually have no difficulty finding their way to customers and prospects when they’re travelling outside the office. The intricacies of positioning their company’s products and services, however, may be more challenging to navigate. In that sense, a strong field messaging guide is the best map the marketing team could possibly provide.
Experienced reps may already know their territory very well, of course, but when companies launch new products, and particularly when they enter new regions or new industry sectors, the exact positioning can become a little more complicated. Even if the products and services they’re selling could be applicable and valuable anywhere, capturing the nuances of a market’s needs and how your firm is rising to the occasion calls for a little marketing finesse.
The raw materials for a field messaging guide may be available in the blog posts, white papers, e-books and case studies the team has already been using to generate and nurture demand via marketing automation tools such as Marketing Cloud. In other cases, the field messaging and content marketing assets may be developed in parallel. No matter how you do it, the important thing is to have a consistent theme to present to your intended audience about what makes your firm different and why this is the time to partner with you.
Large organizations often have field messaging guides ready well before their reps begin aggressively setting up meetings and making pitches. The good thing is that even small and medium-sized firms can do the same thing without a lot of additional expense. This is really a matter of capturing ideas and getting them on the page (or the screen) so no one is confused about what the brand is trying to communicate.
These are the elements that will make your field messaging guide the go-to resource sales reps will practically memorize before they’re through:
Everyone knows what “health care” means, correct? What about the difference between a firm that’s selling to health-care providers like hospitals versus those selling products and services, like fitness trackers, that are sold directly to consumers? Similarly, “financial services” today could span everything from big banks and insurance firms to smaller credit unions and startups.
Defining the industry as granularly as possible will save reps a lot of time and avoid them pitching firms that don’t fit your ideal customer profile. This only needs to be a paragraph or two in length but could include the names of some representative target customers and prospects, tiers of desired customers (from largest to smallest, for instance) and any exceptions. For instance, there may be a few customers who work in both the business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) space, in which case the positioning might have to be handled a little differently.
Imagine you’re a secret agent who is coming back to bring intelligence to your team about the inner workings of a system or tribe that has long remained mysterious to outsiders. That’s kind of what creating field messaging guides are about. Whereas sales reps might know all about their traditional customers, they could be completely green when it comes to new industries, particularly the niche sectors where SMBs can often find golden opportunities to establish themselves as market leaders.
In your Industry Dynamics section, try to offer at least three trends that might prepare reps for the kinds of conversations they’re going to have. This could include:
Yes, that heading is pluralized, and with good reason. While you may have one overall value proposition for what the brand is bringing to a particular market or with a new product, you can make the job of sales a lot easier when there are different ways to slice and dice it.
Try this: If you have a comprehensive value prop already developed -- which might be a page in length with various proof points -- try to rework it based on three distinct lengths. First, boil it down to about 100 or 200 words, which is only a couple of paragraphs. Second, challenge yourself to rewrite it as 30 words. All done? Now aim for only 10 words to position your firm to the target audience.
This isn’t just a creative writing exercise. Reps in the field can use the longer version and make it their own when they’re doing outreach via email and have more room to explain things. The 30-word version may be adapted in their pitch decks when they’re standing in front of customers at a meeting. The 10-word version? That could stay in their head and help them sum things up when they’re in conversation with a prospect at an event or conference -- or maybe even reworded in posts on social media.
All the positioning in the world won’t help a field sales rep close a deal if they can’t get into specifics. Walk through a handful of examples of a real-life scenario in which your firm’s products and services might address a problem, save time or help a customer generate more revenue.
These use cases can be adapted from other case studies, or based upon some of the ideas that came from the original product development team when the offering was created. If the use case calls for more than one of your products and services, spell out which ones -- never miss a chance to cross-sell, upsell or bundle. In fact, you might want to break up the use-case section as “Description of problem,” “How XYZ Corp. solves this problem” and “XYZ products and services used” to let reps quickly scan for the things they need.
One last thought: if the customer base or sector your reps are targeting has a lot of its own specialized language or jargon, include a glossary at the end that will make sure they are literally talking the same language as those to whom they’re pitching.
When your field messaging guide is done, share it widely -- then get feedback on what elements enabled sales to be successful. This will only give you more ideas, and more data to work with across everything you’re automating with Marketing Cloud.