Making the Most of Every Lead: Key Questions to Help Sales and Marketing Alignment
Our economic environment has forced many sales teams to dig deeper into their territories for potential pipeline and put a critical focus on effectively executing on every valuable lead. Because of the shift in many buyer environments, it’s never been more important to effectively communicate the value and differentiation of your solution in a way that aligns to your customer's greatest business challenge. That need demands marketing and sales communicate a consistent buyer-focused message.
The market is flooded with distracted buyers, and in some cases buyer budget cuts have left once healthy pipelines to come to a halt. Meanwhile, those same budget cuts and shifted tactics have left marketing teams with their hands tied. We've seen the struggle ourselves. Without in-person events and prospect dinners, we've had to shift to virtual events, which means we are adjusting how we attract net new logos. In some ways, that shift has made new logos harder to attract, so when we do connect with a high-value prospect, we need to make sure we're doing everything we can to ensure a great hand-off to sales.
To maximize every opportunity, marketing and sales need to be crystal clear on what's important to your buyers and how that connects with the solutions you offer. Your marketing message and brand message may be strong, but is it consistent with what salespeople are saying on the phone in their initial calls? Are there ways to adjust it, given what your salespeople are hearing from customers right now?
The Importance of Value Messaging
Value Messaging is the term we use for how the marketing and sales messages connect. If you want to see valuable leads through the sales execution process, you need a framework that leverages strategic marketing and product messages into impactful sales conversations that connect customer requirements and desired outcomes with solution features and your differentiation.
It's critical that these messages are highly "sales-consumable", meaning they're phrased in a way that allows salespeople to easily use them during real-world customer conversations. Can the SDR articulate the value of your organization in ten seconds? Can your enterprise reps use these messages to move higher up in the prospect organization? When these messages are crafted in a way they can be easily consumed and articulated by the sales team, you'll have a consistent value message that can carry through sales execution. That's the power of a messaging-focused sales transformation initiative.
When marketing invests time, resources and frankly, a lot of hard work into creating messages to the industry that attract buyers, it's important that the sales reps have the ability to explicitly incorporate that value into their sales conversations. Otherwise, your buyers will experience a disconnect and all that effort it took to get that person "in the door" ends up being a missed opportunity.
Generating Cross-Functional Messaging Alignment
Given the current environment, your sales and marketing teams have likely tweaked their messaging to reflect how they believe your buyers are responding to shifting challenges. It will be crucial that these messages are aligned around how your offerings are equipped to solve evolving buyer challenges, as well as how well you can do it, or why you can do it better than the competitors your prospects are likely considering.
So what does it mean to have cross-functional alignment? It’s true there are many aspects to getting a company aligned on what they’re communicating to customers. However, one way to start is to generate consistent answers to the essential questions. Top performing companies have clear answers to the following:
- What problems do you solve for customers?
- How do you solve those problems?
- How do you solve them differently and/or better than the competition?
- Where have you done it before?
In our Command of the Message® workshops we often ask our clients’ executive team members how they individually would answer these questions. Consistently, senior leadership has different ways of answering them. (That's usually why we're in the room!) If you’re executive team can’t answer the questions consistently, imagine what is happening in your sales organization when it comes to a focused buyer message?
The essential questions help companies lay the groundwork for developing a buyer message that’s aligned around the value and differentiation of their solutions. Agreement on the answers to the essential questions enables sales reps, marketers, BDRs, customer success, etc. to focus on the customer’s greatest needs in their critical roles.
Given the current state, your executive team may find value in reviewing the essential questions as they work to develop a consistent, value-driven sales message that speaks to what’s happening right now. As you consider those questions, also consider:
- How have your buyers’ needs changed?
- Can you solve these new problems?
- What are your differentiators that align to your buyer’s new challenges?
- How are your salespeople equipped to articulate your value and differentiation as it relates to these new challenges?
Equip You Organization to Execute
Companies that drive and scale predictable revenue growth start by aligning their marketing and sales efforts around the value message. Here are two ways you can leverage alignment throughout the entire sales process:
1. Keep the conversation focused on critical buyer needs:
Leverage your company’s answers to the essential questions to develop messaging frameworks that enable each customer-facing team (marketing, SDR/BDRs, enterprise reps, etc.) to keep the focus on the buyer’s business problems and how your solution can uniquely solve their challenges. If your sales and marketing messaging is aligned around your organization's answers to the essential questions, you’ll be able to ensure a smooth transition from one hand off to the next. When it comes time to qualify and progress high-value MQLs, your enterprise reps will be able to continue that value-driven conversation in a way that clearly differentiates your solutions from competitors (and “do nothing” or “do it internally” decisions).
Something to consider: A messaging-focused sales transformation will enable your entire company to leverage value in every critical customer engagement. If you’re curious about how exactly a sales messaging initiative may impact your marketing or SDR/BDR teams, this article may provide you with new insights to consider.
2. Collaborate on sales & marketing consumable content:
Equip your sales and marketing teams to execute in their prospective roles by developing sales consumable tools that are centered around your buyer’s specific challenges and the PBOs they’re hoping to achieve.
Your sales consumable tools should support the seller's ability to be audible-ready to respond to buyer concerns and hold a value-based conversation in their live opportunities. While at the same time, the tools should also support marketing teams in tying their campaigns to direct customer needs and pain points, so they can capture interest from high-value MQLs. Proof points are a great example of content that is highly valuable to both sales and marketing.
When sales teams focus on owning their proof points and work with marketing to develop a story behind a happy client’s logo, they’ll be better equipped to leverage their proof points in future conversations with prospects in a way that enables future business.
We’re all familiar with the list of logos many companies put out there to show credibility. Ask yourself this, can your sales reps clearly articulate the challenge and positive business outcomes that were achieved in that opportunity? Ensure there’s a refined process for proof point creation that will equip your sales teams and your marketing teams to tell a story that’s impactful to prospects in various stages of the sales funnel/cycle. Here are a few tips your marketing and sales teams can use to nail your proof points.
Launch a Sales Messaging Transformation that Drives Success in 2021
Invest in a strategic sales transformation that enables your sales teams to execute on high-value MQLs consistently and hit next year’s revenue goals. Elite sales and marketing leaders are generating cross-functional alignment on sales messaging transformations. They’re moving forward with their initiatives in the virtual environment, because they don’t have time to wait to improve quotas and ROI on marketing resources.
Now may be your best opportunity to course correct and hit next year’s goals — for both marketing and sales.
This year’s sales kickoff event gives you the chance to align your entire sales organization around a value-driven sales messaging initiative that will enable them to succeed next year. Use our virtual sales kickoff resource guide to gain insights on how to develop, launch and reinforce a sales messaging transformation that moves the needle.
A note for all executive leaders:
Whether you’re a CMO, CTO, CEO or other executive leader, how you support your sales organization’s ability to execute will either benefit or hinder your team’s success next year. Sales enablement initiatives may be owned by the CRO but your buy-in is critical to ensuring the initiative sticks and enables the entire company to meet next year’s revenue goals. Consider how you can support the initiative's success.