Product Marketing Rule #21: Help Your Sales Team Communicate Your Message
Product Marketing Rule #21 from the best-selling book, 42 Rules of Product Marketing, was written by Tom Evans, Principal Consultant, Lûcrum Marketing
Product Marketing Managers must own the message and make sure all market facing employees understand the message and know how to communicate it.
In my 25+ years of business experience in both sales and product marketing roles, I have experienced too many instances in which the sales team was provided some marketing collateral and a product presentation. Then people wished them luck as they prospected and tried to close deals with anyone who would listen. While this approach might be sufficient for the star sales people, the other 80 percent of the sales team pursues opportunities that don’t fit well with your solution, speak to prospects that aren’t really decision makers, sell solutions that you don’t really have, and the list can go on. The overall impact is wasted time and effort in pursuing the wrong opportunities, confusion in the market place on what the company does, poor sales results, and eventually market failure.
Product Marketing Managers must own the message, but owning the message isn’t just about creating it.
It is also about making sure all market facing employees understand the message and know how to communicate it. Most important among these are the sales people and for that reason, I call this “Sales Enablement.”
The most important goals of a strong sales enablement program are to ensure that:
- The sales team clearly understands the target markets and the target buyers within those markets.
- The sales team understands the problems, challenges, goals (pains) of the target buyer and can communicate a clear and consistent message on how the solution can address those needs.
- This understanding is shared by all market facing team members (sales, marketing, executives, etc.).
I recommend the following core set of enablement tools:
This is used as a reference for the sales person to quickly understand the key aspects of the solution to help guide them in their sales pursuits and to easily discuss the product at a high level. At a minimum, the product backgrounder needs to include a succinct product description, definition of target markets, market challenges your product address, typical buyers and their main pain points, and finally your market messages (e.g., positioning statement, value proposition, etc.). You should aim for about one page and no more than two pages.
Needs Discovery Grid
This tool helps a salesperson carry on an intelligent conversation with a buyer and help the buyer admit to their pains and needs. You need to develop one for each buyer profile in each target segment.
Executive Level Presentation
Once you have uncovered the needs of the executive level buyer, this is a high level discussion of ten to fifteen slides that explains to the buyer that you can help them solve their problems and reinforce the key messages and benefits of your solution.
Message Driven Demo
Too many demos are about showing features and don’t really show how the solution solves the buyers’ pain points. A message driven demo tells a story that demonstrates how the solution addresses these pains and reinforces the key market messages.
There are, of course, additional tools and information that you can create for sales enablement, but you should deliver at least these four core documents and keep them concise enough that the sales team will actually use them.
Remember, don’t just hand these tools to the sales team and hope they use them.
You must proactively train them on these materials and then test them to make sure they adequately comprehend the information. And not to be redundant, but you must also train the other market facing team members previously mentioned. By implementing a sales enablement program as described, you significantly increase the potential for success in your target market.