Saturday, May 30, 2009

Risks of Cowboy Sales Messaging & Four Ways to Avoid It


The article is quite interesting and I am sure, lot fo Sales folks out there will resonate with what the author would like to point out in this article....  it does hold true - i have experienced it myself.. 

Studies have shown that up to 90% of marketing collateral is considered utterly useless by sales. Frustrated sales people feel like they're not getting what they need to succeed from their product marketing team so they create their own freelance messages and sales tools. 

Commonly referred to as "cowboy messaging" it can derail your revenue stream if not collared quickly.   Furthermore, product marketing teams are equally frustrated because they expend tremendous efforts creating sales tools that aren't used.

The three most common risks associated with cowboy messaging are:


1.  Wasted Time.   Product Marketing is creating tools of no value, while sales people spend valuable selling time creating their own messaging. In today's economy, sales pipelines are thin and qualified opportunities are more difficult to find.  How much time and resources are lost on this effort?


2.  Lost sales.  Confused buyers extend sales cycles and ultimately go to a competitor or do nothing at all.  As buyers research potential vendors to learn who will best meet their needs they seek solutions to problems.   Sales people too often talk all about the product and never mention how it will help the customer.  This usually drives business away.


3.  Potential misrepresentation.  Claims and statements of the cowboy messages often appear in proposals, statements of work and even customer contracts where the claims can become legally binding.  Well-meaning sales people overpromise in the sales process and customers hold them to their words.  Once the deal is won others must deliver on those promises while your sales person is off to the next deal.  Over promising and under delivering creates ill will at best and legal liabilities at worst. 

Four Ways to Get Product Marketing & Sales on the Same Page


1.  Perform a quick collateral audit. Collect all the collateral product marketing created for sales and ask two questions of the sales team for each tool:

  • When do you use this tool in your sales process?
  • How useful is it in helping you win?

2.  Create a "Stop Doing" list for product marketing that includes the time they spend creating tools that are not useful in the audit.


3.  Get the product marketing and sales teams together in one room and don't let anyone out until they have messaging that works and consensus on the top five sales tools that drive higher win rates

4.  Ensure your messaging and positioning statements focus on buyers - not products.  The more your messaging focuses on the buyer the greater your odds of differentiating and winning.

Buyer-centric messaging is simple, gets to the point and answers the ultimate buyer question, "Who solves my problem best?"  Sales people that offer solutions to problems win more business than sales people who hawk products. 

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