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The Real Problems with Today’s B2B Customer Communication and How to Solve Them

By Michael Cannon

Numerous studies bear out that business-to-business (B2B) companies lose billions of dollars each year because of ineffective customer communication. What are the key factors that contribute to this messaging mess? Most companies and their marketing firms:

  • Produce only descriptive company, market, and product customer messaging
  • Do not have a methodology or the skills necessary to create persuasive customer messaging
  • Do not have an objective set of criteria to evaluate customer messaging and content effectiveness prior to market testing or launch

As a result, sales and marketing effectiveness is reduced by about 15% and costs U.S. companies over $100 billion
every year.

For example, most messaging, like product messaging, is descriptive. It provides a description of what the product does, what’s included, how it works, and what some of its key benefits are. It’s all the typical “content” in a product brochure.

What prospective customers want most, for each product offering, is a great answer to such primary buying questions as:

  • “Why should I meet with you?”
  • “Why should I change from the status quo to a new solution?”
  • “Why should I buy this new solution from your company instead of your competitors?”

What Sales (inside, field, and channel) also want most is to have, and to provide customers with, persuasive answers to these same buying questions.

You can see the gaps in this customer communicatiuons model. Most of the messaging provided to prospective customers and to Sales is descriptive company messaging, market messaging, and product messaging, none of which provide persuasive answers to the primary buying questions. What is missing is persuasive messaging. It’s the missing messaging style in almost every company’s customer communication platform.

Persuasive messaging is the missing messaging style in almost every company’s customer communication platform.

The impact of not providing customers and Sales with persuasive messaging, or not answering these primary buying questions, is enormous. It’s the main reason why most customer-facing content is ineffective and can be substantiated
in market research studies like these:

“Over 65% of sales leaders feel they’re losing business because
they don’t have a compelling value proposition.”

Miller Heiman, Sales Best Practice Study, 2006

 “80 to 90% of marketing collateral is considered useless by Sales.”

Proceedings of the Customer Message Management Forums,
published by the American Marketing Association, 2002 and 2003

 “As much as 40% of a sales rep’s time is spent creating presentations,
customizing messaging, and preparing for pitches.”

CMO Council Study, 2004

As you can see, marketing and sales effectiveness is significantly reduced when Marketing produces only descriptive company, market, and product messaging.

The good news is that when Marketing does provide customers and Sales with both descriptive messaging and persuasive messaging, great things happen fast. Consider these reports from your peers:

 “The competitive sales messaging, with supporting customer videos and presentation, helped us take 15% off our key competitor’s market share and win an incremental $1M in revenue in just 7 months! It also reduced field support issues by around 75%.”

Angelo Umali, SAD, Sales and Technical Support Engineer, Agilent Technologies, Inc.

 “The impact on the region was immediate. The first time the new sales messaging and strategy was used, we closed a $100K sale to a F500 company in less than 60 days.  Sales in the region increased approximately 35%.”

Barbara Wehrle, Director, Western Region, SilverStream Software, Inc.

These significant improvements in marketing and sales effectiveness consistently occur when Marketing provides persuasive answers to the customer’s primary buying questions and enables Sales to do the same.

Here are some of the key departmental improvements that can be expected when persuasive messaging is integrated into your customer communication platform:

The value to the product development/research and development team is that:

  • It increases customer focus, meaning that there is better alignment of new product investment with the solving of valuable customer problems.
  • It results in more competitive products.
  • And it results in higher margins.

The impact on the product marketing team when it implements customer sales messaging is that:

  • It increases the percentage of deliverables (that is, demand generation, training, collateral, and sales tools) considered useful to helping Sales generate revenue and to helping prospective customers make good buying decisions.
  • It increases Marketing’s ability to market solutions.
  • And it creates faster penetration of new and existing markets.

The result of implementing sales messaging for the sales operations team is that:

  • It increases the effectiveness of the product training, sales opportunity training, and competitive training,
    and traditional sales skills training for both direct and partner sales channels.
  • It increases time-to-channel effectiveness by reducing the amount of time it takes the field to successfully start selling the value of new products.

The impact of adding sales messaging for the inside, field, and channel sales teams is that:

  • It increases the size of the sales pipeline.
  • It improves the win/loss ratio, or the proposal-to-order ratio.
  • It increases the average order size and it reduces discounting.

It’s simple and powerful. Use persuasive messaging as a tool to make your customer communications more influential and you will make dramatic improvements in the effectiveness of all your sales and marketing investments. This messaging strategy works like a “silver bullet” to help you accelerate revenue, market share growth, and your career.

 Resources to Implement the Most Influential Customer Communications

Michael Cannon is an internationally renowned marketing and sales effectiveness expert, best-selling author, speaker and an authority on enabling B2B companies to engage customers with the most influential communications. For more information visit www.silverbulletgroup.com.

 

 


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