Here are some statistics depressing enough to make even the most stoic and confident marketers and salespeople break down in frustration:
- 80 percent of marketing-sourced leads are never used by your sales team. — Marketing Profs
- When prospects do see your messaging, they only see 10 percent as relevant to them. — CEB & IDC
If this is the case, is it even possible for marketing and sales to work together to develop messaging that resonates with, and engages prospects and gets them thinking beyond the status quo? We think so – but, just as IMF agents are equipped with detailed knowledge of the situation they’re walking into and mission-specific equipment to solve seemingly impossible problems, marketing and salespeople need to approach prospects with targeted messaging and the right tools to combat their resistance to change.
Here are some tools and strategies that work:
- Get inside your prospect’s mind. Just as any good conversationalist knows, most people want to focus on themselves, not you. The same goes for your customer – your messages should be about the customer, not about your business and product. Tell your story so that your customer recognizes him/herself as the star of the story, not your brand.
- The door isn’t the only way into the room. Don’t approach the conversation in the obvious way. Your messages should be so distinctive and intriguing that your prospects can’t help but imagine “what if?” and loosen their hold on the status quo.
- The tools should fit the job. You wouldn’t use a hammer to rake your yard. A salesperson is equally ineffective if s/he approaches a prospect with the wrong tools. The tool should suit the sales scenario (target buyer, sales stage, industry, etc.) and there should be at least one for every situation. More importantly, the salesperson should be involved in the development of the tools and committed to using them.
- No one is an expert right away. Secret agents – fictional or otherwise – are trained for years to do their jobs and use the tools they are given. Salespeople are just as deserving. Sales teams shouldn’t be expected to “get it” right off the bat; they also need training on how and when to use the new tools you’ve created.
Prospect-centric and compelling messaging, delivered by properly trained and committed salespeople who know how and when to apply it, can work wonders to loosen a prospect’s hold on the status quo. Yes, the statistics are daunting, but armed with the right messages and training, all salespeople can have the skills and confidence of IMF agent Ethan Hunt. As Mission Commander Swanbeck says to him in MI:2, “Mr. Hunt, this isn’t mission difficult, it’s mission impossible. Difficult should be a walk in the park for you.”
Note: this is a post that Tim and I co-authored as part of our presentation at DemandCon 2012 in Boston. It originally appeared on the DemandCon blog and is reposted here with permission.