Bits o' Brian

Continuing the quest to align Marketing and Sales

Are You Leaving a Gap For Your Sales Team? Use “Appointment Campaigns.”

I recently answered a question in a forum on selling to executives about whether or not it is a good practice to use a “cold email” approach to a decision-maker to get an appointment. In my answer, I advised the seller that email is fine, but it shouldn’t be about getting an appointment. It should be about loosening the target’s status quo. The content of the email should provide a provocative point-of-view about a business challenge and leave the target wanting more. That “more” may be a sales appointment or it may be another purpose-built element in an “appointment getting campaign.”

So this begs the question of whether or not organizations are leaving a dangerous chasm for sellers to cross when it comes to engaging qualified prospects in a sales conversation. For all the great work we may be doing in messaging, demand generation, and lead nurturing, we may be leaving our sellers with a large gap to close.

Consider adding an “Appointment Campaign” to your field toolkit. Depending on your organization, this can have varying degrees of flexibility from fully scripted and measured to a menu of tactics and content from which sellers can choose depending on the circumstances. The key here is to not put your sellers in the position of creating their own content and messaging as they attempt to convert qualified leads into sales appointments.

Leverage your message maps, personas (Status Quo Profiles), and meetings with the Sales team to develop a toolkit of content designed to help get decision-makers to take those next steps toward an active sales engagement. Some items to consider:

  • Introductory email(s). Pre-write email content that lets the seller establish a provocative point-of-view and credibility as a representative of a firm that has a unique approach to an industry challenge. Ask for the appropriate next step in the email…this may or may not be getting an appointment.
  • Video vignettes. Use Brainshark or other tools to create short, compelling content to help drive home the firm’s point-of-view. Include links in the initial email or use this as a follow-up tool. Brainshark allows the creation of customized introductions to pre-crafted content which allows a seller to send a “I pulled this together for you” message to the prospect.
  • Case study snippets. These are pretty classic, but consider a different approach. Rather than send a beautifully crafted, detailed case study, build short, concise (50 words or less) case study snippets. These can be embedded in an email or included in other correspondence.

This is a starting point of ideas. Don’t make it too complex, but don’t leave your sellers alone to cross the divide with their own tools and messages. A strong “Appointment Campaign” is a necessary catalyst to keep the commercial process moving once Sales has a qualified lead in hand.

(Image Long way down used under Creative Commons License)

Filed under: Marketing & Sales Algnment, Sales Enablement, , , , , , ,

The Evolution of Personas

I’ve taken a short blogging hiatus to work on some career opportunities (stay tuned for more on that), however, a recent article by Corporate Visions caught my eye in which they’ve proposed that “Personas Can Lead Your Messaging Astray.” Being a big fan of personas and being well aligned with CVI’s approach to messaging, this post got my attention.

What this really entails is an evolution of personas from attitudinal and behavioral personality profiles (born in the B2C world) to profiles which articulate the B2B prospect’s reasons to either stay with their current situation/solution (Status Quo) or to move away from their current solution (preferably to yours). CVI calles these evolved personas “Status Quo Profiles” and goes on to articulate the information these profiles need to provide about your prospect:

  • How are decision makers solving the challenges your product or service offer to solve today?
  • Why do they think it’s great?
  • What issues, challenges, threats, risks or missed opportunities have arisen since they likely purchased their current solution or implemented their existing approach?
  • What gaps exist in the current approach that will keep them from avoiding these potential problems, or capitalizing on new opportunities?

So, I agree that personas need to evolve and become more effective guide posts for messaging that leads a prospect from his status quo to my solution. The provocative post by CVI go my attention and helps me put some stakes in the ground around our personas or “Staus Quo Profiles.” Properly designed, as articulated above by CVI, these profiles become a critical True North in the development and operationalization of our messaging. Especially in large, complex organizations where multiple product leaders vie or attention from the Marketing department and for customers mind share, these profiles remain a critical tool to keep us honest internally. In their evolved state, they put a rationale around the messaging that gets developed.

Traditional persona elements such as how the prospect gets his information, industry trends he follows, etc. will continue to be important for B2B marketers as we make decisions about channels and tactical execution of our messaging. But, the core of what drives purchase preference for the target needs to evolve as we seek to understand what, exactly, is the status quo that we must loosen before we can lead the prospect toward our unique solution to his problem.

Filed under: Marketing & Sales Algnment, , , , ,

A bit about Brian…

Brian McGuire is a senior Marketing and Sales alignment leader (read bio here). He blogs from his experience, research and observations about the challenges B2B firms face as they connect their brand, their product innovations, and their capability to the needs and objectives of their customers. All views and opinions expressed are his alone.

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