02/02/2012 | Marketing
Since our work often involves understanding the marketing input to the sales function and the extent to which it is ‘fit for purpose’ we take a keen interest in what business an organisation thinks it is really in. Not only does this underpin the overall brand and the quality of the selling activity that takes place but it colours both the messaging to the market and the routes by which they are delivered.
Over the last few years quite a few organisations have started to latch onto this idea, at least in part. Depending upon your age you will be able to remember when what was written on the side of most of the trucks on the motorways was ‘haulage contractor.’ Now they claim to be in ‘supply chain solutions’ although they still look like trucks to me!
Others are doing a better job. You may have seen the recent BMW adverts on TV where they claim to be in the ‘joy’ business. A clever idea since the traditional differentiators in the car market were long since erased at a basic product level. And its not just the big boys with big budgets who can think this way. I saw a van on the M6 the other day and the strap line on the side of it was ‘we turn damp cellars into beautiful rooms.’ A much stronger message than ‘damp proofing contractor’ since it focuses far more on the customer’s point of view and what they might get as a result of the purchase. It doesn’t describe what steps they go through nor what they are - simply what’s in it for the potential customer if they buy.
The point of this is that if the people within a business, and the sales team comprises some of those people, don’t really understand what it does for all of its potential customers and how this might change according to the specifics of who they are and where they figure in the buying process, then it becomes very difficult for the sales person to know where to start the sales conversation (since he/she doesn’t know where it needs to end up!). Its even more difficult to then deliver the clarity of message at the appropriate time that helps the other person see exactly why they should choose the product/service. The net result being missed opportunities that could and should have been won.
A good way of establishing how far away a business is from having all of this nailed properly is the ‘receptionist test.’ Ask whoever sits at the desk what business they think they are working in. Phrases like ‘we make X’ or ‘we provide a Y service’ tell you there is work to be done and sales are probably being lost.
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