As a marketer, I’ve always felt the gentle push-and-pull in the relationship between sales and marketing. Well, “gentle” might not be the right word, but there’s a healthy conflict that always exists between the group that creates the message and the team that has to actually deliver it.
A good analogy is the relationship between the engineers of a new aircraft and the test pilots: It’s the pilot who realizes the price of the good (fame!) or bad (crash!) engineering.
With sales and marketing teams growing ever closer, I’m reminded of a great request that a former sales colleague always had for marketing deliverables. When we rolled out a new sales presentation or offered up email templates or scripted a product demonstration, the request was always the same: When I’m using this in front of a lead, I need to quickly answer these three questions for them:
What is it?
Why do I care?
What do you want me to do?
It’s incredibly simple, yet it’s an artform to articulate these answers in as fast and easy-to-understand manner as possible. And, it’s not as easy as you might think…and you’re probably not doing it as well as you might think…
If you take the “chasm” route, you’ll get a very accurate but long-winded answer to the first two questions, but not the third. If you take a messaging-centric approach, you’ll lose their attention in the three paragraphs you use to explain what it is that you’re selling and why it’s so great. And, if you’re too brief, they’ll never understand what you’re selling or why they should care.
Going further, these three questions are at the heart of engagement, regardless of whether you’re cold calling or you’re presenting at an industry event or you’re showing your product off to key executives at a potential customer. In fact, if you think about it, these questions are the heart of any business interaction, and you can think about them as questions you might ask yourself when you’re called into your next meeting: What are you talking about? Why am I here? Do you want me to do something?
But back to sales and marketing…
Here’s how InsideView might answer these first two questions in a typical email campaign:
What is it? InsideView provides market intelligence to inform your enterprise.
Why do I care? You’re growing at less than half the rate of your two biggest competitors and you lost three key customers last month. Our service helps you find better leads, win more deals, and maintain and grow your existing customers. (For this part, InsideView has the unfair advantage of using our own service to find critical business triggers that are relevant and compelling to the individual lead.)
The final question–What do you want me to do?–then becomes specific to the campaign or presentation. We might want the lead to register for an event, schedule a meeting, connect us with a decision-maker, or approve a purchase. Whatever the case, being direct is always the preferred option. It’s cliche, but people really don’t have the time to listen to your pitch. In fact, a message of “We’re selling X. Do you want to buy it?” has a much better chance of receiving a response than a long, flowery pitch that leaves them wondering what it is you’re asking them to do.
So there it is, the secret to successful sales and marketing. All you need to do is answer these three simple questions!