by Tony Fannin, President, BE Branded
I recently had a conversation to day with a prospect’s sales manager. They were sharing their frustrations about how the company gives him no real direction on what he is suppose to be selling and how to talk about it. The company sells enterprise level software. It was started by an engineer. Like most engineers, they believed that if it’s superior, they give you all the data and algorithms, that you would come to the conclusion that they are the only choice. Like most engineers, they really don’t know how to relate to the average person, especially since it is the average person who is the decision maker on this kind of service. I know I’m generalizing and there are exceptions, but most engineers I’ve encountered have the same approach; logic, data, and technology should carry the day all by themselves. Did I mention that the founder doesn’t believe in marketing? He expects customers to “discover” him.
What I’m hearing from this sales manager is not new to me. His frustration level of not having a clear brand position or delivering an emotional appeal that meets an emotional need of his customers makes his job harder. He doesn’t feel like he has a compelling story to tell beyond just the specs and features. His experience tells him that people just glaze over when talk turns to IPM, Documentation Life Cycle Management, and Structured Product Labeling Compliance (exciting). Sales needs brand and marketing. The sales process is made easier and more effective when there is a clear brand position and solid marketing preceding the sales call. Marketing’s job is not to make sales. It’s main purpose is to attract customers so your sales efforts can turn prospects into paying customers.
Having a brand that is about who you are and not about the stuff you make or do makes your company, your sales force and your messaging more unique and hard to duplicate. Most sales people want a great story to tell (story=brand). It’s up to the company to provide that great story. Why hinder the one group of people who are on the front lines and is on your side? Why do you say, “Welcome to the company, now go out there and sell.” with no real brand support, no deep understand of how they are to contribute real value beyond the stuff, and no in depth training on what the brand means and how it interacts with their customers?
Talented sales people want to work with a company they can believe in. Ultimately, that is what a great brand offers. It provides a esprit de corps and a rally cry that is genuine and real, not hype and fake. So, if you want to give your sales force the best advantage you can, give them a brand to be proud of.