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Product Camp Austin8 2009 Cowboy Messaging






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  • I am Kurt Ballard, a partner at ZIGZAG Marketing. I have spent 25 years in sales and marketing roles for large and small firms including General Motors, Hewitt and emerging technology and services companies. I’ve started businesses, bought/sold them, and closed them in 4 countries. That is a true global rap sheet. Most recently I was CMO at a global software firm and ran the sales, branding and strategy worldwide. I am a story teller. And our story today is about Cowboys.I have a confession to make: I have been a Cowboy.I’ve worked with Cowboys in here in the US, in Australia and even the U.K. Cowboys are everywhere.Today we’ll discuss Cowboy Messaging and some ways to corral it.
  • There are 4 basic elements to a story – The Setting is the firstComment on the split: Most of the product people work hard to create sales tools and sales people are expected to use them
  • What is “Cowboy Messaging?” Frustrated sales people feel like they’re not getting what they need to succeed from their product marketing team so they create their own freelance messages and sales tools., and before you know it, everyone is saying something different. Sales people just want to sell – to win deals. And, product marketing teams are equally frustrated because they expend tremendous efforts creating sales tools that aren’t used.Commonly referred to as “cowboy messaging” it can derail your revenue stream if not collared quickly. Ultimately, this rogue behavior wastes time, confuses buyers and loses sales not to mention potential misrepresentation should inaccurate messages become part of a contract.
  • Three of the most common risks associated with cowboy messaging are: Wasted Time. Product Marketing is creating tools of no value, while sales people spend valuable selling time creating their own messaging. This is costly on so many levels, especially time. In today’s economy sales pipelines are thin and qualified opportunities are more difficult to find. How much time and resources are lost creating tools that no one uses? Show study results. Lost sales. Confused buyers extend sales cycles and ultimately go to a competitor or do nothing at all. As buyers research potential vendors to learn who will best meet their needs they seek solutions to problems. Sales people too often talk all about the product and never mention how it will help the customer. This usually drives business away. Sales are being lost to competitors and to everyone’s arch rival “the status quo.” B2C - GM, Starbucks - missing the mark, B2B – Kodak – getting it right. Potential misrepresentation. Claims and statements of the cowboy messages often appear in proposals, statements of work and even customer contracts where the claims can become legally binding. Well-meaning sales people overpromise in the sales process and customers hold them to their words. Once the deal is won others must deliver on those promises while your sales person is off to the next deal. I’ve lived through this myself with a F500 client. Over promising and under delivering creates ill will at best and legal liabilities at worst. Any other risks come to mind?
  • The Resolution.Now, we need to discuss getting everyone on the same page. We need each hand to know what the other is up to. “It’s no longer about ears and eyeballs, it’s about hearts and minds.” So, here are 5 things that you can do.
  • First,Perform a quick collateral audit. Collect all the collateral product marketing created for sales and ask two questions of the sales team for each tool:  When do you use this tool in your sales process? It is important to know if a tool is being used and if so, when. This helps with qualification, discovery, needs analysis – from the sales process. Important considerations from the buying process are research, comparison and commitment. Knowing when a tool has the greatest utility guides the development process of future tools.How useful is it in helping you win deals? This is the evaluation step. If the tools are used, yet are not helping sales close business take another look at their content. Maybe the message needs tweaking. Every job is easier with the right tools. Using a hammer when a screwdriver is needed is frustrating. Tools that are not used should be reworked to enhance their utility.
  • Next, create a “Stop Doing” list for product marketing that includes the time they spend creating tools that are not useful in the audit.I first read about the “Stop Doing” list in “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. He stated that one of the common themes of the “Great” companies is that they all looked at what they were currently doing that they needed to Stop Doing. Collins says, “You need a laser like focus on doing first things first. And that means having a ferocious understanding of what you are not going to do.”Make a list of the tools that did not pass the audit. Measure the hours and costs associated with them. This is your Stop Doing List and the time freed up can be spent enhancing the useful tools and developing new ones.What should be on your STOP DOING LIST?
  • Now that we have a list to stop doing those things that add no uptick in revenue; take a look at identifying your best tools. Your Top 5.Get the product marketing and sales teams together in one room and don’t let anyone out until they have messaging that works and consensus on the top five collaterals that drive higher win rates. Review the tools that garnered the highest support and stack rank them. Your list may include things like product brochures, case studies, testimonials, web pages & blogs, social networking, and SEO, presentations & demos.These are the tools that win business!
  • The secret is out: Focus on Buyers and you will increase your sales. My friend, sales trainer Kevin Davis likes to call it, “Getting Into Your Customer’s Head”. Take a look at your messaging. Is it all about the company and the product? Your products and messaging must be all about the problems and challenges faced by your target audience while offering viable solutions. How well do you know your market? What are the current trends and challenges to the organizations? List them out.Telling is not selling, asking questions is the best way to engage your customers. Your tool kit should include conversational questions that highlight the challenges, and the complications they cause. What has changed in their business? What do they think should be happening now but is not? Prepare your sales team for likely questions with open ended responses that lead to further discovery and qualificationRemember, this whole process is for the buyer and they are looking for the answer to the following question, “Who offers the best solution to my problem?” When you are the best choice – you will win more deals. It may be stating the obvious, yet it’s often overlooked.
  • Finally, evaluate the ways in which you make your sales collateral available. Is it a random search process that becomes a time-consuming archaeological dig, or have you presented a navigation that’s built on the ways your salespeople think about collateral and answering customer needs? Do most of the documents deal with the front end of the buying process or the conclusion or commitment stage?It’s not enough to simply put tools on a shared network drive.Sales people are not Indiana Jones, sales people are the coin operated customer marketing is serving. Consider organizing it based on the customer problem solved or the industry vertical – not the product name. Make your tools easy to find, intuitive to use, and most of all compelling for your target buyers. By creating a sales tools library in this manner, you can lessen the time salespeople spend on collateral creation and keep your brand message on track
  • This is our framework, it’s a measureable, scalable and repeatable process product companies can use to build products and sales tools people will actually want.The objective is to get a process in place that works for you.They can be downloaded on our website.
  • Register at www.zigzagmarketing.com  

Product Camp Austin8 2009 Cowboy Messaging Product Camp Austin8 2009 Cowboy Messaging Presentation Transcript

  • Cowboy Sales Messaging & Ways to Corral It
    Kurt Ballard
    Austin, Texas
    August 15, 2009
  • The Setting
    Sales Background
    Product Background
  • “90% of marketing collateral is considered useless by sales”
    Source: Aberdeen
  • Cowboy Sales Messaging
  • The Conflict
    RISK 1
    Wasted Time!
    RISK 2
    Lost Sales!
    RISK 3
    Legal Exposure!
  • Get on the Same Page
    The Resolution
  • When do you use it?
    How useful is it?
    Marketing Collateral Audit
  • Stop Doing List
    “…have a ferocious understanding of what you are not going to do.”
    - Jim Collins
  • What are the tools that win business?
    Top 5
  • Focus on Buyer’s Minds
  • Easy to Find?
    Time-consuming archaeological dig?
  • Product Management:A Framework For Growing Revenue & Market Share
    Solutions Marketing Design/Development/QA Solutions Marketing
    Product Management
    Create a
    Plan Product Releases
    Design & Develop Products
    Rollout & Launch Products
    Design & Validate the User Experience
    Deliver Sales & Marketing Materials
    Market Drivers
    Customer Needs
    Objectives with Vision
    Target Customer Snapshot
    Segment & Size Markets
    Business Requirements
    Create Functional / Technical Requirements
    Deliver Training, Service & Support Materials
    Revenue Potential
    Target Markets
    Product & Solution Roadmap
    Market Trends
    and Drivers
    Train Sales, Service, Support
    & Channel
    Product or Service
    Validate, Prioritize
    & Set Scope
    Value Chain
    Infrastructure Readiness
    Strategic Partners
    Create Product Release Plan
    Test & Assure
    Map Core
    Competencies to
    Market Segments
    Operational Initiatives
    Approve & Communicate
    the Plan
    Commercial Readiness
    Marketing Plan
    Release to
    Marketing / Production
    Most Viable Markets
    Approve & Communicate
    the Strategy
  • Summary
    Marketing Collateral Audit
    Stop Doing List
    Top 5 Tools
    Focus on Buyers
    Collateral Library
  • “Communicate & Coordinate”
  • Workshops
    Product Positioning & Messaging
    Market Assessment & Strategic Planning
    • San Jose – September 3
    • Houston – September 10
    • Los Angeles – September 24
    • Boston – October 1
    • Dallas – October 8
    • New York – October 15
    • Orlando – October 21
    • Tampa – October 22
    • San Jose – September 2
    • Houston – September 9
    • Los Angeles – September 23
    • Boston – September 30
    • Dallas – October 7
    • New York – October 14
    • Orlando – October 20
    • Atlanta – November 11
    Register at www.zigzagmarketing.com
  • Resources for You
    Tips & Articles
    • http://www.zigzagmarketing.com/Tips-Articles/
    • http://www.zigzagmarketing.com/Resources/Webinars.html
    Join our Groups
    • http://www.linkedin.com/e/gis/45904
    • kballard@zigzagmarketing.com