#3 – Effective Sales Messaging (STSF Core Components)

By David Masover

Hi, welcome to episode number three of The Sales Team Success Formula™

The first 10 episodes of the podcast are designed to be like an audiobook version of The Sales Team Success Formula™, but I didn’t actually write the book – I did these podcasts instead!

In other words, if you really want to take a deep dive into exactly what The Sales Team Success Formula™ is, how it works, what the pieces are, and what it’s going to do for you and your team, listen to episodes one through ten.

It’ll take you a couple of hours to get through all ten core content episodes just like an audiobook would, but by the time you’re done, you’re going to have all the details.

You can start with episode one that’s going to give you an overview of the formula and then decide if you want to listen to the rest. 

Here in episode three, we’ll cover effective sales messaging and why drilling deep into the problems that you solve for prospects and clients HAS to be the core of your messaging strategy and how to develop and utilize these problems in a variety of sales communications.

And here is what you will find in the other episodes:

EPISODE 1:  Introducing The Sales Team Success Formula™

EPISODE 2:  Target Client Profiling

EPISODE 3:  Effective Sales Messaging

EPISODE 4:  The Four Level Sales Process™

EPISODE 5:  Personal Sales Plans

EPISODE 6:  KPIs & Metrics

EPISODE 7:  Sales Tools & Tech

EPISODE 8:  Call Reviews

EPISODE 9:  Deal Reviews & Pipeline Reviews

EPISODE 10:  Putting the Formula Into Action

Thanks for your interest in The Sales Team success Formula™ – and here’s to your success!

Transcription

Hi, and thanks for being here for The Sales Team Success Formula podcast where we’ll dig deep into what you need to know about the formula to help super charge your B2B sales organization and set you up to reap the benefits of better and more consistent execution from your front line reps, better integration with tech and tools, better visibility and analytics for insight and oversight, and more effective strategies for managing up the team to greater and greater effectiveness over time.

I’m your host and the creator of The Sales Team Success Formula David Masover, and I’m really glad you are here for episode three.

Now I’m going to assume that you’ve listened to episodes one and two where I spell out a brief overview and the basics of the formula in episode one and also where I give a pretty detailed outline about what to expect in the first 10 episodes of the podcast which I do in episode two.

As a quick reminder, the first ten episodes will be a walk through the core elements of The Sales Team Success Formula from start to finish so that if you want to do this yourself with your team this will give you a solid picture of what you need to work on, or of you are thinking about working with me on it you’ll know exactly what to expect, how its going to work, and what you’ll get out of it at a very detailed level before we even get started.

So this is episode three, and in these first episodes, we’re going to focus on what reps do in the field, because – of course – that’s critical and also because in a well functioning sales organization this is the driver of effective sales management activity.

The harsh reality is this – too many sales managers and leaders simply don’t have a detailed view of what their reps do to get sales, and the work reps do is random, far from optimized, and nowhere near consistent for each rep let alone for the team as a whole.

To remedy this, and in the program, and when building out the formula, we are driving for what I call Co-Created Clarity which means that we take a kind of archeological approach to uncovering what’s happening in the field now with the team so that we know what we’re starting with, and then optimizing all of that before we integrate it into management systems – but critically, we do that WITH the entire team to make sure that A) that we get the whole picture, B) that what we come up with represents what really happens on the front lines, and C) – and this is critical – that we get agreement and buy in across the team.

Too many sales managers and leaders – with or without sales trainers or consultants – come up with ideas for improving the performance of the sales team in isolation and then Impose those ideas on the team, and they don’t fit well, there is no buy in, there is no agreement, and the initiatives fall flat – even the good ones – because your sales team is a system made of people. Co-Creating Clarity is about working with your people to build your models, and to bring the people on your team along with you towards increased effectiveness.

Leadership is in large part about communication and collaboration – if you want to dictate, get into some kind of business where the people dealing with your prospects and customers don’t need to think to do their work, but if they do, then make them a part of the process if you want the process to take hold and to be something you can build on.

I spoke at length about Co-Created Clarity in the last episode, and we’ll do a full episode on Co-Created Clarity soon after we finish the 10 foundational episodes, but for now let’s continue with the work we’ve started around what reps do in the field – the things you need to start Co-Creating with your reps to lay the foundations for The Sales Team Success Formula in your sales organization.

So in Episode 2 we talked about Target Client profiles, and in this episode we’re going to focus on effective sales messaging – so we covered who to talk to, now it’s about what to say and how to say it.

After this we’ll get into what reps need to do with each opportunity when we explore the Four Level Sales Process in the next episode of this podcast, episode four, and then how to manage all opportunities with a Personal Sales Plan in episode five. After that, we’ll spend episodes six through ten working on integrating clarified and optimized rep activity into sales management systems including KPIs, metrics, tools, tech and how to support and hold reps accountable.

But effective sales messaging – what we’ll cover right now – this is huge – and something that almost every sales team I meet gets at least a little bit wrong, most get it a lot or completely wrong.

Now to be clear, when I work with sales teams on the formula – even with all of the things that we need to cover – we spend about 25% of our time on messaging – it’s that important – and we can’t give it full justice in a single podcast episode, but let’s take on the big pieces as a point of departure here.

To address effective messaging for your sales team as quickly and efficiently as possible, I have found it useful to take teams through a four step process:

  • First, understand the importance of a problem focused perspective AND recognize the extent to which you are not doing that now even though you might think that you are.
  • Second, identify the real problems you solve for prospects from their perspective
  • Third, create short and impactful expressions of these problems you can use with prospects and clients like small sentences and brief business success stories that you can use as components within communications
  • And fourth, build out some communications like emails, voice mails, cold calls, demos, discovery calls, positioning statements,  introductions, etc. using the building blocks we created in steps two and three

So let’s go through those four steps now so that you can get a feeling for what this will be like when you implement the effective messaging portion of Sales Team Success formula with your team.

Let’s start by taking about those problems!

If you look for content on the web or in books or on social or anywhere that people are talking about sales and marketing communications, you won’t have to look far before you hear folks talking about solving problems. 

Building your sales communications around the problems you solve for prospects from their perspective and as it relates to their world is not a new idea, it’s not a secret, it makes total sense – but – here’s the thing.

Almost every sales organization I see doesn’t do this well if at all, even though almost all of them think they do – you really need to be honest with yourself here, it seems to be very easy for most folks to just check the box and think they are done when in fact they are very far from it.

What do they talk about instead of the problem they solve for prospects and customers?

Themselves.

Their product, the features, the benefits, accolades of the company, “logos” they have captured.

And the truth is, I am almost embarrassed to be saying this here – everyone says this – you can’t get into good content about how to improve sales and marketing messaging without folks like me starting with what I’ve started with – target well, and have problem focused messaging

But why? Why does everyone start here?

The simple truth is this – your prospects don’t care about you. I’m sorry Dorothy, they just don’t.

What do they care about?

Well, think about yourself and what’s on your mid when you start work each day – most people care about the problems they have to solve and the opportunities they have to excel, which are often only possible if you solve some problems first.

So if you want to connect with someone who might eventually agree to release some of the companies money in exchange for whatever it is that you have or do, they need a good reason to do so – their reason, not yours.

When you talk about you and your stuff, you are effectively saying to them “we have this really great stuff, can you please figure out if it makes sense for you to buy it?

That’s not going to get you far. You are relying on the prospect to make the key connection here, and you shouldn’t outsource that to them if you want to be more successful here!

It is MUCH more effective to have messaging that bridges that gap for them, with a format something like “we’ve helped a lot of people just like you solve problems just like the ones you are experiencing now – can we talk about how we can help you with that?”

You’ll use different language, and we’ll get to that in a few minutes, but that’s got to be the core message if you want to get peoples attention and lead them to a place of taking action to buy what you are selling. 

But first, here’s your challenge.

You have to start by recognizing that you are NOT talking about the problems you solve right now. 

Even if you think you are, stop and take a minute to think about what it says on the home page of your web site, or what your cold outreach scripts look like, or your demo if you do one of those – which is probably a walk through the product that happens the same every time until you ask if there are any questions.

Be honest, and be critical.

If you are like most of the companies I work with, you might believe that your team does talk about prospect problems – but with a closer look you’ll see that this is not really true.

When I work with teams on The Sales Team Success Formula and we get to this part of the program, I’ll ask for examples in some creative exercises and when I ask for the problems that the teams solve  I’ll usually hear things like this – which folks think are expressions of problems, but if you dig deeper, it’s really about them.

For example, you might ask your team to list the problems you solve, and someone might say something like:

  • We build beautiful websites

or

  • We provide secure storage in the cloud

or

  • We give expert advice on managing regulatory issues around medical devices

None of those are problems, they are expressions of what you sell.

Problems related to those things in the minds of your prospects would sound more like this:

  • Instead of “We build beautiful websites”, try We’re getting a decent amount of traffic to our website but a very small percentage are converting to leads

or

  • Instead of “We provide secure storage in the cloud try “We need to work collaboratively across different offices in different time zones but we always have trouble keeping track of the work and most of the cloud based solutions make us nervous about protecting our IP

or

  • Instead of “We give expert advice on managing regulatory issues around medical devices” try We’ve had a lot of success selling our medical devices in Europe, but we’d really like to enter the Chinese market and we have no idea where to start with the medical regulations required to do so.

See the difference?

So to start getting more problem focused with your messaging start by listing out the problems you solve for the Target Client Profiles that you came up with as described in episode 2 – and be ruthless.

One simple test that will help with this exercise is to look at each suggested problem and ask if it fits into one of these sentences from the perspective of the prospect:

It really sucks that or when…

I hate it that or when…

I’m really frustrated that or when…

If the problems you come up with fit those sentences, then they may well be the actual problems that your prospects face.

To help with this, I like to imagine what’s going through the prospects mind when they leave a meeting, or end a phone call, or get an email that puts the problem right into their mind – and how they are thinking about it right then.

This kind of thinking will get you to the right point of departure when it comes to thinking about the problems you solve from the perspective of the people you hope will give you some of their money to let you help them solve those problems.

So as a first step in building more effective messaging, embrace the idea that you have to be talking about the problems you solve for prospects and customers if you want to earn the right to the attention you need to eventually win the business, and then look at your Target Client Profiles and list out the problems you solve for prospect and customers the way they think about them.

So imagine your ideal prospect sitting in their office having just gotten off of the phone or out of a meeting or having just received an email about the problem you solve as it affects them and they say to themselves one of this magic sentences:

It really sucks that or when…

I hate it that or when…

I’m really frustrated that or when…

This can even be a fun exercise for a sales team meeting.

Build a list of problems that complete those sentences for your prospects and you’ll be off to a great start. Doing this with your team will help you dig deep into the collective experience and you’ll build up a good list in no time, but be disciplined to be sure that what you come up with are really problems as the prospect feels them and are expressed from their perspective.

Now this list of problems by itself won’t get you all of the way there, because you wouldn’t talk to your prospects and clients using the “it sucks when” language – but that’s OK. We’ve got the problems now, the next step is to map out how to use them and how to say them effectively.

The easiest way to do this is to template this out with template sentences that can be stated as positives in the form of benefits or negatives in the form of problems you solve:

Now I’m going to read out a bunch of examples here that might be hard to capture from an audio podcast if you want to do that, so please know that the transcript of this episode is available either wherever you listen to podcasts or from the podcast section of my website at www dot David Masover dot com, and if you can’t find it there –  just reach out to me and I’ll hook you up with the templates.

So – let’s look at these template sentences –

For example, you might have a template that goes

  • [Target Client Profile Company] looks to [Our company] when… [insert the PROBLEM you solve expressed as a problem or benefit]
    • For Example:
      • Law firms in the south east look to ABC Speed Surf when they want to improve the speed and accuracy of legal documentation search and retrieval for corporate litigation cases

Or maybe you want to talk about the role you help instead of the company, so you could use something like

  • [Target Client Profile Role] look to [Your product/service/company] when… [PROBLEM you solve]
    • For Example:
      • CFOs of mid-sized manufacturing firms look to ABC Account Services when they want to streamline expense filings across remote and highly distributed teams and departments

Or you could go with the ever popular “we help” model, which sounds like this:

  • We help [Target Client Profile – company] who are looking to… [PROBLEM you solve]
    • For example
      • We help commercial real estate firms optimize listing management across all of their internet properties from a centralized hub

Or, you can use the same basic formats and phrase them as problems rather than benefits

  • We help [Target Client Profile – company] who’s struggling with/frustrated by… [PROBLEM you solve]
    • For example
      • We help commerical reps estate companies who are tired of managing all of their internet properties individually on each platform where they list

or

  • [Our company] helps [Target Client Profile – company] when/to… [PROBLEM you solve]
    • For example
      • We help commercial real state firms optimize internet properly management when they get to a point when they have too many to manage individually

Once you have these simple sentences that are reflections of real problems that your prospects face and expressed in a way that your prospects will relate to them, you are well on your way.

But there is one more building block that is worth a quick mention and then I’ll give you a few examples of how to use them in communications, and this is what I call the Business Success Story.

We hear all of the time about the power of story – which is great, and scientifically proven with those newfangled FMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machines. We know all about the idea that our brains have been hard wired for stories since we all gathered at the pre-historic campfires to listen to them, and that our brains get shots of things like dopamine, and oxytocin when we hear them.

So that’s all well and good, but what kind of stories are we supposed to be telling and how can we craft some that are not only effective with our prospects but that our salespeople can remember and keep as ammunition to be used when needed.

And that’s where this simple construct of the “Business Success Story” can be really helpful.

The Business Success Story is a simple story model that starts with the list of problems that you solve for prospects that you just created and easily morphs into a short, impactful, powerful story that your reps can sprinkle into all kind of client and prospect communications.

So what is the model for the Business Success Story? Here it is:

  • A company came to us because…
  • …so we did something…
  • …and now…

That’s it. Clean and simple.

  • A company came to us because…
  • …so we did something…
  • …and now…

So what is the homework here?

Go back to the list of problems you solve, think about a company you solved each problem for and the outcome they realized because of your solution, and write out LOTS of examples.

Here are a few samples to get you started. First, one from my sales consulting business about a legal search engine firm I worked with, and then one that we crafted for them:

Here is mine about them:

A legal search engine company came to us because they wanted a more systematic approach to selling their services in new markets…

…so we worked together on process, messaging, metrics and systems…

and now they are confidently going after new business and are adding more people to the team to help their expansion efforts

And here is the one they worked on about their business:

…so they are talking about their clients, which are generally law firms

A law firm came to us because they were tired of spending so much time on legal research and still not getting the most complete and up to date results…

…so we showed them how we could help…

…and now they are spending a lot less time on searches and are getting much better results, much faster than they were before

It’s good to sprinkle in as much specificity into these Business Success Stories as you can without compromising the identify of your client if that’s important, or other confidential information. But naming the company by name, or category – something to add specificity AND adding specificity that matches up to the prospect you are talking to.

That’s why we want to make a lot of these.

If you are talking to a medium sized real estate management company in Florida, then it pays to mention another real estate management company in the region, or just say “we worked with a medium-sized real estate management company in (some other city in the same state)…

Your goal is to have the prospect think to themselves “yeah, they solved a problem like I have for someone just like me – maybe they can solve my problem too.”

Do that, and you are definitely in the game!

So we’ve come a long way here – we have a new appreciation for using problems in our communications, we recognize that we may not have been doing this as much as we thought or should, we have list of problems that we solve for prospects, we have a way to express them in short sentences and we have a model for baking those problems into short and impactful business success stories.

So what are we going to do with all of this stuff?

Here’s the good news – now that we have this stuff built, plugging them into models for cold calls, emails, and other communications is really easy.

Let me share just a few with you now and then we can wrap up.

Let’s use a cold call as a model, because if you can nail that you can nail just about anything in sales communication. Here are two models that can work well if you aim them at the right people and fill them with good expressions of the problems you solve for them.

The first is a simple bullet point listing of the problems, like this:

Hi you this is me, the reason I’m calling is because we’re having a lot of success helping <TARGET CLIENT> who are frustrated by

  • PROBLEM 1
  • PROBLEM 2
  • PROBLEM 3

Is that something you’d like to learn more about?

And here is what an example of that model might sound like:

Hi Sam this is David with ABC Speed Surf. The reason I’m calling is because we’re having a lot of success helping commercial real estate firms in the tri-state area who are frustrated by

  • Too many internet properties to manage
  • No consolidated analytics across all of their internet advertising efforts
  • Multiple fees and contracts for the many online listing services they need to engage.

It it worth talking about how we can help you solve issues like that?

or, you can use a business success story model:

Hi you this is me, the reason I’m calling is because we’re having a lot of success helping <TARGET CLIENT> who are frustrated by <PROBLEM YOU SOLVE>

For example, <BUSINESS SUCCESS STORY>

I’d like to introduce myself and <MY COMPANY> personally, I only need 10-15 minutes whenever it is convenient. Do you have time this week or maybe next week?

Fleshed out, that might sound like this:

Hi John this is David with ABC Web Services, the reason I’m calling is because we’re having a lot of success helping commercial real estate firms in the tri-state area who are frustrated about managing their internet properties across a too large number of platforms

For example, Pristine Properties in Kansas City came to us when they realized that they needed to hire another person on staff to manage all of their internet properties effectively.

We did an assessment of their current engagements and integrated everything they had into our centralized dashboard.

Now they are not just not going to hire someone new, but the person they had managing the platforms before now spends only about 20% of their time managing everything which frees them up for other important tasks.

I’d like to introduce myself and ABC Web Services to you personally, I only need 10-15 minutes whenever it is convenient. 

Do you have time this week or maybe next week?

So this has been a long episode with a lot of nitty gritty details on a very important topic – we spent a lot of time getting into the weeds and not all of the podcast episodes will be like this but getting your messaging right is so critical. If your people are saying the right things the right way to the right people you are going to get yourself into more and better opportunities that are better set up for success because they start with what is most important to the prospect – solving their problems!

If you want to get this right you are going to need to do a lot of collaborative work here and probably across many iterations.

You’ll also need to overcome the inertia of having your reps articulate sales messaging the way they have always done it. I worked with a client recently who went through The Sales Team Success Formula program with me and the team was really into this section – participated, came up with great problems and expressions and stories and models for communication – and then a month later they installed call recording software and the sales leader told me that the messaging hadn’t changed a bit!

So it’s not enough to do this work and then put it in a drawer, and this is true for all of The Sales Team Success Formula which is why we START with what reps do, and build on that by integrating tools and management oversight, support, and accountability into all of that to make sure that not only have the best ways of doing things been documented, but that they are actually being deployed effectively and are improving over time, just like the results from your sales organization – which is probably what you are after if you are listening to this podcast!

OK – so there you have it – a brief treatise on effective messaging.

In the next episode, we’ll continue our exploration of what salespeople do by taking the next logical step – now that reps are talking to the right people and saying the right things the right way, some of those conversations will turn into opportunities, so the next thing to explore is how reps can manage these individual opportunities in a way that is not only incredibly effective, but also in a way that sets up effective management and collaboration, designed to be used with tech and tools, and which sets up a KPI structure to encourage a simple way to more than double sales effectiveness in a short period of time.

So be sure to check out Episode four coming up on The Four Level Sales Process, and be sure to reach out to me directly if you’d like to find out what the formula can do for you and your team. To get in touch to discuss if the program is a good fit for you right now, head over to my website at www dot sales team success formula dot com and sign up for a one-on-one consultation and assessment with me and we can explore together whether this program is your best next move for B2B sales growth and scalability.

Thanks for listening, and until next time.