HomeBlog Developing Sales-Ready Messaging for the “Three Feet” Conversation

Developing Sales-Ready Messaging for the “Three Feet” Conversation

July 24, 2015 | By Jim Ninivaggi

  • Often, messaging is developed that is too internally focused, without knowledge of the “three feet” conversation
  • The “three feet” conversation refers to the conversation the sales rep conducts while sitting across from a buyer
  • To create compelling messaging that’s truly sales-ready, consider how to differentiate your messaging in a way that’s provable

Messaging is hot. Marketing and sales organizations are spending considerable time, money, resources and effort creating compelling messaging for their sales reps. The problem with much of this messaging is that it’s often developed by people who never actually talk to buyers.

With the best intentions – and often great insights and content – messaging is developed that is not quite ready for the “three feet” conversation – the conversation the sales rep conducts while sitting across from a buyer. Too often the messaging is too internally focused, lacks differentiation, can’t be backed up or is so obvious it’s easily dismissed.

To help create messaging for your reps that's truly sales ready, here are four questions to ask yourself. I’ve used them in my previous life as a sales and marketing leader with very good results:

“So what?”

This helps avoid messaging statements that are too internally focused. In essence, it helps reps articulate what or how a claim will benefit the buyer. Here’s an example of how this might work on a call:

Statement: “We are a global provider, with offices around the world.”

So what?

“I noticed that you have offices around the world as well, and will need to deploy a solution globally.”

So what?

“We are positioned not only to roll this out domestically, which is your immediate need, but also to roll it out to your offices around the world, with localization and in-country support.”

“Can our competitors realistically say the same thing?”

We are all proud of our own companies and offerings – and truly believe we are unique and better than the competition. However, we need to view ourselves and our messages in in the mirror of reality to see if our “unique differentiators” are, in reality, not unique or differentiated:

Statement: “We are the leading platform for blah, blah, blah.”

If you can replace your company name with your competitor’s (i.e., can they realistically make the same claim?), then it’s messaging that will sound “me, too” to buyers. Trust me. Here at SiriusDecisions, we are briefed by vendors every day to learn about their solutions. We always ask, “What makes your company or offerings unique?” We often get the same answers from five different competitive companies. If they all can claim it, how can it be unique or a differentiator?

“Can we prove it?”

This is a big one. There is nothing worse than sending your reps into a call unprepared to back up a messaging statement with hard data and facts. The first time a buyer asks, “Can you prove what you just said?” and the rep looks like the proverbial deer in headlights, he or she will never use that messaging again. For example:

Statement: “We have the best support in the industry.”

Can you prove that?

“Research from a leading third-party analyst firm places our company as the best for post-implementation support. Here’s the study.”

Is this statement obvious?

Finally, consider whether a buyer would think, “Well, I would hope so” in response to your rep’s messaging. These are the throwaway statements that we use every day, and buyers have become numb to them. For example:

“We do it right the first time.” (Well, I would hope so.)

“We come in on time and on budget (Well, I would hope so.)

“We’re customer-centric and put you first. (Well, I would hope so.)

“We will do everything we can to make you successful.” (Well, I would hope so.)

You get the idea…

By asking and answering (with brutal honesty) these four simple questions, you can create messaging that works. It will pass the “three feet” test, your reps will actually use it, and it will truly separate your company and its offerings from the competition. 
 
Is you messaging sales ready?  Leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts.

 

Jim Ninivaggi

Jim Ninivaggi is Service Director, Sales Enablement Strategies, at SiriusDecisions. Jim’s focus is on helping to deliver data, knowledge and insight that our clients need to improve sales performance and drive ROI. Follow Jim on Twitter @jninivaggi.
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