Sales and Marketing Performance Blog

Buyer-relevant Messaging vs. Features and Benefits

Posted by Mark Gibson on Fri, Feb 08, 2008

Sales and Marketing Messaging Alignment is a relatively new phenomenon for many technology companies and the potential value from this process is often poorly understood.

Many early stage (and mature) technology companies are inwardly focused and obsessed with product features and benefits and trying to differentiate their me-too products vs their closest competitors.  

I started my sales career in Adelaide in 1981 with mainframe dinosaur Control Data and was an immediate failure. I will never forget my frustration in trying to translate the product features (rotational speed of the 300Mbyte disk drive and the speed of the CYBER 720 CPU) into meaningful conversations with prospective clients. That lesson was to serve me well later in my career, but when I joined it didn't matter that CDC was about to hit the wall like the proverbial bug on the windscreen....I just wanted to sell.

I had call reluctance at Control Data because I didn't know what to say to buyers after I said hello, and I have found it alive and well in many technology companies today.

In the past, successful technology salespeople by necessity have had to translate the "features & benefits" output of product marketing into meaningful conversations with buyers. These natural sales people, (the top 5-10%) have been able to figure out relevant product capabilities and relate them to prospective buyers needs, but the remainder of sellers have typically struggled to discover how to sell their company products.

It's time to bury this feature & benefits approach and stop wasting salespeople's time and valuable marketing funds. Buyers today are much more savvy and are always asking these four questions;

  • who are you?
  • what are you selling?
  • what'll it do for me?
  • can you prove it?

Often buyers will know more about a corporation's products than the sales-person, as their job may hinge on making a correct technology buying decision and they will have used the Internet extensively and their Social Networks to research possible alternatives and learn from colleagues experience.

The role of the salesperson today is to create value for the customer by engaging the client in conversations around their business issues, diagnosing needs and creating a vision of how the client could us their products to solve their specific problems.

Marketing's role is generate leads and to work with sales to create a series of core value creation statements that are relevant to buyer needs; that sales can use immediately - without translation; and that buyers can easily understand.

This Buyer-relevant selling approach effectively aligns marketing and sales around consistent value-based messaging to the customer, and it is growing rapidly in adoption.

We believe that Sales and Marketing Alignment and creation of Buyer-relevant Messaging should be the #1 priority for sales and marketing teams today as this process in itself generates leads and captures sales knowledge. If you would like to know more about this process and the E-learning course to create your own aligned sales and marketing messaging, please contact us.

Sales and Marketing Messaging Alignment

Topics: marketing messaging

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