Sales Systems: Message (episode 3)
Ever been in a presentation where the presenter clearly said something like, "Starting tomorrow our new product will become available." but when leaving the presentation your normally astute colleague said: "I'm really disappointed that they are discontinuing their old product tomorrow." How is it possible that's what she heard the presenter say? That's not what you heard and clearly not what was said... Most likely she was concerned that the product she was familiar with might be discontinued, and going into the presentation she had decided that's what she might hear. To her ears, she was right. Was this the message that the presenter meant to transmit? In this simple case, probably not, however it is a good illustration of how your message can easily be influenced by the recipients' biases. Even the simplest of messages can be misheard if they are spoken to the wrong audience or fail to consider the context in which they may be received.
As we consider our messages in the context of our Sales System then, how should we proceed. There are three basic rules:
1 - Keep all messages as simple as possible
2 - Be consistent - externally and internally
3 - Align the message with your core values
Keeping the messages as simple as possible is a challenge when you want to tell people all about the wonderful stuff you are doing, but you must resist the urge. Make the effort, brainstorm with your team, ask people who don't know the company, hire a consultant; do whatever it takes, but spend the time to whittle your messages down to their purest elements. If you make Green Ice-cream, your message might be "Nothing but Amazing Green Ice-cream." Rather than something like,"The coldest, smoothest Green Ice cream in the West." Both are clearly descriptive and at first glance may appear just fine, but consider the potential subtext in the second one: by saying "The coldest and smoothest," you are telling the receiver that there may be others, by saying "In the west," you are qualifying the area where you are the coldest and smoothest, suggesting that there may be others who are colder and smoother in the East. The simpler message doesn't exactly prevent the subtext, but doesn't automatically lead the recipient to imaging competition in the same way.
Being consistent is critical. Inconsistency sends subtle messages to your audience that leads them to either be confused or mistrust you. On the mainstreet of my town there is a business that claims to sell custom antique retrofit windows. Their offices are in a quaint old-style village in an old converted house. This should be the perfect canvas to show off the good looks and quality of the work they can do. Instead, the windows of their offices are old, run-down, and poorly maintained.
I have no doubt that they are renting the space and its likely the landlord who's dis-interested in window
Unfortunately the net effect is that the appearance of their offices sends the wrong message; it cancels out anything they can say about their skills. Once again a simple example, but an important one. As you begin to scale your sales system, you may suddenly have two (or more) products with different people behind them, so making sure that all of your messaging is consistent becomes harder. Building a set of basic messaging rules into your sales system helps set a path of consistency for you and your team.
Your company has core values and key objectives. Whatever they may be, these are the guides to whatever messages you are creating. If your core values identify you as an environmentally conscious, premium brand, then your messaging should always represent those core values. Simply by following this rule you will take care of a lot of the consistency challenge right away. Bottom line, if one of your key objectives is to be the biggest and best player in your space, then your messaging should always embody that.
Why is messaging such an important part of your Sales System? The message often arrives at the customer before your salesperson, or it's what your potential customer uses to validate what that sales person has just told them. If your messaging, is simple, consistent, and aligned with your core values then you create the opportunity to make your team's job easier, make your success rate far more predictable, and set yourself up to effectively grow revenue.