Sales and Marketing – are you talking the right language?

I met another marketer for a coffee last week, and we quickly discovered we’d both cut our teeth in B2B publishing. We soon started talking about sales and marketing alignment and what working with direct sales teams had taught us.

I remember the very first time I stood up to present to a field sales office – as a product manager. The label of “from the marketing department” did nothing to put me on side from the outset and after the first slide, a barrage of objections ensued (which at the time felt like heckling). After slide two I stopped the presentation, sat down with them, and decided to take on the questions to learn what the problem was.

In short, I was speaking the wrong language and trying to answer the wrong questions.

I learned an enormous amount that day about sales and marketing.  I hadn’t thought about their sales process – and how what I was asking them to do would fit into that.  Yet that’s what they were being managed and targeted to do.  I hadn’t asked them ‘what questions work best to get a prospect to talk to you?’ and then taken the time to figure out how I could use those to align my marketing to their sale.  Or at least given them a new question that was more relevant to the new product.

A clear value proposition is an essential tool in brand positioning.  It also helps sales and marketing work as one team.  It makes clear who you serve, what problem you solve for them, and how you do that differently – in language that the client would use.

So next time you launch a proposition, make sure you involve some of your sales people in the process.  It pays everyone to think through the impact of what you’re now saying on your sales process, training and targets – before you launch.

I’m a big advocate of joining the dots behind your brand experience.  Aligning sales and marketing ensures prospective customers get a seamless introduction to your brand. With everyone speaking the same language.