Brand Training for the Sales Force

brand training for the sales force
The Sales Playbook is an interactive guide

Training Sales on the Brand Message

Branding is not just the province of the marketing department. Everyone in the company carries the brand promise so they must be trained on it. Most importantly, the sales staff plays a tremendous role, especially in a sales-driven company such as those in B2B markets.

It’s for that reason why we at Stealing Share nearly always conduct sales training as part of our branding efforts with clients. For many companies, the sales staff represents the primary message deliverer for the brand. That’s why it’s crucial that those reps represent the brand in the most persuasive and consistent way, and are able to fully understand their prospects more than the competition.
Our sales training is broken down into three parts

The Brand

Personality profiles for Brand training for the sales forceLays out the brand’s promise, how it relates to their own sales discussions and why it is important. (Always based on projectable, quantitative research.) The training will answer the question: Who are your customers when they use your brand?

Personalities

Based on the research, the personalities in your market will be analyzed because personality plays a significant role in the selection and purchase of all products and services. Each type is distinctive and requires a different approach. Therefore, sales reps are shown cues to which personality type they are meeting and how to craft sales messages specifically tailored to them.

Sales messages

Brand training for the sales force on temperamentsThe development of sales message are built around the brand, adjusted for the products you offer and the personalities you approach. Reps will understand what they should say to open the door, what questions to ask, what words and phrases to use, and what caveats to avoid.

All of the training elements are compiled into a sales playbook that is detailed, but actionable, and gives sales reps expert guidance in practicing the art of stealing share – taking customers from the competition.

The entire focus is to give sales reps scientific advantages over competitors and knowledge of how the brand strategy is more than an empty phrase.

The playbook and training form a roadmap to success, unifying corporate messaging and prompting customers to choose you beyond the table stakes of great service, successful products and low price.

Sell More Products. Just Think differently

How to sell more products – by thinking differently about your business

by Tom Dougherty

From the beginnings of business most of us have thought about business in terms of the products we sell. You too are used to thinking of your business like this. This is because most businesses typically originate out of someone having an idea for a product one can sell, and building a business to do exactly that.

Sell More ProductsIt remains true to form that we often continue thinking about things the way we first experience them. This way of thinking about your business makes you focus on pushing your products out the door at your customers – to get more revenues. As a form of positive reinforcement, we recognize that almost everyone thinks about business this way, so it seems obvious that this is the right way to think about your business. Why then should you consider an alternative way to think about your business?

An alternative way to think about business is needed for two reasons: • Firstly, it is much more difficult to develop competitive advantage for your products, and to sell more of them than your competitors can, if you are thinking much the same way your competitors think. • Secondly, this conventional way of thinking about your business puts the burden of selling more of your products entirely on your own resources, i.e., your efforts, and investments.

A Better Way

Changes have occurred in branding. When looking for a new way to think about your business, it is smarter to apply a principle that increases your chances of success. A promising principle is to use resources other than your own — toward selling more of your products. This way, at a very minimum, less of your own resources will be needed to sell the same amount of your products. Likewise, at maximum, leveraging both your full investment plus the external resources, you can sell even more of your product. However, are there any such external resources out there? If so, what are they and where might they be found?

Harness the Current

There are powerful dynamics already operating in the marketplace and that can be harnessed toward selling more of your products. These dynamics are motivations that already exist in the hearts and minds of your customers, namely, their preexisting desires and aspirations, and their preexisting fears and aversions. It might be as simple as a yearning to be famous, an aspiration to be successful, a fear of failure, or an aversion to being lonely.

Sell More ProductsThere are many of these motivations in the target customer for each of your products, and some of these are so extremely powerful that these customers might even be obsessive about them. The new way that you can think about business is based on making the most of preexisting motivations in the marketplace. Better still, these more powerful motivations can be put to work for your business — and this means the less effort and investment you will need to accomplish the same levels of sales of your products.

So, how do you think about your businesses in a different way that no longer regards your products at the center of your business? You do it by focusing on harnessing the motivations, (i.e., the desires and aspirations, and the fears and aversions) in the minds and hearts of customers. In this way, you shift the location of the propulsive core of your business, from its prevailing location at the center of your business — to a new location outside your business, i.e., in the hearts and minds of customers.

Sell More Products

Once you are able to step out of the product box, and can see the driver of your business OUTSIDE it — in the hearts and minds of customers, the question becomes: how can you get the most out of this driver — how can you get the most propulsive power for your business, from these desires and aspirations, these fears and aversions. This depends upon your products. Your products have to be optimally aligned to these drivers — these motivations out there in the hearts and minds of your customers. Each product may not be able to contribute to several of the desires and aspirations, or against several of the fears and aversions.

Sell More ProductsNevertheless, it is very likely that each product can contribute to at least one or more desires or aspirations, or against one or more fears or aversions. Aligning each of your products optimally with the motivations out there, involves isolating the one aspiration, or desire, or fear or aversion that packs a bigger wallop than all the other motivation in the hearts and minds of customers — for each product. These motivations will become the power drivers of your business.

These “motivational dynamics” will become the brand positionings of your products, and you will promote your products as contributing to the fulfillment of, in case of your customers’ desires or aspirations, or to the prevention/avoidance of, in the case of the subjects of their fears or aversions.

Chances are that your competition is still thinking in the product box, and is promoting this product-capability or that product benefit. While these can be “interesting” to customers, they do not intrinsically possess any emotional charge, therefore, you will be way ahead of them with your new customer motivation-based positioning, that adds external power to your own efforts and investments to sell more of your products and react to changes in branding.

Sales to Marketing. Which One Are You?

Moving from sales to marketing

By Tom Dougherty

Medical Device Manufacturers are moving from sales to marketing

Pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers share the same challenges and marketing hurdles as the manufacturers of package goods and consumer products. They will argue with you – and tell you the medical industry is too unique- but take a step outside of the

Moving from sales to marketing
Change is the root of the matter

category for just a moment and I think you will agree. The first “difference” according to medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturers is that they are sales driven rather than marketing driven. In some cases, that isn’t too far off the mark but the “difference” is quickly evaporating. In data published in 2005, pharmaceuticals were listed as the 10th largest advertisers in the US, only slightly behind US Automakers.

Their advertising grew 13.8% while domestic automotive advertising was declining by 11.7%. In 2005 alone, pharmaceutical companies spent $4.6 billion on advertising in the US alone. That data alone demonstrate that pharmaceuticals are seeing that marketing is what’s driving their sales machine. They are trying to create preference, which happens on the marketing level rather than the sales level.

No doubt, the medical device manufacturing industry will quickly be sustaining the same sea change as the pharma industry. As soon as one of the manufacturers in the category makes the investment, they will challenge all the other players to follow suit or be swept under.

We at Stealing Share see this as an inevitable shift taking place in the medical industry as a whole as companies begin to see themselves more as marketers and less as a sales force. This movement from sales to marketing isn’t the only similarity between the futures of the pharmaceutical industry and medical device one. The winners will be the ones who brew a more potent mix of emotional charge with rational support than the competition, which will still be relying on a fact-based selling argument.

Is Innovation Still an Advantage?

When you talk to sales force of these manufacturers today, they will insist that further market penetration and brand success requires that the manufacturer’s themselves “innovate” – that is, create new products and seek even more powerful proof of efficacy. They will demand that “we need to be first to market” and will seek the answers to success to be found in the products themselves. They will also pressure the marketing department to create materials that highlight product attributes and pressure the corporation itself to lower prices so that they are more competitive.

Now, we are not saying being innovative and first to market or having the best price or best products in category is not important. It is, and every manufacturer of pharmaceuticals and medical devices needs to harness all of its energy to pay these off. But even your own experience tells you that it is not nearly enough and companies run great risks by not thinking of themselves as a marketing company first. Look at your own market. Is the market leader currently the lowest priced provider? Does the market leader have the most efficacious product offering? Is the market leader leaning towards a transition from sales to marketing?

Is the market leader, the first to bring every product to market? Does the patient (or the doctor, depending on your primary customer) always choose the BEST product? The answer to these questions, most of the time is a resounding “NO.” The reason for this phenomenon is that choice and preference are rarely if ever a result of well defined cognitive reasoning. There is always an emotional element in a preference decision. More often than not, it trumps the cognitive ones. Salespersons understand this themselves. Often, after making an impassioned sales argument loaded with facts, they hear prospects searching for an emotional difference, saying, “Yes, but I still believe…” Even in those instances, the logical presentation of facts did little to nothing in affecting preference. Marketing can help with this problem and is the first step in moving to the more efficient model from sales to marketing

Emotional Triggers That Create Preference

How do you get a handle on the emotional triggers that create preference? By understanding the target market like an anthropologist understands a population – by living with them and sharing their values. Great and successful brands understand that preference and choice is dictated by the dynamic of self-identification. People, and even doctors and hospitals, prefer to purchase products that reinforce what they believe to be true about themselves. They still look for product attributes and effectiveness, but most products available to them in the market meet those criteria.

That is how the “considered set” is formulated. Successful brands, however, are preferred, not just considered. When moving from sales to marketing there is opportunity to challenge your market leader, especially if your products and services are equal to the task. Success in this quest is dependent on your own willingness to talk less about yourself and more about the values that drive your prospect. It requires understanding and fresh thinking – and sometimes that means thinking about your company as a marketing-driven one instead of a sales-driven one. The move from sales to marketing is inevitable because it is a smart economic decision. That may take something of a leap of faith. As Napoleon once said, “If winning was easy, it would be the providence of mediocre minds.”

Read about Saint Jude Medical here

Read About Biomimetic Here

Medical Device Brands

Medical Device brands Need to Learn Lessons

Metronic

 

Sales Driven to Marketing Driven

By Tom Dougherty

When Should Marketing Take a Front Seat?

Can a company transform itself from sales driven to marketing driven?

At some point in a company’s growth, there comes a time when it decides whether the product or service it offers has exponential growth opportunities. If these opportunities exist, then a strategy must be formed to take the company to its full potential. Often this involves a shift from a sales-driven focus to a marketing-driven status.

Sales Driven to Marketing DrivenAll change in the corporate world is stressful, even if it is positive change. Nevertheless, the move from sales to marketing is one of the most stressful. Why? Because it entails leaving “what brought us here” and embracing a future with which we are somewhat inexperienced. The entrepreneurial spirit that spurred the company growth in the first place needs to be harnessed and yet stimulated in a manageable way. The reason to make the change is simple: the bottom line.

If the product or service has mass appeal, it is more efficient cost-wise to market and advertise for the business than to expand the sales force. Cost per lead and cost per close should weigh in favor of advertising and marketing. If it does, then the return on investment will increase.

Top Sales People Do Not Great Marketers Make

Sales people are often put in charge of the marketing department and the mindsets are, and should be, vastly different. At times, they may well be at complete odds. Salespeople make their bread and butter by tailoring the sales argument to the prospect. If they are any good at all, they will avoid strict positioning and benefit because they know that all sales ultimately require “selling themselves.”

Sales Driven to Marketing DrivenA predetermined sales argument and a scripted benefit presentation are their worst enemy and greatest nightmare. A top sales manager will try not to interfere with what works. Marketing is different. It is not by nature one-on-one and is designed to have mass influence. It requires a discipline and marketing shrewdness that flies in the face of much of the sales experience.

The disciplines needed to make the changes are exactly that — disciplines. In addition, more often than not, the lack of discipline and unorthodox approach of division heads has accounted for their prior success. However, just as the micro management that is instrumental in building a business suffocates its eventual growth, entrepreneurial marketing will derail the attempt to harness its momentum in a corporate culture.

The Cultures Can Work Together. Changing from Sales to Marketing

The secret to building marketing success is incorporating both cultures into the new one. It is preferable to maintain the entrepreneurial spirit because it is the germ of growth and innovation, but it needs to be harnessed.

The internal combustion engine gets its horsepower because the unbridled explosion of gasoline and spark is contained and focused within the mechanics of cylinder, piston, and valve. Corporate management must find a way to fan the flames of ingenuity. They must bolster the “take charge” attitude in the company’s middle management while wrestling the marketing power from the same individual units.

A Big Difference

Sales Driven to Marketing DrivenSales vs. Marketing? Marketing requires us to look at the target audience as a whole, understand them as a group, evaluate their psychographics as well as demographics, and apply a strategy that exploits the most powerful advantage available to us. Notice that I did not say the most powerful advantages we have.

This is important because marketing that works is always single-minded. A great marketing and advertising director will seek the counsel of the sales force when creating the strategy, but will avoid running the final product by them for approval. Why? Because salespeople deal with closing the sale and need lots of benefit weapons to be successful. They view marketing and advertising as a similar beast. Sure, the zebra and the horse might look similar, but genetically they are so different that they cannot successfully mate. Great advertising and marketing requires the identification of a position in the marketplace.

Don’t Be Myopic

The big picture is important here. Know the competition. Know the terrain. Know the target market. It is not enough to understand your product or your competition’s product; you need to understand their position in the marketplace.

Sales Driven to Marketing Driven

Benefits tell only a small part of the story. If all that ever mattered was benefit and product superiority, then we would all be using Apple’s Macintosh and news from DELL would not matter to us at all. Salespeople care about benefits. Marketers care about ownership of strategic position.

The first step in building a brand position in the market is looking at your product or service in the crucible of the marketplace and identifying a germinal belief that relates to your business. What is it that the target market holds to be true in their lives? How does this understanding make your product or service a fundamental building block in their quest for fulfillment? What drives this category? What is the single most powerful statement you can make about your brand that might cause an action or change to take place in the precepts of the target audience?

Look for a Niche That You Can Own

Change the playing field and alter the selling argument. If one can successfully shift the view of the target audience, even slightly, one can mortally wound the competition. Remember, preference for a product need not be overwhelming. If your category creation can provide a simple “might be better” uncertainty to the status quo, you win. In a horse race, it is not necessary to win by a length — a nose will do just fine. No one remembers who took second place to Secretariat’s Kentucky Derby win. Yet, Secretariat won by a nose.

The Tools

Sales Driven to Marketing DrivenThe opportunity here is to look at the category as it is. Most businesses have grown organically and so have the categories. It is an advantage to look at them and redefine them through careful planning. Then we must develop an understanding of the precepts that always drive them.

Once you have analyzed the market and category, once you have evaluated the target audiences based on the strategy of identifying the beliefs that drive them, one can begin the task of owning a position. Position speaks about your company. Your position statement should be answered by the question. “Why are we here?” it is your mission statement and corporate charter distilled down to a single and simple phrase. For the target audience, it is an elevating and aspiring reach that helps pay off the brand.

Position Is Not a Sales Tool

Position is like real estate. The more secluded and free of neighbors the more valuable the property is, provided it is located in a desirable area. A powerful position is your reason to be. It is the spark that ignited the company in the beginning and is the flame that keeps it going, growing, and innovating.

Sales Driven to Marketing DrivenIt must never be static and is never defined as a product or service. The best place to start is to look at what you do and ask yourself why you do it. Every product or service you provide meets a need. We are successful only if we create a new product to meet an existing need, illuminate a new need, and fill it, or improve an existing solution to a need.

The key element in all this is the word “need.” Positions are real only in the light of a real tangible need. The more immediate the need, the more powerful the position. Our job as marketers is to define the need in unshakeable terms and bring the benefit of vision. A great position allows for growth, change, and personal benefit. Once we know what our customer holds as being necessary, we can position ourselves as the company that understands the importance of delivering it, whatever it is.

This is a subtle difference. We are talking about what we believe, not what we do — it is in this difference that the marketing position takes its breadth of life. I have seen many poor positions in my experience — positions that are unbelievable, indefensible and without real meaning. Such as providing “better products, solutions or systems.” The problem with these ideas is that they have no meaning; they talk about what you do and not why you do it. Why you do it is a differentiating benefit that influences your target market. The more distinct the position is from the competition’s claims, the more powerful it becomes.

Marketing is a Different Focus and asks us to Make Some Changes from Sales to Marketing.

Without the focus provided by a powerful and distinct marketing position, branding, advertising and marketing dollars are wasted. To that end, it is inevitable that a consistency of message and centralization of marketing power be set. All aspects of the brand and position need to be reined in and one final authority needs to exist.

beat the market le Sales Driven to Marketing Driven aderMarketing by committee means certain failure and can only be unlimited spending. David Ogilvy once said that there are no statues in the world of committees. The idea of a central theme and brand/marketing/advertising strategy is to manage spending and outperform an independent sales force. Once you have built and evaluated a position, efforts should be turned to the brand. Our theory of brand differs from the brand management used by package goods companies.

The old brand ideas have failed. Brand was supposed to protect margins against commodity products. However, I am hard pressed to name any package goods product that is not competing today on price and promotion. The care and concern of USP, tag line, logo and consistence of presence are important, but sound more like corporate identity to us than brand strategy. In the Stealing Share modern brand model, brand does not belong to you. It resides in the perception of your customer. We know that position speaks about us and proclaims our reason to be, but brand speaks about our customer and their need to become.

Marketing Needs Brand To Work

Brand is the expectation that the customer brings to the purchase of a product or service. It is the difference a customer is willing to pay for your product or service (read BRAND) over and above the accepted value of the commodity solution. In the realm of brand resides ail of your profit margins.

Sales Driven to Marketing DrivenBrand answers the question “Who am I?” which refers to the customer, not you. Everyone is in a constant state of becoming and every purchase choice one makes is an attempt at reinforcing whom we believe we are. The purpose of brand is to make the use or purchase of your product or service irresistible, to make the target audience feel incomplete without it.

This means making sure that the tenor and personality you project are in keeping with the core beliefs of you target audience. Brand attracts the customer as ice cream attracts children. Building a brand is akin to turning on the power of an electromagnet. The more amps we send through the wire, the more attractive power it influences over the iron shavings it is designed to attract. Chat live with a brand strategist for help on growing from sales to marketing.