Bridging the Gap Between Marketing and Sales – Part 1: Show Your Sales Team Some Love

Tanya CandiaTips of the Trade

Marketing and sales teams often find themselves at loggerheads, due to different timelines, expectations and measures of success. This is the first in a series of posts with concrete ideas on how to bridge the gap between sales and marketing. We begin by tackling the topic of how marketing can make sales enablement more relevant and useful.

Cast your mind back to your company’s last annual sales kick-off and training session. A multi-day event, the time is spent educating the team about new products, enhancements and partnerships while generating enthusiasm, building team spirit, and recognizing accomplishments. But all too often the hours of “death by presentation,” multiple key messages for multiple products, and a constantly-shifting technology landscape can easily turn “sales enablement” into “sales overload.” If we tackle the three principal problems that generally accompany sales training, we can help our sales teams be more effective and make our solutions more interesting.

Problem #1: Too many products. Many sales people must juggle multiple products, some their own and some that are complementary or supplementary products from partners. It’s hard enough just remembering the names of all the products, much less all the detailed specifications and use cases.

Problem #2: Too many messages. Each product has its own set of “must remember” messages including features, functionality, specifications, and of course, potential benefits to the customer.  The human brain has an 8-second attention span and can focus on 3-7 items at a time. So how can you hope to cram in thousands of items and expect to remember 1/10 of them?

Problem #3: Information is dry. Long bullet lists of features blend together after the first few hours (or minutes). Lots of buzzwords and vague terms can make it impossible to learn the important points about new or updated products.

Now for some suggested solutions.

The solution to too many products and too many messages is KISS (keep it simple, stupid).  For each product, keep to a maximum of three messages. Look at these as kill shots, designed to position your product ahead of any competitor’s product or the dreaded “do nothing” option. Support each with easy-to-remember examples and sound bites.

The solution to dry information is – drum roll – make it interesting. The reason for the intense focus on personas and storytelling over the past few years is that information related to real people solving real problems is much more memorable. For each of the three key messages, create a use case, relate it to a customer case study, or come up with a visual analogy to remember them.  Where possible, have real customers come to sales training and tell their stories in their own words. Remember, the more vivid the information, the better it will be retained.

About the Author

Tanya Candia is the author of several engineering and marketing books, including the five-book series “Starting Your Startup” published by IEEE. She has held senior executive positions in technology companies, and works with organizations around to world to develop and implement winning strategies.

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