In B2B sales, our messaging has changed, even if most sales organizations haven't made any significant adjustments. Those who are using an outdated approach may feel confident they have command of the message, only to discover that their clients no longer respond positively to it. Having command of the message doesn’t matter if it is ignored or rejected.
The question isn't whether the salesperson should command the message, but the value it creates for the contacts receiving it. This post will provide you with a way to determine if your messaging is relevant and how you can gain command of it.
The Legacy Message the B2B Salesperson Commands
Most of the legacy messages are out of sync with clients because they don't create value for them. The second problem that stems from legacy messaging is that it can't fulfill its intended goal. There is mounting evidence that this legacy messaging makes it difficult to convert a first meeting to a second meeting.
Legacy Message 1:
I Am Credible because I Work for a Good Company
The legacy approach attempts to command the message that the salesperson credible and their company is trustworthy. It is easy to see why marketers and others who create the messaging find it valuable. They believe that the client is going to buy from a company they trust.
Unfortunately, the salesperson can only prove they are credible by demonstrating that they are One-Up. This position is based on the salesperson's greater knowledge and experience as it pertains to the better results the client needs.
Legacy Message 2:
My Company Is Successful
Messaging that aims to prove the company is successful and worth choosing often includes slides showing the corporate office, the executive team, their awards and accolades, and the logos of their largest and most well-known clients.
The reason this approach fails to help you command the message is that the client isn't trying to determine who to buy from before they even have a conversation with a salesperson. Again, the message is out of sync with your contacts.
Legacy Message 3:
Our "Solution" Is the Best Available
Explaining that your product or service is the best available before having a conversation with the client about their situation feels like a pitch. Salespeople using the legacy approach start by extolling the greatness of their “solution,” then try to pivot to asking about client's challenges and the better results they need. This structure is odd since the salesperson has already that determined their solution is perfect for the client, even though they do not have complete information.
Command of the message “buy my solution from my company” works against the salesperson in early sales conversations.
The Modern Sales Approach and Command of the Message
A modern approach to the command of the message can be thought of as control of the overall narrative. Instead of commanding a series of one-way messages that decision-makers and their teams may or may not find valuable, the modern salesperson educates their clients. The key to this approach is having a conversation, guided by the salesperson, about topics that are compelling and valuable to the client. This approach scores points because it enables a good decision, one that ends with the client realizing the better results they need.
Modern Message 1:
This Is Why You Have Poor Results
An executive briefing that outlines the forces and factors causing the client’s poor results, including compelling data, provides contacts with the understanding and evidence they need to change. We call this "context-locking," as it erases and replaces the client's current beliefs and offers a paradigm shift that creates new potential.
The command of this message creates value for the decision makers and their stakeholders, and in doing so achieves the goal of proving the salesperson is credible (i.e., One-Up). This is something that Legacy Message 1 attempts to do but fails because it is not centered on information that is valuable or relevant to the client.
Modern Message 2:
This Is Why You Must Change
Once the messaging uses evidence to establish the root causes of the client’s poor results, it shifts to explain the implications of not addressing them. This version of discovery uses a set of questions to help the salesperson elicit what they need to know to help the client improve their results. And the questions work on a deeper level, allowing the contacts to discover something about themselves and what they need to change.
Think of this as an exploration that encourages the client to look at their new reality and recognize what they need to do to improve their results. This approach is far more effective than asking your contacts to tell you about their problem.
Modern Message 3:
Here Is How We Are Different
The legacy approach pretends the company and its products are sources of differentiation. Command of this modern message differentiates both the salesperson and their company, something difficult to achieve without a real and effective strategy. Commanding this message allows the salesperson to explain the different models companies choose, the factors behind these decisions, and what the clients are agreeing to—often without knowing it.
Salespeople using the legacy approach attempt to differentiate themselves in the same way their competitors do, so they seem like an interchangeable commodity. A modern approach that provides insights about the decision the company is making, and what they can expect in the future, creates value through understanding.
Narrative Warfare and Command of the Message
The reason the radically different modern sales approach outperforms the legacy approach is that clients find it to be more valuable. It creates a preference to work with the salesperson and their company by proving that they can help improve the client’s results.
Command of the message is crucial, but what is more important is the message itself. If you want to improve effectiveness, be seen as credible, create value, and become truly consultative, you will need to update your messaging to reflect a modern approach.