On this episode of the Sales Gravy Podcast, Jim Karrh, Ph.D. and Jeb Blount discuss the essentials of sales messaging, how poor communication skills damage your brand, the stories we tell ourselves and our prospective customers, and what the advent of automation tools like Chat GPT means for salespeople. You’ll learn how to translate marketing messages into effective sales conversations, whether in person, virtually, or over the phone.
Prioritize positioning and lead the conversation to close more deals
CMOs and marketing teams must take ownership of the writing that their salespeople produce. This can be accomplished by incorporating writing development into sales training and coaching efforts
Use empathy and insight to connect with prospects and ensure that you establish trust at the beginning of the sales conversation.
Focus on the buyer’s problem and the urgency behind it, rather than just promoting the product’s features and benefits. Then, simplify messaging to get customers to say yes and move forward.
Create a framework and sequence for conversations, especially in discovery and closing conversations.
Use automation tools like Chat GPT to improve written communication, but remember that authenticity is key and phony, robotic messaging won’t close deals.
Strategic Messaging Is Crucial For Any Sales or Marketing Organization
In today’s market, it’s increasingly difficult to find and take full advantage of precious sales opportunities. That’s why it’s so important to prioritize positioning and lead the conversation to close more deals.
At the University of Alabama, Jim Karrh, Ph.D. teaches coursework around innovative marketing and sales messaging. His curriculum is informed by his background in B2B consulting and his previous experience as a CMO for a private company.
During his time as a CMO, Jim became frustrated with the sales team’s inability to effectively communicate the brand’s core messaging to both their direct sales team and independent distributors.
This experience led Jim to focus on bridging the gap between marketing and sales in his consulting work with B2B sales teams. Now, Jim uses his understanding of communication and psychology to help improve the practical day-to-day realities of salespeople and sales leaders.
Writing Ability Is Key For Clear Communication
Salespeople, even those with a college education, often face challenges with writing. If you’re a leader and observe this trend within your organization, rest assured you’re not alone. Nonetheless, writing and communication skills hold immense value and should be seamlessly integrated into your sales training and coaching efforts.
It’s common for individuals to believe they lack writing ability, but in roles like sales, management, or leadership, writing is an essential skill—and usually an untapped secret weapon.
Writing compels you to structure your ideas coherently, enhancing focus on essential aspects, connecting concepts, establishing sequence, refining structure, and avoiding unnecessary wordiness. This process instills discipline, thereby fostering improved thinking and communication. Sadly, it’s a rare skill and discipline in today’s professional landscape.
The importance of writing extends beyond mere formality; it reflects our value as professionals. Throughout the selling process and in the eyes of customers, how we sound and come across in writing can significantly influence judgments.
Teams often need to revisit this aspect as people may not possess the ability to write naturally due to a lack of prior teaching or experience. By addressing this deficit and incorporating writing development into training, individuals can unlock their full potential as effective communicators and salespeople.
Poor Written And Verbal Communication Is Killing Your Brand And Your Bottom Line
If you’re a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), your salespeople can damage your brand if you allow them to write poorly. The responsibility for this falls on you and your marketing organization. Marketing should not write everything for salespeople because that approach can be disastrous, but every time a salesperson interacts with a customer, they become the face of your brand, so it’s crucial that marketing monitors what salespeople write.
This is because writing can make or break a deal. Sales are often won or lost by a small margin, and emotions play a significant role in decision-making. If your writing is sloppy, you’ll put yourself in a position to lose the deal. This is no different from showing up to a meeting looking unprofessional.
If you’re a salesperson, leader, or trainer, you should spend time teaching people how to write for business.
Verbal communication is also crucial because you’ll be presenting to customers. However, in most cases, someone else will read your written proposals. This person may be in middle management or have to seek approval from someone else. If they can’t understand your writing, you’ll lose the deal.
CMOs and marketing teams must take ownership of the writing that their salespeople produce. By doing so, they can ensure that their brand is protected and that they have a better chance of winning deals. Salespeople, on the other hand, should focus on improving their writing skills to communicate effectively with customers.
Your Message Should Be Easily Translated
Whether it’s writing or speaking, it’s crucial to be clear and concise in your message. Salespeople, in particular, need to have well-structured messaging that not only gets the point across in the moment but can also be easily retold and shared with others.
Sales messaging needs to be tight and well-structured, as buying teams are generally larger and more complex than ever before. Your message needs to be memorable and easily translated for someone else when you’re not around. This is what sets you apart from the competition and establishes your identity as a problem solver.
Professionals communicate like human beings in an authentic conversation, walking the customer through how they will solve the problem and what the results will be. The ability to stand in front of another human being, tell a story, and connect with them on a personal level is a valuable skill for salespeople. However, relying too much on charisma can lead to suboptimal income and even harm your brand.
As a salesperson, you can control and manage what comes out of your mouth and what you write. It’s important to take the time to structure your message effectively, so it can be easily remembered and shared. This is what will ultimately set you apart and make you a successful problem solver.
How To Improve Your Sales Messaging For A Winning GTM Strategy
Regardless of whether you’re responsible for revenue, on the sales team, a frontline manager, an individual rep, or working on the marketing or product side of things, all those involved in messaging and driving sales face challenges.
Bringing together sales and marketing is consistently viewed as both a goal and a challenge. So what can we do about that? You mentioned the influence of chemicals in the brain and the importance of conversation structure. Let me unpack what you said.
As a training development company, you probably have a conversation with companies that fit your ideal customer profile. You know which companies will be most valuable to talk to, and you focus on those that are committed to developing their people and have a track record of doing so. This means you’re having the right conversation with the right kind of organization.
You also know that certain words can make a difference in that conversation, such as using “because,” “recommend,” and “options.” You’ve developed a discipline around the preparation and tactics of your message, including the stories you share, the questions you ask, and how you actively listen and reflect back to move the conversation forward.
All of this comes together to create a finely honed discipline that everyone in the company needs to think through to make great sales messages and tailored conversations that are memorable, distinctive, and likely to bring value. Over time, this kind of discipline becomes more natural, but it is not our natural state as humans. We are built for comfort and pleasure.
Human Brains Are Wired For Stories
The human brain is wired for stories and follows a pattern throughout history. This applies to sales and messaging too. There are different types of messaging, such as prospecting, creating interest, and getting to the next step. The goal is to create a picture that makes someone feel unique. Messaging also builds your business case, outlining the challenge, recommendation, and outcome.
When organizations don’t understand this, sales and marketing suffer. Simplify messaging to get customers to say yes and move forward. Understand messaging progression and how the human brain operates.
Establish trust at the beginning to get more time with the customer. Follow the hero’s journey pattern, showing the customer a better place. The challenge comes with multiple stakeholders, each with their own outcomes. Tell stories that connect with each stakeholder based on what’s important to them.
It’s important to simplify messaging and understand how the human brain operates to get customers to say yes and move forward. Our brains are not wired for selling conversations focused on the customer or prospect. We are wired for comfort and pleasure, and talking about ourselves. Understand the other person’s perspective based on research and work done. Use empathy and insight to connect with prospects.
Establish trustworthiness through empathy and expertise. Conversation is where empathy is demonstrated, and where language is learned to reflect back in messaging. Listening is vital to make people feel significant. Repeat back what they say in your messaging to make them feel understood and trust you.
How to Structure Your Sales Messaging
In the beginning of a sales conversation, sellers must establish a sense of urgency and determine a need for change. Once they are able to identify what needs to change for the prospect and why now is the right time, they should seek to discover why their product or solution is the right one and why their competitor is not a viable alternative.
However, many sales teams tend to answer that final “why me?” question first without connecting to the problem that the buyer has. This approach can be frustrating for the buyer because they don’t understand the value or use case of the product.
Creating a false sense of urgency, such as cutting prices, bundling products differently, or offering a limited-time offer only exacerbates this issue. It may draw in some buyers, but likely for the wrong reasons and they may not fully commit to the solution.
To avoid this, sales messaging should always focus on the buyer’s problem and the urgency behind it, rather than just promoting a product’s features and benefits.
Messaging Is a Team Effort Between Sales and Marketing
A structured process led by a leader is necessary for bringing together marketing and sales. This involves creating a framework and sequence for conversations, including the introductory, change, sense of urgency, differentiation, and closing conversations. It’s essential to have discipline in this process due to the turnover of people in sales organizations, role shifts, and territory changes.
Without the right structure, discipline, and practice, there won’t be any improvements as a team or as individuals. Therefore, it’s important to naturally develop a conversational pattern by going through the necessary discipline.
Start by relating to the person and building a bridge to their situation. For instance, for a business owner, it’s essential to take the time to understand who they are. Use a specific pattern of relating first, bridging, and then doing a takeaway. This process removes the reptile brain, which causes people to avoid risky situations.
The issue is not just asking about pain points or presenting a pre-packaged solution. You need to show that you can relate to your prospect’s situation without immediately imposing a product or solution.
How To Leverage Automation and AI Tools To Improve Your Sales Messages
Salespeople often struggle with writing, but there are tools available to help. GPT-3 and GPT-4 are examples of brand new tools that are hitting the market and can help you be a better version of yourself if you use them the right way. These tools work from a set of patterns and may not be able to provoke an emotion in readers. Therefore, it’s important to go back and check your work and ensure that your message is authentic, innovative, passionate, and empathetic.
While automation can be effective in raising the quality of writing, it falls short in terms of authenticity, passion, innovation, and empathy. It’s essential to use these tools to enhance your writing ability and become aware of your writing patterns. However, don’t rely solely on robots and make sure to add your own unique perspective and voice to your writing.
In the case of sales teams, Chat GPT can help you find industry patterns and common pain points. However, it’s crucial to remember that no automation can be authentic to you, and verbal communication still holds more value than written communication.
A pro tip for writing is to say the words out loud or have someone else say them to ensure that the writing sounds natural and conversational.
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About the author
Jeb Blount is one of the most sought-after and transformative speakers in the world…