In workshops and coaching with sellers, I see a recurring language pattern that’s shutting down the client conversation before it even truly gets under way. With all the best intentions, sales reps toss off careless simplifications of their client’s business and marketing needs. In uttering or typing these Marketing Trigger Words, the seller ends up with no idea of the damage they have caused. They know only that the sales call and the relationship have gone sideways, but they don’t know why.
There are several Trigger Words – and Phrases – but there are a couple of threads that tie them together: predictability and lack of specificity. In terms of the predictable, it’s almost as if we’ve passed around a book called “Stuff Reps Say”…. Lazy casual phrases that are tossed into emails and conversations with no real research or understanding. And even when the seller does have a clue about what their client might need, they talk about it so generally that it ends up falling flat with the customer. A few examples:
Could you and your sales team stand a little disruption? Want to take some new looks at seemingly-intractable sales problems? If you’re a qualified media sales leader, request your invitation to Seller Forum on Wednesday March 7th in New York. Better yet, sign up for a season’s pass and secure 1 or 2 seats at each of our 2018 Forums. Go to TheSellerForum.com for more information.
“Reach.” This is a very real thing, of course…just not in the way most reps refer to it. “This customer really needs to reach millennials!” Yeah, maybe. But they don’t necessarily need you to help them do it. Reach is a math problem they can solve lots of other ways. What are you really bringing to the table? The ability to tell the audience a better story? Insights to help the marketer connect with that customer? But if you open with “reach,” you’ll never really get a fair hearing on what you can really offer.
“You compete with…” This is a swing and miss for so many reps. Not because it’s a bad idea to bring up the client’s competitor…no, that’s a great idea! It’s just that the seller tosses out the most simplistically obvious one. Ford/Chevy, Coke/Pepsi, Samsung/Apple, Verizon/AT&T and so on. To make the competitive dynamic meaningful, you must make it specific. Don’t mention five different competitors; pick one. Don’t leave it at the corporate or brand level; say which specific products, car models or cell plans are in competition. Speaking specifically about your customers fight is your first chance to show them how much you know and care. Don’t half-ass it.
“Branding.” This might be the mac-daddy of them all. Sellers who are diligent (or lucky) enough to get face time with marketers will then casually toss out the B-Word. “Our company can help you build your brand in the eyes of our audience!” If the advertiser is able to get past the feeling of condescension in that statement, they will then realize that the rep has little idea about what goes into building a brand – or how customers are moved along the scale from awareness to association to preference to intent. Good rule of thumb: If you can’t explain it, don’t say it.
You and your company have a lot of great things to offer to marketers and agencies. How tragic, then, that it often goes wrong so early. Take care with your words and you’ll find yourself in the deeper, more productive conversations that both you and your customers crave.