Larry Kaul, Founder and CEO, Kaul Sales Partners
What are the odds of impact when your outbound sales campaign is spinning off of marketing’s work?
If you opened it at all, I’m sure you’ve recently deleted a prospecting email that starts off something to the effect of “Hi, I’m Brian!” (Who cares, Brian?), then rattles off some mind-numbing, boilerplate features and benefits of whatever Brian is pushing — then presumes to ask for time out of your day to “chat.” This approach gets no response from me and likely doesn’t merit your time, either.
There is a fundamental problem with this approach that I don’t see many people talking about: What are the odds of impact when your outbound sales campaign is spinning off of marketing’s work?
Looking at Messaging in a Different Light
Sales leaders are often tempted to start “twiddling the dials” and making all kinds of tactical adjustments when outbound sales campaigns stall. The problem is quite probably in your messaging. Here’s why: That market positioning language that was so compelling at the general market level will not differentiate you at the point of engagement.
If your new business development hinges on listing the same pain points that 50 other companies address, you’ve essentially got nothing on which to execute. It’s not about “outside in” vs. “inside out” — it’s that everybody’s marketing work gets to the same place and gives a jaded recipient no compelling reason to think or act on your message.
Here’s the crux: Your sales problem might actually be a differentiation problem that you perceive as a sales problem. And the good work that marketing did with your general market messages won’t drive sales at the campaign level until you find “That Moment”: Aligning an area of strength and proven results with a situation that cuts through the noise and makes your prospect think for a critical second before hitting DELETE.
Producing Results: From the Case Files
I’ll share a problem we had with a client that specialized in branding — yet couldn’t see why their own branding was completely ineffective at the sales campaign level.
Creative agencies have it particularly tough in outbound sales. On the surface, they all really look the same to prospects: They’ve got a defined niche (branding, digital, etc.), slick design, full-spectrum capabilities and fun staff with quirky titles.
We initially went at the problem their way — talking about their abilities and experience with positive lifestyle products and aligning the campaign with “evolution” language that spun off their core positioning. While we garnered interest with prospects, this approach yielded no new clients.
After more inquiry, we found that a subset of their specialty was a knack for branding and execution that de-commoditized the offerings of a particular vertical and delivered better margins with retail partners. Once we learned that, were able to come up with the sales solution for the original problem, which was caused by lack of differentiation. Here we were at “That Moment”: Where capability in a particular client situation produced opportunity — and a differentiated message that got them results.
All marketing and sales revolves around helping your prospect see themselves reflected back in what you have created to attract them. And insofar as it goes, much of what marketing does makes sense. However, the blade must be doubly sharpened to create response and get into closing conversations when you’re reaching into their world instead of them stumbling across you online or at a trade show.
We have found that “sales-driven market positioning” not only makes more successful campaigns, but has also provided more clarity and new context around a company’s top-line messaging. Probing for the unique sales angle can reveal ways to talk about the company more effectively in more places than just sales campaigns! Your sales turnaround story might begin with your messaging and open the door for more effective, sales-originated pull marketing campaigns.
What is your market telling you about the effectiveness of your positioning in outbound campaigns? As always, I’d love to hear about your experiences, and invite your thoughts on the topic.
About the Author
Larry Kaul is founder and CEO of Kaul Sales Partners (KSP), which specializes in helping B2B companies with or without sales teams generate more quality opportunities and revenue. Larry has spent decades refining his experience on the front line of new customer acquisition and founded KSP to help clients acquire new customers at a more rational cost and cut through the clutter of expensive and time-consuming prospecting, recruiting and sales operation struggles.
Larry’s experience spans virtually all industries and most marketing, consulting and software products and services. He has a BA in history from The George Washington University. He was a graduate student at large at the Booth School of Business and is certified as an expert Toastmaster.