Stop Making Your Salespeople “Assume The Position” …

the buyer pat down without a positioning statement

By Mark Allen Roberts

In my last few posts have been about how buyers become “Brand Damaged” and this preventable disease will quickly eat away at any chances your team thought they had of achieving their sales goals. It is very difficult to heal damaged brands. Another marketing disease that frequents particularly large companies occurs when sales has to : Assume the Position of your product or service when presenting buyers. If your salespeople do not clearly understand your product positioning they are left to be pat down by buyers . Sales then assumes what it must represent to make this uncomfortable experience end,and the result is very dangerous. It is dangerous because you fail to close sales you probability could have won  and your sales team is promising things you can not execute.

I can hear some of you now, “ok, you have discussed branding and positioning in the last two posts, enough already!” My answer is no, I have shared branding and how your brand can become a damaged brand in the minds of your buyers. In this post I will discuss how far too many companies force their salespeople to ; Assume the Position their product or service has in the minds of their buyers and this results in lost sales that could have been yours.

Let’s go over a couple quick definitions;

Brand– Unique designsignsymbolwords, or a combination of these, employed in creating an image that identifies a product and differentiates it from its competitors. Over time, this image becomes associated with a level of credibility, quality, and satisfaction in the consumer’s mind (see positioning). Thus brands help harried consumers in crowded and complex marketplace, by standing for certain benefitsand valueLegal name for a brand is trademark and, when it identifies or represents a firm, it is called a brand name. See also corporate identity.

Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/brand.html#ixzz26NttsbS1

Position, Positioning, Positioning Statement –  Written description of the objectives of a positioning strategy. It states (1) how the firm defines its business or how a brand distinguishes itself, (2) how the customers will benefit from its features, and (3) how these benefits or aspects will be communicated to the intended audience.A positioning statement is a subset of a value proposition that optimizes it for marketing communications purposes. It identifies the target audience, the product and its category, a specific benefit, and is differentiable from the nearest competitive alternative. It is an internal, non-emotional statement that becomes the messaging cornerstone of an integrated marketing campaign.

Read More : http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/positioning.html

You can control your “positioning” by creating a unique selling proposition and using it in all your marketing communication. Over time, as people become aware of your products and services, you start building your brand in your prospects’ and customers’ minds. Positioning is something you can do now when you state the problems you solve and how you uniquely solve them. Branding happens over time. Branding refers to what your customers think or feel when they hear a specific word. Positioning refers to your position “relative to” or “in comparison to” your competitors. Positioning is sharing your distinctive competence with your market. Branding is your product’s identity established over consistently executing what you promised.

With that said…

Are your salespeople trained and aware of your product positioning? …are you sure?

When your salespeople meet with new prospects do they know your product’s distinctive competence?

Is your brand and position  true in the minds of your buyers?

Are some of your products; “positioning dated”?

Are your salespeople “assuming” they know what your product position statement is or sharing a dated position that worked five years ago?

Is it time to re-position your product(s) based on the market conditions and problems your buyers face today?

Salespeople are focused on closing new business and if you do not provide your product positioning that resonates with buyers, sales will assume and make their own tools to drive the sale to a close. The trouble is, from a buyer’s perspective, it feels very uncomfortable as they have to pat down salespeople to find products that may solve their problems. For a buyer it feels like the salesperson is playing feature and benefit BINGO. They keep tossing features and benefits expecting  the buyer to yell; “BINGO …I get it now, I know what problem you can solve for me.” The more this salesperson is left to find your product’s position the less credible they becomes in the mind of your buyer. The more salespeople you have on your team creating your positioning, trying to sell dated positioning, your market will lose trust in your company.

Don’t make your salespeople Assume the position when meeting with buyers.

Train your salespeople to seek unresolved market problems and understand your product’s position to solve those problems. The goal of positioning is when your target market associates a benefit with your company. When you fail to establish a strong foundation from a position that resonates with your buyers, you fail to create brands that create raving fans.

So hopefully you can see now that when salespeople are forced to Assume the Position of your product or service it creates an unstable foundation for a trust based relationship and is it any wonder buyers become brand damaged? A strong position in the mind of the buyer, reinforced over time connects to the buyers’ emotion and they begin to trust. It is at that point your positioning becomes a brand.

When salespeople are forced to assume the position of your product ;they make an ass out of you and your company.

How Do We Heal “Brand Damaged Buyers” and Get Them Buying Again?

By Mark Allen Roberts

If you provide a product or a service you are going to experience buyers who have a bad overall buying experience at some time. Market leaders will take this opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade and actually improve their relationship with their customer. Market losers will play the blame storm game, refuse to take ownership, repeat the mistakes over and over again  and ultimately cause buyers to suffer  Brand Damage and stop buying all together. Once an account is lost it is very difficult to win their trust back, however it is not impossible. Once a market hears enough negative feedback from a variety of sources the market can become brand damaged.In this post I will share;

How Do We Heal “Brand Damaged Buyers” and Get Them Buying Again?

What is the best way not to break your buyer’s trust and lose future business? Well I see it proudly displayed in factories, lobbies and desk tops across the clients I served;

“Do what you said you would do”

Why do I like this simple no smoke and mirrors approach phrase so much?

  • I have seen it work time and time again
  • Market leaders all live by this rule
  • It is time tested
  • It’s biblical
  • It establishes trust and reinforces it every time you execute

However the reality is we all make mistakes. How do we rebound from those mistakes? Can we ever rebound from those mistakes? I recently read a great article: America’s Nine Most Damaged Brands. This article shares how; the true causes of drops in brand value are folly and arrogance. 24/7 Wall St.’s review of nine brands that were badly damaged recently shows that even the most powerful brand cannot survive horrible decisions. So an element of hubris plays a part in brand damaged markets.

My own personal experience has shown mistakes only become Brand Damaged Buyers when we refuse to admit we made them or correct them. Let’s face itwe all need to be tuned into our market and listen for unresolved problems, …even if we find we caused a few of them.

So let’s say you have been experiencing some of the symptoms I discussed in my last post of companies that have brand damaged buyers like:

Sales failing to meet plan objectives

Competitors sales growing

Decrease in market share

Profit decrease due to field discounting

Customers you have lost refusing to meet with you

You are losing large key accounts who have

…as well as others.

Let’s say you have decided you need to “Heal Brand Damaged Buyers” so they start buying from you again, where do we start?

First we need to go back to the fundamentals of building a brand customers can trust, we start executing the 10 Commandments of Marketing as discussed by Derrick Daye.  We need to clearly understand positioning and our desired intentional differentiation in the perceptions of our buyers. A lot of companies struggle in this area so I suggest you down load one of my friends and mentor’s books: Your Brands Position by Dick Maggiore. You can download a copy of my book: Branding Backwards that shares how we need to intentionally brand our product or service or the market will and we will be branding by default. You can visit the article ; 3 ways to build brand loyalty and start from scratch again. Last, make sure and watch Jack Trout’s “5 tests of obviousness.” Jack Trout goes on to share how we must never waste a crisis but use it to make tough changes that often results in re-positioning.

So you’ve done your homework, you feel pretty good about what you’ve seen and you want to experience the benefits of market leading companies like; sales growth faster than industry average , gross profits over 30% higher than the completion, and increased customer satisfaction and loyalty? Where do you start? Ask a simple question in everything you do:

Is it true?

I went and heard an amazing author, speaker, thought leader named Byron Katie speak and the foundation of her work is the simple question: Is it true? Her content was so simple yet so brilliant I sat for hours after the conference with my mind racing as to all the applications in the business world.

So let me ask you: Is it true?

Everything you say on your web site?

What your salespeople are trained to present about your product or service?

All your marketing literature?

What your salespeople say about your competition

Printed content on your product packaging and owners manuals?

What your marketing team believes are the problems your product or service solves?

What your mission statement and vision statement say?

Do you have a “passion statement” and are you walking the talk?

Everything your team is saying at sales meetings, strategy meetings?

Was the product you launched on time last week ready to be launched

Next you must start rebuilding trust with your buyers and one way to do so is admit your past mistakes and apologize and let the buyer know their relationship with you is important and you want to win back their trust. Ask your buyer how he or she would do that if the roles were reversed. (Their answers may surprise you)

Last you must build trust in all the small things;

Follow up when you say you will follow up

Under commit and over deliver

Arrive on time

Keep meetings to buyer approved time window

Follow up meetings with email that reviews they key points of your meeting

Launch new products when they are ready and tested

When we break the trust our buyers have placed in us we create Brand Damaged Buyers. If an error or an over promised feature and benefit go unresolved too long, we loose a buyer’s trust. If your team has been experiencing some of the above symptoms of brand damaged buyers it will be a very difficult path winning buyer trust back to where it once was. Trust is emotional and that is why it is so much easier to not violate it in the beginning of the relationship and so hard to repair later.

Have some of your products broken trust with your buyers?

Have any new products failed to perform to what you promised in sales presentations and your web site?

Are your sales people making promises right now ( as you are reading this) to close a sale, that are not true?

Have you discovered any other steps to rebuild trust and help heal brand damaged buyers?

As I shared, you need laser like positioning in the market today and as you consistently deliver on what you promise you build a brand. If you fail to deliver you are also branding and you create what I call brand damaged buyers. If you find yourself with brand damaged buyers you are not alone. The key is to clearly understand the market’s perceptions of what you offer today and if needed re-position your offering based on your buyers ,market and competitors today.  The first step is being humble enough to listen to your market and stop assuming your positioning is relevant and resonates with buyers today.