It's no wonder that no matter how articulate your salespeople are, they still don't get much respect from their customer.
Last week I wrote a post about the panel I was on with Bill Friend. I referenced my colleague Olin Thompson. Olin is somewhat of a genius when it comes to sales and marketing strategy. At the present time he is VP of Strategy at Lawson Software.
For a number of years Olin ran the "Credibility Forum" for sales and marketing executives of ERP software companies. Olin tackled the issue of salespeoples' lack of credibility with customer C-level executives and, with a few slides, accurately depicted the challenge and posed a number of solutions.
Before we get into solutions, let's take a look at Olin's slide. The Y-(vertical) axis represents the messenger-either the seller's employee (salesperson, non-salesperson and executive), a third-party, like an industry analyst firm, consultant or the press (unknown to the customer, known, and trusted) and another customer (unknown to the target customer, known, and trusted by the target customer). Notice that credibility increases from bottom to top. That means that, as a source of information, an executive from a company other than yours that your prospect knows of and trusts is considerably more credible than an executive from your company.
The X-axis is the medium, either internal (spoken/verbal, a brochure or a white paper) or an external media source, such as analyst reports, articles or presentations, that are unknown to the target customer, known or trusted. With respect to sources of information, credibility increases from left to right. So an article about your company in Fortune magazine is far more credible than the best brochure or white paper you could ever produce.
Olin asks his audience, "Where is your most frequent and least controllable market contact?" From the customer's perspective, the lowest credibility is at the lower-left corner of this matrix. It's the salesrep speaking with the customer!
Olin's message to the participants was that they must spend time and money supplementing internally-produced marketing materials with customer testimonials, reference visits, case studies, placements in trusted media, positive mentions by analysts in their reports, advertising in trusted industry and business magazines, etc.
Here's the take-away. Unless you're one of the top three companies in your industry, training your sales team to deliver messages about your company, products, and unique value will only take you so far. You've got to provide ongoing credibility support from multiple external sources as well. This doesn't happen without planning, funding, staffing and effective execution. It's another in a long list of reasons that the sales and marketing functions must get aligned.
Link to original post