By Michael Cannon
A great go-to-market strategy, poorly executed, is destined to fall short of expected results.
Geoffrey Moore’s book, Crossing the Chasm, is one of the best strategy books ever on how to market and sell both disruptive and continuous innovation via the Technology Adoption Life Cycle (TALC). There is no doubt that those who implement Moore’s concepts and frameworks are much more successful. There is also a lot of agreement that a great strategy is necessary but not sufficient.
One of the biggest points of execution failure when launching a new product is Marketing’s inability to successfully enable Sales (inside, outside, channel) to have an effective conversation with potential customers. Marketing has not figured out how to provide Sales with effective messaging, collateral, sales tools, and sales support training — vital tools that Sales must have in order to successfully persuade a prospective customer to buy.
One of the biggest points of execution failure when launching a new product is Marketing’s inability to successfully enable Sales (inside, outside, channel) to have an effective conversation with potential customers.
You can see this failure point exposed year after year in over a decade of market research that is summarized into the following Customer Communication Index:
- Less than 50% of your marketing and sales communications are relevant to your customers
- Less than 30% of your marketing content is relevant to your sales teams
In addition to developing a great go-to-market strategy and a great product, Marketing must provide Sales, and customers, with more effective messaging and tools that are in alignment with the key teachings contained in the TALC.
One of the TALC’s major contributions is that it identifies specific market dynamics that must be addressed in order to achieve market success. They are:
These market dynamics are crucial to understand in order to develop a successful go-to-market plan. Of particular importance, the TALC provides a solid indication of the key messaging themes needed in order to translate these strategic insights into greater market success.
To complete the translation from high-level messaging themes to highly influential content and conversations, we need a breakthrough in the way we think about customer communication. We need a better way to identify the categories, styles, and types of messaging that Marketing must create and integrate into the collateral, sales tools, and training provided to Customers and to Sales.
Marketing must close the persuasive messaging gap in order to eliminate one of the biggest points of execution failure and achieve greater market success.
As the map above indicates, the primary reason Marketing is not successful in enabling Sales to have an effective conversation with potential customers is that the marketing team does not create persuasive messaging. Instead, it creates mostly descriptive corporate, market, and product messaging, and then it tries unsuccessfully to use these categories of messaging to enable the sales conversation. The map makes it obvious why the current approach does not work. The messaging and the tools into which the messaging is integrated are not in alignment with the types of real-world questions potential customers are asking Sales — and Marketing, for that matter — to answer. Marketing must close the persuasive messaging gap in order to eliminate one of the biggest points of execution failure and to achieve greater market success.
Before we align persuasive messaging with the TALC, let’s take a closer look at the persuasive opportunity-creation and order-creation (competitive) messaging types. Opportunity-creation messaging is mandatory in the early stages of the life cycle, when the most important customer question is, “Why should I change from the status quo to a new solution?” The answer to this question has little to do with your company, per se. The primary goal of persuasive opportunity-creation messaging is to create demand for the product or service category by stating a compelling reason to change, convincing buyers that there is great value (Business Case) to be gained in changing from their current solution to a new or better solution.
The primary goal of persuasive opportunity-creation messaging is to create demand by stating a compelling reason to change.
Order-creation (competitive) messaging is mandatory in the late-market stage of the life cycle, when market demand is more established. The most important customer question then shifts to, “Why should I buy this new solution from your company instead of your competitors?” The answer to this question must focus on competitive differentiation. The primary goal of persuasive competitive messaging is to create orders for your company, convincing buyers that your product is their best choice.
Now let’s look at how these two persuasive messaging styles align with, and support, the TALC.
Persuasive Messaging Alignment to Technology Adaption Life Cycle
In the Early Market and Bowling Alley phases, it’s all about persuasive opportunity-creation messaging. The primary reason the buyer is going to spend money, time, and resources to change is that it will help him or her gain a competitive advantage or because it will help fix a broken business process. These are the two high-level business case themes for change.
In a Tornado market, many buyers have decided to change, but some have not. This means that you need both types of persuasive messaging: highly differentiated order-creation (competitive) messaging to get orders from those buyers who are ready to change and persuasive opportunity-creation messaging to get more of the fence-sitters to agree to change. From a competitive messaging perspective, key themes are lowest-risk, best-of-breed, or best value.
On Main Street, it’s all about persuasive competitive messaging. Your company must find a meaningful way to differentiate itself as being able to provide the best whole-product solution.
The role persuasive messaging plays is to help tune these high-level TALC messaging themes into highly persuasive reasons for the potential customer to spend money — and to spend it with your company. The more persuasive the reasons, the greater your market success. It’s that simple.
“Our win rate increased by 30% and the time we spend supporting the field reduced by around 50% for the product family I support.” — Nigel Mott, Product Sales Manager, Agilent Technologies, Inc.
As the quote above indicates, making this one change — creating TALC-aligned persuasive messaging, and then integrating the persuasive messaging into the content (collateral, demand generation, sales tools, sales training) delivered to Sales and, ultimately, to customers — enables Sales and Marketing to engage customers with more influential communications and increase their win rates by 10-15%. Now that’s greater market success.
Resources to Implement the Most Influential Customer Communications
Michael Cannon is an internationally renowned marketing and sales effectiveness expert, best-selling author, speaker and an authority on enabling B2B companies to engage customers with the most influential communications. For more information visit silverbulletgroup.com.