Making Your Case

Product Marketing needs to do a better job with differentiating their products and solutions in the BTB technology market place while properly fueling their sales organizations with the relevant information they need to close more sales deals. It is well documented how dissatisfied sales and marketing organizations are with each other in what’s been called the sales and marketing misalignment & disconnect problem.

What can we do in order to address this issue? I believe that product marketing organizations need to take on a holistic and comprehensive approach in addressing this problem. One of the solutions to this problem is called something that I termed and describe as; “Making Your Case”. This approach involves assimilating and presenting the right combination of relevant information needed to influence the buyer towards buying your product or solution.

“Making Your Case” involves building a reservoir of information for your product or solution that will be used to drive all aspects of your messaging, marketing content, sales content, and sales conversations. Your reservoir should contain any of the following information elements you feel are needed in order to make your case.

  • Description of what product/solution is and what it does.
  • Product/Solution technology and architectural overviews.
  • Customer’s problems, pains, underlying issues, concerns, challenges, & needs.
  • Mapping out and describing how the product’s major capabilities & features will address and solve the customer’s problems.
  • Impact of not addressing the problem.
  • Impact of addressing the problem with an alternative product, architecture or technology.
  • Technical & Business Outcomes
  • Technical & Business Benefits
  • Product/Solution areas of Differentiation
  • Impact, Value, Capability, or Outcome that product/solution provides to the customer’s business.

Now what can you gain by employing this approach?

  • Answer all the Why, What, & How questions regarding your product or solution.
  • Transfer the reservoir of information to your sales force so they can utilize it to have relevant & persuasive conversations with their clients and prospects.
  • To gain trust & credibility with the client since you will be engaging them with more worthwhile discussions.
  • Formulate new customer acquisition attack plans.
  • Differentiate your products/solution on the merits of its problem solving capabilities.
  • Create easy to remember linkages between any of the elements for the purposes of making key points and addressing client concerns & worries.

My personal motivational reason for utilizing this approach is to better prepare for this situation. Picture this; 3 competitors have gotten a hold of your prospect/client to discuss and present their product/solution. Your next, what do you think you and your team need to do & present in order to win the client over and close the sales deal?

8 Guidelines for Successful Messaging

Are you struggling with creating messaging and supporting content that truly gets prospects and clients to purchase your B2B technology product or solution? If you are then I’ll share with you 8 guidelines that I have used to keep me on track and focused.

1. Understand your target market and focus your efforts on doing everything you can to succeed. Get intimate knowledge of the TDM (technical decision makers), BDM (business decision makers) and other key stakeholders that will be involved in the evaluation and selection process. Get a handle on what their typical sales cycle and process is that they are progressing through in order to make a purchase decision.

2. Get familiarized with your competitor’s offerings and how they are positioning their offerings in your target market. Get a good understanding of what your prospects are being told, being pitched and reading. Also, evaluate alternative competitive technology offerings that serve the needs of your target market.

3. Understand all aspects of your client’s problems, pains, underlying issues, concerns and challenges. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what is it that they are trying to accomplish and how they will address the needs and issues they are facing. Also, take the opportunity to present issues and challenges that they might not be aware of.

4. Map out your product’s major capabilities and features towards how they will address and solve the customer’s problems, issues and challenges. I like to think of it in terms of the problem solving capabilities of the product and what it will resolve and do for the client.

5. Answer all of the Why, What, and How questions? Too often companies fail to clearly outline and answer all these questions. Why should I purchase your solution over a competitor’s? Why is your enabling technology and approach better at addressing my problems and issues? What is it, what will it do for me, and where will it take me? How and Why does it have superior problem solving capabilities over your competitors. Analyze and figure out where the gaps are and where the crucial areas of differentiation exist.

6. State the Full Impact of your product or solution that is relevant to your technical & business decision makers and key stakeholders. What will they receive by utilizing your product? Think about all the applicable technical and strategic benefits derived from your solution. Also consider all the desired state changes, technical outcomes, technical value, and business value.

7. Have the Right Mindset. Think and act as a Trusted Advisor and Problem Solver for your prospects and clients. Doing this will allow you to better relate to your client’s issues and position you to be trusting and credible.

8. Stay Connected with your Prospects & Clients. Gather, assess, reinforce and validate your messaging and supporting content by making field visits with clients, prospects, direct sales personnel and your indirect sales force. Practice what you preach and go have those engaging discussions that are based on your messaging and supporting content.

10 Crucial Rules for Product Marketing Managers

Do you ever feel overwhelmed and bombarded with an array of distractions and concerns? In the hectic world of BTB technology product marketing one can easily get distracted and lose sight of whats important and what ones focus should be. Enclosed are my 10 Rules that I’ve utilized and recommended to peers and clients.

1. Work on the main problem; driving revenue. Connect all the dots and figure what you need to deliver in order to drive revenue. Ensure you have relevant messaging and supporting content that positions your company’s products as a viable needed solution.

2. Don’t complain about the disconnect and misalignment issues that exist between sales and marketing. Figure out whats going on and whats going wrong and do something about it. Introduce solutions that will address the issue.

3. Don’t get caught up in the hype generated by the media or competitors. Cut through the hype and deal with the matter at hand, addressing and solving your customer’s problems.

4. Don’t get hung up on one approach or tactic when trying to win clients over. Be open to putting together a customized combination of messaging and supporting content for different situations, different stakeholders, different vertical industries, different problem areas, and different stages of the buyer’s sales cycle. Be open to presenting the information in different perspectives with the goal of trying to successfully make your point.

5. Don’t take on a One Size Fits All Approach. Don’t think that you can use the same messaging and supporting content for early adopter buyers and business decision makers. Understand that buyer awareness tactics and their marketing vehicles will not be enough to help buyers buy in the analysis & decision stages of the buyer’s sales cycle.

6. Assess, grade, & justify your work. Ask yourself the tough questions like what am I trying to do, what will it accomplish, and will it have the desired result I’m looking for. Justify all your tactics and supporting content so that all key company stakeholders have a clear understanding as to the “what and whys” of what you’re doing.

7. Maximize the value of your company’s technology products. It’s your job to mine and extract all technology and company assets and present them as the best technology solution needed to successfully address the client’s problems.

8. Form & utilize a SWAT team of advisors you can count on for advice and ongoing support. The team could consist of key members of your development team, support personnel, sales personnel, sales systems engineers, channel partners, and any outside technical advisors.

9. Conduct Sales Win Loss Analysis. Speak with your sales reps, channel partners, and prospects in order to understand why your company is losing sales deals. Use these insights to make any necessary changes, modifications, or address any problem areas such as product sales training.

10. Don’t be afraid to attack your competitor’s architectural weaknesses or problem solving capabilities and approach. Remember, your making your case about why your product or solution has superior problem solving capabilities.