By Brian Vail
With the launch of the new brand of MHI Global (bringing together the powerhouse brands of AchieveGlobal, Miller Heiman, Huthwaite, Impact Learning Systems and Channel Enablers), it got me thinking about the role that Sales plays to truly make a difference in the market. I ran through ideas surrounding PR, social, web, blogs, sales scripts, emails, and videos and I always came back to how do I get this to stick with my intended audience?
When you think about the idea of “living the brand” or “understanding the brand” or “creating an emotional connection,” you have to think about what sticks, right? So how do you get the new brand to stick or resonate or connect…and quickly? Good question, but no easy answer.
One possibility is that you have to think about not just your prospective customers but also your existing customers. Don’t forget about those customers you worked with in the past because when you change as an organization, there can be a real opportunity to re-engage with past clients. And when it comes to customer management, you have to leverage your sales organization. Who better to own that touch point than your customer-facing teams? Specifically, your sales teams. Our sales teams, while one of many channels of communications that our marketing team relies on to deliver the message to the market, might be the most important one.
This leads me to another possible answer: brand messaging via the sales team.
There are a ton of ways to communicate the brand messages – unique value prop, new identity treatments, and positioning statement. But what will make the greatest impact on your customer and potential customer base? Branding is about a CONNECTION – emotional if we are so lucky.
In a B2B complex, service-oriented business, you can’t just go to market with a new brand with pretty pictures and brand promise messages. When creating those pictures and messages, you have to confirm all of that with your sales teams because they own the true emotional connection with customers. They would know how to make something like a new brand stick. What if you went to market without being aligned with the sales teams? I’m willing to make a bet the results won’t be as good.
If I were in a B2C environment, I think I might be able to limp along and make it work.
In a B2B complex environment – no way.
Not this day and age.
Not if you want it to stick.
When this type of merger and re-branding products takes place, you also have to take a look at the products. You cannot build and maintain a strong brand without the business fundamentals in place. We need to look at things like revenue, life time value, customer’s interest and acceptance, pricing, implementations, etc. How do you go about getting that information?
Talk to your sales teams. Ask:
- What we’ve sold…is it really what was implemented or was it just something on the contract?
- Is it working? Is it scalable? Is it successful?
- Would you sell it again, and again and again?
- How hard is it to sell? How long did it take to close the deal?
Some of that information can be found in the numbers but maybe more importantly; it can be found talking to your sales teams. Your sales teams understand the reality of how a customer will accept change; and they are a rich source of insight for marketers tasked to create the value messages that will resonate to the customer.
As a marketer, I wish I could say that successful branding is always a product of brilliant marketing efforts. It’s not. Even though branding may be the domain of marketing, it can never be successful without an aligned sales organization behind it.