The top ingredient (and inhibitor) to sales enablement success


SALES-SUPERHERO-295x400Guest post by Michael Cannon, CEO & founder of the Silver Bullet Group

Your sales enablement program is probably going to be less successful than you expect because, according to a decade of research, it’s highly likely that:

  • Over 50% of your marketing and sales communications aren’t relevant to your customer
  • More than 70% of your marketing content isn’t relevant to your sales teams

This summary data indicates that you can have all the right sales enablement components (people, process, technology, knowledge, and assets) in place and still have an underperforming program because the majority of “words” coming from your sales and marketing teams are not relevant and useful.

Enabling Sales Enablement

To address this substantial customer communications problem, organizations are using persuasive messaging as the core enablement tool because:

  • It’s more highly correlated to the primary actions Sales and Marketing want the customer to take, and to what the customer wants to know
  • It enables both Sales and Marketing to engage customers with more relevant and influential conversations and content.

What Is Persuasive Messaging?

Messaging is a summary answer to the prospective customer’s primary and secondary buying questions, a.k.a. the key points that must be communicated in order to convince a person to engage and buy. Messaging is integrated into content via the copyrighting/creative process and integrated into sales conversations via the communicator. Content can be delivered in the form of documents, audio, and video.

The two messaging styles are descriptive and persuasive. The categories of messaging can include: Company, Solution, Platform/Product, and Market Segment/Role messaging. (See a Typical Customer Communications Model with these styles and categories of messaging.)

As an example, descriptive product messaging is the typical “what and how” content in a product brochure. It answers the customer’s secondary buying questions, such as:

  • What does the product do?
  • How does it work?
  • What features are included/optional?
  • What are the key benefits?

Persuasive product messaging is the “why” content that is typically missing from a product brochure. It provides clear, relevant, differentiated, provable, business-language answers to the customer’s primary buying questions, a.k.a. persuasive messaging types, such as these:

  • “Why should I consider your product?” for demand creation
  • “Why should I meet with you?” for meeting creation
  • “Why should I change from the status quo to a new solution?” for opportunity creation
  • “Why should I buy this new solution from your company instead of your competitors?” for order creation
  • “Why should I buy now?” for urgency creation

As you can see, persuasive messaging is more highly correlated to key Marketing and Sales objectives than descriptive messaging, and to what the customer needs to know in order to engage and buy.

How Persuasive Messaging Enables Sales Enablement

Imagine a 1-page persuasive battle card (see examples) or best-practice answer to some of the “why” questions above, such as “Why Change?” and “Why You?” These cards enable your sales team to be an instantly influential Subject Matter Expert (SME) in customer conversations. They help Sales get and prepare for meetings, qualify, sell solutions, set landmines for the competition, etc. They are exactly what Sales wants.

As one Sales Manager said about the order-creation or competitive messaging: “It has made our competitive information much more concise; it is information that the salespeople now use. It has taught them how to ask the right questions to steer customers our way.”

Imagine a version of this same 1-page persuasive messaging summary is also deployed into the majority of pre-sales marketing content, such as collateral, demand-generation campaigns, sales tools, and sales support training. These cards enable each piece of content to be much more relevant and influential.

Without persuasive messaging-enabled content, Sales is not likely return to the sales portal and is likely to return to their old ways. And, given that 30-60% of the buying process occurs online, persuasive messaging-enabled content is also critical to the success of your “content selling” effort.

As one Product Sales Manager said: “Highly persuasive competitive messaging increased our products’ win rate by 30% and reduced the time we spent supporting the field by around 50%.”

Persuasive messaging is to sales enablement as octane is to gasoline. It makes all the “words” coming from your sales and marketing engines more effective. It’s a quick win with Sales. It’s a practical way to align Marketing and Sales. It’s why persuasive messaging should be the #1 ingredient in your successful sales enablement program too.

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