If your company is like those that I’ve worked for, it spends huge amounts of money and effort in defining its brand… let’s call it "brand DNA." Advertising, marketing campaigns, mission statements and core values published on the company’s website. All are aimed at accomplishing very critical and difficult tasks – attracting prospects to consider doing business with your company, and reinforcing partnerships with existing customers.
That’s what your salespeople get paid to do, right?… Attract prospects and close them, and maintain strong partnerships that drive growth with existing customers. And again, if your company is like those I’ve worked for, it spends huge amounts of money and effort programming the brand DNA messages into the sales rep’s repertoire.
You spend the money and effort so that the rep’s brand DNA message aligns with what your prospects and customers can glean from their own experience with your brand, and from their online research. Prospects and customers are consumers, too.
So what’s the catch here? What’s the big deal?
The big deal is when your sales rep chooses to filter your brand DNA message, or ignore it totally, which then causes a major disconnect between your company’s intent to impress prospects and partners and the actual outcome.
They do this for several reasons …
- They don’t really buy into the message – very dangerous
- They defer to Marketing with "that’s their job" – also very dangerous
- They edit the message to fit what they think the prospect/customer wants to hear – OK, but it better be good
- They feel uncomfortable boasting about the company’s product innovation, market share, service, etc. – this is never good
Sales reps are humans – not robots – so we have to be reasonable in our expectations here. But, when there’s a significant gap between your reps’ brand DNA messaging and the customer’s perception of your brand, you’ve got a problem.
I’ll provide an example of the "gap," and then further define the problem.
I once participated in a product training seminar conducted by an excellent sales rep who loved the product and the company, and typically would cut right to the chase in these seminars with lots of product features and benefits (F&B). We had 12 sales associates from a major retail partner in the seminar, eagerly awaiting our presentation and messages about how good our products are.
Wanting to take a different approach that day, I kicked off the seminar with "tell us what you think of our products and brands in one word," and the response I received really blew me away. All 12 associates were immediately engaged in throwing words at us – young, cool, loud, innovative, fun, easy (to sell), performance, colorful – all key words in our brand DNA, and when you add it all up it shows that they admired our products, brands and company.
Here’s the problem – as good as my rep was, he much preferred to talk F&B’s all day long, missing out on the opportunity to engage the audience’s real passion for our products, brands and company. They will likely forget some of the F&B info, but they’ll always remember how they defined our brand DNA. And, if they didn’t get this message from my rep, you can be assured that they got it from their own experience and research.
This was a game-changing moment for my rep, who recognized that he needed to come out of his F&B comfort zone and deliver more brand DNA messages that attract more prospects and reinforce his customer partnerships. I wasn’t worried about whether my rep really admired our company, but I learned that his "go to message" about our brand DNA didn’t measure up to what our customer’s perception was.
I never would have discovered this if I wasn’t out there.
And... neither would he.