Beware The Mixed Message – Sales eXchange – 13819

There is definitely an advantage to all the ways one can communicate with potential buyers, not only can you tailor the message, but you can tailor the delivery, helping the audience consume it in a way that best matches their preferred communication mode.  In addition to the traditional oral, visual and tactile, the web and what has been labelled as social media, a seller and their organization can not only tailor the message, but the delivery to ensure maximum impact.  As with most good things there are limits, and if you are not careful, usually in the form of making unfounded assumptions, you do run the risk of things turning to bite you and achieving unintended results.

One assumption many make, shared equally by sales people and their companies, is that while individuals do have favourite modes of communications, it does not mean they ignore others.  Sales people may have deducted that Buyer A prefers and responds to e-mail communication, they may also react and respond to phone discussions as the process moves forward.  They may prefer phone for direct contact, but interact with the company or brand through Facebook as an example.  This leads to the simple conclusion that both the sales person and marketing have to ensure that the buyer is getting a consistent message, any break in that consistency could negatively affect the sale.

The above is easy to manage if you are selling one product or a single line of products, but many companies these days interact with the same buyer across different products services, and messages, and need to take that into account when they are looking for consistency in the buyer’s eyes.  Consistency on one product is easy, inconsistency across a range of products and interactions is not that easy, and when mismanaged can be fatal.

For example, one of the large wireless carriers here in Canada is part of a larger media company, or conglomerate, they own TV outlets and magazines.  About two years ago, they like many others announced that they would no longer be sending monthly statements in the mail, and that these would only be available via e-mail or on line.  My carrier put their best green face on, saying that the move was done to be more environmentally friendly, reducing paper waste, carbon foot print and all that stuff.  There was however an asterisk, that for two bucks a month they would be willing to forward the statement by mail, no talk of whether the $2 would go to some worthy cause, or to the top and bottom lines; interesting but no big deal.

But about six months ago, the magazine division of the same conglomerate, started sending me unsolicited copies of magazines, I had little or no interest in.  The first was a sports magazine that was a companion to their TV sport network.  Nice glossy presentation, containing nothing of interest to me; and given the chemical content of the glossy pages, I couldn’t even use it to wrap fish.  What got me thinking was the fact that here were 80 some odd double sided pages, plus the two page pitch letter that went with it, an assumptive order page, and the 9X12 inch envelop.  Close to 85 pages of wasted paper, given that my average wireless statement being about 4 pages, that is the equivalent of 20 months worth of statements that I am not getting in order to benefit the planet, (not their coffers).

But wait, a couple of months on, I get another title, this time about a 90 page magazine, same letter and order page.  Another 25 months worth of statements I now have to pay for; each time I get a statement, it serves as another reminder of the hypocrisy and the company’s disingenuous approach to both the environment and their customers.  I am sure that there is another on the way soon.

My carrier is not alone, they are following the trend of many in the market today.  It may be easy to pretend that buyers consumer or B2B, do not pick up on this, but they do.  In this case it will have an impact on my view when it comes to renewing my wireless agreement.  But for others who fail to stay consistent in message and action, it could cost a lot more.  While as a rep you may not be able to stop the big things, you can the little ones.  It is up to you to play an active role in the messages delivered to your buyer, regardless of where in the conglomerate that message originates, because what counts is the destination, and that is your responsibility , no one else’s.

Next Steps

  • Get involved in what is sent to your buyers, actively manage the relationship
  • Work with buyers to understand their preferred mode of communication
  • Companies – coordinate your messaging

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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