Speaking in buyer language

Salesperson gets on the phone to make a cold call. Salesperson uses script written by copywriter who has never had to make a cold call and who doesn't talk to real, live customers. Person on the other end of the line hears the script, and hangs up on the salesperson. Salesperson decides to ditch the canned pitch and start using his own from this point forward. Company has wasted a lot of time and money on pitches salespeople will never use. Does this sound familiar? Read more here in Revenue Journal.

Either we hire sales people who understand the business with the expectation that they will create their own deliverables or we hire sales people who will rely on the pitches created by marketing. Frankly I prefer the former. I've long advocated that everyone who works for your company should know what we do here; they should care fervently about it. Developers, sales people, marketing, tech support, documentation, even finance and others who don't encounter customers should care. Companies that don't care seem to have more hand-offs and "not my job" problems than others.

If we choose to deploy sales people who do not know our products or understand the business, then we will have to rely on 'scripts' and and pitches and collateral and sales tools from marketing. And guess what? Marketing will have to understand the market and the products. They'll have to create Buyer Personas grounded in research. They'll need to speak in the buyer's voice using language that real buyers use.

Have you ever attended sales methodology training? The first day is marketing! Buyer personas, probing for pain questions, positioning. These are the things that the effective product marketer should already have documented long before the product is launched to the sales force. But when we don't--or when we use ineffective vendor language--the sales team must rely on their own skills and market knowledge to fill the void.

If product managers and marketers don't do their strategic jobs, the other departments will fill the void.

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success. 

Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.

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