In an article from Sales and Marketing Management’s (SMM) Management Advisor , they report on a recent methodology adopted by AT&T for the highly competitive telecommunications market. The approach focuses on five sales tips that successfully “steal” clients from competitors.
These tips include: planning an approach to the market; motivating a sales force with incentive compensation; providing adequate materials and information to keep professionals updated on market developments; and being visible with clients and prospects — in and where they work — to secure an understanding of their needs.
The last of these five tips focuses on “Communicating the Message.” Companies should make their employees “fully aware of their organization’s mission and clearly communicate it through newsletters, voice mails, e-mails, town meetings and intranet postings.”
While stealing competitors’ clients may not be the actual mission of most firms, winning clients is every company’s mantra. And since communicating the message is the centerpiece of any sales or marketing effort, distributing the message across multiple channels is critical.
But companies should consider one more step in the communications process — presentation training.
Presentation training does not necessarily need to be aimed at just sales teams. Rather, it should include any and all company managers who communicate the mission and message of a company to a critical constituent group. Minimal in cost, presentation training can maximize the effective delivery of the message by those very professionals whose purpose it is to communicate with employees, investors, clients and customers.
Presentation training also creates the opportunity to address communications concerns in the context of business goals. Specifically, this means:
- Ensuring that managers and sales teams really understand the message: In every message, there is nuance. If a message is poorly communicated or explained incorrectly, it diminishes the impact of the company’s mission and intent. If this occurs repeatedly over the course of time, the impact dilutes business efforts.
Training sessions can eliminate this danger. Instead, they can ensure that employees understand the actual mission and message of the company and how it defines and distinguishes an organization in the marketplace to maximize effectiveness.
- Delivering a message with conviction: Often the impact of a message is determined not by “what is said” but “how it is said.” While every person communicates with their own unique level of emotion, there are ways to demonstrate conviction. Training sessions can recommend techniques that convey a level of enthusiasm that is comfortable to each individual.
- Developing a storyline: At times, communicating the message is not enough. Many situations call for messages to be woven together into a storyline that conveys the “big picture.” Training sessions can help formulate a storyline that is greater than the sum of an organization’s individual messages.
- Refining — not changing — a company’s message: If a company’s message does not resonate with key managers and the sales force, it is doomed to failure. Training sessions create the opportunity to refine a message so that it becomes workable with the very people who deliver it.
- Creating consistency: Since consistency and frequency are the most basic rules of effective communications, training sessions create the forum to ensure that messages are delivered with uniformity across the marketplace. Again, this is critical to maximizing impact and driving business strategy.
There is one more issue that presentation and sales training sessions manage to address. Presentation training teaches participants that they get only one chance to make a first impression. This makes an effective delivery paramount to a winning presentation. Training sessions provide a forum for ironing out performance wrinkles.
Similarly, training sessions also instruct participants that if a message is not communicated, it will not be heard. Managers, employees and sales professionals are reminded not to assume that target audiences will intuitively understand a company’s mission. Rather, they must clearly iterate a company’s message to ensure impact. This is a crucial component to a firm’s sales and marketing strategy and a necessary step in building reputation.
This issue of Insights was prepared by Maria J. Lilly and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Associates.