Our first post on applying Challenger Sales methodology in your marketing outlined how to change and shape your marketing materials. However going through that process without ensuring alignment between your sales organization and your marketing organization will result in failure almost every time. As sales organizations train their employees in Challenger Sales best practices, it is crucial for the entire organization but especially marketing to align with these new practices and avoid becoming out of sync. To effectively use Challenger Sales practices, your organization must be positioned as the ground breaking guide who can show your customer problems they didn’t even realize they had and how to solve them – if it’s just one field seller trying to make this case while nothing else about the company’s public profile says this, then you’re going to fail. By applying Challenger principles in your marketing organization, effectively making use of data, and building feedback mechanisms between your marketing and sales organization you can set your sales professionals up for success.
With this in mind, it is essential that we examine how to apply Challenger Sales methodology not only to your sales organization, but to your marketing organization and materials. This means examining how constructive tension can be built throughout your marketing funnel, how to integrate Challenger principles into your marketing content and advertising, and providing training and knowledge of Challenger to your sales organization. It also adds extra emphasis to something that should already be in place – consistent, widespread and regular feedback between the marketing and sales wings of your organization.
Why is this consistent feedback so important? Simple – without feedback from the field, your marketing is not going to be properly targeted. Given that we’re all competing in a world where customers are typically more than 57% of the way through their purchase process before their first meaningful contact with a seller, aligning your company’s story across marketing and sales is crucial to avoid disjointed and ineffective contacts.
Knowing that your targets are so far along their process before they talk to you also changes the importance of data on how your target segment is interacting with your marketing content. By integrating Challenger Sales methodology with a data driven strategy, your organization can realize impressive gains. Visibility into who is watching your videos, reading your content, and interacting with your organization is more important than ever. Identity resolution is increasingly possible with machine learning based tools such as those featured by Amperity and even widespread tracking tools such as LinkedIn’s Pointdrive solution can form an integral part of your strategy depending on your organization’s budget and goals.
Striving to make strategic and data driven marketing and sales decisions coupled with Challenger implementation can be incredibly effective not simply on a single interaction basis but also through increased brand network effect. As different customers interact with your re-aligned brand and you help guide them to solve their problems, they in turn become ambassadors for your services and products. Gartner identified this in their Challenger research – today 53% of customer loyalty is due to purchase experience with company and brand impact following at 19%. By aligning your content with Challenger you not only are working to strengthen your company and brand image as a thought leader, you’re extending, aligning and improving on a seamless Challenger customer experience. By driving insights for your customer along your entire marketing funnel and with a co-existing and coordinated sales strategy you provide the best possible purchase experience – increasing brand loyalty and improving your chances of closing your deals. Plus, this content then becomes a great opportunity for your sellers to reach out to their contacts to share your new insights.
With that in mind, I’ve reimagined the traditional marketing funnel to align with a Challenger driven content marketing strategy designed to build constructive tension and prime the conversation for your sales professionals:
While a traditional marketing funnel usually starts with discovery, attraction or awareness of your company the goal of these initial interactions in the Challenger integrated marketing funnel is slightly different. With Challenger the first type of content you design for your target segment should reframe the conversation, it should build awareness of a frame-breaking problem or set of problems; the problems you’re going to solve for them. By challenging your target’s perspective and forcing them to consider potential risks and needs their organization is facing you position yourselves as a needed guide. Ideally this has the added benefit of eliciting an emotional response in your targets which Nielsen has found can lead to a 23% increase in sales. Next, you build on that by establishing trust with your target segment that you understand and can help fix their problems.
The next portion of the funnel is often called consideration, evaluation or conversion – with Challenger integration it becomes about teaching. You’ve made your target segment aware of their problems now you need to turn them into prospects by demonstrating the impact of their problems and that you know how to solve or ameliorate these same problems you’ve introduced. This content is designed to deliver some value and begin to establish trust.
The third sub section of your funnel often called purchasing, conversion, or closing. In our model it becomes about explaining. You illustrate for your prospects how you’ll solve the problems you’ve outlined, and show that you’re the right organization for them to work with. You understand their problems better than others and you know how to fix them. By now, your goal is to have established yourself as the trusted guide who can help them find solutions to their problems; if you succeed in that, they’ll be eager to work with you and fully primed for your sales organization to get them through the door.
This changed conversation can be very different from traditional methods for both sellers and marketers and it’s a key reason that we encourage any organization that is serious about Challenger to be sure to provide training to not only their sales professionals but their marketing. Challenger works best when your organization is consistently aligned and focused around your message. It is important for each piece of content and each interaction with a customer to have a specific goal in mind that will further this process.
If you want to learn more about how to re-design your organizations marketing and align it with an effective sales organization, Olive & Goose can help. Contact us to learn more and to schedule an initial conversation.