If you look at some the world’s most successful B2C or B2B companies, there are a variety of common threads that led to their success. A better product or solution, a unique or innovative delivery mechanism, outstanding customer service or return policy, etc., and the list goes on. You’ll also most likely discover that most of these companies understand the power of a strong brand to acquire new customers, and keep existing customers coming back for more.
A brand is communicated by a consistent phrase, terminology, graphical identity, or a combination of all of these elements that conveys an effective sales message or “promise” to customers. Branding experts know (usually based on market research) that their message will appeal to a certain set of buyers and consumer preferences, and help differentiate your company or products from the competition.
The power of branding is strengthened over time and with the right amount of frequency and consistency, will “return” a predictable percentage of new customers, and retain them over a certain period – perhaps even for life (the holy grail). For new customer acquisition, branding provides a consistent radar sweep across all channels designed to acquire new customers as they enter the market, and just as effectively, drive even more revenue from existing customers by selling additional products or services – ALL under the same, consistent brand.
So, enough about brand strategy; let’s talk tactics. What role does branding play for marketers, sales and sales enablement professionals, and exactly why is it important in their day to day activities? For marketing folks that’s an easy question. As creators and caretakers of the brand, marketing professionals know that if their brand and hard-earned equity is to stay intact, it needs to remain solid and consistent over time and across the multitude of channels in their arsenal. Multichannel marketing is only as effective as its message, and research shows that the message needs to remain consistent to create impact and therefore, produce a predictable outcome. In daily marketing activities, this consistency ensures that critical messages (carried by the brand) are clear, concise, and will be more easily recalled and consumed by target buyers – helping set the table for their sales folks.
So now, we’re assuming you can see where this is all going, and why branding is not only the domain of marketers, but of critical importance to sales and sales enablement practitioners as well. Remember the analogy of your brand as a “radar sweep” predictable identifying and acquiring new customers? This notion is where sales and sales enablement folks need take notice, because effective branding not only “pushes” your sales message to market, but more critically “pulls” new prospects into range, and directly into the sales process. It’s at this stage, where sales enablement tools, practices, and even technologies can help speed, or slow, the buyer journey.
So how exactly can sales enablement professionals help connect sales people with the power of the brand? Well first, sales learning and ongoing training are critical to brand alignment. It would be a shame (and disastrous) if your customers were more familiar with your brand than your sales people. Sales training and learning are critical for this knowledge transfer to take place.
Next, aligning sales content and approaches with your brand is critical, not only for effective selling, but for effective buying by the customer. Sales messaging and materials need to be brand consistent to create a positive experience, particularly in the early stages of selling. Nothing puts a bump in the road of the buyer journey worse than materials that are dated, or worse, just plain incorrect (and wouldn’t it be nice for sales people to know which materials are most effective at each stage of the sales cycle too?). Last, and this is obvious but very important – branded content, training, scripts and recommended materials need to be easy to find and use by sales people. Nothing cools a hot prospect down faster than an ill-prepared or delayed response to the question “I’m ready to buy, can I get some help?” It’s the job of sales enablement to make sure your brand loyal customers remain that way.