In our view, a sales cycle can be distilled into a series of conversations between the seller and the buyer(s) for each defined step in a sales process. But the emphasis is on the buyer—that is, someone who is qualified and empowered to buy. This means that conversations have to be targeted. Sales-Ready Messaging involves defining the titles or functions of people within a prospect whom salespeople will have to call on in order to get their proposed offering sold and installed.
Once those titles have been identified, a menu of business issues for each title should be developed. As explained in our previous discussions, a buying cycle does not begin unless or until the buyer shares a goal that your offering can help them achieve. Once you have a title and a business objective, you are in a position to have a targeted conversation.
See the Targeted Conversations examples in Figure 5-1. This simply lists four titles at a prospect company and assigns a total of eight goals to them. Obvious? Perhaps. But we’ve seen most salespeople start making sales calls without this kind of structured and focused approach.
Another advantage of developing this kind of list is that it can include inputs from more than just the salespeople. In fact, people at many levels in the selling organization can contribute. In addition, targeting conversations permits a more consistent positioning of offerings, because the responsibility for positioning no longer falls solely on the shoulders of the salespeople. And finally, we find that targeting conversations tends to push conversations up higher in the hierarchy—and the higher in the organization a salesperson calls, the shorter the potential menu of business issues, the more predictable the ensuing conversation, and the more likely the sale.