We would typically initiate Sales-Primed Communications projects by asking clients a fairly basic question: "What are the typical job titles or job functions of the decision makers and influencers your salespeople will have to have meaningful conversations with?" Or, phrased differently, "Who is in a position to cost-justify, fund, buy, and implement your products and services?"
The first step in answering this is to list your vertical industries. Even if you have horizontal offerings, bear in mind that mainstream-market buyers (as described in earlier chapters) like to feel that the selling organization understands and has done business with their industry.
For each industry, make a list of the titles (or functions) a salesperson is likely to call on in order to get your offering sold, funded, and implemented. This exercise often will be dependent on the size of the potential transaction and the size of the prospect organization. For now, let's concentrate on large transactions to large organizations, since you can scale down this process at any time.
The difficulty of this task is directly related to the complexity of the offering. In some instances, salespeople enjoy the luxury of calling on just one person who can make the decision. For enterprise sales, the challenge ramps exponentially as the number of people and the accompanying number of business issues increase. Having said that, most of our clients find this to be a fairly easy exercise. They can do it from memory, because they encounter the same job titles in sale after sale.
Answering the next questions, though, usually requires more thought: "For each of these job titles, what goals or business objectives should they have in that function? Which of those goals are addressable through the use of your offering?"
Every goal in your list should be a business variable that your company's offering can help a particular title achieve. Ideally, the goal should be monetarily based, as the financial benefit of achieving the goal will be used to determine if the cost of the offering can be justified. Put another way, a business should be willing to spend money to achieve a goal.
Let's imagine that you are selling an enterprise-wide CRM system to a large company. Your amended list might look as follows:
Achieve revenue growth targets
Improve profitability by lowering cost of sales
Increase revenue through improved win rates
Increase market share
In this example, the objectives of the CIO are especially telling (and this turns out to be true in many cases). Buyers generally need the opportunity to quantify solutions. But how would someone determine, for example, if it would be worth $1 million to better support end-users? The only way to make that business judgment would be to go out and get the perspectives of the end-users—certainly possible, but not an easy task. So the goal that the CIO's office is best able to quantify is that of staying within budget, and that may turn out to be your most fertile ground. Focusing on staying within budget, however, does not bode well for funding new initiatives.
Creating this merged list - job titles with associated goals - sets the stage for what we call Targeted Conversations. But before those conversations can begin, more homework needs to be done.