How to Create Winning Sales Messaging

In this Sales B12™ episode, Caryn and Jack define the role of sales messaging in a winning sales process. They share insights about the difference between marketing and sales messaging, how to improve it, and how to use it effectively to open more doors, close more sales, and ensures sales team success.

Quick links:

Jack (00:21): Caryn, after knowing you through the decades of our relationship, I know you’re the queen of sales messaging. That is what your team is so expert at! Let’s hear it from your perspective first. What’s the role of sales messaging in sales success?

The Best Words Win

Caryn (01:06): It is foundational. When you say the right words to the right people, doors open sooner and sales close faster. Through the 23 years I’ve owned this business where we do executive level door opening for other companies, we get our clients in the door with their prospects.

(1:28) I can tell you that the person with the best words wins. I’ve seen entire deals won or lost based on a single sentence. Even companies that don’t necessarily deserve to win, win because they have better words than their competitors.

That’s one of the reasons we do what we do: we want our clients to have access to new opportunities. Our clients deserve to win, but they can’t get a seat at the table or as many seats at the table as they want so they can tell their stories. And much of that has to do with what is said to a prospect. (2:06)

The Difference Between Marketing and Sales Messaging

(2:06) There’s a big blind spot out there. People think that marketing messaging is the same as sales messaging, and it’s not. Marketing messaging is meant for the masses, it’s general in nature. Sales Messaging is meant for one person. It’s the spoken word, the email meant for just one person. You’re not talking to a persona; you’re talking to a person. Individual words really matter. Sales messaging is a very overlooked aspect of sales and an important part of the sales playbook.

(Jack) Hey, Caryn, you make a great point regarding the big difference between marketing and sales messaging. You have to remember what two disciplines they’re about.

  • Marketing messaging: The wording and the messaging in marketing involve keying up or teeing up an opportunity for us to talk about helping somebody.
  • Sales messaging: But what are we going to do to take that opportunity that marketing gives to us, the salespeople, and take that prospect to the finish line?

Those messages are very, very different.
(Caryn) Absolutely. (3:13)

How To Create a Better Sales Message

Jack (03:14): So, how do you create a better sales message?

Figure Out the Gap

Caryn (03:17): One of the ways to create a better sales message is to figure out where the gap is. We have two trademarks in sales messaging. The most recent is called the Kopp Gap Method of Sales Messaging®. How do you create a gap between what somebody has now and what they could have? What could their lives be like if you were part of it? And how do you create that gap with words?

Articulate Your Value

Another of the frameworks we have is for the objection, “I already have a vendor for that; thanks anyway.” What do you say that helps somebody understand the others on the playing field, the seller’s value, and the delta between the two?

(4:04) Three sentences set up your value. They’re so simple, Jack, and they help salespeople articulate their value in relevant and compelling language. It creates a light bulb moment for the prospect. The prospects get it. Here is our trademarked process for creating the Kopp GAP Method of Sales Messaging®.

  1. Anyone can…
  2. But not everyone can…
  3. For example…

When you’re speaking to different people, that gap message will be different because different things are important to different people. And one of the secrets to getting this right is the second line, “but not everyone can.” The person who hears it has to nod along an agreement.

I can give many examples of this, but that is the framework for answering the objection, “we already have a vendor for the,” and helping prospects understand that they need to work with you. It’s a light bulb moment. 💡 (4:58)

Use Proactive vs. Reactive Sales Language

The other critical part of sales messaging is being proactive instead of reactive with a sentence. Be deliberate with your word choice. You can shorten your sales cycle by changing a single sentence. For example, you could say to somebody, “I’ll follow up with you in three months,” which is very reactive. Or you can say, “How’s Thursday at 10?” Now you just shortened your sales cycle and made it easier for the decision-maker to be part of the sales cycle. (05:37)

Using Sales Messaging in the Playbook

Those are just a few examples. Let’s talk about how sales messaging fits into the playbook. I promised I was going to come back to that. Who develops it? You can have lots of material in a playbook, but how do the leaders know it’s right?

Reflect Top Seller Best Practices

Jack (05:54): So, Caryn, an awful lot of companies in the world have something that they call either the President’s Club or the Chairman’s Club, where they recognize the top-performing salespeople in the organization. I’ve spoken to those groups on many occasions, and many of my clients have me back year after year.

One of the most frustrating experiences for me is seeing the same people, year after year, be honored in the president’s or chairman’s clubs.

Now, think about it; all the salespeople are dealing in the same economy, with the same product, price, service deliverable, and competitors. Yet these few people recognized as the best are doing it every year.

(06:54) The only way for that to continuously happen is if those top salespeople do it differently. So the best playbooks, quite frankly, reflect the top sales performer’s best practices. It’s as simple as that.

Example of Sales Playbook Success

One client I’ve had for 10-plus years. I meet with them yearly. Two years ago, 300 salespeople gathered together in New Orleans from around the U.S., and I asked the top 10 salespeople to get on stage with me. I didn’t know who they were then, and they came on stage for an interview process.

One of the questions I asked straightaway was, “How many years of experience do you have in the industry?” And “How long have you been with this company?” Three of the ten top salespeople had no previous industry experience and had worked there for less than a year!

And they were the top performers out of 300 plus. And I said, “You know, how can this be?” They all laughed and said, “When I came to the company, I felt like I cheated. All I needed to do was do what the playbook said, use the words and the phrases, and behave according to the playbook.

Why Everyone is Not a Top Seller

Now, here’s the thing that I really want to make sure everybody understands. There were sellers in that company that worked for over ten years, in the industry for more than 15 years, and were never in the top performing category. And why is that? Because they have their own style. They have their own way of doing things.

Encourage Top Seller Contributions

(8:44) I am all about best practices, and if you want to get a playbook that reflects best practices, get your top performers to go and contribute there and make the playbook something that the salespeople produce, not the leadership. The best salespeople are canned: they say it the same way each time. The beauty is that it doesn’t sound canned. (9:09)

Keep it Subject to Change

And then the last thing I’ll give you in this section is that as much as I believe in that playbook, it is never a finished product. It is constantly under review. It’s always subject to improvement because the environment that we sell in is under constant change.

Provide Full Access

Caryn (09:34): So, Jack, how can the managers know with certainty that their sellers are using the top-performing sales messaging and best-practice playbook?

Role Play and Practice

(Jack) Yeah, that’s fair. I’ve heard it said this way (9:48) it’s the three p’s: practice, practice, practice. So part of it is, do you have allocated time in the calendar where your salespeople are practicing? One of my companies was number 10 on the Inc 500. We had 120 salespeople in one location, and every salesperson of those 120, no matter how good they were, had a required minimum of one hour of practice each day. The very best people practice. (10:23)

Coach in the Field

(10:24) Then the second thing is, you have to go in the field with your people and be out there coaching them in real situations, right? If you want to see what’s happening, get out in the field and be there.

I ran an organization, as you know, of 2,600 salespeople. I was on the road in the field with my salespeople three out of every four weeks of the month. Paul Orfalea, the founder of Kinko’s copies, built it into the giant company it was and then sold it to FedEx. He told me in an interview that I did with him that he never had an office at corporate. He spent one hundred percent of the time in the stores because that’s where you really find out what’s happening. You have to go out in the field; that’s the key. (11:16)

Caryn (11:16): Well, management must be a big part of making sure that there is a playbook and that people use it. But people who understand what to do with those words aren’t necessarily the marketing people because they’re not the ones who use sales language; the sellers use the sales language. As we grew our company, we found that creating winning sales messaging had to be done by our Door Openers. They became Sales Messaging Strategists because they knew what language would work and what language wouldn’t. The marketers didn’t know and the leaders didn’t know, because they weren’t the ones using it in the field. It is essential to get the sales messaging right. When you say the right words to the right people doors open sooner and sales close faster. And then, if the target changes, the messaging has to change too.

Deliver With Passion

Jack (12:00): And let me add this one too. Many people know who I am because I’ve been at the game for a while. And I have to tell you that I have been saying the same thing for over two decades. But in every audience I speak to, I deliver it as if it’s the first time I’ve ever said it. That is the requirement to be at the top of your game.

To be professional is to deliver it like opening night on Broadway. We can give you the right messaging and put those sales messages in a playbook, but if you’re not delivering them as if it’s the first time out on stage, your prospect knows it. If you’re just going through the motions, it doesn’t matter what messaging or words you use; they’ll fall on the floor and be ineffective.

Caryn (13:08): Well said. Thank you for being with us for this episode of Sales B12. I encourage you to look at the other sales B12 episodes for just as great content as this one. And we will see you next time. Thanks, Jack!

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