Call it a lack of differentiation. Call it competitive saturation. Call it over-crowded buying committees. Call it whatever you want, but the reality has set in that the people who are supposed to be buying your pitch aren’t impressed. And you’re frustrated—really frustrated—because you know that you have the best product, the best people and provide the best service.
So why is this happening? Here are the six most common reasons we see:
- You’ve lost track of who you’re selling to. Digital transformation is turning every industry on its ear. And just like in your own organization, your customers are undergoing changes in roles, power structures and needs. How well are you staying on top of these changes and adapting your message to your evolving buying committees?
- You’re talking to yourself. Sometimes, we get so drunk on our own Kool Aid that we don’t even realize nobody knows what the hell we’re talking about. And humans, being generally kind, will too often endure or tune out your muddy message instead of telling you they don’t understand it. When is the last time you asked your buyers for direct feedback on your positioning?
- You’re using the same language as everyone else. Most markets compete on Whats (products, features, bells & whistles). But when everybody’s What is the same, nobody’s What means anything. So, together you float in the Sea of Sameness, indistinguishable from one another, without even realizing it. When is the last time you compared your competitors’ messaging to your own?
- Lawyers. I’ll leave that one here for a second…Ok, the problem isn’t actually lawyers-most of the ones I know are smart, work their butts off and take seriously their responsibility of mitigating organizational risk. But too often, Legal’s guidance is taken at face value. Is your organization over-empowering Legal or any other stakeholder in your message development process?
- You lack organizational fortitude. Who needs lawyers when your leadership’s systematic conservatism erases any opportunity for smart risk-taking in the first place? If Nike can put its ~$100B market cap on the line by wading into the NFL’s anthem debate, certainly you can claim to be better than your competitor at something. Is your fear of doing wrong precluding smart, responsible risk-taking?
- You lack discipline. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t help yourself. The words keep flowing link cheap wine. But the world is full of noise. And those who lack brevity add no value to it. How are you ensuring the delivery of your message is aligned to your audience’s ability to consume it?
Too many great organizations suffer under the weight of a lousy message. The Sales and Marketing leaders we speak to every day are too often frustrated that the value of their organization and its products and services isn’t being heard. Self-correction begins with a gut-check—a good hard look in the mirror—to ensure that you’re not shooting yourself in the foot first.