You’re Selling What to Whom?

Here’s an interesting bit of low-cost research that could provide valuable insights into whether various people in your organization really understand your value proposition and market position. Ask two simple questions:

  • What are you selling?
  • Who are your buyers?
Start with the marketing and sales organizations. Ask the questions individually and record the answers verbatim. Doing this in person either face-to-face or on a phone call as an interview wherever you can provides additional insights to observe how people respond. A simple online survey can be used for people who can’t be reached personally. IMO, interviews are more effective than surveys for this type of research.

Besides providing the obvious measure of how well the market positioning, messaging and value propositions from marketing are understood, this little research project can yield interesting additional insights.

In response to “what are you selling?” IMO the only valid answers are those that describe what is being sold in the context of the value defined by customer. So, instead of the more typical answer of “I’m selling a world-class inventory management solution”, a customer value oriented answer might be “I’m providing our customers the means to increase their customer service levels by at least 10% without increasing their investment in inventory”.

"In the factory we make cosmetics; in the store we sell hope."
– Charles Revson (founder of Revlon Cosmetics)

The “who are your buyers?” is intended to determine who in your organization really understands the qualification characteristics of the right prospective buyers. Good answers should include the multiple dimensions of industry, market segment, company demographics, psychographics and buyer profiles of the individuals involved in making the buying decisions.

Ask the CEO, COO, CFO and other functional areas these same questions – you might be surprised by some of the answers.

For the only answers that really matter, ask your customers what value they perceived they were buying with your product/service/solution. Ask them who was involved in the decision process and why they made this choice.

You should have a lot of interesting data points and insights to reconcile from this project. Marketing is responsible for ensuring that the company has the right positioning, messaging and customer value propositions, but more importantly that everyone in the organization is in agreement and understands how this applies to their role.

Your comments are always welcome.
Copyright © 2009 The Marketing Mélange and Ingistics LLC.