Customer Conversation Challenge 2: Consistency

id1cup77“The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.”

“We just aren’t on the same page.”
“It seems like everyone is just rolling their own.”
“Why can’t we all sing from the same hymnal when we’re out with customers?”

If you hear these phrases around your organization–or even catch yourself saying them–then there is ample evidence of inconsistency in your customer conversations. It’s common to have disconnections among units (Marketing, Sales, Service), geographies, product/service lines, or what potential customers hear online versus offline. I think that evolving work patterns, where more is happening virtually and teams rarely are in the same space at the same time, exacerbate the gaps. So have pressures on training and onboarding budgets.

But what has changed—and made this type of inconsistency increasingly costly—is that buyers have scouted you. These days, buyers are about 60% of the way through their decision-making process by the time they engage with salespeople.

It takes a concerted effort to squeeze inconsistencies from customer conversations. People will resist overly programmed processes (or, Heaven forbid, scripts) as well they should. In my work with DSG Consulting I was introduced to a playbook approach, one that balances simplicity and individual autonomy with adoption of core messages and examples.

You can drive consistency, and make it stick, by including A-players from the key units that will actually be using the content. This forces interaction in a way that simply won’t happen on its own these days. It takes a lot of work including some face-to-face time involving the entire group; this is a political challenge because true A-players are the ones who legitimately will resist devoting time (if they don’t believe the project will make a difference).

The encouraging news is that an effective playbook for customer conversations should only take 3 months or so to draft and validate–much less time than is required for almost any other type of marketing initiative. If the process was sound, those same A-players who might have initially resisted “force-fed consistency” will likely be your biggest cheerleaders for adoption.

It mostly takes executive-level resolve that there must be a hymnal (plus mandatory choir practice across the teams) for your customer conversations to hit the right notes consistently.

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