Many times, clients ask us for advice about their messaging. Typically, they want to get their entire team on the proverbial same page about how they present the company and its services to prospects, customers and the public.
That usually entails a group meeting where we discuss the three main components of an elevator speech: who you are/what you do, what makes you different and how your clients benefit. Ideally these types of branding sessions end in a kumbaya moment where everyone walks away whistling the same tune in a consistent and compelling manner.
That’s all very nice, helpful and important. But lately we’ve taken a different approach to messaging sessions; one that makes the participants squirm just a little. But in a good way!
We ask team members to relive their worst nightmare sales meeting. We ask them to list all the most challenging questions that they have ever been asked – or hope to never be asked – about the company. The wide variety of dreaded questions range from, “You’re the third salesperson from your company to call on me in six months. Why does your company have such a hard time keeping people?”, to “What can you offer that’s really different from your competitor down the street?”.
Then, as a group, we brainstorm responses and evaluate them against the company’s core messaging to be sure the answers to the dreaded questions are truthful, defensible and in sync with how the company wants to be known. We also challenge the responses, just to push the envelope a bit further.
The “dreaded questions” exercise accomplishes at least three objectives: (1) It ensures that everyone on the team is prepared to answer to the absolute worst-case objections that they may ever get from a client. (2) It ensures that everyone will answer those objections in the same way, using the same proof statements. (3) Finally, it gives team members a sense of confidence. In selling professional services, confidence is critical because we are selling our reputation.