Line up your launch plan with a networking event or trade show
that targets your prospect base
When visiting clients and prospects on-site at their headquarters or local offices, one thing I look for is the physical location — or separation — between their communications teams, such as marketing, public relations and events departments, and their sales teams.
Teams that are well aligned mean stronger telecom companies — period. And sometimes, the physical location of these teams can actually say quite a bit about the corporate culture. Are the teams on separate floors or wings? Separate cities?
As a marketer raised in telecoms, I am used to sitting near or even inside the sales pit. I earned my stripes by knowing the sales teams’ incentives and by defining promotions that helped them achieve their incentives. I was also privy to the overall company strategy and objectives, such as what product they believe is the next big thing and why. Then we developed the strategy for selling it to the marketplace.
Now as the CEO of a telecom-focused PR firm, I can no longer literally sit next to each salesperson. Nevertheless, my team and I have crafted a list of questions that gives us that same sales insight, as if we were sitting nearby.
These questions ensure that our communication lines remain open and effective, now and in the future. Usually this conversation works best quarterly and/or before a new product or service launch.
So here’s some of our favourite questions from our list. Please add your questions and thoughts in the form below. We will include your ideas in our social media or potentially in upcoming GTB articles. In particular, we want to continue the discussion in a marketing thread on the Global Telecoms Business group on LinkedIn — see the end of this article for ways to join in the debate.
I have written “product/service launch” often in these questions as a placeholder, but you can swap that phrase with any big news you are planning to announce to the marketplace.
Why is this new product/service launch important to your overall business strategy?
In order to be an effective extension of a team, we have to be part of the team. This means trusted access — in accordance with our strict non-disclosure agreements, of course — as to where the company is heading.
For example, what’s the end-game strategy? Is it a series of acquisitions/mergers, going public, going national or global? Is it a medley of these strategies?
And how does the new launch of a service/product or news further this corporate end goal? How will it make the company stronger or more accessible? How does it add to your customers’ experience and/or that of the telecom industry as a whole?
Ensuring that each new message further strengthens the company’s underlying essence goes a long way in strengthening the brand and overall company value and perception.
Who do you see as your competitor for this new/existing product/service?
With today’s telecoms companies redefining themselves and consolidating their offerings on a regular basis, a competitive check-in, even per product, can result in some surprising answers.
Clients can be partners as well as competitors and we need to be mindful of this ecosystem as we craft new messages.
We also need to stay on top of competitive benchmarking, to understand and define our niche differences.
By clearing outlining these differences to the marketplace, we are not only providing more educational resources, which helps further position our company as the thought leader on this particular keyword or phrase — see my Global Telecoms Business article in the July/August issue for more on this — but ideally shortening the time needed to close the deal, something your sales team will love.
What’s your timeline?
It’s not enough to have a strategy if you don’t marry it to a hard-hitting timetable that illustrates a sense of industry/community awareness.
Line up your launch plan with a networking event or trade show that targets your prospect base. Make sure the media attending this event receives as much information and advance notice to pique their interest and to plan one-on-one interviews on-site.
We have to be aggressive in this industry to be the first to market with a new idea or product, but be wary of announcing before your company is ready — for example, your provisioning capabilities and so on.
Also try to set realistic deadlines so that your collective teams are able to work together constructively to ensure streamlined messages and outreach. A launch of a new product or offering should not just be handled by the communications team; it should include, for example, the sales teams contacting their prospects or existing client base to inform them of this exciting news and how it could potentially benefit them.
Who is the point person?
Not only do you need to know who is the key salesperson or sales team that is running point on this new initiative, you should also create a group email address — for example email@example.com — that includes more than one person’s email address.
This group email will be included on all new contact form submissions and as a call to action on printed collateral and campaigns, to track the success of the outreach.
In addition, which person is media-facing? Is this person trained and comfortable about speaking to the media on this new launch?
Is their messaging consistent with the overall campaign messaging? Are there any curve balls — or tough or tricky questions — that a journalist or analyst may ask that you can prepare for now?
Make sure this key person doesn’t have a vacation in the books for the week after the launch. Chances are, if your campaign is a successful one, the phone will be ringing.
How can we use this news as a way to increase our lead generation pools and website traffic?
Consider this as a golden marketing rule today: if it’s happening offline, then it’s not happening.
All new products, offers and ideas need to be posted on your website, on your blog, in your press releases, which are then posted on your site and picked up by other online media organisations, in your metadata — with keywords embedded into your site code — and posted throughout your social media channels.
I know, exhausting — but necessary.
Additionally, it should be posted in a way that encourages more conversations and access to additional resources. For example, if you have a new product — say a new cloud hosting offer — and you are about to announce it in a press release, make sure you also have a landing page on your website which briefly explains what it is, with the key benefits, and then has a specific form for people to key in their names and email addresses so that they can quickly download the full cloud hosting datasheet, case study or webinar.
And don’t just tie this to your generic “contact us” form. Today’s marketing and sales are based on tracking, tracking and tracking. Knowing who is downloading this particular resource is critical to assessing how well you are getting the word out on this campaign.
These contact details are also great leads to distribute back to your sales team — who at this point think you are a superstar and want to work with you more.
What are the reasons a lead doesn’t close?
This is a biggie — and traditionally a question that really gets to the heart of any disconnect between sales and marketing teams and strategies.
We as marketers need to not just funnel leads towards the sales team, but we also need to nurture the leads that are not yet quite ready to make the jump and commit to buying.
Instead of just throwing these unready leads in a “for later” bucket, ask your sales team for the top reasons they are not biting. Whether it’s timing, budget or the value of the product, this feedback becomes extremely valuable information for marketing.
Now we can segment these leads accordingly and create key messages that target each one of these pain points.
You may find that old leads can get some new traction with some fresh, pointed messaging. And, you can eliminate any misunderstandings that might be out there on your product.
Are there any ways marketing can do a better job?
Sometimes we get caught up in all our strategies and new fangled reporting tools and so on that we forget to listen to the word on the street.
The sales teams are the ones who are actually talking to the leads, understanding particular concerns, and taking that well-crafted message — which you might have spent all month perfecting — from the drawing board to the meeting rooms. The reps should be considered your soldiers on the front line in garnishing and analysing prospects’ reactions.
This necessary insight can help create stronger prospect personas, and could trigger even better messages and campaigns, a different positioning of your product or a new local angle for your follow-up. Sometimes the best answers are often found in our backyards.
And next, join the discussion
What are your must-ask inter-departmental questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, respond via the comments facility on the web version of this article (http://tinyurl.com/GTB-Jaymie2), or join in the conversation on the Global Telecoms Business group on LinkedIn, (http://tinyurl.com/GTB-Link)
The previous article in this series can be read online at http://tinyurl.com/GTB-Jaymie1 This and all articles are available on your iPad or iPhone. Download the Global Telecoms Business app free from iTunes on http://tinyurl.com/GTB-iPad
Jaymie Scotto Cutaia is CEO of Jaymie Scotto & Associates