A nephew of mine recently joined the Air Force and selected bomb demolition as his occupation. One of the trickier munitions he learned to defuse was based on smart weapons technology. These munitions are delivered to the vicinity of a target via a missile or other delivery vehicle, then smaller sub ordinances are released which perform the actual target sighting as well calculating aim points for maximal kill effect. This led me to think about an analogy with selling – how marketing organizations create programs to identify suspects then drop sales people in to engage with these potential customers, much in the same way that the missile gets the smart munitions into the battlefield for engagement with the suspected targets.
We know that good positioning statements allow prospects to self-identify and make themselves known to our companies. However, like the missile analogy above, these positioning statements get you into the battle, but they dont win it. Thats why our best sales leaders are extremely adept at tweaking the positioning of their company and product on the fly in context of specific sales opportunities. They are masters at re-positioning our companies at the point of engagement. Just like smart munitions, once engaged they hone in on the prospects strategy, then determine how to appropriately position a product to show how it supports the strategic objectives of the prospects organization. Therefore in the product marketing process, we should build some agility into our positioning to assist the entire sales force in utilizing this agile selling technique.
To accomplish this, the positioning should be specific enough to attract the right buyer targets, but not so specific as to allow the buyer to self-eliminate our company or product as the best solution. For instance, FedEx used to use the tag line ”When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.” No chance there for any uncertainty in the buyers mind as to what the FedEx service delivers. But what if I didn’t need overnight service? Maybe UPS is a better choice then? FedEx has since switched to more encompassing taglines such as ”Your single source for time-sensitive and time-deferred packages and the world on time.” This provides FedEx the ability to attract shippers that have time sensitive requirements, then secure customers by selling them an appropriate level of service that more finely fits their needs.
In summary, we want to design some positioning agility into our product marketing strategies for our sales teams to leverage at the point of sale. So the trick then is to craft the positioning statements targeted just enough to get our sales teams engaged with qualified prospects, while at the same time providing a set of flexible positioning and differentiation tactics that can be utilized as needed to zero in for the sale.