Messaging frameworks are a useful tool for rationalizing your strategy across product/service lines and bringing clarity to staff who need to sell those solutions. The process of developing a messaging framework is helpful for decoding how solution teams think of the business, identifying how customers express their need for those solutions, and aligning your messaging with those customer needs.
The result enable executives to better understand how your different solutions interrelate and provides a practical tool for salespeople to cross-sell products/services based on interrelated customer needs.
This article defines the elements of a messaging framework and provides a practical example (in Excel). If you don’t have the bandwidth to create a messaging framework yourself, Competegy can gather the data and develop a taxonomy that represents customer needs across your offerings.
Solution Categories and Solution Pillars
If you have multiple, distinct solution categories, start by identifying the solution categories (e.g., Collaboration) as well as the underpinning solution pillars (e.g., Office 365 Productivity, Enterprise Content Management). Each solution category make up separate tabs on a spreadsheet which enables you to cross-reference across solution pillars later.
Pithy Summary and Elevator Pitch
Create succinct messaging to represent each solution category. Keep the pithy summary to less than 25 works and the elevator pitch to less than 100 words.
Define the solution description, top feature areas, and customer decision makers for each solution pillar. List the customer needs that your solution addresses along with the qualifying questions that would uncover those needs. This step is critical for sales teams to be able to uncover customer opportunities.
Customer Need Statements
Go further by capturing the “statements a customer would make that indicates a need for the solution pillar”. For example, a customer might say “I want to reduce my operating costs for email management”. This would be an indicator that they have a need for Office 365 email services. Capture lots of these customer statements as they will be helpful for the analysis step (below).
After identifying the decision maker’s needs that your solutions address, you’ll want to direct the prospect toward a logical next step (e.g., an assessment) that can advance their interest. Target something more substantial than a follow-up meeting.
If you have multiple solution categories, you’ll likely find customers with a need for one area will often have related needs in other solutions you offer (particularly if you are an SI, VAR, or large ISV). Identify those linkages by explicitly cross-referencing related solution pillars in other solution categories.
Customer Statement Analysis
At this point you’ve got the basis for a solid messaging framework but you can generate more insight by taking all the customer need statements and identifying common categories across those needs. For example, “I want to reduce operating costs for email management” can be simplified as “cost reduction”. Identify other solution pillars that also enable cost reduction.
The resulting analysis helps salespeople map the customer pain across all the solutions that you offer to address that pain. A pivot table is useful for navigating these results but you may wish to implement the findings as a visualization tool, web page, or digital cheat sheet.
Following is an Excel spreadsheet that you can use as the basis for your own messaging framework. Each solution category (e.g., productivity, cloud solutions, etc.) should be profiled as a unique tab with solution pillars represented as columns on each sheet (the sample is in context of simple Competegy services). After building out your tabs (solution categories), add a master table that aggregates all your customer needs to get the big picture of how your solution pillars are interrelated from a customer perspective.