Positioning is how a brand is viewed in the mind of the customer. Generally, it is created at the beginning of the brand’s lifecycle and remains the same throughout (with minor corrections for new competitive entrants and other lifecycle factors). This positioning is created at the corporate/global level, and it trickles down to each region to be optimized for that specific market. At a local level, the brand teams are responsible for local advertising and branding while considering the context in which the brand exists (insurance, access, reimbursement, cultural norms, etc).
When it comes to sales teams, although they are not involved in the initial positioning development, nor are they heavily involved in the positioning optimization, they play a big role in the execution of a brand’s positioning. Often times representatives from the sales teams can voice their perspective in a brand advisory committee capacity where they are involved in reviewing key initiatives and providing insight. Sales teams are able to provide a different viewpoint, based on their extensive experience in a category as well as the personal relationships and feedback they receive from physicians. More often than not, sales teams can help inform brand personality and essence and reduce the need for major course corrections.
The competitive advantage sales representatives bring to the table is extremely important in that they understand the insider’s perspective and the nuances physicians might reveal in the comfort of that relationship. Additionally, they understand how semantics (word choice and clarity), syntactics (ordering of words and ideas) as well as pragmatics (context of words and ideas) might affect the messaging and positioning set forth.
Marketers know the depth of knowledge that stands behind the message hierarchy and weighting. Therefore, the collaboration between the marketing/branding team and the sales team is of paramount importance, to be on the same page, discuss the positioning, essence and personality the brand is trying to achieve along with the story behind the messaging. Often times, a sales representatives’ time is limited with physicians and they are therefore forced to pick and choose messages that seem most relevant in that moment. The disconnect that can exist between marketers and sales representatives on the implications of message order and story execution can deeply affect a brand’s positioning.
The most important aspect of translating a brand position to the sales team is removing that disconnect and allowing sales representatives the competitive advantage of understanding the when, where and why behind the messaging. Understanding the brand story and in turn, understanding data behind the positioning will yield the greatest success and consequently, increase their ability to be successful in their territory. When sales representatives have the ammunition, it positively influences their motivation to make a difference.
Sales representatives are the active promoters and face for the brand. The experience physicians have is completely directly linked to the brand and furthermore, the company. But communication between broader marketing / brand management teams and sales representative is bi-directional and requires active involvement and communication.
Is your sales team effectively communicating your brand position?