What is your mission statement really saying to your prospective customers?
Not sure of how to grow your business by leveraging your mission statement? I have some bad news... Your mission statement sucks... #sorrynotsorry.
It's not unique... not even close. Worst of all, nobody is championing it the way they should be. If they were, it would suck a lot less, because your competitors are struggling with this too. But they're not, and it's likely due to mismanagement of the issue.
I know it's a challenge, and likely one of the toughest ones you'll face, regardless of whether your company is in start-up mode or if it has been around for 30 years. However, it is worth overcoming, because you'll be in less crowded waters if you do.
The problems with your statement:
1. It's generic
Your mission statement probably contains the following:
- High quality
- Full of integrity
- High tech / cutting edge
No, I'm not a mind-reader. And I didn't visit your site before writing this to ensure I spoke about it to you directly. I know this is your mission statement because I've read a lot of them over the years, and these ideas are present in 99% of them.
2. Nobody is really embracing it
Being the fanatical analyst-type, I have always been fascinated by the contrast of the words published and the actions of the businesses behind them. It was rare for them to ever sync up, and even rarer for random employees to have them memorized. They were more often used used as marketing tools and typically nothing more unsubstantiated self-promotion.
I remember going on a client visit once when the customer actually took a minute to point to their mission statement on the wall, stating how significant it was to everybody who worked there.
However, when I tried to engage in conversation with them about it (because I happened to love the one of the business I was representing), it was like I was talking to a deer in headlights.
It was so odd to put that much emphasis on its importance and not know anything about it, but it MUST have worked for them in some fashion to some degree.
But that was a LONG time ago... Today it's not as easy to say you stand for one thing when you actually stand for something else, because... well... internet. People have much more data at their fingertips and more visibility of your company, so it's harder to get by stating one thing, but delivering something else.
How to fix your mission statement without changing it
It's likely that your mission statement will be your mission statement for the foreseeable future. But just because you can't change it, that doesn't mean you can't make it better.
Anybody can do the work and be good at it. But not everybody is. From my experience, the real defining line between the stories of sustainable success and those that just ride the highs, then disappear into the crashes are the businesses that hold true to their mission statement through thick and thin.
They seek out answers when the religion is suffering - let go of those who won't embrace it, and promote those who champion it (and who deserve it, of course).
So, let's talk about how to improve your mission statement by proving that it means something throughout the sales process.
How do you prove that your company cares for your clients? Do you send them something fun during the holidays?
What about sales? What are they doing to prove that they care? It's not easy on the first call, but it is possible if sales puts a little bit of effort up front.
- Warm up those calls with some research (LinkedIn, website, etc)
- Drop a hand-written note in the mail
- Don't pitch every time you call - maybe offer something of value with no strings attached (inbound marketing collateral works GREAT for this!)
This is the killer for most of you. At one point (likely when writing this statement), your company likely fulfilled this quite easily. But as time goes on, it's easy to get comfortable and drop the ball.... which is why most of you do.
Maybe you had the most cutting edge sales tools or processes when you started out. Maybe it was the way you delivered your services, and the tools used to do so.
But like anything, you have to keep improving on what makes you "innovative" if you want it to be a competitive advantage. Here are some ideas for making the strongest first impression as possible through your sales teams:
- Upgrade your CRM to a modern CRM (what makes a CRM "modern?") - Why? Because your sales people are your company's first impression. They should be able to respond to interest with your services within 5 minutes of interacting with your content (even if they're not the ones reaching out to you). Studies show that doing so improves their odds of a successful 1st call 100-fold! And, it turns out, your CRM is the bottleneck to it all... yes, even if you're using Salesforce... #sorrynotsorry
- Iterate for success - Once you have that fancy modern CRM set up and ready to go, you should put it to work. But don't just continue with business as usual, with the only benefit being that it's automatically capturing most of your important information, therefore improving your data integrity (does your data integrity suck too?). Let's examine what's working and what's not, and leverage the tools to improve performance for their emails, slide decks, and the sales process as a whole.
Respect should come early - as in, the first point of contact. But it's hard to do when sales is spending so much time cold-calling, and RUDELY interrupting the days of all of their targets.
They might be a little more responsive if they were giving your company permission to market and sell to them to begin with. This can be accomplished through inbound marketing - where you give away valuable content in exchange for their permission and contact information. (Learn more about how inbound works)
It might also help if your salespeople sent emails when it was appropriate for their prospects, not them. One way to do this is to schedule emails to go out the following day, not 10 o'clock at night when they're drafting the email. Hubspot Sales Pro allows you to schedule emails whenever you want, and through machine learning and AI, they'll even offer suggestions to maximize responsiveness.
People want to be met on their own terms. You can help your sales teams do this with the proper tools.
BE High quality:
Although in my mind straight cold calling borders on disrespect, and we've already covered it, I think "quality" is an important aspect to cover as well.
Each touch your sales team makes to prospects will have a certain quality to it. It will either feel cold and icky or not. By providing your sales teams with proper tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator or your marketing teams with analytics that go beyond basic Google, you'll enable stronger, more relevant communications across the board.
But I wouldn't stop there. Alignment is key too. High quality communications are contextual, well-timed, and they don't compete with each other.
While it may seem obvious in nature, accomplishing alignment isn't as easy as it sounds.
- To start, your sales data integrity shouldn't suck, but it should also be visible on both sides of the aisle. Marketing and sales play different roles, but target the same outcomes. So, make sure your CRM and marketing automation technologies are integrated.
- You should have clear accountability standardized across both sales & marketing. For example, marketing can own lead gen while sales owns closing the deal. The problem here usually lies in between. You invest in lead gen, but don't get results when the hand-off and other rules of engagement aren't clear and bought in on both sides.
- Treat different lead-types differently. Inbound leads don't respond well to cold calling tactics, even if sales is warming them up by doing some research before calling. Inbound leads expect a consultative approach, not a throw-as-much-shit-against-the-wall-as-you-can-to-see-what-sticks approach.
- Set clear, realistic benchmarks. This is only possible when you have clarity in your data and buy-in from both sides. Understand though, that "realistic" means you're basing #s off of data, not hunches or assumptions. This is why that modern CRM is so important.
CONCLUSION: HAVE integrity
By fulfilling your mission statement in the sales process, you're proving right out of the gate that your company does what it says it will do. It will truly come alive and set you apart from the wannabe's.