According to our “Brand Dilution” study, more than half of companies are introducing products every quarter — at least. As a result, frontline teams are getting too much product information at once and struggling to keep up.
These customer-facing representatives are being asked to familiarize themselves with new information every 90 days — and embrace the next wave of new information just as quickly. Whether the change is in product offerings, services, or promotions and campaigns, frequent disruptions like this create a serious roadblock to brand alignment.
Before frontline teams can communicate a brand story consistently and confidently to customers, they need that story to be delivered to them in a way that’s impactful, relevant, and clearly aligned with the brand vision.
Marketing the Vision Internally
Manufacturing companies are often among the worst offenders when it comes to giving their teams bland, irrelevant training content. Think webinars and one-sheets — basically all of the training methods that don’t inspire action. Even e-books, which companies often view as innovative because they’re in a digital format, offer static information more than they do engaging content.
It’s time for manufacturers to move beyond this method of just spreading information into something more dynamic. The content you provide your teams should inspire sales reps to go home and tell their families how excited they are to sell new products or be part of new campaigns. If that’s not the case, getting them to that point should be a priority.
One major obstacle to this goal is using customer marketing materials as training tools.
Companies invest in market research and use that research to create messages that speak to consumers. The problem is that they assume those messages will speak to salespeople just as effectively. But salespeople need messages that are specific to their roles and needs. They’ll benefit from communication that’s based on internal marketing strategies, not copies of external marketing materials.
To effectively talk to customers about new products, services, and campaigns, frontline teams must understand those things themselves. Advertising is optimized for different communication channels and customers, so training and internal communications between marketing and sales teams should be, too.
That isn’t to say that market research can’t play a part in training. Market research can be a powerful way to help employees better understand the customers they’re talking to. However, it’s important to go beyond just telling frontline reps what customers want and, instead, speak to them as internal customers. Doing so will make them better communicators and empower them to share the brand story confidently.
How Manufacturers Can Use Brand Vision Tools to Train Frontline Teams
Old, static training methods just don’t cut it anymore. Brand vision tools do. Knowing just how important it is to provide engaging training to customer-facing teams, how do you do it? Here are four places to start:
1. Be more literal with your vision.
Most companies have a tagline. In theory, a tagline should summarize a manufacturer’s position in the marketplace or its promise to the customer. The tagline represents a big part of the vision. But people inside the company rarely know what the tagline means or how it impacts them in their roles.
Because of that, marketers need to take brand messages and break them down for others internally. Why is the vision, well, the vision? How do employees know it’s the right one? Has the company been defending and defining that vision? Most of the time, employees want to rally around it — it’s just rare that anyone takes the time to help them do so.
2. Re-imagine the goal of your frontline communications.
Keeping your employees informed isn’t enough. Stop sending out information in big waves and assuming they’ll digest it and automatically turn it into a powerful sales tool. The goal of training tools shouldn’t be to communicate as much information as possible, as often as possible. It should be to inspire action.
Before sending something to your sales team or other customer-facing teams, ask yourself what you want them to do. Do the materials you’re sending tell them what you want? Do they make a compelling case for them to actually do it? Forget forcing people to “comply.” Focus, instead, on convincing them why they should want to.
3. Spark interest.
Spend time ensuring that your training tactics are exciting and relevant to employees. If the goal of training changes, then change your approach, too. Getting people to take notice of new information and change their behavior means grabbing — and keeping — their attention.
One-sheets and webinars won’t do this because employees have grown numb to them. Give the tools you’re sharing with frontline teams an honest evaluation: Are they eye-catching? Motivating? Convincing? If you want teams to act, they better be.
4. Remember that less is more.
One final piece of the puzzle in ensuring your frontline teams are focused on delivering the brand vision is eliminating the noise as much as possible. Take stock of what you’re sending them and whether it’s making them stronger or just more overwhelmed. Keep training content consistent and impactful, and make sure every new tool you offer is directly linked to the vision.
Frontline teams are juggling a lot of newness. Rapidly changing product and service offerings and new campaign rollouts are overwhelming, so supporting employees through it all is deeply important. Provide them with content that engages and sparks passion — that will be the thing that aligns employees across manufacturing companies.