Role-based Messaging: An Important Component of the Selling Effort

At Critical Path Strategies (CPS), we have observed both good and bad customer interactions, and have formed opinions about what differentiates a “good” salesperson. One best practice of outstanding salespeople is their ability to frame their offering specifically to the needs of their individual buyers. The offering may be the same, but its presentation to different buyers in different roles is customized to the individual. We call this best practice “role‐based messaging.”


Value is a function of what a buyer is willing to pay and a seller is willing to accept and is determined by the individuals in a transaction. Yet even in understanding that value is truly personal, incredibly, we often fail to articulate value in a way that is relevant to our buyers.


Stop for a minute and think about the selling messages that barrage you on a daily basis. You hear messages to buy different types of technology, cars, insurance, real estate, and over-the-counter pain relievers. In your jobs, you receive emails from customers, your bosses, your friends, your business colleagues, and other senders. If you counted up the number of businesses trying to get your attention, would the total approach 250? 500? How do

you filter through it all to get at what’s most important? Research suggests that you respond only to what is personal and relevant to you within a timeframe that is meaningful.


As sales professionals and communicators, it is clear that to cut through the clutter and be heard, you must establish a personal mandate to consistently strive to articulate value in a personal, relevant, and time-sensitive fashion.


Over the years, CPS has observed that sales professionals who proactively and deliberately create individualized messages for their most important customers consistently experience a significantly higher success rate in identifying and closing major transactions. CPS has documented a straightforward process that may be used to create value-based messages that address the specific needs of individual participants.


Create your role-based message with these key points in mind.

  • Our company’s ability to…

  • Will help you address your critical need of…

  • The primary benefit to you will be...

Let’s review how this might work in a simplistic and hypothetical selling scenario. Suppose that you are interested in selling implementation services to a large customer. In working with the customer, you’ve learned that providing implementation services for a planned application will ultimately result in an annual savings of $5 million to the business. One might think that a message about the company savings might be compelling to all. Yet it is important to step back and think about who is involved in the decision-making process. Would the value to the CEO be the same as for the CFO and a Technical Manager? Probably not. We might find the

following nuances are important:

The benefit to the company doesn’t change; the savings will be recognized at an aggregated level. What is different is how you deliver the message and personalize it to ensure that your value contribution is heard and internalized by your buyers. When you remember to fine-tune your messages so that the buyers can immediately grasp the relevancy to them, you not only increase the probability that your messages will be heard, but you also build their confidence that you understand their business and their individual pains.

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