Marketing and Sales: DNA Integration

DNA IntegrationWho says sales and marketing can’t work together?

Marketers have long been charged with the goal of getting the attention of potential buyers so sales teams can generate revenue.  Since many people they target have often had little or no previous interaction with a brand, the volume/humor/content/sex appeal/celebrity status has to be ultimately memorable. When it’s not, it’s game over.  You lose.  The sales rep never gets a shot.

What if marketers took ACTUAL insights about CURRENT customers from the sales reps who work with them?  In other words, marketing specialists create content to help deepen front-line relationships between representatives and existing customers in a way that stimulates INTRODUCTIONS rather than just attention.

“This all sounds great, but how do we get there?”  “How do we hire and assign marketers to brands, reps and customers based on worldview compatibility?”

It’s not as hard as you may think.  For example, Flipboard sends articles from selected categories sent to the user’s news feed.  Flipboard represents worldview in a nutshell.  Apply this insight to your marketing strategy, and the “chasm” magically disappears.   Here’s how:  Let’s say a rep has honed their client base to the point of optimal compatibility.  Marketing representatives of complementary profiles would then be matched to serve that particular niche or community, regardless of geographic region…No office physical office necessary.  It’s also a role today’s workforce would thrive in.      

Marketing representatives’ impact would be most significant when combining their content marketing expertise with the personal relationship skills of the brand representative.  When woven together, they add value to the lives of all customers in that niche through informing and educating in ways conducive to that particular set of criteria. Customers then tune in to their messages and tune out those of competitors…unless they are given a reason to stop offering their trust and attention.  

If marketing and sales effectively close this chasm, a strong bond should be formed between all parties involved, as well as within and across microcommunities in both branded(company) and sub-branded(representative) networks.   

What do you think?  Feasible or pie-in-the-sky?

Learning To Swim

When do you learn to swim, when it’s sunny or when the flood waters are approaching your second-story windows? Why, then, do you wait for the storm clouds to fill the skies?  Because like most people, you don’t think it will ever be THAT bad.  

There are times when being an optimist is perfectly reasonable, but this isn’t one of them.  Now it’s all about realism. It’s time to open the blinds and take a long, hard look outside.  The Industrial Age is gone.  So are land lines, televisions with tuning dials maxed out at the number “13”, and 8-track tapes.  We are now in the Internet Age, where consumers are armed with more information about not only brands, but also their representatives, than can be printed on a direct-mail newsletter.  Where does all of this information come from?  Transparent sharing by real human beings in and between an infinite number of online communities.  “Dirty little secrets” can’t stay secure forever.  Inside information may be protected legally, but common-knowledge across-the-board “perks”  of most industries will likely not fall in that category.

What happens when the proverbial cat is out of the bag?  How do you explain to customers the REAL reason for calling them repeatedly when they aren’t expecting it?  They’re going to find out.  The legacy generation that has provided a solid income stream for the last three decades probably knows, but they no longer care. They are nearing the end of their buying cycle for your products and services.  Unless they are independently wealthy, the likelihood of them needing more than they already have is slim.  What many fail to realize is that every generation of consumer that follows is going to have access to exponentially more information shared transparently across infinitely more platforms than their Industrial Age elders. No longer are they going to lie down in a sales appointment.  In fact, there won’t be a “sales appointment”.  It will be a “validation meeting”.  They will meet to confirm that you are a real human being, matching your face to that of your online avatar,  then to verify that the solution they quoted on their mobile device has identical features and pricing on your brand’s platform.

Are you prepared to deal with that reality?

Bugatti Veyron For Sales

BugattiIt’s not a typo:   This isn’t a classified ad. Those don’t work like they used to. Nor do a lot of things in the sales world.

Remember when you had to call people, knock on doors and send them direct mail just to get their attention? Of course you do…90% of the people reading this are still doing it every day! Even though they have access to a marketing machine equivalent to a Bugatti Veyron at their fingertips, they still choose to do it the old way. The vehicle is Social Selling.

What’s the point of the cold call in the first place? To get attention and build relationships, of course. Whose time does that involve? Both the caller’s AND the prospect’s. What happens if you can’t come to trust and respect each other in that first interaction? Both the your AND the prospect’s time are wasted. Time has become an even more important resource than currency, especially when you’re trying to build a business in this fast-paced world. Unlike money, you can’t add time to your bank account.

What if you could establish relationships faster than a Bugatti can go from 0-200 mph? How would it benefit your business if you didn’t have to spend hours every day interrupting people, trying to get their attention to give them a message they usually don’t care about hearing?   What if you could instead focus on engaging with communities of other humans that have grown to know, like and trust you before you have even physically MET THEM?  Does anyone else think this is a ridiculous conversation to be having right now? Be honest: How many more people could you reach and attract if you just stopped doing what you have been told to do for decades and started interacting with customers on THEIR terms? Social Selling allows you to make the most of your time AND that of people who have yet to meet you.

By the way, you can’t test drive a Bugatti Veyron. They’re like works of art, specifically fitted to each buyer…like a personal brand is specific to each human being that builds one.  

Coincidentally, authentic versions of each are nearly priceless.

Selling On Price

Price value

Brands that sell on price are making a statement that numbers matter more than relationships.  For decades, numbers have driven sales goals and performance incentives for most companies. “Make this or that number and you will be looked upon favorably when bonus time rolls around.” Yet how many times are representatives told that “it takes years to build a relationship and only seconds to lose one”? Is this not a counter-intuitive thought process? If it takes seconds to lose a valued customer that continues to pay for products and services year after year, why would anyone not focus more attention on those great people than on others who will never care about your brand or, worse yet, will never care about YOU?

Retention is the right strategy. Unfortunately, legacy systems don’t support it to the extent that they should. What would happen if representatives were rewarded for the number of times a customer bought from them, the number of their friends they had been introduced to who also chose to work with them, and the depth of relationships they had formed with these customers? What if THOSE were the primary metrics on which representative performance was measured with production being secondary?

The truth is that measuring retention isn’t sexy. It doesn’t put big, flashy numbers on the board. It doesn’t predict market performance, and therefore how well or poorly a newly-introduced product or service is received by the general public. The game of retention is like golf: The LOWER score wins.  

Until the paradigm shifts, the traditional marketing cycle will continue trying to run up the score.

Life’s A Journey, Not A Destination

Road Less Traveled

Life’s a journey, not a destination, yet so often it’s the end result that gets all of the attention.  What about those who are between the beginning and the end?  When they’re not creating the desired results, why is it assumed that they’re on cruise control when what some are actually doing is building a new superhighway because they find the road that’s always been traveled is becoming too rough or too busy?  

It’s been recommended that one occasionally take a different route to work instead of driving the same one every day, just to break up the monotony of the daily grind.  It’s said to help gain new insights on the world that surrounds us.  Yet many companies do exactly the opposite when it comes to their processes and procedures.  And people resist change in the same manner.  “But this way:  is faster…is shorter…has fewer stop lights…has less traffic” they argue, so they refuse to even try.

What’s greater:  The risk of following the same path every day or the risk of venturing out?  Twenty years ago, the risk of staying the course was minimal.  The waves of technological change weren’t yet beginning to gain traction. Prospects and customers could only speak of your obsolescence with 10 or so others who resided within their geographic confines.  Today, prospects and customers have powerful tools at their disposal that, although dismissed as “visionary” or “pie-in-the-sky” ideas when authors like Bill Gates (The Road Ahead) and Seth Godin(Permission Marketing) first wrote about the today’s changes back in 1996.

 
The choice is whether to take the road less traveled or get left behind.

Segmentation: Personalities Behind The Posts

SegmentationWith all the talk about segmenting customers, wouldn’t it be equally as intriguing to dive into the brand and representative personalities that create, curate, share, and publish content?  News feeds and timelines are becoming more cluttered by the second, which is forcing consumer attention spans to get shorter each day.  As a result, consumers are becoming more aware of the motivations of the people they follow, although they likely have yet to get as analytical as some people. (Yes, I’m referring to myself.)  

Three years ago, I marked 2016 as the year that would re-define the term “Attention Deficit”, only this time it’s not a disorder, but a paradigm shift.  Why 2016?  Because it’s a presidential election year in which a good percentage of the American population is now relying on mobile technology as their primary source of communication:  Voice, text, and data, all in one.  The desktop computers on their kitchen counters are collecting dust, their land lines have been disconnected, and their DVR’s are all set to record their favorite shows (without commercials).  All of the focus now is on their handheld screens, and the visual noise is getting overwhelming.  2016 is the year that will make a lot of people rethink their priorities about who they follow and engage with, and whose content is worthy of their attention.  In previous years, much of the information consumed was chosen without regard for motive of the content creator/curator. From this point forward, my belief is that “attention deficient” consumers are going to begin categorizing their contacts into the following four specific segments:

  • The Subliminal Self-Promoter.  This person uses what Eddie Murphy called in his standup routine: “The Jedi mind trick.”  It happens when someone posts about their joy and happiness for someone else’s success…that they reveal in the next sentence was made possible by their business efforts.  It’s nothing more than a sales pitch covered up with frosting and sprinkles.   
  • The Bold Brander. These “human doings” wear their brands on their sleeves, or pockets, or across their backs—Literally.  Their entire wardrobe was purchased from their company store.  The e-mail containing the phrase:  “People care more about who you are than want you do” apparently bypassed their inbox and went right to “junk”.    
  • The Compliant Content Curator.  This person schedules and publishes alright:  But only the stuff that appears in their corporate suggested content queue.  What they fail to realize is that the only reach they are extending is that of the brand through their networks.  They are NOT differentiating themselves.  Instead, they are annoying the community members who used to “like” them.
  • The Under The Radar Renegade.  This person knows the rules of engagement.  They constantly manage their personal brand and attract others based on their world views.  Many times, customers ask to work with them because they DON’T do what the other three groups are doing…The only factor that affects timing is the level of noise tolerance of their potential customers.  Lower tolerance = faster growth.

None of this should come as any surprise, right?  What segment do you think you belong in?  Put yourself in the shoes of a customer and ask:  “What segment would I most like to work with?”

2016 appears to be a big year for decision-making.