Strategy? This isn’t Strategy

The word itself is shifty, implying that the intent of the planner is to deceive, and deception implies that some form of opposition is present.  An argument could be made that negotiation used to seem like a battle, but another argument could be made that the game is changing.   Here are a few highlights will stand the test of time:  

Be consistent across all aspects of your life.  Work, home, school, at public events, volunteer activities, etc.

Post content about your volunteer activities.  Junior achievement, coaching, music auxiliary, etc.

Share casual AND professional photos of yourself.  If people see all sides, they will connect better with you.

Change your idea of what a great customer is as well as what you think a great service provider means to them.  It may be different than what you have previously thought.  For example:  in the past, people looked at service providers as experts.  “What would I do if you weren’t there to tell me?”  Today, I argue that a relationship is more important than knowledge, mainly because information is so readily available.  Now people say:  “I trust you to confirm my decisions about the options/solutions I’ve chosen because you know as much about ME as you know about features and benefits.”

Make a list of everyone you’d miss if they were gone, and those who would miss you if they left.  In other words, anyone you connect with.  Historically, if someone moved from your local community, contact was perceived to be lost forever.  Not true today, so keep sending them birthday cards, their kids birthday cards, connect with them on social media,  Google them and send congratulations for successes… It’s easy today.  Chances are good that someone they know will move to Iowa.  Who will they recommend to help them?

These ideas probably don’t sound new or innovative on the surface, but try following through on every one of them.  It may be more difficult than you think.

“I Want It All…”

NOW!  When quotes on key rings were cool, I had that one.  It’s the motto of most teenagers even today.  Self-serving motivations that drive immediate results rarely create lasting relationships.  The person seeking the result often lacks the patience to truly take an interest in anything outside of themselves, at least for more time than required to get what they want.  

Traditional strategies perpetuate this reality.   The more distractions there are, the more precise a message has to be. And the more distractions there are, the less time there is to build relationships. Eventually, the massive clutter will cause people to stop and think:  “Is immediate gratification more important than lifelong relationships?”  The choice is yours.

What are you measuring?

Is it better to measure production or permission?  Traditional wisdom says production, but one should realize by now that this site isn’t based on traditional thinking.  The argument will likely be:  “How do you measure PERMISSION?”

My first real job was serving tables in a nice restaurant when I was 18.    The middle-aged lady who trained me shared one piece of advice that I’ll never forget:  “Don’t count your tips until the end of the shift.”  As a brand new waiter with no industry experience, I accepted her wisdom as part of the training process.  Now, 30 years later, a deeper meaning has surfaced.

The second a customer is seated at a table, they have given permission to be served.  Interactions will occur throughout their visit that either enhance or diminish the value of their dining experience.  For the server, the value perceived by the customer is reflected in their tip.  Even more interesting is the fact that some customers have favorite servers:  Ones that they’ll sit in the bar for two hours just to ensure they get the next table in their section.  To those customers, the face of the business (brand) is their favorite server, and that server has as much control over that brand’s image as any article, ad or review the brand makes available.

This unspoken partnership in brand perception should not be taken for granted or violated by either party.  EVER.

The Process Is Broken

The core if the traditional sales process has always been relationships. Through the initial interruptions an introduction was made that allowed a conversation to begin.   Perhaps a cup of coffee was offered so that both parties could establish a controlled pace to the meeting. (Out of coffee, out of time.) Weather, occupation, family, vacations, cars, sports, and hobbies were common subjects used to break the ice.  After 15 minutes of pleasantries and small talk were exchanged, it was time to get down to business, and it was the sales professional who called the shots from that point on.  It was, after all, HIS office and the customer DID give permission just by showing up.

Is that how it is today?  There are certainly times that a customer MUST be present for a sales interaction.  Choosing carpet and art for your home isn’t something you’d likely do specifically on the Internet.  You can’t test drive a car online, either, although you can purchase one that way.  So how has the Internet changed the sales process and how do we fix the pieces of the system that are broken?

First we need to agree on what’s broken, and quite frankly, they’re the two parts that no one wants to admit are the problem.  If you don’t believe what I’m about to say, I have to wonder how closely you pay attention when your customers talk. Are you ready?

1.  Interruptive marketing strategies. People don’t have time or patience to do it your way any more.  What proof so you need?  Do you have a DVR?  How about a land line phone?  Are you on the do-not-call list?  If you are and it’s for the reason most other people are, what else needs to be said here?

2.  The closing process.  It used to be said in the car sales world that the dealer had to overcome 37 “No’s” to get a “yes”.  In whose world is that fun?

If you’re a sales professional who actively engages in these two steps IN THIS MANNER, I have two very simple questions:  1.  What is your true motivation? And 2.  Would your customers give EXACTLY the same response about you if given an opportunity to reflect on all of your interactions?