Back in the old days, which wasn’t so long ago, the concept and process of selling was in many ways much easier than it is today.
I can remember sitting in training classes in 1994 when I worked for the New England Life and Investment Company selling life insurance, mutual funds, stocks, bonds and more. We were not a traditional company like Metlife or State Farm and the way we prospected was very different because of our wealthy target market.
I had to learn my audience and attend events where they hung out, get to know them and schmooze them. I was good at it. I learned not only how to work a room and earn trust but also the products so well that I could communicate them with relevance and give people a reason to buy.
Of course, it was a process that took weeks or many times six months or more. It wasn’t instantaneous. I think we’ve lost a bit of that in our hurried culture. Don’t you?
It was fun and in my first year I made nearly $100,000. Not bad at all for a 24 year-old who had been married only a year?
Over the long Memorial Day weekend I spent some time reflecting on the last year. Yes, this week marks the one-year anniversary of UnveiltheWeb.com’s blog. YEA!!!!
Reflection is always a good thing.
What went right?
What went wrong?
For all the right things that happened and the new relationships I’ve made some things went very wrong. Don’t misunderstand, I’m extremely happy with my blog and my life, but it’s only been one year and there is room for improvement and new products. I’ve made some good money in consulting and coaching, but I want more and I want to help more people.
Part of wanting more is realizing what is changing in our culture and learning how to adapt to it to meet the changing needs of our prospects and customers.
I came across a very interesting quote attributed to Gary Vaynerchuck:
“The problem with marketers is that everyone wants to be a hunter, and nobody wants to be a farmer.”
Before discovering Gary’s quote I actually wrote an article two weeks ago on Andrew Warner’s blog titled “What Farming Can Teach Us About Content Marketing.” In it I talked about the process of blogging and content marketing as it relates to the farming metaphor. I hope you’ll take a moment and check it out!
Sales as we know it has changed, and it has changed for every business. It doesn’t matter if you’re in manufacturing, retail or a service industry.
The old model was advertise, advertise and then advertise some more. Over a defined period of time gauge the revenue versus expense and determine if you made money or lost money from the advertisement. Then repeat or scrap and start over.
It’s very much a hunting mentality. Go out and find those who might want to buy from you among the masses.
Well, that is changing rapidly thanks to technology as I shared in my eBook on Amazon titled “The Shift – Making the Fast Paced Transition from Mass Marketing to Context Marketing.”
It’s now become much more about farming. Check out my article on Andrew’s site to learn what I’m talking about because I really want to get to the point and help you in this article.
Sales is No Longer the Domain of the Sales Person
On Sunday mornings my wife (Nicole) and I like to get up early and head out to adventurous places for long and challenging walks. It’s not like a walk around the park, it can be pretty intense exercise sometimes.
This weekend we found a location about 20 minutes from our home near Lancaster, PA on top of the Susquehanna River. We found not just a beautiful view with massive hills but also a long a beautiful trail at the bottom.
We hiked down and then enjoyed a long 4 mile walk before coming back up to the top.Yes, it is challenging. But, I’m up for the challenge with our health kick since January. I’m in the best shape of my life to be honest and it’s getting better every week.
While on our walk I was sharing with Nicole how much the sales processes and cycles have changed over the last twenty years.
She said something very insightful.
“Your customers don’t want to see the food being made?”
I admit I wondered where she was going with this?
“Think about it, we go to a lot of restaurants where the kitchen is no longer hidden from view. They want to see the chef, the preparation and the environment the food is being cooked in.”
Isn’t that genius!!!!
I couldn’t imagine my life without her. She really is the genius in this marriage of almost 22 years.
She is so right. Today’s consumers want to know all of the facts about what you do, how you do it, why you do it, and for whom you do it.
I did some research and found a report in 2010 from Google called “Zero Moment of Truth” in a new book I’m reading called “Online Secrets of the Online Marketing Superstars.”
I was shocked to find a variation of Nicole’s quote needless to say.
In the book Jay Baer talks about self-serve information which is really nothing more than the different forms of content marketing with a focus on the audience instead of the business. If you’ve read my blog long enough you will find that is a point I make in virtually every article in one way or another and on the “Begin Here” page.
Here is what Jay said about the Google report:
“Google’s landmark Zero Moment of Truth research provides mathematical evidence of the beginning of this shift in information consumption, finding that in 2010, Americans needed 5.3 sources of information before making a purchase; but in 2011, they needed 10.4 sources of information. Think about that: In ONE year, the amount of information we needed before parting with our money DOUBLED.”
The conclusion is not that we need more information to make a buying a decision, but that since more information is available than at any other time in world history we are taking our time in making decisions.
I’ve experienced this first hand on both the business side and the consumer side and I bet you have as well. But, I didn’t connect the dots until Nicole brought it out and then the book confirmed it.
Is Impulse Buying on the Decline?
Is impulse buying on the decline? I’m not sure it is for everyone, especially if your target market has a lot of discretionary money. But I do think most people feel they have less money than at any other time since World War II. Just watch the consumer index reports and economic data it’s pretty clear to me that people still don’t trust this economy and they are showing that in their spending.
The value of a spending dollar is not what it once was just a few years ago and while prices on items have gone up, pay raises have not followed for the majority of working Americans. In fact, due to increases on things like taxes and health care you can make an argument that their wages have gone down.
When people don’t have money or much discretionary income it’s amazing how priorities change. What they might have spent money on in 2005 is no longer what they are willing to spend money on in 2015. That’s not just true in a business-to-consumer environment but also in a business-to-business environment.
From 2010 – 2015 many businesses have held off on spending money in critical areas and are trying to make more things last longer than they would have in the past.
That doesn’t mean businesses aren’t spending any money, it means they are being smarter about where and when they spend it.
All of this has a profound impact on sales and sales cycles.
The Old Versus New Buying Process
In the old marketing and sales processes, businesses would spend a lot of money in mass marketing to reach a very few number of consumers who were able, ready and willing to buy. They might spend money on mass marketing opportunities like:
- Direct Mail
- Newspaper and magazine ads
- Radio Ads
- TV Commercials
- Door hangers
- Door-to-door sales
The sales processes were pretty straight forward because once the ads were out there a real person would call or show up in the store when they wanted to talk to a person to make the buy or if that had a question so specific that only another human being could answer it.
That has all changed with the internet.
The power is now in the consumers hands thanks to the sheer amount of data and information on a product, service and business.
This is why your marketing and sales must be friendly, responsive, engaging, compelling, relevant and inspirational.
Have you heard this quote before?
“We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in & be what people are interested in. ~ Craig Davis”
Think about it…
Have you ever been to a website and were interested in the product or service from the company but you did NOT fill out a call-to-action form or contact us form because you didn’t want to be emailed or contacted by a salesperson?
You might have just gotten my point.
I am seeing a lot of conversations and blog articles these days about email marketing, opt-ins, squeeze pages, landing pages and forms all with a goal of getting someone on your list or to buy something they are not yet willing to buy from YOU!
One more point from the book that I think bears mentioning here and this is really important.
“In 2012, Sirius Decisions research found that in B2B, 70 percent of the purchase decision has been made before the prospective customer ever contacts the company, meaning that whether or not people buy from you in B2B is based on self-serve information.”
As I said early and it deserves repeating; self-serve information is basically content marketing. I’m not sure I like the phrase content marketing anymore since the point of it is to establish competence, trust and ultimately give people a reason to contact you. It’s point isn’t to sell, it’s to inform and educate, and establish competency, credibility and trust.
That’s where marketing and sales has changed.
A few months ago I wrote about the difference between marketing and sales and their relationship to one another (opens in a new tab or window). I encourage you to take a few minutes and read it. It may clear up a few things.
Today, sales no longer about reaching and prospecting. Instead it’s about attracting, influencing and giving people a reason to buy.
If people are not buying from you then you are either:
- Attracting the wrong audience?
- Selling instead of educating and informing?
- Not giving people a strong enough reason to buy from you over your competition?
- Encouraging people to buy strictly on price (in some industries or in retail this may not always be avoidable)?
- Are strong arming people into buying through forms and email subscriptions, etc.?
I want to make something really clear. I’m not saying don’t offer people a reason to join your email. But, in the same breath don’t force people to do it either. That’s just my opinion and I’m sure there will be some who disagree heavily with me and will say it works and maybe it does.
My contention is that if you’re creating extremely useful and helpful content your audience loves, they will join your email.
Let me give you a personal example.
In December 2015 Nicole and I made the decision to get into shape. We are in our early forties and would love to be healthy enough to do whatever we want into our eighties. We can’t do that on a “sit-on-your-can” lifestyle.
Nicole has followed Dr. Joseph Mercola for at least five years now. He puts out the absolute BEST content I’ve ever seen on nutrition and exercise. His content is so good that we joined his email but it also took us three months of visiting his site several times per week.
He just has a on opt-in on the sidebar or discretely at the top in the banner. He doesn’t force it and he doesn’t even mention it in his articles. But, his content is so good we wanted more and his email delivers what we want a lot of times because we trust his education, research, experience and communication methods that make a difference for our health.
Now, that is very different from joining the email list of our favorite retail places to shop who send us upcoming offers, coupons, etc. Retail has a very different application to email.
I’m not trying to make this a conversation about email. I’m trying to ask you to think differently about marketing and sales and why someone should join your email other than to get something from you and if they do are you going to continue delivering or are you going to give them a strong reason to unsubscribe?
Remember, email is a form of content.
How about your content on your website, social media, podcasts, videos, etc?
Is it so good and valuable that people want more or do you have to manipulate people into joining your email or buying your product or service?
If so, that may be why you’re not getting the sales you need or want to grow your business.
The sales economy has changed and yet most of us have not changed with it.
Maybe you need to go back to the drawing board and re-think through your business and discover:
- “What business you’re “really” in?”
- What difference in the world you want to make?
- What are you “really” selling?
- Why someone would buy from you?
- Who will buy from you?
- How do they want to buy from you?
Too many businesses are skipping straight to strategies before there is a foundation for the strategies. Hopefully I’ve done a good enough job of explaining why your sales is lacking and have given you pause to think about why your audience is either not attracted to you or isn’t filling out those forms?
Here is what I encourage you to do. Lucky for me after this article there are no forms required… lol.
Visit the “Begin Here” page and learn the process that you can go through to really learn your business, prospects and customers. You will learn on this page what it means to gain the right clarity and then focus on the strategies that will help you attract the right prospects and customers.
Your sales might be struggling because you’re working under a old pretense of how sales used to work instead of the way it really works today.
Click here and learn the right stages to grow your business. It’s never too late!
Do you have a comment, thought or question? Please, jump down to the comments section below and share and extend the conversation. I promise, I respond to each and every comment!