Why buying and selling are linked to our marketing future

Is it the Economy or the Internet that's turning us in to bad buyers and sellers?

Why buying and selling are linked to our marketing future

Over the past few years I have taken an avid interest in the way business (and individuals) buy and sell products and services. Whilst my findings are not scientific, and nor have I carried out any structured research, my observations have been supported by so many people, that there appears to be a pattern emerging.

Let’s face it, the market place has changed and so has the economy.  Pretty much everyone has access to more detailed and more amazing information than ever before in the history of the world.  The prevalence of the internet in our everyday lives has provided us with a tool that hinders and helps at the same time.

The economy always makes people nervous about spending.  News programs create stagnation, yet the City has not collapsed, nor have the high street shops, therefore money still exists in bank accounts, however, this is our reality.

This is how it is.  It won’t change back to the 80’s therefore we have to get on with it and work with what we have. This is our digital economy.

Why are we so bad at selling?

If you go back twenty years, we all had to contend with cold-calling and face to face meetings.  That’s how business was done.  Enquiries were made, brochures were sent out and the edict of “People buy people” was pretty accurate.

The sales process needed to be played out too; Features, Attributes, Benefits (FAB).  The salesman had to explain what the benefits were for the customer.  If there was a match with the product and the requirements, a sale may be made (not every time, but if you had done your homework there was a higher likelihood of making that sale).

Today, the choices are so vast for the buyer that selling becomes far more hit and miss.

  • The sales company has to both find new business and attract new business.  Pushing and pulling at the same time.
  • The above, combined with customers having access to such enormous amounts of data; distilling the data in to a workable format can be very difficult and requires a significant amount of creativity.
  • You then have to engaging customers on a pro-business level (not just the Golfing Day ‘Jollies’)

This all boils down to establishing a strategy that plays to both promotion and attraction and this is where it becomes ‘fuzzy’.

Whilst you’re sending out your message to promote your business, the response required is often to get your prospect to look at a web site or react to a mailing.  One hit wonders don’t work and if the web page they land on isn’t part of a long-term lead nurturing strategy, your promotional activities will have been a waste of time and your efforts will deliver a poor ROI because they will click away to another competitor or simply file the message in the bin.

Bottom line: We have to start thinking ‘joined up’.  Don’t set your business up to fail by attempting a series of “quick hits”, it doesn’t work.  Plan your sales process on and off line as if it were a complete presentation with a beginning, a middle and an end.

Ensure that each element has a call to action and flows to the next part of the process.  Don’t leave them hanging.  And don’t expect a “kiss on the first date”.  Just because a business looks at you don’t go for their jugular!

Your presentation needs to be consistent and maintain continuity.  We all notice when one scene of a film changes to another and the continuity fails, like Bruce Willis in Die Hard, wearing a clean white T Shirt in one clip and then a dirty T shirt in another.  The same is applicable with your marketing.  If you don’t keep their attention, for whatever reason, they’ll click away.

Of late, a new strategy has entered the arena of direct selling and that is Account Base Marketing, or ABM.  Put simply, this is the ability to identify and market to the relevant people within an organisation that are applicable to the decision-making process.  Each person and therefore level of seniority are communicated to on a more accurate level and therefore the sales process is based almost upon consensus and gradual agreement.  And it works.

The above strategies to new business and selling are simple enough; think in terms of a long-term strategy, identify the players and accurately communicate in context – if they’re in a county, town or city, mention it, if they’re in a vertical market segment, mention it and depending on their position, communicate on the same level. And finally, give them a reason to engage with you.

Why are we so bad at buying?

In the same way that the sellers fail to keep our attention, we also know we have so much choice, so when we are confronted by someone selling something, we immediately reach for the Internet to see if we can get it cheaper, bigger, better or to simply research.

It’s not a bad thing to get a comparison, but when it comes to being discerning about costs and service levels, we need to be conscious about what we are influenced by.

  • Is it repeatedly being marketed to us?
  • How do we feel about service?
  • What about value for money?
  • Is cost everything or do we actually require something more than just a good price?

Are we all too aware of the “disconnects” in marketing that we get agitated when we’re approached by a salesman.  Is it possible that when we choose to buy something, we start out with a low opinion or disjointed opinions of the process?

We also know that we don’t expect our doctor to call us to see if we want to and visit the surgery!  So why would someone call or contact us to buy a new office product or service!  We’re busy enough as it is, without needlessly engaging with some salesperson who needs to fill his/her quota.

Where does it leave us when we sell?

If we have such a low opinion of the people who sell to us or if we’re only out for a cheap deal, then how can we expect to be treated properly when we are trying to sell our own goods and services.

There appears to be a mismatch.  We’re all buyers in one way or another, but we’re not all sellers, but those of us who are, need to understand the balance and be aware of the psychology going on in the buyer’s head when we’re trying to sell to him/her.

Think carefully about the last and next time you decide to buy something.  Think about your feelings and be conscious about what’s going on in your head. Then relate that to your next sales process.

Get in to the minds of your prospects - It’s the best place to be if you want more business.  And the best approach is to research and interview your existing customers and see what they liked/disliked about your initial approach.

For more information about the customers journey from idea to inception to marketing and close, take a look at the article and graphics in ‘Digital Marketing Transformation’ and start planning a more meaningful approach to your sales strategy with an outcome that will have your sales people hitting their quotas like you expect them to.

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About the Author

Nigel Maine

Nigel Maine

Nigel is the Founder & Managing Director of salesXchange and has been helping SMEs for over 25 years to develop their marketing, technologies and infrastructure to generate more profits, more efficiently. His recent book book "Integrate! The Essential Business Technology & Marketing Handbook" can be downloaded from Amazon.

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