Tag Archives: sales

Motivation from Within

May 16, 2018 by

I’d like to introduce the concept of the elephant and the rider. The elephant represents the emotional self, which is powerful, massive, momentum-generating, and typically gets to where it wants to go.  The rider represents the spiritual self, which is purposeful, self-aware, and desires great things in life. Most people go through life allowing the elephant to go wherever it wants.  In other words, people behave based on how they feel in the moment. The problem here is that the elephant does not want growth, which is difficult, challenging, risky, and painful. Rather the elephant fears failure, wants instant gratification, and desires “comfort-zone” living. Without guidance from an engaged rider, the elephant won’t lead a life of success. The elephant will choose to go down a path that leads to incredible success but is filled with hunters, pits, traps, nets, and spears, instead of a path that leads to conformity and status quo but is filled with safety, laziness, easy and comfort. 

As a salesperson, do not let the elephant go where it wants to go. Steer it down the path that leads to success.  Wake up the rider so that its power will drive the elephant towards success.  

It’s a multi-step process. The first thing needed is a vision/mission statement that clarifies a purpose for living. This will ignite a passion that will trump the feeling of fear and resignation that typically keeps people from pursing success. Second, take sales one step at a time.  When the elephant looks to the summit of the mountain from the mountain’s base, it will become overwhelmed. Give the elephant manageable milestones that are achievable and well-mapped out, and the elephant starts to move up the mountain. Third, define key performance metrics that prove progress is being made, because if the elephant is to sustain the effort up the mountain, it needs to know that movement towards the summit is happening. The emotion that keeps the elephant climbing is called fulfillment. Last, condition this enormous beast with a predefined reward system that provides treats every time a milepost is reached. This causes the elephant to become your biggest ally in the pursuit of success.

Knowing true purpose is crucial to awakening the rider so that it will steer the elephant. In an effort to define this, here are six questions to ponder:

  1. What were you born to do?
  2. How do you want to be remembered?
  3. What makes you wake up and go to work?
  4. How can you become more self-aware?
  5. What gets you excited and passionate?
  6. What impact are you having on others?

The answers to these questions can help the rider steer the elephant in the right direction.


Karl Schaphorst is a 27-year veteran of sales who now specializes in training other sales professionals. He is the president of Sandler Training.

This column was printed in the June/July 2018 edition of B2B. 

The Science of Selling

March 23, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

In 1960, President John F. Kennedy announced to the world that the U.S. would put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. In October 1969, Apollo 11 delivered Neil Armstrong into space and he set foot on the moon. How did NASA, never having completed this task before, have success without disaster? By understanding the science and testing everything on Earth according to the rules of science, NASA was able to predict how things would work on the way to the moon and the result was Apollo 11 and Neil Armstrong.  We can leverage that same science when it comes to selling, and, if understood, can use it to predict the outcomes of sales calls.

Most prospects have a negative perception about salespeople. “They are pushy, arrogant, self-seeking, annoying…” are just some of the adjectives given. I know, because I have asked many times. However, the science behind human behavior and communication has been understood by psychologists for decades. The method of Transactional Analysis, Dr. Eric Burne explains, states that to generate trust and bonding with other people one must behave with humility and vulnerability, which is the opposite of how the typical salesperson behaves in a sales call.

The DISC behavior assessment, developed by psychologist William Marston, defines four distinct behavior styles of people.To win favor of a prospect, behave like they do, not like you do.

Neuro-linguistic programing, created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder is the science of communication.

To win favor of prospects, mirror and match the way they communicate.

Sir Isaac Netwon gave us the laws of motion: An object in motion tends to stay in motion; every action has an equal and opposite reaction. These laws spill over into human behavior. The best chance of getting a prospect to say “yes” is to take this prospect to “no.” The action of taking a prospect to “no” will often be met by the prospect with an equal and opposite reaction of moving toward “yes.”

I can’t give any one scientist the credit for emotional motivation, but that doesn’t diminish the power behind this scientific truth: People buy for their own reasons and these reasons are driven emotionally. Most sales conversations revolve around intellectual information such as features, benefits, price, and terms and conditions, and the conversation never leaves the realm of the intellect. Take the conversation to the emotional level and then prospects start buying from you even if your price is high.

I am a scientist by education (bachelor’s degree in engineering) and I love the science of selling. However, for many years I did not know it nor did I pursue it, so I had to work much harder to win sales. Sales professionals should make it part of their personal development to learn and then own the scientific rules as they apply to the world of selling.

Karl Schaphorst is a 27-year veteran of sales who now specializes in training other sales professionals. He is the president of Sandler Training.

This article was printed in the April/May 2018 edition of B2B.

The Best Sales Call Ever

January 19, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

I regularly get feedback from clients about sales calls. Recently a client came to me and said, “I had the best sales call ever!” What she told me warmed my heart because the call was almost effortless, the signed agreement was in her hands in record time, and the customer stayed in her selling system from beginning to end.

The sales process for this particular opportunity dragged out longer than my client wanted. Finally, the presentation was scheduled with the decision maker, (if it’s with anybody else, you are wasting time), and as she headed to the appointment, she said to herself, “I really don’t care if I get this business or not.” This mindset allowed her to relax and be objective when the presentation began. She began the meeting by setting the expectation: She was going to review the proposal, which would sell for the expected amount, and, if the prospect liked it, he would sign it and implementation would begin. There was clarity of purpose which came off as professionalism to the prospect, and, of course, the prospect agreed to the contract and the
presentation began.

There were about a half-dozen items to present on the proposal. My client started with the first item and presented how this item addressed the need of the prospect. It went well. She went to the next item and presented how this item addressed the need of the prospect. At that point, the prospect said, “Stop! I’ll take it!” He immediately signed his name to the proposal. My client’s one-hour presentation was over in 10 minutes. She planned on “closing” the prospect, but he simply bought it. When she returned to her office, even her coworker was surprised to see her so soon. Smiling from ear to ear she tells him, “Got it!” No pressure, no sweating, no haggling over price, no need to close the prospect—this is what the best sales call ever looks like.

Here are some key techniques my client had learned, and then used in this call:

1. Before the presentation started, she thought to herself, “So what if I don’t get this business. I have a meat-lover’s pizza in the trunk,” which means she behaved as if she is financially independent. This mindset eliminates pressure and frees up the salesperson to ask tough questions and take risks.

2. She had a deep understanding of her client’s problems and budget, which she reviewed prior to presenting the proposal to make sure there were no roadblocks on the way to the order.

3. She got a commitment to purchase before presenting her intellectual property. The proposal had to be met with 100 percent satisfaction from the prospect, but if it did, he would buy.

4. My client shut her mouth when the prospect said, “I’ll take it!” She let him sign the proposal and then thanked him for the business and left.

Sales should always be fun regardless if you win or lose. Yes, this is easier said than done. Follow the aforementioned system to start having the best sales calls ever.

Karl Schaphorst is a 27-year veteran of sales who now specializes in training other sales professionals. He is the president of Sandler Training.

This column was printed in the February/March 2018 edition of B2B.

Get Up Off Your Knees

August 23, 2017 by
Photography by contributed

Stop begging for business. Stop running around doing everything the prospect asks you and sending thank you cards and trinkets because you think all of that extra-mile activity will get you sales. Stop sending out proposals and offering presentations to anybody and everybody. Stop cutting your prices or increasing the offering at the same price. You simply don’t have the time or the money to do all that extra work for every prospect that winks at you.

Establish for yourself a “salesperson’s bill of rights.” Come up with a list of rules that the prospect must follow—or you will get up and walk out on the sale. You heard me right. Not everybody deserves to have the privilege of buying your product or service and it is better to identify the bad prospects early in the sales dance. The salesperson’s bill of rights will help you in sorting out the prospects who are likely buyers from those who are just
window shopping.

To help you with this, I will share with you my salesperson’s bill of rights:

  1. Have trust. It is not difficult to see when there is no trust in the call. The body language and tonality of the prospect will give them away.
  2. Get qualifications. Unless prospects can prove they have a real need for what I sell, have money to pay for it, and can make a decision about buying it, I start ending the call.
  3. Don’t waste time. If the prospect won’t give me the time needed to rightfully assess the fit of my product, then what’s the point? I ask to reschedule or end it all together.
  4. No free consulting. Prospects want to know what you know because it has real value, but they don’t want to pay for it. If you are going to present your intellectual property to a prospect, make sure they commit to buying it if they like what you have and can afford it.
  5. No chasing. Prospects need to give me clear next steps at the end of the sales call if they are going to remain in my pipeline. They will agree to schedule another meeting to continue the evaluation of my service, they will tell me they want to buy it, or they will tell me they don’t want it. But they can’t tell me to “call me in a week after I have thought about it.”

I have other rules in my bill of rights, but hopefully what you have read will help you build your own bill of rights. If you make good rules that prospects must follow in order to have your product or service, and then be disciplined in adhering to those rules, you will have made a big step toward professional selling. You will be facing your prospects eye to eye, which is how professionals do business.

Karl Schaphorst is a 27-year veteran of sales who now specializes in training other sales professionals. He is the president of Sandler Training.

Sales Insider

May 20, 2017 by

There is a list of basic rules of truth that govern the survival of businesses everywhere. While there may be debate on which rules belong on the list, one rule that all businesses owners and managers agree on is: Nothing happens in business until somebody sells something.

Thus, the high-performance salesperson is one of the most sought-after professionals in business. However, perhaps the foundational rule listed above does not apply when consulting is the product for sale. Do consultants need to be professional salespeople or can they reside safely in their core competency and grow the business from there? This is what we will examine.

Let’s say ABC Consulting provides mechanical and electrical consulting services to architects and consumers. The owner, “Dave,” employs a couple of drafters and a couple of professional engineers. He admits there is little development and/or training in the area of business development for the people that carry the “sales” responsibility. They do get training on the area of expertise in which the company consults: Seminars, webinars, ASHRAE-sponsored trainings, P.E. exams, vendor-sponsored trainings, and lots of self-study on system application, building codes, load calculations, energy, LEED, building commissioning, and on and on would accurately summarize the annual training regimen for Dave and his team. And why not? A big reason customers hire ABC is because they are experts in their field.

Dave was reflecting on how his business remained somewhat flat the previous year despite a record number of proposals going out the door. Historically, the primary source of new business came from his referral network. The owner has a vision for growth, so, in addition to the referral business, he decided that responding to as many requests for proposals (RFPs) as possible would be the way to accomplish his vision. Reflecting back, it did the opposite. The business revenue did not go down, but all the hours his employees invested in preparing RFPs (that in the end did not turn into new business) increased overhead and cut into margins. He instead got lots of late nights away from families and overtime hours from his employees, which has slightly damaged morale. Now, Dave ponders, what will be his business development strategy going forward?

Consultants are experts in their fields, and the customers want their expertise because it brings tremendous value to the customers’ business. However, customers don’t want to pay for the consultants’ expertise. So, they simply ask to have it for free, and one form of this ask is the RFP. The problem is that once the customer owns the consultant’s expertise, the customer has the power. The information can be compared to competitors who will adopt all good ideas and do the work for less or, worse yet, the customer will take the ideas and do the work in-house. Therefore, it can be said that responding to RFPs is not selling.

I would agree that professional sales should not be the leading competency for the architect, consulting engineer, or other professional service provider. But this does not diminish the importance of having a system for selling. Here are some simple steps of a selling system that the consultant or architect can begin to implement in their business.


1. Agree Upfront

Before doing any free work for a customer, get a clear understanding from them that if you do the work they are requesting to their satisfaction, you get something in return. If they don’t give you a clear path to getting their business, the wise decision would be to decline. For RFPs, if you don’t have an upfront agreement, it is too risky to pour your work into them only to have it auctioned off.


2. Why Would This Customer Hire You?

Prepare a list of great questions that will fully examine the emotional motivations this customer would have to hire a consultant. Pain is a huge motivator in people, and if your questions uncover the pains the customer is experiencing, you will have a big advantage in winning their business. If a doctor examined me and determined that I have a sickness that could be fatal without surgery, I am not going to ask the doctor for a bid and then get two more and go with the low-cost bidder.


3. Deal With Money Upfront

Ask the customer if they have money early in your conversation. Otherwise, you may do a bunch of work for a customer that, in the end, is broke. They must prove to you they have the ability to pay and a willingness to give their money to you, or else you will respectfully end the conversation.


4. Who Makes the Decisions Around Here?

Ask the customer who is involved in the selection process how the process will be handled. If you are going to present a solution, it is important that those who see it have the capacity to buy it. It is incredibly deflating to learn, after working out the solution, that the person who received it can’t make the decision to buy it.

Karl Schaphorst is a 27-year veteran of sales who now specializes in training other sales professionals. He is the president of Sandler Training.

This column was printed in the Summer 2017 edition of B2B.

Sales Insider

April 5, 2017 by

I love sales. It is a career where you, the sales professional, determine your income based on how skillfully you execute the duty. It has a feel of independence, ownership, and entrepreneurship, and it can be extremely rewarding. Professional selling is regarded as one of the top-earning careers on the the planet. Note to you business owners out there: If your salespeople are making more money than you, don’t be jealous, be excited because they are building your business and increasing its value.

The term “commission” is familiar to ranks of sales professionals. However, I want you to think about your income a little differently. Rather than earning commission when a sale is made, think about your pay as an hourly wage. What makes your hourly pay different from the familiar, traditional hourly jobs is that your hourly rate will change based on the activity you happen to be doing at the moment. For example, in my previous career, for every 10 presentations I made, I would close on, and get paid commission for, three orders. On the three projects I won, my hourly rate was great, but on the projects I lost, my hourly rate was $0/hour. I thought “this is just how it is in sales,” so I did little to change or improve my sales performance until I was taught to think of my compensation as hourly. Spending 60 hours per week on sending proposals to my customers meant missing out on my kids’ activities and time with family, all so I could get paid for 30 percent of my time. That made me angry. This is madness, yet a vast majority of salespeople would give you a similar story.

I think there is a better way to sell that will pay more per hour, which means one can earn their desired wage in less time. I just need to figure out how to get rid of the seven prospects who don’t buy quickly and only spend time on the three who will buy. If I can figure this out, then I will close the three orders, so my pay is the same as before, but I do not spend much time on the seven who do not buy. Can you see how my hourly wage more than doubles?

Since your time is just as valuable as your prospects’ time, only the prospects who plan to buy from you get any of it. In order to do this, you must sort all prospects who talk to you as either buyers or window shoppers. The first step in doing this is to recognize that there are four possible outcomes of a sales call: yes, no, maybe, and clear future. Let’s examine each one.

Yes: Congratulations! You achieved an order and you will earn money.

No: Shoot! Shake it off. There are plenty of other customers out there who will buy. Did you know that “no” outcomes are good, and they can actually make you money? If you get a “no,” that opportunity no longer consumes your time, which means you can divert time to those who buy, and your hourly rate actually increases.

Maybe: Stay away from the dreaded “I need to think it over.” These outcomes represent the “window shoppers” and will cost you money. These prospects waste your time and consume your resources. Therefore, when a prospect stalls, push them to “no.”  At least a “no” will make you money.

Clear future: Sometimes your product or service cannot be sold in one call. You might need multiple meetings to formulate the solution and make the sale. This positive outcome is for those prospects who see value in your solution, are willing to move the process forward, and want the sales conversation to continue on a specific day at a specific time.

Thus, the rule is “No more maybes.” If you can make this rule part of your selling system, you will increase your hourly rate and significantly grow your sales. You effectively sort the buyers from the window shoppers and spend more time on those who buy. Now, I close three out of four presentations I make, my income has increased by triple digits, and I spend less time doing it all.

So, what is you hourly wage?

Karl Schaphorst is a 27-year veteran of sales who now specializes in training other sales professionals. He is the president of Sandler Training.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article was printed in the Spring 2017 edition of B2B.

The Art of Selling

January 4, 2017 by

Sales is a great career option for the professional businesswoman. Through sales, women can escape gender inequalities in pay, since sales commissions are based on what is sold. The sales venue offers unlimited potential for upside growth. In sales, performance is the equalizing metric that objectively defines success for the professional man or woman equally. Nevertheless, it is true that the marketplace may not treat the professional saleswoman with absolute equality.

One important decision must be made for the saleswoman to defy the odds. That is: make a deliberate effort to master the art of selling.

Regardless of gender, almost all sales engagements start like this: The prospect (i.e., the buyer) takes the position of authority, and the salesperson takes the position of submission. I call this “selling from your knees or begging for business.” This posture is never favorable for the sales professional since this often results in salespeople providing free services and information to prospects that may not result in actual purchases.

High performing sales professionals demonstrate their expertise by tactfully establishing equal business stature between themselves and the prospect. For the female sales professional, establishing equal business stature can be more challenging, mainly because of traditional societal pressure for women (and saleswomen) to adopt a submissive role.

All professionals, men and women alike, have their own sets of challenges to overcome. Those who can overcome their challenges enter into the elite group of high performers. Sales professionals spanning all across the gender spectrum must understand the challenges in their market. Understanding any particular challenge is one step toward success, because the challenges can be overcome.

Sales is the highest compensated profession on the planet. It also can be the most challenging profession. It is the women and men of the sales profession who are the frontline soldiers in business. They take all the shots and rejection, and then they repeat the slog again the next day. If you enter the battlefield unprepared and/or undertrained, you will get blown up a lot…which can figuratively (and psychologically) tear you to pieces.

Saleswomen, you must make the decision to invest in yourself and get the same kind of rigorous training in sales as one gets from school or college when pursuing a degree. In other words, get your bachelor’s degree in sales. The self-investment will most likely have the highest ROI compared to any other investment you could make.

Now, let’s visit Marcy*. Marcy is a professional saleswoman who works in the commercial flooring business and is an expert in her field. She works very hard, puts in a lot of hours, and prepares a lot of proposals. But she earns a wage that is less than what she wants. Over and over, Marcy demonstrates her expertise by pulling together information, doing the research, bringing in the right products, and delivering a workable solution even on the most challenging of projects. Then, to her horror, she learns that her prospect has auctioned off her intellectual property to a lower priced supplier.

In such a predicament, the prospect was in control (the authority), and Marcy was the servant (the submissive). The sales engagement had begun with the prospect calling Marcy and asking, “Can you put together a proposal for this project?” For weeks, I had been instructing Marcy to demand equal business stature by responding with, “I have the highest prices in town.” But Marcy was not comfortable with such an assertive stance. For years, she had been playing the role of servant.

Finally, she got out of her comfort zone and started to push back. Something remarkable started to happen. Prospects didn’t hang up on her. They didn’t always pursue the lower priced suppliers. Instead, they wanted to know why her prices were higher, which then began a sales conversation where Marcy was in control.

The prospects that wanted low price moved on without consuming Marcy’s time in proposal preparation. Those were the same prospects that would have put her (submissive) to work, consumed her time, and still auctioned off her information to the low price provider. Her new posture funneled the price shoppers to her competitors and funneled the prospects that wanted her value into an equal business stature sales conversation (which, more often than not, resulted in business). The marketplace saw a sales professional in Marcy and made no judgment based on the fact that she is a woman. That is a real manifestation of gender neutrality in the sales profession.

It is you—not your product or your gender—that make your business great. It is here where investment should be made to grow your business. So, what is your answer? Are you a professional saleswoman?

*Marcy is a composite character inspired by real people.

Karl Schaphorst is a 27-year veteran of sales who now specializes in training other sales professionals. He is the president of Sandler Training.

This article was printed in the Winter 2017 edition of B2B.

Marketing Ethics

February 27, 2014 by

When Jim moved his business in the fall of 2010 from Lincoln to Omaha, he encountered a pricing problem. The cost of his services in Lincoln didn’t suit the Omaha market.

At least that was one explanation for why Jim wasn’t getting the accounts he had planned. How could Jim determine the market price for his services before he lost too many sales and crippled his business?

A colleague of Jim’s recommended a strategy: Have two or three friends who work in Omaha businesses call Jim’s competitors. Ask them to submit proposals for their services. Once the friends acquire the proposals, they tell the competitors “thank you” and inform them that they didn’t get the bid.  In this way, the friends, who didn’t want the services anyway, are in the clear, and can give the proposals to Jim to study for pricing information.

“Everyone does this,” the colleague said. “It’s an easy way to determine market price for products or services.”

Would a marketing professional recommend such a strategy? While “easy” and “efficient” are appropriate decision rules in business, they are not synonymous with ethics.

Many marketing professionals subscribe to the American Marketing Association’s Code of Ethics. The Code was created to help them remember that reputation and trust can be destroyed when they only focus on the easy way and forget to consider honesty and harm.

Codes of ethics can help business people overcome obstacles to ethical decision making. One of the obstacles is not identifying all relevant stakeholders and the impact of our actions on them (Werhane, et. al., 2013).

In the previous case, we often forget the competitors. However, think of the Golden Rule. Putting ourselves in their shoes, we realize that none of us likes wasting our time. They are harmed because they go through the work of preparing bids that have absolutely no chance of being accepted….time and expertise that they can use to really get business.

In addition, we might not recognize the impact on our friends. We are asking them to use their businesses in dishonest ways.  None of us would like to have our businesses or reputations treated in this way.

Bounded awareness is one reason we don’t identify all relevant stakeholders and the impact on them. Bounded awareness is a pattern of thinking that prevents us from noticing relevant data (Gino, Moore, and Bazerman, 2009). It can be a good psychological mechanism because it can help us survive. But bounded awareness also has ethical implications when relevant or useful data is missed and poor choices are made based on incomplete information.

Is there a remedy for the kind of bounded thinking that leads to bad marketing strategies?

Yes, and the remedy is practice.

We need to practice exercising our moral imaginations. When making a marketing decision, take the time to systematically identify all stakeholders and imagine the consequences for them when one alternative is played out, then another, and another. Start the practice by listing options and stakeholders on paper until the mental process becomes second nature. In this way, we strengthen our moral muscle and do a better job balancing the easy and efficient actions with the honest and less harmful ones.

iStock_000000616571Medium

Beverly Kracher, Ph.D.

Daugherty Chair in Business Ethics & Society

Executive Director, Business Ethics Alliance

College of Business

Creighton University

Stress-Free Style

February 5, 2014 by

January and February are the big retail sale months of the year. We’re lured into stores and onto websites by ads, coupons, and incentives of all kinds. They bombard us in print, on television, radio, and billboards, on our phones, and through every social media platform. A sense of urgency wakes us in the middle of the night so we can save big at that “Early Bird” 6 a.m. opening. We sometimes wait in line for a sale that disappoints. Once inside, cluttered merchandising can overwhelm us. We frequently end up compromising on sizes, and our search for sales associates is usually endless. That’s all part of the hunt, but most of us leave stores with merchandise we never intended to buy. It sits in our closets forever, often with tags intact, taunting us with “But I was a bargain!”

Sale shopping for shoes is the worst! In-store shoppers make a mess of things, scattering shoes, tissue paper, and boxes everywhere.

I feel terribly guilty every time I send exhausted salespeople to the back room for yet another size to try. And if you buy sale shoes online, your savings opportunity hinges on the hope that they arrive absolutely perfect in every way. The risk factor is higher here because return shipping is usually not free. Repacking time and shipping fees can make the experience both futile and costly. And you still don’t have shoes.

Online sales of any kind can be just as frustrating. Seems like almost everything I finally resolve to order is no longer available in my size. So why did I just waste hours searching my favorite sites on a quest for a “great buy” that’s “really me?”

I can’t tell you that I have great strategies for online shopping, but there are some basic tips to ensure that your in-store adventures are successful and relatively stress-free:

Take inventory of your wardrobe. Go through your closet and get rid of everything that shows wear. Start a list of what needs replacing.

Look over the things you want to keep. Coordinate them with what you have. If you realize there’s a pant or skirt you love that’s now missing a mate, add to your list these key “enabling” pieces to buy.

Don’t forget to go through your accessories to determine what to buy as you update your wardrobe.

If you have favorite sweaters and tops that need scarves, photograph them and refer to them on your phone when sorting through the dozens of possibilities you’ll encounter.

Now you’re ready to finalize the list of what’s in your sights. Be specific and detailed.

Dress for shopping! Wear clothes that are easy to get on and off. Basic black provides a good “grounding palette.” Wear minimal, if any, jewelry.

Do not carry a heavy handbag. Wear a lightweight cross-body bag so you can easily sort through racks with 
both hands.

Leave your coat in the car if possible.

Pay close attention to your list. Do not yield to temptation unless you know that any “off-list” items will be both right for you and a strong complement to your closet.

To avoid crowds, shop weekday afternoons.

Remember, most stores are good about returns. Take things home to try on at your leisure and to test with other pieces. Save your receipts and respectfully make any returns as soon as possible.

And the most important rule of all? Never forsake quality for price.

Mary Anne Vaccaro is a clothing and product designer and an image consultant to businesses and individuals. www.maryannevaccaro.com She is also a sales consultant for Carlisle and Per Se, New York. 
www.carlislecollection.com

Digital Immigrant, Meet Demand Generation

May 25, 2013 by

Chances are you are a “digital immigrant,” one who was not born bathed in bits, who played video games as a toddler or learned keyboarding in third grade. This means you have a steeper learning curve than “digital natives”—those for whom all this social media stuff isn’t stuff at all. It’s just part of everyday life…how they live, work, play, access information, and make decisions.

Indeed, there is a whole generation of digital natives, who command where, when, and how they find information. They are in control, and that is why they are called the “demand generation.” They compose our customers, our prospects, our employees, our constituents, and our advocates. A key to understanding social media is understanding how to reach, and more importantly, engage with the demand generation.

Here are some tips:

  • Acknowledge that the sales process is no longer linear. The internet has jumped squarely in between you and your customer and interrupted what used to be a good opportunity for you to control the conversation. Now consumers visit blogs to get information and recommendations on what to buy. The average consumer uses more than 10 sources to make a buying decision today, and 70 percent of Americans look at product reviews. What was once linear may be turned upside-down, twisted sideways, and backwards. Consumers may see a product in the store, but then go out into cyberspace to investigate it, only to go back into the store to buy.
  • Content is king. As a writer by trade—and a digital immigrant—knowing this makes me very happy. It also makes me work hard to relate to my target audience with personal, direct, relevant conversations that matter to them. Customers who engage with brands online spend 20-40 percent more on that brand’s products/services. Know your target. Understand their perspective. Quench their thirst for the knowledge they seek. A long time ago, author and speaker Bert Decker impressed me with his edict, “You’ve got to be believed to be heard.” Break through that frontal cortex, and your message just may get through.
  • You do have to be everywhere—and on-the-go. This seems the antithesis to target marketing, but what it means is you can’t think that because you have your website and a Facebook page, you’re good to go. Chances are your target customers aren’t sitting still. It’s likely—not statistically shown—that 78 percent of consumers shop across multiple channels. This means the internet—your site if your SEO is up to date, social media, Twitter, Vine, blogs, e-mail deliveries from you/your competitors, and their phones. And here’s the deal with phones: 31 percent of consumers research products on their phones before buying in-store while 40 percent research products from their phones before buying online. Is your site mobile optimized/responsive so that it feeds the information to fit the user’s screen?

The good news about all this—for those willing to keep swimming in the deep end—is that there is demand, a marketer’s dream. We can meet that demand with products people need and want—and by getting in and staying in the conversation with relevance, content, personalization, and engagement.

Special thanks for inspiration and sourcing for this article from Bob Thacker, former CMO of OfficeMax.