The secret of successful salespeople is getting their customers to trust them and feel safe around them. I can honestly say it’s how I got my wife to marry me.

We are scared of responsibility while making purchase decisions

Let’s take a look at our thinking while buying something. Last week, I visited an exhibition in Cologne with one of our customers. We went to an unknown environment (at least 8 years have passed since my last visit to Cologne). They put me in charge of finding a restaurant where we could have dinner. Somewhere between the exhibition venue and the hotel, not too expensive, not Chinese food and not take-away. A whole bunch of conditions. Of course, I felt responsible – I didn’t want to let anyone down. I was looking for a safe choice – purchase decision. But I didn’t exactly have enough time to do my research. I also couldn’t call anyone for recommendations.

I had to choose a restaurant in an unknown environment twice last week, and both times my smartphone was able to help me. The »Nearby« button is great, I did a good job both times. Admittedly, our expectations were low, but we ended up eating quite well. The reviews and recommendations of strangers that the app finds on Tripadvisor, Yelp, Google and Facebook provided me with enough peace of mind while choosing a restaurant. The number of reviews played a key factor in my selection (I didn’t even consider restaurants with less than 30 reviews) as well as the information that the place was open. I read a few opinions and viewed some images of the restaurant and their dishes. Their website was not a part of my decision making process, since the information on my phone was enough for making the decision.

Connections keep the business going until the customer finds a better alternative

I have a similar task in the coming month. My 40th birthday party is coming and I’m going to invite my friends and family. It would be great to find a place where they could make us dinner and allow us to party until dawn. This decision is much too important to be based on online reviews by strangers. I’m looking for recommendations among friends and colleagues whose “tastes” I know and appreciate. I also want to experience the venue, food, drinks and the band for myself. Everyone should have a good time at my party.

The more responsibility our decision requires, the more we are inclined to choose proven providers. They might not be the best, but we know what to expect from them and what they can do. This is why I suddenly realized that I can trust our regular catering provider to find the venue. I’m also open to moving the date of the party a bit, so I can book the band that regularly plays at FrodX’s New Year’s afterparties. Choosing Trebello for the wine is also a home run. So in the end it turned out that the providers with best connections got my business. Most of all because I trust them and because I don’t have to try hard to work with them.

The more responsibility our decision requires, the more we are inclined to choose proven providers. Click To Tweet

Communicate and share your thoughts, so your customers can get to know you

If I’m on the other side – trying to reach a new customer, I’m well aware of the trust someone needs to place in me and my company to decide for change. After all, they have their “proven” suppliers that they already trust. Experience shows that recommendations by satisfied customers that are in touch with people working for our potential customer are the most helpful in this context. But those recommendations must be honest, we have to earn them. Recommendations by people who were never our customers aren’t worth much. Their best effect is probably creating some attention that we wouldn’t get otherwise.

Let your customers know you – it’s the only way they will trust you. Click To Tweet

Luckily, recommendations aren’t the only way, just the easiest one. Their reach is limited by the company’s tradition, the number of its employees and their social circle. Our ability to connect with potential customers is therefore crucial for those of us who are only beginning to establish ourselves. Sharing our thoughts every week through our blog posts and newsletters with the public is most helpful to us, because people that follow our thoughts on our blog feel like they know us already even if we meet for the first time. Maybe knowing our way of thinking makes them feel safer. I’m certain that deciding to work with FrodX is easier for many of them because of this. Do you feel differently?

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While Slovenian skier Žan Kranjec was excellent with his 16th place finish in Friday’s giant slalom under Vitranc two weeks ago, the same public viewed Slovenian ski jumper Peter Prevc’s performance in World cup ski jumping in Wisla as being just 5th.

Last week, Miha and I ordered food delivery to our office twice. Both times we had to wait 45 minutes until we were able to start eating. But one of those times, I had nothing nice to say to the delivery man, and the other time I thanked him. The difference was that the first time they said I would have to wait half an hour and the second time they said I would have to wait for about an hour, since they are swamped with orders. Same company, same delivery man, same phone operator – only our expectations were different. They exceeded them one time and failed to meet them the other time. But they were the ones who built them in the first place.

Customer satisfaction is being held hostage to the feeling of marginal usefulness.

Customer satisfaction is usually connected to their awareness or feeling of “overservice”. Sometimes you don’t have to do anything special to achieve it, and other times the customer didn’t feel it even if they got more than they were promised. I believe that such cases should not be attributed to the service team of the provider, the fault lies in marketing and sales. If we disregard recommendations by satisfied customers, marketing and sales are crucial for managing customer expectations.

Don’t make promises that you can't keep. Click To Tweet

The proof that customers don’t realistically evaluate the quality of service, and only evaluate marginal utility, can be found on Tripadvisor. Das ist Valter, a Balkan style fast food restaurant, is the second best rated restaurant in Kranj even though it is a fast food place. I‘m not even sure if it’s the best in town. If anyone called me and asked me where they could eat well in Kranj, I would definitely recommend at least 5 other places. The same goes for five star hotel ratings. How could such a hotel have a lower score than a hostel with dorm rooms if satisfaction scores were not a reflection of different expectations?

It is not enough to give more than you promised. You should give more than the customer expected.

The restaurant where we usually order a salad for lunch always provides free breadsticks with the salad. They are free of charge. Every single time. And you get them only with the delivery. If you order the same salad at their restaurant, they don’t serve the breadsticks. They are supposed to be overservice. Can you imagine how we’d feel if we didn’t get them all of a sudden? We would probably be disappointed. The breadsticks that were supposed to add value to the food delivery have lost that function a long time ago. We are not in the least bit surprised when we get them. We would be surprised if we didn’t get them. If they want to surprise us, they should change the extra item every time. The same amount of effort and cost would have a much greater effect on customer satisfaction and engagement. Only a slight modification of the current approach would be required.

Customer satisfaction mostly depends on your capacity to surpass the expectations. Click To Tweet

Customer expectation management is the hardest and most important thing that marketing and sales must consider.

Every now and then I come for a talk and some good wine with some of my friends in one of Kranj’s restaurants. When the chef comes to greet us (after two glasses), brings a little something from the kitchen and addresses us to try it, rate it and help him create a new dish for the spring tasting menu, there is nothing more they could have done. First, he exceeded our expectations and made us feel special. Second, he made the best possible promotion of the spring tasting menu and included us in the making of the product which gives us a genuine reason to ask our friends to try it. After all, we were a part of the story of his spring menu, and that is something we can brag about.

 

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I often hear that Slovenians make great products, but we simply don’t have the know-how to sell them properly. Regardless of the industry. Of course, I first think that their products may not be that good and that the previous statement is just a convenient excuse. But unfortunately it is true that Slovenians have an engineering approach to development – at least in the IT industry. Too often we are focused only on what we can produce with our engineering skills and join the race to improve the technical characteristics of our product compared to our competitors.

Great developers think about the entire customer experience instead on focusing solely on the product that they are developing

Soft skills are rarely used in product development. Only a handful of companies manage to overcome their obsession with technical specifications when developing products. Slovenian IT companies that define their target group as well as predict the purchase stakeholders and their thinking to devise a customer engagement plan are truly a rare breed. This plan should be a comprehensive overview of the customer experience throughout the lifecycle of our relationship with the customer. Building a financial structure for the new product without a customer engagement plan relies on guesswork and wish lists, since serious planning and creating a solid business plan are impossible without it. You must have heard stories about great products that someone developed, but their salespeople were just incompetent and could not sell them. Customer focused companies should therefore think differently about product development and have a different view of the market. We could say that the story they want to tell with their product is the basis for its development.

Start thinking about how to sell the product as soon as you start developing it. Click To Tweet

You cannot build the emotional potential of the product just by focusing on its technical characteristics

Stories should provide an emotional connection between the customer and the provider or their product. Good storytellers are able to engage people emotionally in their story. Their subtle messages provide layers to the story and raise the product above its technical characteristics that are easily comparable. This is what every company wants. Their customers should see the widest context of the product, their story. Even more – they want their customers to keep telling and sharing their story. This is the only way that these stories can become credible. This entire construct is a product of a successful storyteller.

Only a good story provides an emotional connection to your brand. Click To Tweet

Most Slovenian companies (not only in the IT industry) have a poor awareness of the importance of their story and the story of their products. Even if they try to do something about it, they usually just go through the motions and don’t employ a systematic process with clear goals and success indicators. Posting an employment add for a Chief Storyteller raises quite a few eyebrows in Slovenia even if such work positions are nothing unusual in the global economy. Some googling showed me that Nike employed a Chief Storytelling Officer in the nineties, and that SAP has had that function from 2013.

Communicating goals and selling a means to an end

Marketing people have been more than happy to embrace the content marketing phenomenon, and this has lead us to the point where suddenly no one is interested in content any more. There is just too much content and it is too similar. Every marketer is trying to drown us in content. It is very rarely useful or even amusing. It seems like everyone is recreating the same content over and over again. People who used to think about the number of leaflets at exhibitions or were trying to find the right promotional gifts for customers are not necessarily capable of having a strategic overview of the market, products and the competitive value of their company. They are also not necessarily creative personalities with a knack for telling stories, but they are now creating content, because this is one of the main tasks of marketing today. The flood of low-quality content and the decreasing responsiveness of customers to it will slowly make managers realize that not everyone is suited for creating content just like they slowly realized that not everyone who works in a marketing department is a good designer.

The golden rule for creating marketing content is that the content you create should be useful or at least amusing. Since it is hard to be funny most of the time and it depends on the customers’ sense of humor, the content should most of all be useful. But is only a rule on the operational level that text writers should consider. The chief Storyteller in the company should have a wider perspective with a further reach. The best stories somehow shine some light on the goals that your customers are tying to achieve and products are only means to accomplishing these goals. Sales people love to talk to the customers about reaching their goals and the hurdles that they have to face on the way there. The job of the Chief Storyteller and marketing operations is assuring that this actually happens.

The customer will always have an easier time understanding the problem than its solution

You can often hear that it is not hard to write stories for sports equipment manufacturers like Nike, but it is practically impossible to write one for a company developing an IT system that supports manufacturing and storage for small and medium sized companies. I personally believe that the second case gives us even more room for creating a story. We just need to stop focusing our writing on selling software.

For a good story you need to gain a good understanding of your customers' problems. Click To Tweet

A good story requires us to step into the shoes of our target customers and gain a good understanding of their problems. Even the problems that they haven’t even thought about yet. If we can warn them about these problems and present the goals that they could reach with us, they will be glad to work hand in hand with us. I’m sure that every manager of a small and medium sized manufacturing company would like to read how they could optimize their manufacturing and logistics, so they could reach the efficiency of market leaders. A good storyteller keeps the customers focused on their goals and talks about the problems on the road to reach them. The customers have a much better understanding of their problems than the solutions for them.

 

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After 6 straight days of golfing, I went for a relaxing walk around lake Bled with my family. Our children are always thirsty and have to go to the toilet right when we arrive to the Vila Prešeren café. So we always end up drinking the most expensive coffee in the region, whether we want to or not.

This visit was even more expensive than usual. There was a shiny, well-designed menu at our table, and since the place was packed and we had to wait at least 15 minutes for our waiter, our family had the time to see their offer. So instead of stopping for a simple cup of cocoa, the children ordered an Oreo Shake. It is still cocoa, but since it contains Oreos, they can sell it at double the price of regular cocoa.

How can marketing help a product live for 100 years?

I was impressed how a branded cookie (nothing special by the way) can help you sell a cup of milk with a spoonful of cocoa at double the price, so I started googling to find all about Oreos. I have heard about them a couple of years ago when their marketing department brilliantly used the Super Bowl blackout. Then I discovered something that surprised me greatly – in the 100 years since they’ve started making Oreos, more of them are currently being sold as an ingredient for making other desserts rather than for eating them as they are. There is no better way to diversify your product. When people get tired of your cookies, you just publish a recipe for a new Oreo cake. There are currently 468 recipes on the manufacturers website. Cheapest product development if you ask me. And you are not alone in this – your most loyal buyers will help you.

When a branded cookie can help you sell a cup of cocoa at double the price. Click To Tweet

If I can somehow understand that cafés help their sales with a brand like Oreo, I was surprised to find that Milka used Oreos in their chocolate. If your brand is included by Milka in their product, this means that it has surpassed theirs and adds value to their chocolate. Even Milka can hope to sell more chocolate thanks to Oreo.

When does marketing achieve its peak?

I discovered that the crucial Oreo phenomenon is the self-promotion of the Oreo brand by the consumers themselves. No culinary forum seems complete without at least one dessert recipe that contains Oreos. What more could you want than buyers bragging about your product? They even compete in who praises you more.

What more could you want than buyers bragging about your product? Click To Tweet

The only thing I don’t understand is why they don’t sell crushed Oreo cookies for baking. This way they could sell all their damaged cookies and manufacturing leftovers. They wouldn’t even have to lower the price considering the hype of their fans. Maybe they would only need to put some new “original” Oreo recipes in the box every month. It would be even better to replace their “original” recipes with recipes, sent by their customers. This would provide them with some “gamification” leverage as well. But they are probably already doing that. I suppose I just haven’t googled hard enough.

 

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If your marketing department is asking itself how many of your customers mention you or brag about you in their social circle, you have begun thinking about why should your clients brag about you to their friends. The answer to this question is crucial for the growth of any company. In the end, when marketers clog all communication channels, recommendations will be all that is left. Genuine personal recommendations. Some companies are well aware of this today, but they are mostly focused on technical challenges, mechanics, processes to incentivize recommendations, and neglect the emotional component that is the key motivator for honest recommendations.

If it does not motivate you personally, it will hardly motivate your customers

If we disregard the communication noise and pending customer oversaturation, because everyone is doing the same things, we should question ourselves about our long-term investments. And the way forward is not a secret. Honest personal recommendations among friends and spreading good faith in your customers’ social circle is the only viable long-term strategy. But before you invite your customers to recommend you or “like” something, please think about why they should do that. What could make them want to do it? Think about what brings you to the moment when you want to recommend something to your friends.

If you cannot brag about luxury items, you won’t buy them. Click To Tweet

Are you managing envy?

Do you really believe anyone would buy a €10,000 watch if no one would notice its value? If you cannot brag about luxury items, you won’t buy them. Do you think that Akrapovič sells their exhaust systems only because they add 2 HP and make the motorbike 1 kg lighter? This is perhaps their rationalization for buying, but it is not their main motivator. There are lots of similar cases. One of our customers sells water cooling systems for PCs. Water cooling enables a much quieter computer and more efficient CPU cooling which can increase its efficiency, but it still seems that they are mostly selling designer products – like Apple. In all of these cases, customers brag about their products. No one is embarrassed because they bought their product from Akrapovič, Apple or EKWB. What would you say drives their customers to brag about these products?

Do you really believe anyone would buy a €10,000 watch if no one would notice its value? Click To Tweet

This Saturday, Miha and I took our coworkers for a visit to three winemakers in the Vipava valley –Krapež, Miška and Lepa Vida. We could call it teambuilding, but our main purpose was presenting the TreBello project which involves the three winemakers we mentioned and will eventually lead to a reservation system for culinary tourists. We heard some genuine stories from each one, tried some amazing wine and wonderful dishes. On my way home, I started thinking where and why would my coworkers invite their friends. What will they remember in the long term? The wine? The story about leaving the berries in the wine for an additional year to enrich its taste? The 200 year old wine cellar? I don’t think so. If they tell their friends anything, they will tell them about this*.

B2B is slightly different. Instead on focusing on envy, we should be thinking about fear. If you want to know what drives recommendations in the B2B segment, I recommend you to read these two short documents:


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*How many people can fit into one wine barrel (2800 liters)?

Digitalization or digital transformation (if you prefer) is one of the key generators of current economic progress (as well as social development). When I try to explain it to our customers, I try to narrow it down to concrete examples. This is the only simple and understandable way to explain it that will fascinate them and lead them to taking steps in their development which could potentially include some of our services.

There is no survival without development

I often hear, especially among domestic companies, that they are a part of a mature industry and there are almost no chances for any significant new developments in their business. When I hear something like that, I first think about the owners of the company. I would not feel comfortable being the owner of a company that no longer believes in their survival – because there is no survival without development. It is only a matter of time.

There is no survival without development. Click To Tweet

The digitalization trend that we are witnessing this moment is a good development step in my opinion. Development trends have never been as clear as they are now. Digitalization opens new development opportunities to companies in 3 areas – they can improve the customer experience (CX), optimize their own processes or try to create new business models.

Hello digitalization, hello Barbie

I don’t want all of this to sound purely hypothetical, so I will illustrate it with a real world example. The last one that got me thinking was Matell. Not many people know the company, but they certainly know their main product – Barbie. It is probably the most recognizable girl’s toy that has been on the market ever since 1959. Yet they are still thinking about development. Even though most people would think there is no room for further developing of dolls, I discovered that Matell really embraced digitalization. Last year they launched their new product »Hello Barbie«.

»Hello Barbie« is a Wifi enabled doll that connects to the Barbie cloud. It recognizes the speech of English speaking children and meaningfully talks back to them. Let’s just say they integrated Cortana or Siri in their classic Barbie doll and it can adapt to the age and developmental stage of the child. Parents gain an opportunity to follow their child’s development, and it helps children develop their imagination. This has been one of the most important aspects of Barbie dolls since their beginnings in 1959.

Digitalization opens the way to new products that will probably bring more money. Click To Tweet

If I ignore the fact that this Barbie doll model costs $75 at Mattel’s e-shop, while the classic Barbie model costs a couple of cents under $10, I find the digitalization of the doll fascinating because they opened the way to new products which will probably bring much more money in the future than Barbie’s fashion accessories were bringing until now. Imagine »Hello Barbie« as the first step in your child’s journey of learning a foreign language. It could be used by speech therapists for example. Or it could simply be used as a toy that helps children learn new words. I can also imagine parents using it as a baby phone that monitors their child’s sleep. Maybe even as an archive that stores your child’s best memories. There is a bunch of reasons to call »Hello Barbie« a »smart toy« and parents will always find »rational« arguments to buy it. The manufacturer will try to find arguments for educators who will recommend their product as an accessory that will help in the development of your child. What parent wouldn’t want that.

Are you still certain that there are no development opportunities in your business?

Mattel has certainly drawn the attention of tech-geek fathers. At least in the short term. If I was buying a doll for my daughter today, I would definitely buy »Hello Barbie«. Even if it doesn’t yet work outside USA and Canada, and there are lots of negative reviews on Amazon that focus on dodgy connectivity and the complex setup of the service.

Are you still sure that there are no development opportunities in your business? What can we do to help you?

 

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The stories that we share with you are almost always drawn from FrodX’s business experiences. Most of them are stories of our (potential) customers – slightly disguised and simplified to make them more interesting and shorter. Only a few of them are fictional, even though they might appear genuine as well.

I would like to share my thoughts about the way you should be thinking about your products. I was at a meeting with a potential customer, and they asked for my opinion on their website and online store content. They were mostly interested in making it more interesting and using it more efficiently. It can be slightly awkward to answer such questions when you are trying to do business with them. The content was probably prepared by an agency who charged a lot of money for it, and the person you’re talking to probably made the final call (by the way – there seems to be an unlimited number of communication “experts”). It’s even more awkward if the person asking about your opinion is the author of this content. The worry that the customer may not quite realize what I’m trying to explain is always in the back of my mind. I always face the same problem – no matter what the activity and size of the company are. Sometimes I feel like I have my own “masterpiece” that I must work into every meeting or lecture.

It's not easy to say something is wrong. Customer might not understand what we're trying to explain. Click To Tweet

You can see from the title that this time I was reading content about fertilizers and other gardening accessories. Would I be able to write something more interesting about fertilizer? No. Do I know what people who buy fertilizer want to read? No. Would I be able to create content that excites people, so they visit the store and buy fertilizer? Yes, this I can definitely do. We only need to stop talking about fertilizer, since not many people think about fertilizer as a solution to their problems. The ones who do, don’t need additional content and promotion to buy your product if they know that you sell fertilizer. Marketing should primarily inspire customer needs, and not only respond to existing ones. If you are not doing this, someone else is in charge of your game.

Marketing should primarily inspire customer needs, and not only respond to existing ones. Click To Tweet

Let’s get back to fertilizer. Potential buyers of fertilizer feel that their neighbors’ lawn looks better, and they would like their own lawn to look just as good or maybe even better. This is the problem that they are trying to solve and this is the content that might interest them. Only the question of involving fertilizer in this narrative remains now – along with the lawnmower, lawn aerator, lawn irrigation system, better seeds, moss remover, and most importantly – instructions on lawn care that will make their lawn look better than their neighbors’. Content that builds buying potential for garden products should follow this direction. People are happy to read useful content, and it certainly won’t hurt if it’s fun.

People are happy to read useful content, and it certainly won’t hurt if it’s fun. Click To Tweet

When you are able to communicate the importance of lawns around peoples’ houses, they will want to know how to achieve that goal. If you offer useful tips every week or every two weeks (maybe as a short video, such as “Gardening tips and tricks”) on what to do and how to do it and provide some interaction (so they can show you photographs of their lawn which is important for them) along with some two-way communication, things will certainly start going your way.

I think the real challenge would be selling lawn care as a subscription service, therapy or adventure. The buyer would see you as an integral part of their solution and their road to the desired goal.

At least once a week, I must ask myself about the problems that my customers are trying to solve. Has something changed? Are you also trying to understand the problems of your buyers in your line of work? Sometimes I feel that we are in business only because companies don’t do this. At least not systematically, regularly and comprehensively. Or we are doing well only because companies need an outside perspective and the high prices of our services still justify the value that we provide.

We wish you happy holidays and a successful new year!

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Sometimes I feel that the curse of our business is that so many people feel competent to judge our work. Unlike people in many other industries, the people who work in marketing, product development and customer experience (CX) are constantly faced with opinions and “good natured” advice by others. An unbelievable number of people that observe our work has an opinion about what is good work and what isn’t. Even more than that – they somehow think they know what should be changed. If we want to accommodate our customers, we always have to find a balance between fulfilling their wishes and sticking to our own professional knowledge which can guarantee results that the same customer will expect in a while.

Authority – no disturbance for the price of total responsibility

My wife, a surgeon, never works according to her patients’ rhythm. She doesn’t have to worry about them detailing the way they want to be operated, so they feel better, even though she meets some of her patients just before the operation. It’s difficult for me to imagine the position that doctors have achieved. Even though anyone can see YouTube videos of operations, compare different surgical techniques, learn about theory and practices that Slovenian surgeons don’t even use, patients still believe in the professionalism and good nature of their surgeons. We believe that they will do their job to the best of their abilities. Without any special promises. Without tying a bonus payment to future performance. We just trust them.

When the cooperation terms change, the responsibility for achieving results must be redefined too. Click To Tweet

Being accommodating at the price of achieving success

Please don’t take me wrong – I’m not bothered by calls to argument our point of view and exchange opinions. I’m not bothered that we share a part of the risk with our customers and that we are partially paid according to the success of the implemented changes. But I’m bothered when we must compromise and move away from the previously accepted Customer Engagement Plan that we prepare for every customer at the beginning of our cooperation, especially if we forget to redefine responsibilities upon doing that. We are left with all the responsibility, even though accommodating our customer involved implementing changes that are not acceptable by our standards.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ao7wOJ5qQ-s

Managing responsibility – foundation of long-term partnership

They say experience counts. When someone asks me about the key skill that we need to perform our job, I realize that it involves managing responsibility. The success of the campaign is greatly influenced by changes, such as someone asking for a lighter shade of green, more fashionable font, reducing the tempo of the campaign, reducing the advertising investment, changing the tone of communication, quality of content, taking a break over the holidays… The customer must also be aware of this fact and accept their responsibility. If you warn them about this in time, it turns out that they are prepared to follow the Customer Engagement Plan almost in full, which guarantees results that are not far from expectations.

The responsibility for success (failure) is shared by both parties that accepted the compromise. Click To Tweet

 

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“Every business is all about the price, not only yours”. This is how I always answer such claims and this is how I will answer you.

If you contact the lead towards the end of his/her purchase process, this doesn’t leave enough time to explain the value of your product or service to them. You simply don’t have enough opportunities to make the customer understand, accept and properly evaluate this value.

If you don’t want to debate the price with the customer, you must start communicating soon enough. Click To Tweet

Are you even giving me the opportunity to recognize your value?

It’s true that your story needs a differentiator which you must try to define as an advantage, so you can present it as valuable in the eyes of the buyer. But value doesn’t only come from the technical characteristics of the product. Far from it. The fact is that all industries are under the influence of commodization. This is happening faster and faster. It’s only natural that everything is becoming more or less similar from afar, so it’s hard for the buyer to notice differences. The product itself is often not even that much different. Sometimes the only difference comes from accompanying services, usually customer care. Think about gas and electricity sales – the product is technically the same and there are no major differences in pricing. Or think about selling insulation in construction. Even harder. Among all my friends that have built a house, no one knows exactly what kind of insulation material they have. Far from being able to remember the brand or manufacturer of their insulation material. But something must have influenced their decision. If they haven’t been able to recognize other advantages of chosen materials or providers, it could have only been the price.

What is the value you provide and what is the purchasing process of your customers today?

Whichever way you look at it – if the buyer wants to recognize the advantages, you need to be able to communicate with him or offer him content that makes him recognize these advantages. One or the other – both demand a different approach than before. We have changed our buying habits and we can easily research even the smallest thing on the web or on social networks. This is faster, more elegant and less constricting. Personal contact with the provider comes too late in our purchase process, so they have no chance of influencing our choice and educating us. We are only interested in the price and delivery conditions. We have found everything else in the online content and on social networks. This is how things work in a world where any kind of information is globally available to an engaged buyer. Are you visible enough on its map?

 

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When I’m around marketing people it doesn’t take long to hear them complain about salespeople: “They don’t understand anything. They are impatient savages that destroy everything in their wake. They don’t even know what brand awareness means.” 😉

This debate often amuses me. Most of the time, I’m in the company of women, mostly younger than me. The terminology is very highbrow, some expressions are even unfamiliar to me. But I’m having a hard time understanding the problems they feel. It’s far easier debating about where to buy an 4XL polo shirt for the boss and why is chocolate getting more expensive.

Marketing and sales have a common goal

No offense – salespeople are special in their own way as well. Especially in regards to their view of the marketing department. But enough about that. This is not the point of this post. I only wanted to say that two teams that are natural allies don’t see one another as such in the unified process of customer acquisition and business development. It’s quite sad actually that they cannot see their common goal and codependence. They have a hard time understanding that they should be helping one another for the good of the company and both teams – marketing and sales.

Marketing and sales have a common goal, yet they don’t know how to help one another. Click To Tweet

Since I’ve been hearing that salespeople don’t understand anything, I feel obliged to explain what salespeople do understand.

Lists, lists, lists

Salespeople understand lists. This is how their work begins and ends. It’s all about the lists. If a salesman is to begin working with leads, he first needs a list of potential customers. In the beginning, he needs a list to try and arrange a meeting with a customer to try and explain which of their problems can they solve with his help. In the end, he creates lists of customers where he will be able to seal the deal.

Marketing people: have you ever asked your salespeople whether they needed help in making lists? Better lists lead to better realization of their goals. They aren’t interested in customers that might need your company’s product. They will be much happier if they get a list of customers that are quite likely to need it. Could you prepare better lists for your salespeople than the ones they’re currently using? If you could, you are definitely speaking their language.

If marketing could make a useful list

The list with the contact information of people that gave you their business card in exchange for a teddy bear at an exhibition is not of much use to salespeople. The only thing that such a list guarantees is the work for processing it. If marketing considers something a lead, it doesn’t mean it is a useful lead for sales.

Imagine how much better would this list be if someone in marketing put in some effort and classified these contacts according to their industry and performance indexes or maybe even by size, depending on the product your company is selling. Such a list contains much more data and is much more valuable for the person that is about to establish first contact with the lead. All these parameters enable them to put the customer in context on their first call.

Give the information about your lead that you use for remarking to your salespeople. Click To Tweet

Addressing someone in the context of their expressed interest is the road to success

Let’s be fair! Think about how much value would a list have for the salesperson if every lead had an information about their expressed interest according to their behavior on your website. Not only whether they clicked something or opened an email. You do realize that Amazon, Booking.com or EasyJet know full well what you are exploring when you visit their website. Since the services or products that you viewed on their websites suddenly start appearing in your ads, it is pretty clear that their salespeople could get this information before they call you (from a list, of course).

Context according to recognized patterns is the ultimate value that you can add to a salesperson’s list. Just ask them whether they would need that. If they do, FrodX can provide the technology and skills that are required for making “smart” lists (Prospecting 2.0) for salespeople.

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P.S. Are you maybe interested in Prospecting 2.0 as an outsourced service? If you want more information, you are welcome to join us for a coffee.