Tools for your sales force

Managing expectations: Maturity at work


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Think of any situation where you have purchased something, and, at the end of the purchase experience, things got nasty. Assumptions you had made at the beginning of the process turned out to be incorrect. Promises that the vendor made were broken, and the vendor was very reluctant to make it up to you. The enthusiasm you and the vendor had at the beginning of the process was gone, and in its place were raw nerves, legitimate concerns, and a lot of haggling over "what we must do, now that we know what we didn't know before."

Is "selling" obsolete?


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Back when most people lived on farms, there were "snake oil salesmen," who came around to tell residents, one by one, about a cure-all elixir. The salesperson had to be very convincing, and sell as many people as possible in a short time, because the stuff didn't actually work. He had to be in the next town before the people in the previous town discovered the truth.

Fast forward to when people moved to the cities. Buyers saw ads, and then used any means they could to determine if a product was right for them. They would visit a store, call a salesperson, get a brochure, read an article in a "consumer reports" magazine, and so on. The salesperson, and the company's ability to get covered by the press, played a large role in the completion of the sale.

It's the bloggers, baby!


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One of the most important skills of a marketing strategist is to know "where the heat is." What matters now? Who matters now?

One of the things that matters now is your buyers, trying to get relevant, useful answers in a sea of irrelevant, self-serving blather. Anyone can publish a blog and post a video. Almost everyone does. Every company has a website. Publishing companies that used to have a monopoly, those large lumbering newspapers, magazines, and networks, are now surrounded by swarms of publishing gnats. The giants are dying, one gnat bite at a time.

Are you hiding behind your "personas"?


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I am continuously amused at the lengths company executives will go to, to avoid talking directly to their customers. They'd rather do their taxes than phone or go face-to-face with a real, live customer.

As a result of this fear, company executives and owners will bet the company on any other data they can get their hands on. They pore over their website metrics. They run web-based surveys. They ask their salespeople (sometimes) and customer service people (hardly ever) what customers are saying. Every so often, they may lurk on an online discussion group.

They demand more and more data from their marketing folks. Every piece of data makes them want more data, because the data they get only raises more questions. Deep down inside, they wonder if it's all BS.

The customer is always wrong: the salesperson as a wannabe lawyer


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There are two kinds of salespeople in the world. One knows that the customer is just trying to get some questions answered, and does what he can to answer those questions. The other sees the customer's questions as "objections" to be overcome - obstacles to his making the sale and getting a commission.

In other words, in the first case, the customer is right - right to be making sure the product will meet his needs. Right to ask questions. Rightfully entitled to getting honest answers to those questions until he has enough information to make a good decision.

 

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