Marketing should take the client right to the purchasing stage; there should be almost or no, need for a sales person – just an order taker.
This is the fundamental difference between someone who comes to your business to buy and someone who comes that you need to sell to. These days people research every purchase online before they even go in to a store or business.
Clients can be, and often are, more informed than sales people. As Seth Godin says in his book “All Marketers are Liars” ; buyer beware “caveat emptor” is now “seller beware” as often the client is more informed about a product than the sales person. There is so much information about our products and services available on the web that it may be impossible to keep fully up to date. None more so than with cars: Clients come to dealers with printouts of web pages that have far more information than a sales person can hope to remember about every model in the range.
This is actually a good thing because they should know just what they want so all the sales person has to do is match that and take the order. Then a good sales person may find a little cross or up-sell to add to the package if that suits the purchaser.
What Story Does Your Marketing Tell About You?
The internet lets people make informed decisions. They can find the best price through comparison websites and they can find the best service through review sites. Then they find their closest dealer with Google.
Businesses can do the same for what they buy. Personally I don’t think that price is as important as service. I would rather pay more to stay in a hotel with a 5 star review than a similar one with only 2 stars. People like to be served and treated well, that has not changed with the web.
So our message as marketers needs to do the job of selling. So that clients are primed and ready to order. You don’t want tire kickers you want order makers. This is where a coordinated effort is essential. Your webpage, all the articles online, the review sites and press statements should all tell the same story.
Get Everyone “On Story”
You need to decide what that story is and be sure it is the same across all media right down to the staff you have. Your staff need to know what the story is so that their actions can tell it too. It used to be about a company mission, and being “on mission”. Things have changed and I think it is more about being “on story”. If you decide you are the caring company and all your media says so, it’s no use having staff who are not on story.
If you are the “technical” people then make sure everyone knows that so they harmonize with all your other efforts. I have seen cases where a receptionist who was not on story with the rest of the team put people off who had been ready to buy. This goes from the CEO all the way to the janitor and the guy who makes the coffee.
This story is then told across all the social media, advertising, webpages, brochures and media that you produce. People need this to set you apart from the competition. There are very few companies who are alone in their niche. Social media allows us to tell our story to get our brand to stand out and convince people to buy before they walk through our door.
This is our job as marketers: target, qualify and pre-sell. Get people hot for our offer so that the sales team just has to write the order up. Happy days 🙂
You Are Not in Total Control
We can’t control the story but we can shape it and lead it in directions. Social media and review sites give us the tools to do this. But remember people have preconceived ideas so the same message may be interpreted differently by individuals. People have frames that allow them to chunk data and make rationalisations. In this way they jump to conclusions after ready just a little of our story, or just from our logo or website.
All the more reason to have all our messages working together to tell the same story. Stories sell and if people can identify with our story they will buy from us. The more they align themselves with our brand story the more loyal they will become.
You can see this with brands that come out with new models that sell without promotion. Sometimes they will sell even with bad reviews. Its like going to see “Titanic” because you like Leonardo; you know its 3 hours long and probably overly sentimental rubbish — but you liked him in all his other movies so off you go.
Marketing That Sells So You Don’t Have To
At first websites used to have a lot “About Us” stuff on the landing page. Marketers thought that this was important. Now that is relegated to a back page and we focus on the client and about how they feel. How will this purchase make them feel? What will their life feel like after they own our product?
Don’t focus on the product. The chances are that people can get something similar elsewhere cheaper. Focus on the story. If they buy from you they will be part of your story. What will that mean to them? Think how Nike can sell shoes made in Vietnam in some obscure factory and charge the price that they do. That is because you are putting on a story not just a shoe. People who wear Nike are the sort of people who “Just Do It”. If you are a person who identifies with that story you will buy their shoes above any other similar brand even at a much higher price.
That is why people walk in to stores and ask for and buy Nike. They don’t need selling because the marketing already did that.