PHASE 4- SELL
If You Build It, Will They Come?
Creating a cool product is not enough to ensure sales. You must persuade customers to share in your excitement, and that is much more difficult than it sounds. Although some people in Silicon Valley are skeptical of advertising, advertising does work. Ads often embed a subtle impression which drives you to purchase that item… eventually.
Sales work best when they are hidden; when customers talk to “account executives” or “business developers”, they are actually talking to skilled marketers. This type of “hidden marketing” can create superior sales and distribution, creating a virtual monopoly on its own.
To achieve effective distribution, the “Customer Lifetime Value” must exceed the “Customer Acquisition Cost”. Thus the more expensive your product, the more you should spend on marketing.
There are various types of sales:
Complex Sales (> $1M): Place heavy emphasis on developing relationships. Do not hire salesmen, but negotiate deals yourself as the CEO. Expect 50% to 100% year-to-year growth.
Personal Sales ($10K – $100K): Hire a modestly-sized sales team that can establish close ties with customers, then build a system in which your sales team can move the product to the widest audience.
Mass Appeal Sales (low-priced products): Marketing works if you can capture the customer’s attention. Do not pay for expensive TV or billboard spots; overspending on ads will cause your CAC to exceed your CLV, leading to bankruptcy.
Viral Sales: If each user leads to 2 new users, this creates exponential growth. Provide incentives to share your product online. Viral marketing must be short, catchy, entertaining, and easily shareable.
Advertising, A Story of Addiction
For centuries, companies have used the same approach to reach customers: they identified the news and entertainment stories that their customers enjoyed most then interrupted them with ads. As consumers become annoyed and pay to avoid these ads, marketers must scramble to find new ways to reach customers.
Marketing, A Story of Deception
In a world of immediate information flow, exaggerated, underperforming claims backfire. Consumers compare their experience with marketing promises, and then mock underperforming brands with scathing reviews, public tweets, and Facebook posts. Decades of false promises have trained consumers to distrust ads. It is rapidly losing effect, and, when aimed at millennials, is
virtually useless. Historically, marketers have driven sales via 2 methods:
Rational Communication utilizes rhetoric that imitates science by presentins evidence and drawing a conclusion. However, rhetoric slants its argument by laying out only the evidence that supports its claim, while ignoringing contradictory points. For example, when business-to-business (B2B) marketers print up a checklist of features, the consumer knows the company self-selected them.
Emotional Communication is the art of persuasion by touching people's basic instincts and triggering the 2 primary emotions: pleasure & pain. Instead of these tired old approaches, a well-told story captures our attention, holds us in suspense, and pays off with a meaningful emotional experience.
The Evolution of Story
Storified communication is more than just another selling technique - it is the key to capturing engaging, and rewarding customer attention. When marketers storify their messages, consumers listen. And in the age of distraction, attention is the most valuable asset. Change grabs attention. When conditions are secure, we flow with the business of life. But come change, we're suddenly either under threat or surprised by good luck.
The mind storifies the surprising event. It compares prior similar happenings with its current experience, so it knows what to do. Evolution has taught the mind to focus on meaningful, dynamic changes which affect our lives as binaries of positive/negative value changes which pump the lifeblood of story. Stories implant patterns of behaviors to emulate, which the subconscious takes as if they were actual experiences!
To "storify" thought, our mind evolved 8 powerful faculties which, 2hen used in concert, connect our scattered impressions of people, places, and things into coherent assemblages we call “reality":
1. Self-Awareness: The power to distinguish one's subjective, core self from its objective, external self and observe the outer self as a separate personality.
2. Other-Awareness: The power to look behind the eyes of another person and sense a consciousness very much like your own, known as empathy.
3. Memory: The power to store & recall experiences.
4. Intelligence: The power to extract knowledge from both formal learning and everyday experience, and then apply deductive, inductive, and causal logic to reason towards factual, truthful conclusions.
5. Imagination: The power to reshape reality into previously undreamt-of possibilities.
6. Insight: The power to see through appearances and perceive inner causalities The storyteller uses this keen perspective to show us a world we think we understand, but then cracks open reality to surprise us and then deliver a rush of insight into the how's and why's of that world and its characters.
7. Correlation: The power to create. The correlating mind takes two things it already knows, and then seeks a hidden connection, a third joining thing.
8. Self-expression: The power to perform.
The Definition of Story
Story is not a process. A process acumulates a story progresses. Story is not a hierarchy. Organizational charts are not a story, but just another process. Story is not a journey. "Journey" is a fashionable false metaphor for "life story." The protagonist is not passive in a story; they struggle dynamically through time and space to fulfill a desire. Story is not a narrative. Many marketing
campaigns have flopped because an ad agency didn't know the difference between a narrative and
a story. Al stories are narratives, but not all narratives are stories. Narratives tend to be flat, bland, repetitive, and boring recitations of events whereas stories are value-charged and progressive
A story is a dynamic escalation of conflict-driven events that cause meaningful change to a character in stages:
1. Target your audience to create an emotional effect.
2. Determine the subject matter starting from a character having a reasonably balanced life.
3. An inciting, unforeseen incident occurs, disrupting that balance and creating pressure.
4. An object of desire constitutes an unfulfilled need.
5. A first action is tactically made by the protagonist.
6.The first reaction to the first action occurs which violates expectations. The antagonistic forces are more powerful than the protagonist anticipated.
7. An insight is gleaned from the action and reaction as the protagonist stands to lose it all, resulting in a more difficult, riskier second action.
8. The climatic reaction provides closure as the protagonist's actions finally result in their desire.
The pulse from positive to negative keeps the story dynamic and interesting while the cause-and-effect express the how's and why's change happen. The value plus the cause of story expresses its meaning.
The Full Story
The subject matter contains 3 major components:
1. A physical/social setting ("world-building") There are 2 dimensions of time location and
duration. Likewise, there are 2 dimensions of space physical and social. Physical is the horizontal
landscape, while social is the vertical hierarchy of a society's pyramid of power, and the possibility for movement within it by the protagonist.
2. A protagonist is a single character or a duo acting in unison, with whom the audience can empathize. A core value is the binary, irreplaceable element of the tale which determines its meaning. From the inciting incident onwards, a story's core value dynamically, changes from positive to negative and back again.
An inciting incident has 4 primary.
1- It captures attention.
2.- It makes the audience ask "How will this turn out?"
3. It creates suspense.
4. It makes the audience need to see how it ends.
Motivation answers "why?" while desire answers "what?". Ultimately, storytelling is the art of merging and organizing multitudinous streams of desire into a flow of events aimed at a single object of desire.
To create value-charged change, the character's sense of probability is pit against reality's forces of necessity. The character realizes that they cannot get what they want the easy way, typically due to:
1- Physical obstacles: Time, space, and other objects.
2- Social obstacles: Obstacles from society and peers.
3.Personal obstacles: Pleasure and pain arising from intimate and problematic relationships with others. Inner obstacles: Contradictory forces within a character's body, emotions, and mind.
Emotion is a side effect of change at impactful turning points. Turning points, or unexpected events that cause value-charged change, oceur as direct action and reaction, or by a revelation of a cred and its response
The Purpose-Told Story
Purpose-based stories abbreviate events; their brevity makes them memorable. Instead of wrapping up the story, a purpose-based encourages their audience to take the story further and interact with the brand. The goal is to turn audiences into customers.
The purpose-told story retells its tale in the mind of the consumer each time they buy a product, Thus strengthening brand loyalty with each purchase.
Story and the The Chief Marketing Officer
(CMO) now becomes more of a change agent instead of a campaign optimizer. A change agent must shift the company's perspective from ad-centric to story-centric marketing to capitalize upon the unparalleled opportunity to connect with customers. Aim to focus on making sales practices progressive, adding some complications and conflict to hold the audience's attention instead of only focusing on your product's positive traits.
The focus on the emotional aspect of the story and a conflict-driven progression will change the marketing team from thinking in terms of static descriptions, and instead focusing on dynamic, emotional storytelling.
Every CMO starts his day staring at a hard truth: nobody really wants to hear about your company or products. A "brand" is seen as a single organizing idea, a higher-order construct that everything else comes from and aligns with. Creating a brand takes time and careful thought, as only 52% of people trust corporations, and that trust is quickly eroding.
The first thing to do when developing your brand is to identify your target audience. Then, choose the subject matter that contains a physical and social setting, a core value, and a protagonist. Subject matter possibilities fall into at least 5 broad categories:
1.Origin Stories: Successful branding often begins with a lounder-as-protagonist origin story. These
stories star the iconic American business hero a young entrepreneur battling shortsighted prejudice
and overwhelming odds.
2.Corporate History: Corporate history stories take root in a good idea, hard work and persistence.
Often, these stories become bland narratives listing Positive events in the corporation's history.
3. Mission Stories. These focus on service to humanity, far beyond writing checks to charities.
4. Product Stories. These dramatize the values of liberty over compliance, creativity over staleness,
5. Consumer Stories Stories about the consumer. Stories Find a brand trustworthy and meaningful when two stories match: (1) the story the brand tells about itself and (2) the story the public tells about the brand, The core values of the story and the brand must match.
When you storify advertising, you build an emotional connection between your brand and your audience. Super Bowl fans argue about their favorite ads during the game and then talk about them online. Storified ads often rush to the top of the list.
When brands do their homework and truly come to understand their customers, they can craft stories that disrupt markets.
Storified Demand & Lead Generation
Today, online searches drive active discovery, while social media provides for passive discovery of products. If you fill empty media space with ads only, you will miss the majority of your addressable market. The solution is to reach customers through sustained content creation, rather than the hit and miss of traditional advertising.
Storified marketing minimizes costs, and drives far greater returns than interrupt advertising. There are 5 stages of storified marketing:
1. Bystander. Companies that brag and overpromise.
2. Novice: They publish sporadically and spend most of their marketing dollars on hired media outlets. The lack of a regular publishing rhythm will prevent meaningful results.
3. Expert: These companies shift from creating brand content to creating content the customers want.
4. Leader: They move to sustained storytelling.
5. Visionary: These companies storify their entire enterprise, from shaping their outward marketing to shaping their inward executive thinking. Story is their tool to build teams, design products, analyze strategy, sell, service, and lead.
Marketers must develop a strategy, license a content marketing platform (CMP), recruit creatives and implement a process for managing reviewing and improving the storified content every day. A regular publishing cadence of well-told stories requires time, money, and resources. Original content is important.
To build an audience, select topics that will fascinate and inform people, and hire the best creative talent you. can find to dramatize them into compelling stories. Avoid the mistake of allocating only a tiny fraction of money to story creation and the rest to buying "reach."
People share stories they like more frequently and broadly than ever before. Influencer marketing has existed for centuries, but since the advent of social media the practice has exploded. Yet many influencers compromise their credibility by recommending products they neither know nor use themselves. This erodes people's trust in them, as audiences begin to ignore their endorsements.
The Word of Mouth Marketing Association found that stories people tell their friends about their experiences drive 3% of all sales. Word of mouth becomes increasingly important as products become more expensive. Today's consumer judges your performance and reviews it in public so make yours a 5-star brand. Even though 77% of marketers realize personalizing
experiences is crucial, 60% fail to do so. And Al-based recommendations can increase the rate of consumption by as much as 50% over tag-based recommendations.
When measuring brand success, the ultimate factor is margin growth. Companies that build positive
relationships with the broadest reach of prospective customers charge the greatest margin for their goods and services. A well-loved brand sells the same thing as its competition but charges more. To weigh the impact of your storified pitches, meticulously measure how often your storified pitches or emails generate leads, meetings, and, most importantly, sales.
Tomorrow's story-driven marketers will invest the balance of their budgets in creating stories, and will invest less money in distributing them. Creatives need to understand how marketers think. They must veer away from old, boring, annoying, campaign-driven approaches and instead think in story arcs. Creating a successful story-centric strategy requires risk, trial, error, and persistent effort over time, but connects to customers by triggering their deeply embedded subconscious story-telling mechanisms
Selling – A Way of Life
Selling, or “the action of persuading or influencing another to a course of action or to the acceptance of something,” is an essential skill for everyone, not just salespeople, to learn. Sales is not just convincing people to buy products or services. It is selling yourself in a salary negotiation, selling your argument in a debate, or selling reasons for your children to do their homework. You must even sell yourself on eating well and exercising. Learning how to sell is necessary for any level of success, and is thus an invaluable skill to learn.
Salespeople Make the World Go Round
Salespeople are essential in every industry since they perform the most essential task of business: getting consumers to buy the product! It is a wonderful career path since it gives you incredible autonomy. Yet, unfortunately, sales skills are rarely taught in schools, despite the fact that students who best sell themselves to their future employers tend to be the most successful.
Professional or Amateur
Most career salespeople have not actually mastered selling; however, whether you’re a professional salesperson or not, to get the most out of life you must become a salesperson in your own manner. The few truly great salespeople are those committed to learning how to reach their peak. They think, act, and work differently, and master their trade through hard work.
Your level of commitment determines your level of results. Adopt a “burn the ship” mentality and believe there are no other options – you must be all in. This level of commitment will allow you to predict the outcome of situations with ease. Whenever you’re in a sales situation, observe and study every minute detail to discern generalized patterns.
The Most Important Sale
If you are not fully, irrevocably, immovably sold on something yourself, you won’t be able to effectively sell it to others. You must believe there are no other options. If you don’t believe it’s the best yourself, why would your prospects believe it? Such conviction, once properly assimilated into your persona, is irresistible.
Drill down into the greatest aspects of your product and sell it to yourself first. You must believe that the customer has no other choice than to buy from you. Do not lie nor deceive about your product’s qualities, but simply convince yourself that you have a winning product you’re proud to put in your customer’s hands.
The Price Myth
Most salespeople believe that price is the impediment to customers purchasing a product, but this is rarely the case. Consumers buy a product because they either love it or it solves a problem. The price of a useful product they love is secondary. And if someone truly loves it, they’ll pay nearly any amount for it. Thus, when selling, focus on the features and benefits, not on the price.
Consumers are extremely concerned about making the right choice with their purchases, moreso than the price they paid for a purchase. In fact, if someone does not wish to purchase a product, it may, counterintuitively, work to sell them an even more expensive product. If the consumer believes the pricier product will solve their problem, they may buy it.
Your Buyer’s Money
The best salespeople recognize that money is to be used, not owned, and thus spend generously, thereby subtly encouraging others to do the same. When a potential buyer starts making monetary excuses, stick with them. Also consider that “second money is easier to get than first money” so once you have your foot in the door with one sale, focus on add-ons and complementary products. Customers tend to don a mentality of “well, if I’m going to spend money today anyway, I might as well spend enough to make it worth it!”
You Are In The People Business
You can know your product inside and out, but if you don’t understand people, you won’t make a single sale. To be successful in the “people business”, think about selling as guiding customers to making the right decisions. Get to know them as individuals by asking them questions about their needs and wants. Be more interested in them than in yourself, and stay interested even if the sale is unsuccessful. Don’t get stuck on a prescriptive set of techniques; be adaptable and fluid as you tailor your approach to the individual prospect.
The Magic of Agreement
The most important rule of sales it to always agree with your customer. You don’t have to share their viewpoint personally, but acknowledge that you understand their position. Agreeing with a customer will make them more attracted to you and therefore more inclined to buy from you. Agree with their objections to pacify them; nothing is nicer than hearing “you’re right” from someone. Then offer them the opportunity for a solution. Validate, agree with, and sell to them.
The widespread negative reputation of a few unethical salespeople has tarnished the reputation of the profession and made customers distrustful of sales. Don’t take this personally – simply make it your mission to garner their trust. Assume you will be mistrusted, and work hard to build credibility. Provide written proof of any claims, put any agreements on paper, and make sure your information is current and complete. Encourage them to do their own homework to prove you have nothing to hide.
Give, Give Give
All too often, salespeople are focused more on their commission than on what they can offer the customer. Customers don’t want the best deal, they want the best product, service, and representation. Go above and beyond for the customer and predict their needs beforehand. Provide customers with plenty of options, and always give them your full undivided attention.
Very few customers buy something the first time they are presented with it. Don’t be afraid to “hard sell” to them, since successful sales take many attempts. Even if it gets difficult or uncomfortable, be persistent in closing the sale. To be a hard closer, 2 things are needed:
Believing your product is superior to any other product and is the right fit for your client.
Staying in the close even if the customer is uncomfortable, frustrated, or makes excuses.
Deals are more likely to be closed when both parties are sitting down. While sitting, you are free to show them written evidence of the product, whereas standing only allows for verbal communication.
To guarantee something, take enough action to get it in abundance. Follow the 10× rule: take massive action equal to at least 10 times what you think is needed. Why call 5 clients when you can call 50? The more massive the action, the bigger the result. Be almost unreasonable in your level of action and don’t let any naysayers tell you that you’re working too hard – you can’t surpass others in your field if you’re not willing to do more. Too much action is far better than insufficient action. If an appointment cancels, who cares? You have 7 more!
The Power Base
Most salespeople spend far too much time looking for new clients instead of focusing on the ones they already have. Reselling to existing customers is much easier than new sales; there’s already trust, knowledge, and a relationship built up. Customers tend to trust the familiar and want to help those they already know personally. Utilize your existing relationships with those in your power base: current or former clients, family, friends, old coworkers, previous associates, etc. Contact them in any way possible (although face-to-face is preferred) and build stronger ties. They will have their own power bases that they can connect you with, thus increasing your power base exponentially.
We all have the same 24 hours in a day – what matters is how you utilize it. Maximize every minute to get you from where you are to where you want to go. You can relax after you’ve accomplished your dreams.
Observe your own behaviors and note all the ways you’re wasting time such as snack breaks or chatting with coworkers. If you waste 1 hour a day, that’s 365 hours a year you’ve wasted! Lunchtime is a particularly juicy goldmine for connecting with new clients or showing appreciation for old ones. Don’t go to lunch with your coworkers – you can’t sell to them, can you? Don’t pack a lunch; dine out and be noticed in restaurants full of potential clients.
People will pay more for a good experience than they will for a good product. Thus, your attitude is more important than what you’re selling. A positive and agreeable attitude is contagious and will cause potential clients to react positively to you and be more likely to buy your product. If your attitude makes someone feel good, it will be significantly more difficult for them to say no to you. People remember how you made them feel, not what they bought from you.
Staying positive through particularly tough times will make people naturally attracted to you and see you as an authoritative leader. To cultivate a positive attitude:
Avoid the news.
Stay away from “can’t do” people.
Make sure everyone in your life knows about your goals and how they can help.
Avoid drugs and alcohol.
Avoid doctors and hospitals.
Surround yourself with positivity.
Don’t talk negatively.
Avoid others who talk negatively.
Try a “negativity diet” where you have zero negative thoughts for 24 hours.
The Biggest Sale of My Life
Cardone (the author) recounts how he used all his skills to close the biggest sale of his life – making a woman Elena, someone who had no interest in him for a year, into his wife! He worked his power base by ingratiating himself with her friends, he had a great attitude, he was completely sold on the product himself, and combatted all her objections. Elena did not think Cardone did too much, but rather was impressed with his dedication to creating the future he wanted and doing whatever was necessary to close the deal.
The Perfect Sales Process
The best sales processes are short (thereby valuing the customer’s time) and are transparent, honest, and ethical. The sales process should benefit the customer first, then the salesperson, and finally management. There are 5 crucial steps in the sales process:
Greet: Introduce yourself, make a good impression, and put the buyer at ease. Don’t waste time with unnecessary small talk. Thank them for coming in and immediately ask what info you can provide.
Determine Wants & Needs: Fact-find about the customer’s previous purchases and current motivations to know which products to show them and how to present them. You are not selling in this step – you are merely asking and listening.
Select Product and Present/Build Value: Select a product for your client and provide the information you think is important. Don’t waste time with irrelevant information they won’t care about.
Make Proposal: Always present a clear, precise offer. If you don’t offer specific figures, you can never reach an agreement.
Close the Deal: Closing is the most important part of the sale. A good closer has hundreds of fresh, innovative closes at their disposal. Customers will stall, state objections, and put forth money concerns; you must be ready to deal with them all.
Success in Selling
If you have the mentality that success may or may not happen, it won’t. Success is not an option; it’s a must, a duty, an obligation, and a priority. Success comes because of your willingness to create it, own it, and take persistent actions to achieve it. Be absolutely, unequivocally, committed to your career, product, company, and clients. To be consistently successful:
Take full responsibility.
Make it your duty to make the sale.
Take massive action until the sale is made.
Accept no excuse; figure out a way to make it work.
Prepare yourself for inevitable obstacles.
Never justify failure. Lying to yourself about why you’re not successful, making excuses for yourself, or telling yourself that you never really wanted it anyway, will prevent success. Be brutally honest and identify what went wrong with a failure. Prepare for tomorrow.
You can’t just intellectually learn sales. You must practice, drill, and rehearse what you’ve learned. You must keep training to stay sharp no matter how much of a sales veteran you are. Train daily, measure results, and focus on specific selling situations.
Create a Social Media Presence
Clients will look online for information about your product, so have your social media presence ready. Treat your online reputation just like your personal reputation and take it seriously. View complaints as opportunities to turn a loss into a win, a problem into a solution. The sooner you handle a complaint, the more the customer will feel like they are a priority.
Quick Tips to Conquering the Biggest Challenges in Sales
Rejection: Learn from it and take responsibility.
Negative Surroundings: Keep your internal and external environments free from any negativity – you will not tolerate negative things being said.
Discipline: Sales is self-managed so keep your schedule full and stay busy.
The Economy: During contracting economic conditions, you can achieve just as much, if not more, by working hard and being positive while everyone else is giving up. Find opportunities here.
Competition: Don’t compete but rather dominate and differentiate by providing more attention, more follow-up, and more service to clients.
Product Knowledge: Study your product and industry in depth to be able to readily customize the information for each individual customer.
Follow-Up: Stay connected with clients so you’re always on their minds. This will help future sales.
Organization: Stay organized to get more done.
Call Reluctance: Be motivated, train regularly, and educate yourself to increase your own confidence.
Fill the Pipeline: Connect with as many potential customers as possible and keep the pipeline full.
Fear: Move towards the fear to kill it.
Emotions: An emotional client is likely at the cusp of making a deal. Stay calm if they’re upset.
Negative Connotation of Sales: Keep your sense of purpose and professionalism and ignore the haters.
No Response: If you don’t know an answer, acknowledge that to gain their trust.
Overwhelmed by Objections: Write down all the objections you hear in order to develop responses.
Feeling Stupid: Learn to learn from your mistakes.
Breaking the Ice: Put clients at ease by approaching them first and thanking them for their time.
Staying Motivated: Stay busy and move quickly. Focus on the future not the past. Celebrate victories.
Consistency: Turn your sales duties into habits.
Long Hours: When you’re moving towards your dreams with positive actions, the time will fly.
Marketing Without Marketing
Behind each successful business that seemingly pops up overnight is a complex orchestration of activities that individually may appear inconsequential. Branding is the most critical element of success, and company must find a compelling connection between the product and a target audience. In modern times, though mainstream brand enthusiasts are hare now objecting to the typically loud and obvious style of marketing.
This is where "brand hijacks" come into play, in which marketing managers intentionally relinquish control over their brands to their consumers. This hijacking allows consumers to endorse it to others and establish true customer lovalty. When a brand offers up a dear vision that people identify with, consumers become walking billboards for companies.
Public Property: The Serendipitous Hijack
A serendipitous hijack occurs when consumers seize control of a brand's ideology and persona. It is often instigated by subculture fanatics and is unanticipated by a marketing department. For example, Napster was an accidental revolution that took off like wildfire after being hijacked by its users. The reasons include:
-Instead of being marketing driven, the platform was the market.
-It provided a blank canvas for users.
-It offered an incentive to participate - the larger the community, the more music was available.
-It fostered a sense of belonging.
-Management got out of the way and allowed the product to evolve under community leadership.
The Marketer's Guide To The Serendipitous Hijack
Fueling the momentum of a community-driven brand requires walking a fine line between safeguarding the integrity of the brand's original soul, and maintaining its grassroots legitimacy by letting it flourish.
Don't be afraid of your consumers. Your most passionate users will provide you with critical insights on how to evolve your brand. Don't panic about a bit of controversy. Do not fear things "tainting' your brands image. Instead of trying to squelch controversy treat it with transparency, reality, and humor. Adapt your marketing. Become a cultural anthropologist and figure out why you got hijacked. Trace the origin & evolution of the hijack. Understand what the brand does for its users.
Establish a code of conduct. Stay true to the original "persona" of your brand and educate your
organization about your hijacked brand's DNA. Resist the temptation to do "marketing" Keep the
brand neutral, a metaphorical blank canvas. Stick with the spirit of the hijack: Grassroots. Real. Anti-hype. Transparent yet enigmatic. A bit imperfect. Know when to go mainstream.
Respect the values that consumers have created, but eventually take back control of the message intentionally.
A "No Marketng Illusion: The Co-Created Hijack
A hijack does not have to be serendipitous. It can be planned. But it requires a company to allow for the active involvement of the market in shaping a brand's identity. It must invite subcultures to co create a brand's ideology and persona.
Red Bull is one example:
Red Bull hyped up rumors. For example, it took 5 years for Red Bull receive FDA approval, which spurred the myth that it contained bull sperm. Red Bull garnered genuine loyalty from Formula One racer Jensen Button rather than attaining a typical celebrity endorsement. They used traditional advertising very sparingly. Red Bull did not use boring print media which would be unable to convey its energetic message. It defined itself by its function, not its image. It was a drink that actively pocs something when people need a boost. They always showed their product in context, such as people staying up all night.
A Dangerous Attitude
Many teams get caught trying to chase after cool. Cool brands are visionary They dare to be imperfect. Cool brands are selfish and have nothing to prove. But since cool is an oppositional attitude adopted to express defiance to authority, then lies its fallacy it's not really what a profitable company should chase.
The Marketer's Guide To The Co-created Hijack
To get the market involved in building your brand, explore its deeper meaning. Nail down the brand's distinctive voice. Then, build a sense of belonging around your rallying cry. Embrace your brand's complexity. Every brand with a deeper meaning has a timeless story to tell, a hundred ways of telling it, and millions of participants willing to enhance it.
The Marketer's Guide To The Corporate Hijack
Big companies often are held back by the ghosts of conventional marketing. They misinterpret the reasons for their success, play it safe, and measure the wrong things. For hijacked brands, growth happens in an exponential curve: slow at first, exploding once the mass market buys into it.
Managers planning a hijack must establish new benchmarks Internal measures will determine whether a hijack is even possible, and external measures should be qualitative and attitudinal.
A hijack requires a hefty dose of passion, patience, and a willingness to battle convention.
A hijack cannot be controlled, only gently guided. Marketers must give up the driver's seat.
A hijack requires patience. Time is unpredictable.
A hijack thrives on a big social idea rather than detailed "positioning“.
A hijack requires major orchestration throughout.
A hijack must facility an early grassroots market and know when to switch to mass marketing.
A hijack redefines the definition of quality.
A hijack embraces consumer as peers not targets.
A hijack preserves, rather than exposes, its magic. It encourages any folklore rather than exposing the banal mechanics which would ruin the fantasy.
The Dawn of the Next Marketing Era
Brands are now expected to create purpose and give meaning to people's lives. Advertising has become art, and art has become advertising. While social roles were once handed down in the form of norms and respected institutions, people rebelled and declared themselves free to choose their own lifestyles and identities. But this dizzying freedom made people lost, struggling with a "looming threat of personal meaningless.
Brands have stepped in to provide an answer, especially as consumers are becoming jaded by traditional marketing techniques. Marketing has evolved from pure marketing to the age of the "professional" diligent customer, and more recently to the age of the empowered“ consumer. Tomorrow's consumers will demand to be ahsactive participant in shaping a brand's meaning. They will want to showcase new brands to others in order to feel important.
The Consumer Collective
Brands are not hijacked by individuals but rather by groups. While modern marketing teaches companies to treat consumers as individuals, in truth consumers are groups influenced by a complex web of interpersonal interconnections. Social groups influence 80% of all purchases. Consumer decisions are frequently driven by membership in loose groups akin to ancient tribes.
Modem tribes are held together by common hobbies and values. This is replacing the traditional role of the family unit. Traditional structures from job security to marriage are degrading. The authority of rigid media, religious, and political institutions is eroding. People are becoming more inwardly focused and less concerned about what others think of them. But underneath this veneer of apparent individualism lies a strong trend toward convergence and tribalism. People have joyfully liberated themselves from former social constraints and have begun reforming new social connections to recompose their chaotic social universe.
It is crucial for marketers to understand this trend tribes being the new primary social units. As consumers form spontaneous tribes around brands, marketers can use this to their advantage. Tribes are constantly forming, dissipating and re-forming and communities centered around brands is a newly emerging trend.
Crafting the symbolism around a product creates a comfortable intimate universe for the tribe to feel at home in. Tomorrow's marketing research techniques will not depend on interviews but instead take an anthropological approach studying subcultures rituals and consumption patterns
The Inner Workings Of The Brand Tribe
Hijacked brands must seduce, not coerce. People are enticed to a brand because they crave a sense of belonging, not an ideology. To utilize this, follow these stages to indoctrinate people into your brand:
1. Create of a "members-only" firewall. Increase the mystique by rewarding those in the know, limiting communication with outsiders, and only employing scarce, deliberate, targeted advertising.
2. Get people "brandwashed" into the brand's culture. Create a parallel universe, separating people from their previous existence. Lure them in with unique rituals, a secret vocabulary, a clear hierarchy, new relationship structures, and novel experiences.
3. Make people fully drink the kool-aid – hijacked brands are on a mission to change the world!
The Funny Business Of Earning Consumer Devotion
Consumer devotion cannot be faked; it must be earned. There are 2 main methods to earn true devotion:
1. Make people believe they discovered a brand all on their own. This makes them feel like the ultimate insiders which triggers a sense of ownership and makes them feel the need to share it with friends.
2. Make your brand a statement. Brands with a clearly defined purpose will develop a cult-like following. The common denominator is not ideology, but rather a sense of being true to its values. In a word: authenticity.
The Kick-off: Hijack Ideation
Do not follow what consumers say they want. Instead, observe what they actually want. Visionary small teams should create ideas and let consumers fine tune them. Market research reinforces existing conclusions & assumptions. It must evolve from a quantitative / qualitative discipline into an anthropological one. Researchers should be journalists, investigating how consumers live and act within their tribes. You should then use those newly unearthed social truths to define new seed ideas.
Phase 1: Tribal Marketing
The early market is comprised of unconventional thinkers and opinion leaders motivated primarily by either a quest for finding authentic products or a desire to display their social knowledge. Their role is:
-As product developers. Harness the creative energy from this army of passionate users who are
there ready to help optimize your product.
-As the brand's folklore creator. Let the market put its own spin on the brand.
-As authenticators. Use peer-to-peer networks to diffuse brands into the marketplace to create organic authentic, and sustainable traction.
To determine whether a subculture is a suitable early market for your brand, consider 4 basic criteria:
1. Credibility with the market. Are they respected?
2. Affinity to your seed idea. Will it resonate?
3. Willingness and persuasiveness to craft the brand's message. Are they connected, knowledge, and articulate enough to sway the main market?
4. Ability of the brand to dominate. Can the brand make an impact and gain critical mass?
Innovative outsiders will facilitate novelty while the opinion leaders encourage mass adoption. Making first contact is the most delicate and critical stage of the hijack operation, so proceed carefully in 2 ways:
Visible social initiatives offer social status. Self- proclaimed trendsetters gain social currency from
feeling like they discovered a brand and are the one to recommend it. They are generally influenced by social outliers on the fringes - the true influencers of the influencers. Adoption happens as a ripple effect: from the fringe, to the edge, to "cool", to the "Next Big Thing", and finally as convention
Personal initiatives offer a functional benefit to an individual and are less risky than social initiatives. Early adopters are more important than fringe innovators here. Fully dominate a single niche. To seed a market, find an emotional hook. Make consumers feel ownership for the brand and encourage them to be shepherds. There are 4 main techniques
1. Declare a new worldview. Foster a greater meaning by creating a new belief system.
2. Play hard to get. Persuade, don't sell, by focusing on early in-the-know customers. Use a scarce,
deliberate, and seductive soft sell.
3. Create brand folklore. Develop specific customs, rituals, vocabulary, relationships, and experiences.
4. Reward insiders. The social currency of the early market is being part of the "Next Big Thing". Keep it exclusive and do not make it too easy to get in.
Phase 2: Co-Creation
Once the early market has been hooked, let it own the message (the "buzz“). More than just awareness, buzz delivers conviction. More than just overinflated loud hype by a faceless corporation, buzz is authentic Buzz is not about noise but rather seductive dissemination of a big idea. Buzz lets the market discover, engage with, and ultimately shape its meaning. Buzz fosters
learning, establishes trust, engenders likeability, and embodies authenticity. While most buzz is verbal it can also be visual or viral.
Phase 3: Mass Marketing
Successful brands should eventually take back control of the message, while still giving early adopters special treatment by playing up its exclusivity. The original leaders should remain the lifeblood, even at this stage. By letting the market participate in building your brand, the eventual outcome becomes much larger in scope. Instead of focusing on what the brand is or what the brand does, what starts to matter is what the brand means.
This provides the foundations for true loyalty. Yet trying to form new societal habits is an immensely challenging task. New habits are fragile and can easily break down. To help create sustainable new societal habits, reduce the barriers to habit formation:
Link it to an existing habit to make it less fearsome.
Gradually ease people
Foster a community to encourage engagement.
Engage in positive reinforcement.
The Threat: "A Few Words From Our Sponsor"
Critics claim that the prolific use of cultural icons for profit erodes their meaning. Just about any minority group or stereotyped subculture can be turned into a marketing symbol for profit. Cynics claim that materialistic consumerism is responsible for warping the self-esteem of the youth.
With your knowledge of how to persuade comes immense responsibility as your actions can have major effects on society. In a nutshell: Don't deceive. Don't intrude. Don't co-opt.
The Opportunity: The Ultimate Pay-Off
Every marketing plan has long-term lovalty embedded within it. Yet oftentimes when marketers think they are achieving loyalty, all they are really achieving is retention. Loyalty is an attitude while retention is behaviour. Yet truly original ideas and brands when created symbiotically by both the company and its consumers, can potentially foster true undying loyalty.
Your Business Is An Out-Of-Control Cash-Eating Monster
While many small businesses and startups fail, many more are taking on massive debt.
Sales go up, and we raise our expenses to match. We believe that our best month is the new normal. Sustained profitability depends on efficiency.
Growth is, indeed, half of the equation. But focusing exclusively on growth misses the point that if you grow too fast, expenses can rise up and become a vicious monster, while the profits never arrive. Profits should instead be a habitual process, not one-time events to occur at some far-off future time. Don't focus on sales, sales, sales, maybe taking a profit one day.
Most people rarely look at their cash flow and profit/loss statements as often as they look at their bank accounts. We tend to focus elsewhere when the bank account is flush with cash, and then go into panic mode, drastically cutting costs or taking on debt when it dips.
We move from crisis to crisis, and every time we solve a crisis, we think we're getting closer to our goals. It s human nature to look at our bank accounts. Its top-line thinking to focus on your revenue first. We are trained to look at venue then subtract ponses then taxes, then salarists, and consider whatever left focusing on revenue and growth tends to make us forget about the expenses which naturally rise to meet that growth.
Marketing to the entitled consumer
Surely, you've heard the phrase, 'the customer is always right? Well it couldn't be truer today. In the
modern marketing landscape, entitled consumers demand more attention and transparency than ever
before from companies. Now that people are becoming aware of the vast amounts of data these companies are gathering on them, consumers are starting to demand that it be used effectively to make their experiences better and easier. The more entitled the consumer, the more they expect. Any reasonable amount of wiggle room for mistakes is slimming quickly: consumers are happy to run to the nearest competitor for a better customer experience. The only way to compete in the modern times of ever-changing opinions and social media "cancel culture (campaigns to boycott brands) is to adopt a consumer-first marketing strategy.
In the modern business world, consumers have become enormously entitled due to immediate access to services and the urge to please the customer. Skype, Venmo, and Uber are all modern exhamples of the immediate access to services that people now expect in the palm of their hands. When things inevitably go wrong, such as Skype failing to connect or the Uber car not showing on the map, the entitled customer immediately looks to place blame. There are various degrees of entitlement:
1. Anticipators: These consumers would rather work with the company to get the best experience possible. They know that their data is being tracked and hope it is being used well. They are highly
collaborative, but still maintain high expectations.
2. Fully Entitled: They will collaborate and share data, but punish companies for poor service. They will post bad reviews if that needs are unmet.
3. Demanders: They expect companies to go above and beyond and cater to their every whim. They are impatient and demanding and will deftly punish companies any way they can. They will tell friends and tamily of any poor experiences and demand compensation from the company for their troubles.
Many of these above-and-beyond expectations stem from Amazon placing customers first and providing standard 2-day shipping for all Prime members (soon to be 1-day shipping). Amazon is well-known for going far above expectations to please the customer, which creates extremely high standards for companies in other industries. If a company ships something, consumers expect it to be at Amazon-speed. Customers will not print labels for their online returns, and refuse to pay delivery charges. This has a ripple effect: every industry must now exceed customer needs, and
customers rarely give companies second chances.
Once marketers got ahold of utilizing email, it became a battle for consumers' attention. A given business can send consumers thousands of emails a year, chock full of ads for new products or purchase "suggestions".
Most of these are irrelevant to the customer, but companies prefer to just bombard consumers with offers. Only 43% of emails are opened, and many times this bombardment strategy backfires when customers unsubscribe to mailing lists full of ads for irrelevant products. Annoyed customers are not good for a company's brand.
Digital marketing campaigns, especially in email form, must be attractive to the consumer. A good marketing expert should come across less like a loudmouth boor necessantly emailing on irrelevant topics, and more of a friend who knows what you need, when you need it. A Friend who will make suggestions on how your experience can be better. And a consumer who feels like a friend will remain a loyal consumer.
This "friend strategy" in marketing should be as multi-faceted as real-life friendships. The company should recognize what a customer needs when they need it, and deliver it in the most efficient way. A single email comprising everything the consumer needs is far less frustrating than a dozen emails saying essentially nothing! There are various types of marketing:
-Marketer-first marketing focuses solely on the needs and goals of the business.
-Product-first marketing focuses on the product, and how to market it to the most people leading to
a loudmouthed boor scenario.
-Channel-first marketing focuses on the area in which a team works (email, texts, apps, etc.).
-Cohort-first marketing lumps all consumers into vague groups (gender, age, location, etc.). This
negates the idea of consumer individuality.
-One-to-one marketing shirks the idea of dividing consumers into rough cohorts based on factors such as age location, or shopping preferences, and instead analyzes them individually,
-Consumer-first marketing accepts that every consumer is different, and acts like a person putting
their friend's needs first.
A true friend understands what you need and when you need it most. As a friendly marketer, the goal is to suggest the right things at the right times. When customers share information with companies, they expect that it is to be used to properly market to them. The more entitled the consumer, the more they will expect.
Consumer-first marketing is inherently data-driven to best serve the customer. Observing behaviors
like what the consumer buys, how often they purchase certain things, and their preferred locations, should all be used. For example, a woman reserving a storage unit could very well benefit from knowing the weather forecast the day of her big move, and might be interested in purchasing tarps and straps. Consumer data includes descriptive data (eg. age. gender, location), social data (e.g. family members, business, social circles), relationship history (eg. what she has bought from you and when), and situational data (e.g, today's weather and traffic)
Reciprocal Value Forges Relationships
The most important and effective thing a company can do for a consumer is to make them feel important, to make the consumer feel that they are making a difference. T-Mobile, for example, utilizes an "Un-carrier" strategy in which they search for the best ways to make their services accessible and helpful instead of squeezing every dollar out of every customer. This sometimes requires sacrificing fees and costs to keep the customer happy, just like a friend would.
The best way to do this is to enhance the consumer experience through superior service and products. In any industry (but especially in retail) the products are all essentially the same, and unless a company is incredibly unique it must differentiate itself somehow. Reducing the customer's effort and friction to connect and use a company's services is the first step in creating loyalty. Improving the customer's experience with top-notch customer service and attention can help ensure
satisfaction. In addition, knowing what a customer will need before they need it will seem like a pleasant surprise to a stressed customer.
Possibly most important to keep in mind are the values that the company and the customer share, for friendships are often based on shared values. For example, TOMS shoes were the initial creator of the "buy one, give one” model, in which a pair of shoes was donated to someone less fortunate for each pair a customer bought. This made customers feel like the company shared their values in helping a good cause.
Relevance Strengthens Relationships
Marketing should try to show a customer what they need before they even know they need it. Through data collection from the various channels, a profile can be compiled and used to suggest what they may be interested in.
For example, if a customer uses a certain website often or puts certain things in their online wishlist, this is a perfect drawing ground for a basic pool of data on the customer. From here, marketing departments can determine what they are interested in, even if they haven't purchased a product yet. Relevance is also crucial in order to not sound like a loudmouth boor. Keeping the communications relevant to their needs will keep them interested in the services.
Respectful Empathy Preserves Relationships
Some companies are having a difficult time gaining consumer trust. Uber, for example, has been caught up in allegations of bribery, tracking customers, paying hackers, ordering and cancelling rides of competitors, and even refusing rides to law enforcement. United Airlines employees had a puppy placed in an overhead that died, and a man assaulted and thrown off to make room for employees.
A lack of empathy in dealing with the aftermath of these situations has eroded consumers' trust in these brands and many more. Acts of empathy are designed to show the customer that the companies truly care about what they are going through. Instead of thinking of them as marketing "targets", empathetic marketers should view them as people. Finding "targets” might succeed in the short term, but will not create customer loyalty. The 3 key ways to appear (and be!) empathetic to consumers are:
1. Transparency: Be clear on the data being collected.
2. Restraint: Avoid overload & bombardment.
3. Control: Let consumers personally manage how frequently they are contacted.
Staying true to all 3 concepts will ensure the appearance of an empathetic company that is truly a friend it might demand some alterations in internal company practices, but in the long run will preserve the relationship with the customer and create loyalty
The Path to Consumer First Marketing
The path to consumer-first marketing is a long one that requires many answers to difficult questions. Companies that rely solely on recruiting new customers while ignoring their current customers will find that customer loyalty will fall over time.
There are 5 steps that marketers can follow to better assess where their company stands with consumers, and how to truly get to the consumer-first marketing model.
1. Identify the organization's state of maturity.
2. Agree on a direction for consumer-first marketing.
3. Build a step-by-step roadmap.
4. Prioritize investments by analyzing the costs andbenefits of switching to a consumer-first model.
5 Track results to seek continuous improvement.
6. Constantly adapt based on new data.
A consumer-first marketing journey requires optimizing strategy, customer knowledge, customer
experience, customer engagement and data measurement. It requires Significant planning and analysis in order to best understand what the consumer needs and how it can be offered to them before they know they need it. For companies struggling to maintain customer satisfaction this may very well be the only way to stay relevant in modern times full of entitled consumers The entitled consumer know exactly what they want and will no longer settle for anything less
The Consumer First Future
The future of marketing can seem intimidating when faced with all these new concepts. Yet mastering these concepts will make marketing more effective, thus resulting in more profit for the company. Consumers demand engagement, top-notch customer service, and extensive knowledge of who they are and what they want.
The future of consumer-first marketing is really the future of marketing for all industries (at least those that wish to succeed!). In recent years, businesses that have relied on old-fashioned tried-and-true strategies have self-destructed. Examples include Toys 'R Us, RadioShack, Sports Authority, and Claire's, none of whom properly addressed the modern consumer with their modern entitled expectations
The job of acquiring data and knowing how to use it will predominantly fall on the shoulders of machines, not humans. Instead, human marketers will observe what the machines produce, and tweak the algorithms as necessary. They will be responsible for keeping the marketing machines moving in novel, fresh directions. The machine will know when to send out those perfectly timed messages, and will know precisely which offers are relevant for which consumer, Humans will be used to ensure that everything is being collected and used properly, and will creatively research ways to improve, for there is always room to improve. Upon entering the future, perhaps the most important factor is maintaining transparency with consumers.
Consumers will demand to know what data is being collected and how it is being used. In the 2018 Facebook data scandal, in which millions of user data was collected and sent to Cambridge Analytica, users unknowingly agreeing to it themselves by dicking a permissions button without fully understanding it. Transparency will entail telling customers exactly what is being collected, why it is being collected, and not collecting unnecessary data. Treating the consumer as a friend and not as a "target" will lay the groundwork for future connections and for enhanced consumer loyalty.
The transformation towards a modern approach to marketing must start today to avoid falling behind. Other companies have already begun to recognize that entitled customers will not settle for anything less than perfection, and have already begun adapting to this new paradigm.
The Core Principles Of Profit First
Instead of thinking that Sales - Expenses – Profit, turn the tables: Sales - Profit - Expenses. You want to set up a single "INCOME” business checking account which then gets distributed to smaller plates.
The first step is to set up a new "PROFIT" business checking account and move 1% of your money there tomorrow. If you can run things off $20,000 / month, for example, then you can also run things off of $19,800.
Get into a habit of taking your profit first, before getting more advanced, in order to win over your mind. "You will be forced to think smarter and innovate more.
Setting Up Profit First
Accountants will tell you to ignore your bank accounts only look at your Profit & Loss Cash Flow, and associated statements. But do you really understand them? As humans, we look our bank accounts and are wired to make decisions based on what we see.
You want to set up 5 accounts INCOME, PROFIT, OWNER'S COMP, TAX, OPEX.
Everything initially seen into INCOME and then is immediately distributed to the remaining counts as your small plates.
Learn to sell.
Many people want something to believe in, whether a person or and idea or a product. Your job as an entrepreneur is to provide that. You are not targeting customers, but rather proving value for a fair price.
- Don’t look to hire general salesmen who claim they can sell anything. Rather, you want salesmen to understand the ins and outs of your product, and how your solution helps solve a real-life problem that your customers have.
- if you make false promises at the start or overinflate your progress, that may help in the short term but will hurt you in the long run.
- When selling anything, the more data you have to back up your claim, the easier the sale.
- Expect to hear “NO” significantly more often than “YES”.
- No deal is closed until the money clears.
Great branding establishes a meaningful connection. Realize that everything and everyone are part of one interconnected, living system.
When you understand this, life become easier. It is therefore crucial to connect to those around you. One way to do this is to find something in each person to compliment, always ensuring that it is both real and meaningful.
Demonstrate to others that you value their truth and beauty, both personally and through your brand. You must learn to set your ego aside, for it truly is about your audience, not you. If you want to be influential, you must care - about the world, about other people, and about your product. Developing a keen sense of empathy will allow for insights into others and their
problems. While you can't control people, reality, or the market, you can connect with each.
On your audience
Your brand and market need to work together in a symbiotic relationship. A great brand is not going to go far without a market in which to thrive. Your most valuable currencies are how people feel about you, and how much they love your product.
Get your customers to love you and you will find success. In addition, never treat your audience like babies; they are adults capable of understanding everything you tell them. It is critical understand your market. If you don't currently understand them, find someone who does and have them teach you.
If you want your brand to speak to the youth, for example, get to know the youth by spending time with them. You can learn much by observing niche markets.
Talk to your audience as you would talk to your best friend. Be candid, be cool, be loving. When you think about your brand, think how it speaks to all the audience's senses: audio, tactile, visual, and olfactory.
Style is also important, so know the typical style of your market. Find out what your audience
desires and work from there. Once your desire aligns with your audience s. you'll be successful. Finally, always listen to your customers feedback. If you hear a complaint more than once, fix it immediately
On Your Narrative
Storytelling is vital for a successful brand. Every piece of communication you release, and what your customers think, comprise the brand's story. It is vital that these stories are congruent. If your brand is uneducated, condescending, sexist, or boring, no one will remember or follow it. Your brand must do great things, and you must share your story in a compelling manner.
When thinking about the brand's vision, think about how you can change people's lives. To make your brand truly attractive, perfect your "O.K.S.":
Offering, Knowledge of culture, and Storytelling.
On Doing Good
People today are interested in standing for what is fair across cultures and your brand should do the same. Never use fear in your marketing, instead use love and growth. If you sell a bad product people will talk about it and your brand will fail. Recognize and acknowledge the good in people, and they will prove you might
You need to understand the culture you're in. You need to know the context of everything in your
industry. When examining a brand's culture, ask yourself if you would pass it on to your children. If your brand has a good cultural environment, the team and customers will be delighted to participate in it.
Those around us influence our decisions, so surround yourself with good people in a good environment.
On Your Team
You need a strong team around you, for if you do not have the right people with vision and talent, your brand will not succeed. They all need to understand your brand, the concept, and the goal.
You do not want to be surrounded by people who will only build your hype: you want people who will be honest with you and also give helpful feedback. Surround yourself with smart people, listen to them, see things from their perspective, and step into their reality. What you can accomplish on
your own is limited, but by sharing and joining with others, you become unlimited.
On Your Values
You and your brand must stand for something have strong values, and stick by them. Being weird is not necessarily negative, as long as you are also smart and culturally aware.
For your brand to be "cool" you need to honor your own truth. No matter what you do, work
to be the best in the world at it.
Specific values to embody include:
-Self-Worth: If a client tells you they only have a small budget for you, either you need to improve, the clients are playing you, or they do not realize how valuable you are. Know your worth.
-Self-Promotion: Do not be afraid to promote yourself. See what happens; it could be great.
-Honesty: Tell the truth and deliver on promises. People will trust you and stick with your brand.
-Time-Management: Manage your time well. Write a to-do list every day and erase things as they are finished. Prioritize your tasks.
-Health: If you become successful and busy, you'll need to treat your body like a champion would, to maintain your physical stamina. Develop routine and habits that help keep you happy and healthy.
-Shrewdness: If you do not agree with every line of a contract, don't sign it, it could be a huge issue.
-Reflection: Pay attention to the past, as it can teach you a lot about the future
The Most Important Skill Needed To Advance And Conquer
The ability to sell is the most important skill needed, especially during times of economic contraction. Organization, planning, motivation, and attitude are all important, but not as important as sales. Selling involves exceptional communication abilities, belief in the product, and the ability to dose a deal. Many salespeople only use the bare minimum, and this lack of effort shows up in results. Visit websites, read books, and practice on real customers to improve daily.
Fuel For The Motor
It is not the best team or the best product that wins. The most important skill in starting our own business is sales. Yet many business owners hide behind emails and to-do lists. They wish to avoid "the unique sting of rejection" that comes from sales.
The brutal fact is: your success depends 10% on the quality of your product and 90% on sales. You are always selling. Whether selling your vision to investors, or selling your company to potential employees. And we all know how to sell and influence instinctively, from babies who cry, to parents telling children to eat vegetables.
There are several strategies for improving your salesmanship: Don't think of your customers as "targets". You are trying to help them address a desire or fear. Connect and empathize with your customers. What do they worry or dream about at night? Don't talk too much. Listen. Don't assume. Sell a different feature of your product to each customer. Focus on personalizing it to their needs. Don't cold call. Get warm intros. You likely already have a connection on LinkedIn. Sell in bulk. Look for key influencers; they will bring in their colleagues. Embrace shock & awe. Make them love you or hate you, but don't let them ignore or forget you. Find your best buyers. Narrow your target group to the people who will become lifetime customers. Find the 50 biggest customers (even if they are out of reach) and focus all your attention on them.
The goal of the MVP is to begin the Build → Measure → Learn loop. Early adopters may actually prefer an 80% completed product instead of an overly polished one. If you have trouble creating an MVP (due to budgetary or regulatory constraints) a video can be a valid alternative.
The goal of the first MVP is to test the leap-of- faith assumptions. Every week that the MVP is updated and tested, learning and improvement occurs. While it may seem like there is more overhead with constantly creating MVP's, cumulatively it creates less waste for the company in the long run. This is due to the fact that resources are being diverted only to products which customers will actually purchase.
The assumption that entrepreneurs or engineers actually know what the customers want is one of the core assumptions being tested by MVP's.
Customers don't care how much time something takes to build. They only care if it serves their needs.
You want to measure customer feedback as quickly as possible so that you don't try to persevere with a failing idea. Only measure metrics which have a direct connection to revenue; everything else is fake.
"Vanity metrics" are simply meant to give a rosy picture of the company, whereas "actionable metrics" are meant to drive revenue. Actionable metrics must have a clear cause and effect relationship to revenue. Optimizing marketing and engineering for a product that customers do not want is a waste of precious resources.
You should attempt to describe a product or feature from the perspective of the customer. In order to determine if a feature is something that customers actually want, showcase a given feature to only some customers, and measure their response (called "split-testing")
The real work that determines whether a startup will succeed is not like the wonderful montages in movies, but rather the detailed behind-the-scenes work done by interacting with customers.
Pivot (or Persevere)
The human element of vision and intuition should not be discounted from entrepreneurship. Rather, you want to test the base assumptions behind that vision against reality.
Founders typically want to always believe that "success might be just around the corner." That's why, at some point, you will have to face the decision to "pivot" or "persevere”.
Pivoting involves a drastic change in product development, more in line with customer requirements. Pivots are scary and require a of courage, but by not pivoting and "seeing what happens”, you only succeed in "seeing what happens”, not necessarily making a profit. In fact, the author suggests holding regular "pivot or persevere meetings".
There are several types of pivots:
"Zoom-In Pivot": Refocusing the product on a specific feature.
"Zoom-Out Pivot": Make the product simply a feature within another product.
"Customer Segment Pivot": Changing which customer you are targeting.
"Customer Need Pivot": Solve a different customer problem.
"Platform Pivot": Change your target from individual customers to other businesses, or perform some other core change to the platform you are offering
"Business Architecture Pivot": Change business goals related to your desired margin, volume, or cost.
"Value Capture Pivot": Change how revenue will be generated.
"Engine of Growth Pivot": Change what type of growth you're expecting from the customer base and how you achieve it.
"Channel Pivot": Change how the product will be distributed to the customer.
You must clearly define which of a startup's activities create value and which create waste.
While many companies may wish to automate manufacturing and churn out large batches of products, there's actually incredible value in focusing on creating small batches. To solidify a single finished product quickly, in order to determine if there are any issues quickly, may be better.
By mastering a single product feature at a time, you can immediately check for defects. You can then start to accelerate the design process by receiving feedback on the final design immediately.
Sustainable growth comes when the actions of past customers generate new revenue. This is done by:
1. Word of mouth.
2. Sharing and showcasing product usage.
3. Advertising, which should be paid from the revenue of existing customers.
4. Repeated purchase or use from past customers.
Three engines of growth are discussed:
1. Sticky: Aiming to retain customers, long term. Companies using this engine of growth should maximize the rate of new customers divided by the rate of customers leaving.
2. Viral: Companies depending on person-to-person transmission exponentially growing their customer base. Companies depending on this engine should maximize the viral coefficient (the number of new customers stemming from a single customer).
3. Paid: When companies must pay to acquire new customers (e.g. advertising). Companies using this engine should minimize
The Law of The Customer
Most companies believe they control demand since they are the suppliers, but in truth, customers control production through demand. With recent technical advances, buyers now have more shopping options than ever before, making them the center of the commercial universe. This power shift forced organizations to adapt to remain competitive. Firms began catering to more specific demands. Large bureaucracies cut costs and corners, but this benefitted no one and eventually doomed some firms.
To cater to customers’ demands, organizations began to hire people with one goal: the customer’s satisfaction. Every employee needed to be customer-oriented. A large bureaucracy cannot respond to customers fast enough to compete in the changing marketplace. Salesmen might boost numbers temporarily, but agile, customer-focused teams are necessary for success.
Prioritizing waste. The customer factory blueprint.
Instead of “drowning in a sea of non actionable data” there are several important metrics to focus on, in order to better define traction.
1. Acquisition: This is your offer (for example, your landing page).
2. Activation: The potential customer’s first experience with the product. Minimize the time between 1 and 2.
3. Retention: Keeping people inside your factory so they spend money repeatedly.
4. Revenue: The actual act of making purchases.
5. Referral: In which your existing customers lead to new acquisitions (Step 1.).
The example is a flower shop. Customer walk by and see the flowers (Step 1.). They then enter the store (Step 2.). While browsing, they are enticed to stay inside (Step 3.). they make a purchase (Step 4.) and tell their friends about your store (Step 5.).
There are 3 engines of growth for your factory:
1. Paid: Using sales or ads to improve acquisition. The lifetime value of each customer must be more than 3x the cost of acquiring them.
2. Sticky: Long term subscription services must provide enough value to retain customer.
3. Referral: Your referral rate needs to be greater than 0.
Repackaging For Increased Profits
Work with smaller clients to increase the value of your packaging. When times are tough people, do not necessarily look for the cheapest option; instead, they seek the best value.
Creating smaller payments in more installments, break a product into several purchases, change the packages offered, add certain features, or offer free trials. Eliminate uncertainty; a purchase should appear tokave little risk but massive results.
Most people spend a significant amount of time talking about themselves. Self sharing is the intrinsic nature of humans, and inherently “me-focused”. In fact, scientific studies have revealed that talking about yourself releases the same pleasurable dopamine as food or financial rewards.
People subconsciously use self talk to make good impressions with others. This type of self talk is therefore a type of social currency for increasing stature and rapport.
There are 3 tricks to imbue social currency value into your idea:
1. Inner remarkability: If your idea or product is unusual, attention worthy or simply “something else” it will give people something to talk about. The more novel, unbelievable and crazy, the more chatter it will generate. By talking about your idea, people end up “looking cool”, thus increasing their status.
2. Leverage game mechanics: By creating a game or reward system, you encourage people to engage in social competition. In your game, there must be tangible symbols of achievement that give people something to boast about to their friends, thus increasing their status.
3. Make people feel like insiders: Make people feel like insiders. Adding a sense of exclusiveness and scarcity to a product can make it appear more valuable than it is. If a service is extended “by invite only” customers feel privileged for the chance to participate.
The most interesting and peculiar products aren’t necessarily always the hottest topic. Overall, social currency gets people talking, but triggers keep them talking for a long time. What matter with regards to contagiousness, is if your idea is relatable.
- Interesting ideas cause some immediate word of mouth buzz. This is followed by a large hype, which is bound to die out.
- Boring ideas may not cause much hype, but the word of mouth continues for quite some time.
Triggers are concepts related to your idea. These include what we see, hear and smell, associated with your idea. (Bear in mind that only the most recent and most repetitive triggers are what people discuss frequently.)
- Maximize triggers by carefully cultivating the environment of your target audience.
- By creating easy triggers related to your idea, this will keep your idea afloat for a long time.
- Negative publicity is also publicity.
“If you care, you share”. If the message content associated with your ad or idea is emotional, then people are more likely to share it with others. Emotions can be classified on two bases:
Feeling good vs feeling bad:
Sadness is less likely to be shared than excitement. But this relationship is no always true, as some negative emotions like anger or anxiety are more likely to be discussed than some positive emotions. It must generate a strong sense of energy in us, in order to be shared.
Physiologically arousing vs stifling:
Anxiety, anger, excitement, amusement and awe all create an arousal in people that make them move, laugh, wring their hands, and pump their fists. These are physiologically arousing emotions. People will share ideas much more when they are made to feel these emotions. Contrarily, emotions like sadness and contentment actually stifle action in people, when feeling there emotions, people are less likely to share your product or idea. Hence, to make your ideas contagious, its important to always consider how to get people talking, and imbue into your promotion strategy and emotion that will inspire people to share.
If it is build to show, it is build to grow. People follow the crude behaviour of “monkey see, monkey do” This is called “social proof” in psychology term, They imitate what other do, and will typically follow the popular opinion. When looking to follow social proof, people will typically only consider others public opinions (not others people internal thoughts and struggles).
- To take advantage of this phenomenon, make your product or idea more visible. When people see it being implemented and used, they will want to follow the trend. If it stands out, and is observable, people will both talk about it and follow it.
- One method of taking advantage of “monkey see monkey do” is by creating “behavioural residue”. This is a souvenir that people can sport around or use in their daily lives, which also advertises your idea.
- Bear in mind that making something observable can potentially have a negative aspect. For example, drug use actually increased across America with the advent of anti-drug ads on media. The lesson to be learned is that people will gravitate towards anything which is publicly observable, no matter the intentions.
People like to pass on useful information. Helping others helps them nurture their relationships, and increases their rapport with others. Sharing practical information makes people feel good internally, since it has aspect of altruism attached to it.
Specific instances of practical value include:
- Discounts and sales hold that practical value. In discounts, the grater the difference between original and sale price shown, the more attractive the offer will seem. This technique is frequently used by infomercials.
- Simply using the word “Sale” on a price label will male people want to purchase the item. The will associate practical value to it, even if behind the scenes you haven’t changed the price.
- When giving out a discount, if the original price of item or service is less than 100, it is more effective to use percentage to express a discount.
- The narrower and more specific your audience, the more likely that the practicality of your message or idea will be shared amongst the niche group.
Stories act as Trojan horses for the core message or crux. Stories are told fot he purposes of:
- A moral lesson
- A maxim to share
- An endorsement
- To be perceived as cool
- To trigger some emotion
- For practical value
At the core, stories that people tell are far more effective than directed ads. The reason I simple, while someone might disagree with the message on an add, people cannot refute a story, its just a story! Additionally, when the listener is to caught up in the emotions of the narrative, she is unlikely to stop the storyteller to voice a disagreement.
- Stories don’t necessarily need context to be told. Since they are just entertainment, the embedded information can be subtly inserted in the narrative without context, hidden under the guise of entertainment.
- Stories can be created by treating your clients extraordinarily.
- Stories can be created using stunts, or by creating out of the blue shocking experiences for people.
- Stories ans stunts only work if they are directly traceable to you and your product and idea,
Talk is the best source of promotion, any product, idea, or behaviour can be made contagious, even on a shoestring advertising budget. In fact, social epidemics are typically driven by the products themselves, when people cannot stop talking about them.
- Social value: If it makes me look cool, ill tell my friends about it
- Triggers: Wherever I go, I am constantly reminded about it. Ill definitely talk about it
- Emotion: It moves me emotionally and jolts my senses, ill share it.
- Public: I see it a lot in public. Others must be using it, ill follow the crowd and use it.
- Practical value: Its useful? Lovely! Ill tell about it!
- Stories: Wow, this makes for a cool story to tell, id better tell it at every social gathering.
Power Base Reactivation
Everyone starts with some power, even if unrecognized. Many will try to start over where they have no power, instead of utilizing the power base they already possess. Rejuvenate your existing supply of allies.
Contact family, friends, past coworkers, employers, or college acquaintances. Take an interest and do not act like this is a sales pitch; you are simply checking in on an old friend. The more people you reconnect with, the more likely you will find someone interested. Talk enthusiastically and do not pessimistically dwell on negatives. Set up a future face-to-face meeting. Sales will come later, after the connection is reestablished
Converting The Unsold
Even if a person turned down your sale before, this does not mean they will say no in the future.
Companies rarely follow-up with those who did not purchase, and thus miss a significant opportunity. According to one study, 80% of sales were made on the 5th call, and yet 90% of salespeople only made 3 calls. When reconnecting with someone who turned you down before, develop a new feel for their needs. Time has passed and as such, their desires may have changed, they may have forgotten about your product, or they may be unhappy with the competitor's product.
Assume any prior info gleaned is no longer valid. Let them know that you are happy to assist if you
can, regardless of which product was purchased (even your competitor's). This person will likely be
making future purchases, or might know others who are looking to purchase.
Delivering At "Wow" Levels
Think about your own personal experience. Has anyone delivered "wow" service to you? Most people only remember the truly poor service experiences and have trouble remembering "wow" service. Price and product details do not create a "wow" experience. Instead, cater to the needs of the customer.
Customer satisfaction comes before, during, and after a sale. Customers may be satisfied with the product, but excellent customer service in seen in taking care of them long after the sale is complete. During times of economic contraction, your competitors are most likely not focusing on their current or past customers, making this the opportune time for yourself. Customers who are impressed will not only remain loyal customers, but will bring in additional customers. If you can promote yourself, your company, and your product you will not need fancy advertisements, as your customers will spread the word and encourage others to become wowed.
The Importance of Price
During hard times, people cling desperately to their money. Some companies incorrectly respond by lowering prices. Yet people will not purchase a product if they believe it is cheap or cannot solve their needs. They simply will not waste any money discounted item if they do not believe they need it. Instead, explicate the value of your product and show how it fills a customer's needs.
Understand what the buyer would gain from your product, and explain how the value of your product is worth more than the price.
Activate 2nd Sale To Boost Profits
You can make the most out of a 1 sale by giving the customer free extras, or by securing a 24 sale. People will typically take you up on the 2 offer to justify their original decision to spend money.
Once the wallet has opened, it is easy to keep using it. Yet only suggest additional items after securing the first sale. Capitalize on a customer who is already willing to spend money.
The Value Added Proposition
It is unwise 'to raise prices during an economic contraction. Instead, keep the price the same but add
additional value to the product. Emphasize how the benefits of your product at the current price supports the customer. If the opportunity appears unique to the customer, overcome their hesitancy by encouraging them to purchase now rather than later.
Do not drop the price or remind the customer that every penny counts. Accentuate what makes you and your product unique and better, even if it costs more.
Now is not the time to pompously act like you do not need fresh business or new customers. People do not appreciate a sense of portrayed arrogance; they instead look for customer appreciation. Make it clear that you do need and want their business. Let your competitors drive customers towards you with their smug attitude.
You may have been the top of the market six months ago during a booming economy, but times have changed and your customers do not care about the past. Acting hungry means working creatively and competitively. Appreciation, gratitude, and desire will get you further than arrogance. Adjust your attitude today to survive tomorrow. Act like your livelihood depends on every single customer - it truly does!
Expand Acceptable Client Profile
Many people subconsciously have an image of their ideal client, and analyze potential clients with this in mind. Yet particularly in a crunch, you cannot be picky with paying customers; beggars can't be choosers. When the economy changes, you must adapt.
Why Sales People Underperform
Salespeople are critical for bringing in customers and for gaining enough revenue to keep a company afloat, but according to a study published in the Harvard Business Review, salespeople were effective less than 40% of the time.
Talent is not enough to be successful in this highly competitive and complex marketplace. You must be willing to develop your skills and tailor your pitch to individual customers. The phenomenon, known as "neuroplasticity", explains how the brain changes to accommodate new skills and challenges.
Research has proven that 85-90% of sales training is ineffective. It is not obsolete; it simply needs to be altered for modern industry. Selling should not be based on a specific model to which one must adhere, but rather based on understanding the buyers' minds.
Contrary to popular belief, extroverts not necessarily the best salespeople, as they tend to have trouble listening. Instead, those who fall between extroverts and introverts have the highest revenues.
Another myth is that asking a customer how he or she is feeling is unhelpful. Several experiments with sales calls have found that simply asking "how are you feeling today?" almost doubled sales.
The peripheral route involves factors outside of the message which influence decision-making. This includes creating trust, or the presentation of the product or service. People make peripheral decisions through a series of mental shortcuts ("heuristics"), which allows for fast yet impulsive decisions. Heuristics are one of the reasons people make illogical, emotional choices.
People will believe a decision is riskier if only one option is given. Giving buyers several options will let them think they are making the best choice with minimal influence. Furthermore, when given two vastly different options, people will struggle to choose. Introducing a third option that is similar, but superior to one of the original two usually results in the customer picking that option.
The peripheral route gives only a fempontry confidence in a decision, which is likely to create regret.
The central route is the message of the salesperson and the reason a buyer should commit. Its effects are more lasting than heuristics (which is used to convey the message). The message of a salesperson should follow the mental process of a buyer's decision.
How to Sell the Way People Buy
Selling based on the way people buy is the most successful method. This selling methodology begins with a greeting followed by the "Six Whys", and ends with a sale. The Six Whys are formulated to stop rejections before they arise and to help convert a potential buyer into an actual buyer.
Why #1: Why Change? People favor routine and need a compelling reason to accept change.
Understand the buyer's problem, identify its cause, and explain to the buyer how you can alleviate it.
Why #2: Why Now? The prospective buyer putting off the decision makes a purchase less likely.
Building a sense of urgency will drive your buyer closer to a purchase, but make it seem entirely up to the buyer to make the final decision.
Why #3: Why Your Industry Solution? This can be done by providing positive results to those outside of your industry or by explaining problems that will occur if a buyer goes to another industry. This can show why your industry is the superior option.
Why #4: Why You And Your Company? Show expertise in what you are selling and how you sell
Why #5: Why Your Product Or Service? Explain the advantages a buyer has when choosing your
product or service to make it more desirable. How is it cheaper/better/etc. than others?
Why #6: Why Spend The Money? Inform the buyer what they gain by buying, and what could be
lost by not buying. Note, however, that if you evoke their fear of loss, you must be able to alleviate that fear with the positives of your product or service.
Try to guide customers to their own buying motivation. Nudge the customer into explaining why they would or would not make a certain purchase and then act as if you are helping them reach the best decision on their own.
Selling to Your Buyers' Emotions
Emotions help with decision-making by allowing us to weigh the pros and cons, give something value, and showing what is necessary or irrelevant. Buyers use their emotions to decide if and how badly they want your product or service.
Research on a large retail company showed that when customers were in a positive mood, sales tripled; those in a bad mood are unlikely to see the benefits of buying. A buyer's emotional state, if understood, can be changed. Picking up nonverbal cues is crucial for this, as it is difficult to hide emotions in body language.
There are 4 ways you can overcome an emotional roadblock when trying to make a sale:
Emotions, both positive and negative, can be contagious (a phenomenon known as “emotional
cognition"). If you are upbeat and enthusiastic about a product (using voice inflections, etc.) your
customer is more likely to begin to feel similarly.
Being watched, or at least believing one is being watched, can cause behavioral changes in a buyer a phenomenon known as the "Hawthorne Effect”. In one study, when workers knew they were being observed, productivity significantly increased.
Gently and professionally call attention to negative emotions. "Is everything okay? Is there something wrong?" are questions that can change an emotional state and give you more insight.
Interesting topics can be brought up to create positive feelings in the buyer. Looking for visual
cues (e.g. clothing) and conversing briefly about the topic can boost your customer's emotions. Buyers will then see you and your product or service in a positive light long after the purchase.
Nonverbal behavior, such as smiling and humor, can create those positive emotions. Nonverbal
reactions (like laughter) that can close a sale.
The Science of Asking Powerful Questions
Research indicates that merely asking a person if they will do something can greatly increase the chances of the person complying. It helps potential buyers realize they need your product or service, and can also give you feedback on the quality of your sales pitch.
Since neuroscience has demonstrated that the mind cannot effectively multitask, when asking the buyer a question, you should lead their mind to think only about what you are asking. Customers can become bored or overwhelmed by questions that do not reveal their needs. Each sales conversation should be tailored to understanding the customer's needs and how your product or service can benefit them.
According to the social penetration theory, the human brain comprehends information in layers. Instead of focusing on the types of questions, selling should utilize the understanding of lavers to reveal information in a clear sequential way to best determine their needs.
There are three basic layers of sales questions are:
1. First-level questions start the conversation and expose basic desires with facts. Examples: "What is your budget?", "When will you need this service?."
2. Second-level questions encourage buyers to elaborate and give more information. Try questions
like "Why did you choose to learn more about us?" or "Why is it important to solve this quickly?"
3. Third-level questions prompt buyers to think deeper about their buying decisions and voice those thoughts. These questions build trust, understanding, and reveal how well the sale is proceeding. Examples include: "If we could reduce your costs with this product, how would it affect you?" or "If the problem is not resolved quickly, what could be the impact for you?".
Why People Buy
The key factor in sales is understanding the customer's thoughts and desires by not only listening, but knowing what to listen for (e.g. what motivates or demotivates a customer to/from buying a service or product).
There are three primary motivations to buy something:
1. Needs: The buyer has a problem that needs solving.
2. Emotions: The buyer has an emotional reason to make a purchase (revealed via 3rd-level questions).
3. Requirements: The product or service needs to meet certain requirements for a buyer to deem it worthy of their time, effort, and money. These can also be discovered through 3rd-level questions.
Creating Value, Neutralizing Competitors, and Overcoming Objections
The idea of social exchange theory states that humans naturally try to maximize values and minimize costs.
Buyers do not care about the specific features of a product, service, company, or sales pitch; they care about solving their own problems. To show value, you must create a "Primary Buying Motivator Statement.”
Understand how your product or service meets your customer's needs. Remind the buyer of what would motivate them to want your product or service. Show how the product or service can meet the needs of the customer.
People are more likely to listen to you and agree with you (and buy from you) if they feel you have given them something vital. such as information. You can thus use reciprocity to your advantage by providing free info or advice before launching into the sales pitch.
Labeling can also boost your sales. The expectation label helps indecisive customers by comparing items or services, and by, explaining how other customers have felt. The positive label includes praise or gratitude.
Thanking someone for their time makes the person more likely to give you more of it. People feel the need to live up to labels once the labels are created.
To weaken a competitor, the moderator works by exposing a weak argument before being subjected to a stronger one, thus building resistance. Acknowledge an insignificant poor quality of a competitors product and then explain how your company's product does not have such flaws or is better suited for the customer
Objections, though frightening, must be identified as quickly as possible to be overcome. Most potential buyers begin to mentally object once a price is mentioned. A buyer's mood will sour if they are finding objections to your product or service, so be sure to remain attentive to their emotions.
Try to use softening statements. These are polite, non- argumentative ways to show understanding and to a buyer's objections. Then, isolate this objection and get to its root by asking if the customer has other concerns. Answer with facts, play to the customer's emotions, or reveal an anecdote about a satisfied customer with the same issue. Finally, reach a commitment to ensure the objection has been settled.
The Law of The Network
The Law of The Network turns a bureaucracy into a network of teams that collaborate with one another. When organizations first began incorporating teams, they often created a command of teams, where employees collaborated with each other, but still answered to a manager within a hierarchy. Ideally, an organization should be a flat network of interacting teams, rather than a command of teams.
Teams should share a common physical space to encourage communication and collaboration between them. Brief, daily meetings in this space will help everyone see how their work plays into the big picture.
Move decision-making to the lowest possible level. By removing managers from daily decisions, those closest to the product can make immediate decisions, thereby innovating products faster and giving insightful employees a louder voice in the organization.
McChrystal, an army officer, explains that leadership is not about control, but rather creating an environment where people flourish. He compares his old leadership style to a chess player, and his new style to gardening:
To successfully create a workplace network, consider:
Does the network have a compelling goal?
Does the network comprise of small groups?
Are the groups action oriented?
Remember, the groups are not in the organization, they are the organization.
Is the network’s legal framework staying in the background? Procedures like recruiting, paying, and firing are necessary but should not be a focus.
Implementing Agile At Scale: Microsoft
In July 2011, Microsoft began implementing agile practices within its Developer Division of Microsoft, where Aaron Bjork had been experimenting with Agile since 2008. Microsoft divided its 4,000 developers into hundreds of teams consisting of 10-12 people. They gave each team an assignment, a 3-week cycle to complete it, and complete autonomy over how to do so. Microsoft discovered several things. First, they needed to balance company alignment with team autonomy. Second, teams needed to interact regularly to complete larger projects. Lastly, letting employees choose their teams resulted in about 1/3 of them changing teams, adding just enough variety to stimulate creativity.
Dosing Redefined: Obtaining Strategic Commitments
Buyers are more likely to make a commitment if they first agree to several smaller but related commitments. The Six Whys must be incorporated throughout the sale to create early smaller agreements before the final ask. This works because people like to be consistent with their opinions and statements.
Multiple studies reveal that people feel guilty or embarrassed if they try to revoke a commitment after stating it aloud. In addition, one's self-perception changes after a commitment, even a small one. Gamblers are more confident in their decision after placing a bet, and buyers are no different.
They live up to their self-image of being capable problem-solvers, which influences purchase decisions. Also, implying ownership can make a person more willing to become an owner. Phrases such as "if you were to purchase" and follow-up questions such as "when would you like the product installed?" can confirm the value of the product, summarizing the benefits and allowing the buyer to feel involved.
Asking "does this service meet your needs?" allows them to voice possible objections make a small
commitment, and feel empowered in the conversation. When objections are removed and the Six Whys answered, it is time to ask for the sale through closing statements that imply the nunt step.
The best closing questions are ways of asking to complete the purchase yet still make the buyer feel the decision is their own
Sales Presentation Strategies
Sales presentations are the most central factors in the buying process. They create those important yet small commitments and help the buyer receive information.
Strategy $1. Enticement: Too many options or information overload hurts sales since it overwhelms
the buyer's brain. You should 1) supply only necessary information at first and give more details if the buyer requests, or 2) give fewer, customer-tailored options.
Strategy #2. Anchors: These help people make fas judgements, and influence how the buyer interprets infomation. Your product will be seen as a good deal compared to another higher-priced or less effective product (described in Methods of Persuasion).
Strategy #3 Mirroring: Mirroring occurs when a person imitates another person's verbal or nonverbal behavior, sometimes subconsciously. This builds trust and increases a person's influence.
Strategy #4. Visuals: Our brains process information in pictures, not words (the "picture superiority effect"). When someone says the word "dog, a furry animal, rather than the word, appears in your mind. Pictures help the buyer understand the info and decide quicker
Strategy #5: We think in terms of stories and experience life as an ongoing set of narratives. This is called the narrative paradigm. Sales presentations can use stories to provide information and inspire emotions. The human brain actually re consum heard. Therefore, stories engage a customer's mind as they process the ideas and narrative you provide. Minimize story details and use characters who are similar to your buyer; this causes them to connect with the character and make similar choices (e.g. purchases).
The Future of Selling
Scientific research has provided the tools to help salespeople see which behaviors and techniques are identifically backed to boost sales. Consequently, sales practices will improve as more research is conducted into methods to better hone these techniques. Finally, these are the five essential traits for improving sales:
1. Intrinsic motivation.
2. Focusing on the perspectives of other,
3. Possessing integrity.
4. Embracing a growth mindset.
5. Interpersonal communication skills.
Assess your own skills and motivations to see where you can improve. Embrace science based selling in your workplace. With an understanding of how the brain works and how people buy, salespeople are more likely to improve their performance increase company profits, and flourish in previously-pemiled markets.
From a study performed with 6,000 respondents from 90 different companies, there are 5 main types of sellers:
The hard worker.
The lone wolf.
The reactive problem solver.
The relationship builder.
Surprisingly, the relationship builder was a less successful seller than the more assertive challenger.
The Evolving Journey Of Solution Selling
In the last 20 years, solution-selling has become a reliable and successful sales model. It shifts from selling individual products, and moves toward selling product bundles, which meet a wider spectrum of tailored needs. A recent study by the author concluded that 75% of businesses sought to shift to solution-selling. Since the turn of the century, customers have become less likely to take risks, and remain wary of complex selling. To counteract this, you must prepare sales reps to generate new demand, pay attention to the techniques of the most successful reps, and be adaptable.
A New Model for High Performance
When economies are distressed, conventional reps cannot reach their quotas and compete against star reps. How do these star reps do it?
The 5 types of reps have distinct characteristics.
a) The hard workers believe that time and effort directly correlate with results.
b) The relationship builders provide the best service possible.
c) The lone wolves are self-confident and follow their instincts rather than rules.
d) The reactive problem solvers are trustworthy, detail-oriented, and focused on follow-up.
e) The challengers constantly push the customer’s thinking, offering insight in an assertive manner. “They’re constantly bringing fresh insight to the table that forces [the CSO] to check his strategy against reality.”
There is clearly a selling style is most effective.
Statistical analysis shows that the challenger is the most successful due to their ability to (1) skillfully educate customers with a unique, insightful, new perspective, (2) engage in effective 2-way communication, (3) understand what customers value most, (4) identify economic drivers of the client’s business, (5) be comfortable and assertive when discussing money, and (6) pressure the customer just enough to make a buying decision. Focusing on customer convenience (as relationship builders do) is less effective than focusing on customer value (what challengers do). Time is wasted if every customer is catered to, and if there is no pressure to use your solution.
Challengers are the solution selling rep.
While only 27% of reps are challengers, 54% of complex sales are made by challengers. Relationship builders are the least successful in complex sales since these require customers to shift their attitudes before they buy.
Exporting the Model to the Core
The Challenger Sales Model is a 4-part approach capitalizes on “challenger traits” like assertiveness:
Challengers are made, not just born: Non-challengers can improve their performance.
It’s the combination of skills that matters: The lucrative combination of teaching, tailoring, and taking control allows challengers to outperform.
Challenging is about organizational capability, not just rep skills: Companies must teach and guide reps how to improve and tailor their message to the company’s mission statement.
Building the challenger sales force is a journey, not an overnight trip: It takes time to develop challengers, but the results are well worth it!
Teaching for Differentiation
(Part 1): Why Insight Matters
In the past, billions have been spent on researching what to sell to clients. However, what we sell is far less important than how we sell it. In a study with over 5,000 consumer participants, 19% of respondents stated that they were loyal to companies with good product/service delivery, while 53% of respondents stated that they were loyal to experienced salespeople. While customer satisfaction is correlated with product quality, customer loyalty is correlated with sales experience. Competitors can imitate your products and sell them cheaper, but they cannot mimic your customer interactions. Additionally, the following 6 traits were the most important in a sales rep:
Unique and valuable perspective on the market.
Ability to help customers navigate alternatives.
Ongoing advice or consultation.
Helping customers avoid mistakes and roadblocks.
Educating consumers on new issues and outcomes.
Being easy to buy from.
Five of the qualities above emphasize the message of: “Challenge me. Teach me something new”. The rep’s insight has more value than the product, because they can teach the customer something new whilst simultaneously persuading them they have the right solution. There are 4 rules to commercial teaching:
Lead to your unique strengths by tying your conversation back to how you can outperform your competitors, and precisely cater to your customer’s needs. Foster an in-depth understanding of your company’s strengths before you begin.
Challenge customers’ assumptions by teaching the customer to reframe their perception of both their company and yours. The best way is to have the customer question their previous beliefs.
Catalyze action because simply changing the way customers think isn’t enough – you must convince them to engage newfound knowledge.
Scale across customers because impressing one can lead to many more heading your way.
Teaching for Differentiation
(Part 2): Build Insight-Led Conversations
Avoid communicating your company’s solution with formal sales presentations. Instead, engage your audience. A good story utilizes drama, suspense, and persuasive details to guide the listener (discussed in Resonate). Always link the resolution of the story to the unique solution your company offers. Reluctant customers aren’t going to be convinced by graphs and charts. There are 6 steps to creating the perfect pitch:
The Icebreaker comes after formalities. Emphasize experiences with similar clients to establish credibility, but don’t mention your solution yet.
The Reframe is when you titillate the customer with an unexpected, bold, and unique viewpoint.
Rational Drowning lets you explain why the customer must care about the reframe. Use statistical data to corroborate your opinion, thus making the audience doubt their past beliefs. Before presenting your solution, convince the audience that solving their challenge is necessary.
Emotional Impact gets the customer involved in your company. Make your customer the star of the story; connect with the audience emotionally by making the story personal.
A New Way is how you convince the customer that a solution is needed to fix the issue at hand.
Your Solution, which will create a positive change in the customer’s life, can finally be demonstrated.
The best, most persuasive pitches are BOLD, while monotone, unpersuasive ones are SAFE.
SAFE & Ineffective - BOLD & Effective
Small - Big
Achievable - Outperforming
Following trends - Leading-edge
Easy to grasp - Difficult to grasp
Every effective sales pitch should include (1) a description of your company’s beliefs; (2) a summary of assets, capabilities, and offerings; and (3) a list of partnerships, customers, and physical locations. The basic steps include: (1) identify your unique selling point, (2) challenge the customer to think outside the box, (3) use a compelling story, and (4) train reps tocontinuously challenge customers.
Tailoring for Resonance
Customers will appreciate when you tailor your selling style and product bundle to them. Ensure that your sellers demonstrate that the company is not a nuisance, but rather an insightful resource to be utilized. Loyalty can only be earned when customers gain beneficial knowledge. Challengers are best at resonating with buyers as they can detect what the customer wants. There are 3 steps to presenting a tailored message:
Framing the personal win by giving an example of your company’s ability to create an effective, personalized product bundle for a client, thereby building your credibility and your relationship.
Getting past the “so what?” and show how it is all relevant to your customer and their specific needs.
Making tailoring happen. Stress that you can empathize with the customer’s issue and that you understand how to best implement the solution. Don’t come off as cocky or timid. Use what the customer has told you to maximize resonance.
Taking Control of the Sale
The most critical trait of the challenger is their ability to take control and make the most sales because they are naturally comfortable discussing money. They push customers just a bit out of their comfort zone. Challengers are confident in the value they provide to customers. They can respectfully push back when a customer asks for lowered prices or looser terms. Challengers can create momentum to close the deal. There are 3 major misconceptions about taking control:
Taking control is synonymous with negotiation. Negotiation skills are not used when taking control of the sales process. Negotiation occurs near the end of the sales process. By then, it is almost always too late to establish control over the sale. Taking control from the start allows you to create and steer the momentum towards a purchasing decision.
Reps take control regarding only matters of money: Challengers push the customer on financial terms. More importantly, they reframe the customer’s perspective “in terms of how they think about their world and their challenges.” When customers initially reject your solution, challengers push back, using the resistance and tension to their advantage, saying “you’re right, but…”.
Reps will become too aggressive if we tell them to “take control”: Aggressiveness does not equal taking control. On a scale from passive to aggressive, challengers fall in the center of the scale.
Not self-confident enough.
Subverts to the needs of others.
Uses overly-appeasing language.
Directly pursues goals in a confident manner.
Uses direct, respectful language.
Pushes the customer, but with sensitivity.
Attacks others’ personal boundaries.
Uses antagonistic, egotistical language.
Assertiveness is the correct balance between power and accommodation. Encouraging reps to “take control” will cause them to be more assertive, because almost all reps struggle with being too passive. By telling sellers to “put the customer first,” companies give the wrong message and make it difficult to persuade customers. In a study conducted by the author, reps who were told to take control did not act overly aggressive, they instead chose to exercise only an effective amount of power over customers. To increase assertiveness:
Acknowledge & Defer: Acknowledge their desires while subtly deferring a demand for a concession.
Deepen & Broaden: Gain a more in-depth understanding of the customer’s needs/wants while getting them to broaden their understanding of the advantages of choosing your company.
Explore & Compare: Evaluate what the customer requires and use comparisons to highlight the effectiveness of your solution.
Concede According to Plan: Determine what, how, and when you are willing to concede.
The Manager and the Challenger Selling Model
The challenger model needs well-trained frontline sales managers on board to succeed. It’s deeply troubling that 63% of sellers don’t believe their managers can transition to a new, vital sales model. The following 5 steps will help managers improve their coaching skills:
Prepare for the coaching conversation by ensuring managers gain a thorough understanding of the challenger sales model before coaching sellers.
Affirm the relationship and make sure the rep is ready to absorb and implement new directions.
Understand expected behavior for what reactions should occur as sellers absorb new info. If the reactions are different from what is expected, alter the coaching style to meet individual needs.
Specify behavioral changes when you develop standards. This prevents it from being subjective, unfocused, or overwhelming.
Embed new behaviors and monitor the sellers’ progress as they develop, create a plan for results, and provide continuous feedback for reps.
Implementation Lessons From the Early Adopters
It’s crucial to recognize that not every high performer is a challenger. High performance sales representatives who don’t use challenger strategies also include lone wolves, hard workers, and reactive problems solvers, albeit only a small percentage. Be hesitant to blindly adopt their strategies. For example, lone wolves often ignore instructions and follow no patterns, and are an inevitable obstacle for a team-based environment.
It’s imperative you begin recruiting challengers yesterday! But remember, challengers can bebuilt, not just hired. Look within your own organization to train existing reps. Given the requisite time and effort, nearly all sales reps can be transitioned smoothly to a more effective sales strategy. Just as employees and the company are linked, individual skills and organizational ability must develop simultaneously.
Training your new force will take significant time; 87% of sales training content is forgotten within 30 days. The necessary behavioral changes cannot be rushed. Companies should employ follow-up programs that encourage sellers to further their skills. Stop telling the world how “customer-centric” you are. Being overly compliant isn’t always good (e.g. when giving unnecessary discounts that decrease profit). Focus on creating an “insight-centric” company that teaches customers to think differently.
There is no side-stepping the “Deb Oler Question”: “Why should your customers buy from you instead of your competitors?” If you cannot answer this, you are not using the challenger model correctly. Never employ 10 overused words: (1) Leader; (2) Leading; (3) Best; (4) Top; (5) Unique; (6) Great; (7) Solution; (8) Largest; (9) Innovative; (10) Innovator. Never aim for 100% adoption – even the best companies attain only 80% adoption of new models. Find the eager adopters first, as they will lead by example. Expect casualties; around 20% - 30% of reps will won’t make the transition. Don’t worry about the small percentage who simply prefer their own approach. Start now; while the challenger model can take years to adopt, this novel method of customer interaction will revolutionize your company.