A great comment from Barry Moltz:
“Many years ago small businesses wanted to appear large so customers would trust them. They produced fancy stationery and secured a respectable business address. This has all changed with the Internet, where customers value the human voice. Now every business wants to appear small and provide personal service to its customers.”
And I agree. I was quite happy to stop the renewal order of new stationery and envelopes and instead spent it on a better website. But still recognized that a website wasn’t enough, that customers expected a contact link that included phone and address. It was acceptable that the address wasn’t local as long as there was a viable address. More importantly was ensuring the phone was answered by a person instead of an automated system. At my small companies, everyone was the receptionist because the call rang to everyone if the frontline people were otherwise engaged.
The next level of trust that customers are looking for includes customer ratings. Think what eBay, Amazon and others started to ensure customer feedback is reflected back to prospects. Having peer ratings for Inquisix referrals was a key point to the system.
To build trust in today’s market, make it easy for the customer to research and buy your offerings. No more paper or offices but a well-designed website, a human answering the phone and trust ratings from customers are the new trust factors.
Today I thought I’d share the two top-10 rules that I have saved and posted in my office. One is from The Daily Beast on Steve Job’s rules for business. The other is a speech attributed to Bill Gates but was actually an op-ed letter by Charles J. Sykes written to college graduates.
This spring, my dear colleague, Joanne Black, the author of No More Cold Calling, introduced me to Mark Organ of Influitive. Influitive has an interesting twist on the reputation-based referral process that Inquisix built our business on.
Inquisix was focused on helping fill the beginning of the funnel with qualified prospects who came to you, the sales person, based on a referral from someone the prospect trusted. At Inquisix, the network was the salesreps and executives who had high-value relationships with their customers and thus could refer them. Influitive looks at the sales cycle from the point of view of your happy reference customers. At Influitive, it’s these customers who expand their reputation network based on the products and solutions they embrace.
Influitive is in beta now and I encourage any VP of Sales or VP of Marketing who is using salesforce.com to take a look at them.
Part of the sales process will inevitably include time spent showing the customer why your solution is better than your competitor’s solution. However, that’s often a delicate dance because while you want to show them that you have the right solution, you need to be careful not to tell them that they’re wrong to want another solution. Especially if the customer has chosen your competitor and is thus the incumbent in the account.
An interesting article in Fast Company discusses how the “birthers” advocates, who believe that President Obama was born outside of the US, still don’t believe he was born in Hawaii despite the recent evidence of his Hawaiian birth certificate. The Fast Company article quotes Psychologist Leon Festinger, who wrote, “”A man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.” So despite the clear evidence of President Obama’s place of birth, many birthers still cling to their claim.
Do you find birthers in your accounts? Maybe you call them the old-guard or the technology bigots. Maybe you ignore them and hope your internal champion is stronger politically. No matter what you call them, how do you change their minds? Would analyst reports and customer references really get them to admit they were wrong? Instead, the Fast Company article felt that you need to give the naysayers a way to save face before they would back down.
Often in sales, we decide to go around these groups after we’ve shown them that they’re wrong and they still refuse to concede. Most often this leads to a lost sale. Next time, try a different approach to gently convert them to your side.
I saw reports that the new RIM Playbook had initial sales of under 50,000 units during it’s debut. I feel bad for RIM being forced to compete against Apple in a category Apple themselves defined. Being forced by analysts unhappy that RIM didn’t have an offering and then being blasted by the same analysts for the Playbook as not being on-par with Apple has to be a no-win situation for RIM. The only company that’s done well competing with Apple in this space is Google and it’s primarily because they give Android away for free.
(photo from RIM)
I wonder how I would sell the Playbook to companies if I was the RIM Enterprise sales rep. My only pitch would have to be the standard pitch of all incumbent vendors to the big enterprises, “We’re already your vendor of choice, we’re the safe choice, you won’t get fired buying with us, our execs know your execs, our new product is good enough, think of the huge implementation costs you’ll incur by switching.” Even some of the RIM enterprise sales reps can’t use that pitch with confidence as they’ve gone over to sell the iPhone to enterprises.
Poor RIM, they have record sales of product and no respect. And poor me since I really prefer a physical keyboard so I’ll continue to use the Blackberry…for work…and get the iPad for personal use.
As a follow-on to my last post about why customers say they’ll buy early-stage solutions but do not, “You love me but you won’t buy”, I read an article in a recent Fast Company that discussed the same issue. Written by Dan and Chip Heath, co-authors of, “Made to Stick”, they discussed the difference between a product considered a vitamin, a nice-to-have – versus an aspirin, a must-have. Some people will pay money for vitamins to stay healthy but everyone will pay for aspirin to cure a headache.
I encourage you to read the article. Too bad there’s not a recipe for turning your vitamin into an aspirin but they have several examples that can help you brainstorm how to turn your own product into a must-have.
Welcome to my new site for discussions on referral based selling and more. I hope many of you will follow me from the Inquisix blog to this new site despite the long quiet period in between postings.
The goals of this site are:
- Continue the discussions on referral-based selling
- Include new topics especially around entrepreneurs and start-ups
- Interesting articles that I’ve read that I hope you’ll find interesting
All of the articles that I wrote at the Inquisix blog are included at this site. I’ve also included some of articles written by guest authors, including Joanne Black and Shiera O’Brien, that were so popular at the Inquisix blog.