01 May These New Rules of Sales and Service Change Everything
“Yes, you did catch me at a bad time,” I answered to the cold-caller who somehow found me in Paris on vacation on my cell phone yesterday.
Sales and customer service have changed!
We’re fed up with unwanted phone calls interrupting us at home and at work. We hate wading through hundreds of unsolicited emails. We’ve had it with intrusive social media messages. We’re tired of poor service from companies that don’t treat us with respect or that send us into a phone mail maze that wastes minutes of our time and never connects us with a living person.
At the same time, all of us — you, me, and all our existing and potential customers — turn to the web to solve problems.
Today, buyers are in charge. The idea of mystery in the sales process is over. We research someone online before agreeing to a first date—is he a creep? We fire up LinkedIn an hour before an initial business meeting—does she have anyone I know in her network? We watch an on-demand movie trailer before deciding which film to see that night at the theater. We check out restaurant reviews and browse menus before booking a reservation.
There’s a huge disconnect that my friend David Meerman Scott, pictured above, addresses in The New Rules of Sales and Service: How to Use Agile Selling, Real-Time Customer Engagement, Big Data, Content, and Storytelling to Grow Your Business. I had the pleasure of interviewing David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Sales and Service, last week whose take on these changes will help businesses succeed.
The old rules of sales and service no longer working in this real-time, always-on marketplace.
In the days before real-time online communications …
• It was very difficult for buyers to find independent information about the products and services that interested them.
• There was no easy way for unhappy customers to voice disapproval of a company in public.
• Both buyers and existing customers couldn’t communicate instantly with the companies they did business with or patronized.
• Customers had little say in the products and services they wanted to buy.
All of this used to be true because communications wasn’t instant. There was no way to easily research products or companies or to complain about poor service.
None of this needs to be true in your business any longer! The world has changed, and your business needs to adapt.
The #Social CEO Drives Business for their Company
When I speak with CEOs about generating attention for their business through real-time marketing and sales, most ask me how to staff for success in their companies.
Very few CEOs ask the right question – how do they become a social CEO.
Richard Branson, Marissa Mayer, and Arianna Huffington all have something in common. Not only are they CEOs of large organizations, they are also top executives on social media with a combined 6 million Twitter followers.
For example, Brian Halligan, HubSpot CEO uses social media to grow his business. The Social CEO is a new breed of executive, and their businesses are benefiting because of it.
Brian shared a fascinating correlation with me to prove his point.
HubSpot grew by 50% in 2013 and by the end of the year the company served 10,595 customers in 56 countries.
And get this: 20% of the company’s new customers since 2011 have been influenced in the selling process by visiting Brian’s page on the HubSpot site. Twenty percent influenced – an amazing statistic!
Social media has transformed the role of the salesperson into a consultant.
To make the new rules of sales and service part of your world, you must change your mind-set. You’ll need to understand your buyers, rather than just talking about your products and services. You’ll need to be aware of what’s going on in the real-time news and on social networks. You’ll need to create content and publish it on the web, and sometimes you’ll need to do it urgently to be successful. On social networks, two-way communication is required, not just the typical broadcast approach that most people are used to. These habits and techniques do not come naturally to entrepreneurs, salespeople, or customer service representatives steeped in more traditional ways.
But making a change is tough. I’ve spoken to many people about this.
I’ve found that finding the time to participate in social media is much like exercise; you need to make it an important part of your life. If it is important to you, you don’t even think about it anymore. It just is.
You have a choice. You can choose to exercise regularly in order to stay fit. The most effective way is when exercise becomes part of your routine. Some people like fitness clubs. Others enjoy running outdoors or dancing or kickboxing. But in all cases, success comes from making it an important part of your daily life.
And you also have a choice when it comes to how you communicate. You can interrupt people with product messages. Or you can create the content that people want to consume and are eager to share.
When customer service communications and online content seem created by some nameless, faceless corporate entity, it doesn’t entice us, and often it alienates. And as a result we’re just not interested in doing business with that company.
People want to do business with other people.
We’re human, and we crave interaction with people who know us and respond as individuals. That’s why the real-time customer service techniques work so well.
Representatives are hired for their social skills and traits like empathy. And they understand context before they act.
When you communicate with customers in an agile and human way, you build a relationship with people much like you would if you met them in person.
We all want to do business with other humans. We want to know there’s a living, breathing person behind the communications. And we want reassurance that those humans on the other side understand and want to help us.
There’s no secret to building great customer service. The answer is to be human.
Now it’s your turn: How do you think sales and service have changed? How does this change things for businesses and consumers? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.