|By Conor Kenny, Specialist in Sales and Marketing|
I used this title once and my Dad, a devout Catholic, said “It’s blasphemous” (but he liked it). After all, sales are the ultimate fuel (and challenge) for every business and when the curtain goes down on another day, the clock starts all over again tomorrow.
Great sales are easy. It’s the human dimension that makes it complex. Inner turmoil, personal conflict and these niggly things called emotions get in the way. Most sales training is worse. It complicates the task and tends to be a copied version of the version you saw before.
Training and learning needs to have instantly actionable outcomes. It needs to change how you see things, do things and, most of all, it needs to show measurable results. So, if you have taken the time to read this short piece, let me untangle some clichéd phrases that may have already been lost in translation and hopefully, they will give you some things to do. I’m talking the world of brands, sales, marketing, PR and your message. You see, if these aren’t aligned then not much will follow.
Like good foundations, much has to be prepared before the troops can leave the barracks and win sales battles.
When you want to buy something you want a choice yet most companies obsess about their competitors. That’s the first mistake. Talking to your customers about your competitors is akin to telling them your problems.
They don’t want to hear about your competitors, they want to know why you are an alternative.
It’s a good idea to start by internally understanding why your offering is an alternative (not better).
Companies often confuse their tag lines with their message. They are different. Your message is simply what you want your potential customer to hear and the critical word is ‘understand’.
I often ask this question when I’m giving sales training and it is a true story. The tag line said “For a fresh perspective on life and a new outlook on living”. My next question is “What are they selling?” The answers vary from A Spa to Spectacles to Drugs to A Gym and many more. In fact, they were selling apartments. You can imagine the wordsmith sighing with pride at his own work but they – the audience – didn’t understand. If that had said ‘Really Nice Apartments’ then they’d have understood. What’s your message and will I understand it? Remember, if you need to explain it, it’s already lost.
It’s strange but many people hold the title ‘Sales & Marketing Director’. It’s the wrong way around, marketing precedes sales and they are cousins but very different skills.
It’s easy to be attracted to that very special offer of a promotion or cheap advert but let’s look at the purpose of marketing first. My definition? “The purpose of marketing is simply to create the desire to buy”. Now look back over those offers, your current marketing and especially your social media. Is it creating the desire to buy?
The next time you plan to spend money on a marketing initiative, refer back to this simple question – Will this create the desire to buy for our customers? Then follow the answer.
Just like understanding marketing, many people have very different interpretations of what a brand is. A clever internal question for you to immediately ask your team is “What does our brand stand for?” If you get uniform answers, that’s great. If you don’t, maybe there’s an immediate important challenge?
It’s also worth asking what they understand a brand to be. Again, if they google it (and I just did to be precise) in 0.72 seconds, I was offered 765,000,000 results. Or maybe that’s 765,000,000 opinions?
My definition is very simple and it’s this “A brand is what you think and feel about a business when you’re not there.”
Insert any big company brand name into your head right now and see what happens. One things for sure, you made instant judgements and your company and ours do exactly that for our audience.
If you polish the 4 areas above, as well as you can, then you will lay out a long red carpet to more successful sales.
If not, remember the words of George Bernard Shaw – “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
Worth checking if you’re clear about why you’re an alternative, what your message is, if your marketing is creating desire and what your brand stands for. Get those right and your sales strategy will be built on solid foundations.
Check out our 1 day workshop, ‘Why People Fail to Sell’.
About Conor Kenny
Conor Kenny is a specialist in sales and marketing and a workshop leader. He is the author of 3 books; ‘It’s Who I Am’ (Irish Times Best Business Books of the Year 2017) ‘Dancing at the Fountain’ (Irish Examiner Best Business Books of the Year 2016) and Sales Tales (2014)’ He is also a regular columnist and commentator on sales and service for many publications nationally and internationally.
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