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It's Not YOU or Your Sales Team; It's About Generation ME

It's Not YOU or Your Sales Team; It's About Generation ME
Pat Dickson Interviews Andrew Kolikoff - Tue Jul 17, 2012 @ 08:51PM
Comments: 0
"Good morning Andrew. As we previously discussed, I wanted to interview you because of your expertise in building sales teams. Lately, so many of my business clients have been asking me how to go about building sales teams. It isn't easy to generate revenue in these tough economic times. But to start, please tell me a little about you and Synergy."

Thank you Pat for inviting me to discuss with you how to successfully build and scale sales today.  While this sounds like a discipline, skill set and initiative that many have and can implement, what you may not know is that many sales pros, former superstar managers and sales people alike are failing today. Failing more than ever in history! However, before I tell you why, and what to do about it, I should probably answer your question and tell you a little bit about Synergy.  

The Synergy model provides integrated and immersed third-party marketing and sales leadership (or co-leadership with existing marketing and sales leadership already in place) the ability, know-how, tools and accountability to scale their sales and create what we call the Culture Of Conversion. Our collective experience includes building some of the largest commission-only sales forces in America for the likes of American Express (a 40,000 person sales team), GE, and Cigna down to small start-ups.
"You bring up a good point. Veteran sales teams and superstar salespeople are failing for the first time. I should have opened by saying some of my clients are looking to build sales teams for the first time, and some are looking to rebuild them. What used to generate sales isn't working any longer. Something drastic has to be done. Old sales methods aren't working.
So, now I have three questions. First, is the bad economy really the sole cause of plunging commercial sales? If not, what else contributes to this problem? Second, do you really offer a new sales method that works? How does it replace old methods? You say Synergy creates a 'Culture of Conversion' by using 'integrated' and 'immersed' sales and marketing leadership. What does this mean and how does it work to create sales? Third, how does your method tie into building or rebuilding a company's sales team?"
Synergy Sales and MarketingLet me answer your questions one at a time Pat.
Your First Question... "Is the bad economy really the sole cause of plunging commercial sales? If not, what else contributes to this problem?"  
The languishing economy absolutely is having a deleterious affect on sales, sales systems, sales processes and sales people. Results are plainly hard to come by these days. However, what we have learned is that the economy is not the only reason why results are hard to come by, as I said.  

What we found Pat is the INTERNET is the other reason for suffering sales. Let me explain.  

Here’s what I mean, but first a little background… Wasn’t there such a thing as the Baby Boomer
Generation – a 15 year or so time period (post World War II) of peace and prosperity that resulted in a national population explosion? Wasn’t there also Generation X? Well, do you know what I call today’s generation? Generation ME.
In the age of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and a myriad of other social media platforms, everyone is communicating their world – a great article they read, video they saw, how they are feeling, thinking that day, what they want, wish for, and need to have.  Just read a post, any post, even this one, and you will see that everybody has something to say.  The thoughts and implications of this, from the readers perspective is:
  • I am on information overload – reading all my friends, family and interest related posts, I am connected all the time and therefore have an increasing personal disconnection with many in my life,
  • I give you much less of my time; profoundly less,
  • I can quickly, effortlessly change my direction and what I want to read and experience next,
  • I seek instant gratification,
  • I can keep you at a distance and even completely ignore you without confrontation if I so choose,
  • I can focus on me and what I like and am trying to accomplish the most,
  • I don’t have to call you, or even text you, I can comment on your post and keep things at a comfortable distance,
  • I love distance; that is until I am ready to invest my time and call you, call you back, or make our communication more personal.
Well, when we incorporate some of Generation Me’s limited time, focus, attention, and decreased personalization, into today’s sales process and cycle, it goes something like this: I can check you out, your product or service, your company, their reviews, compare and contrast, consider other prices, and I can make a decision when I darn well please.  So, what this means is that Everything Online Matters and the messaging in that online presence is almost everything. As the brilliant Seth Godin espouses (one of the marketing geniuses of our generation):
“The goal of a marketer ought to be to make it so easy to be a salesperson, you’re merely an inviter. The new marketing is largely about this–creating a scenario where you don’t even need salespeople. (Until you do.)”
Well, if everything online matters then why is almost every website that you see (and that a sales person is referring the prospective customers to) goes something like this...
<<With tabs on the top and menu driven/fairly organized>> Here is what we do.  Here is everything about what we do.  Here are all the cool things about what we do.  Here is what makes us different in what we do.  Here is how we do what we do.  Here are all the neat examples in how we do what we do.  Here are our people, our case studies, and whitepapers.  Perhaps there is a video that speaks about this.  Lastly, here is contact information.
Synergy Outsourced Sales LeadershipSo, would you agree that this communication style (and organization structure) represents about 95% of all websites (and collateral) on the internet?  If so, then you are admitting that every website is about me.  I don’t mean me personally.  I mean me, meaning the company themselves.  Well, isn’t the first thing we learn in Sales 101 is that Telling Is Not Selling?  
So then let me ask you, why is almost every website and collateral piece telling?  Answer, because that is what most marketing professionals of the world have not yet learned (those that don't understand conversion based marketing).  It has to be all about THEM.  What is in it for them – your prospective customer/client.  What they want to hear.  How what you do will change their lives for the better.  Make their pain go away.  How you understand their pain because your are them.
Wow, your answer sheds light on why sales teams with historic success are failing today, and in many cases for the first time. They are still using old methods that worked fine with the Baby Boomers. Generation ME is here now, so get with the program! If you aren't on the same page with this new worldwide customer base, your sales will continue to suffer, or they will never take off. 
Generation ME is an Internet and social media driven new order. If you don't use the Internet and social media the way they do, your sales will reflect it. 
Just to make sure we are on the same page, Andrew, you don't see the down economy as the real problem. You don't see the particular people we have on our sales teams as the cause of suffering revenues either. The solution to our poor sales isn't necessarily found in who we put on our new sales teams. It isn't about replacing our old sales people with new and fresh people. In most cases, such remedies won't solve anything. Instead, as a first step, we have to get the Internet and social media right.

The problem lies in how we are selling, not in who is doing the selling. Get with the program, use the right tools, and use them correctly.

Alright, now I think I've got it. To increase sales, the first step is to change our approach to sales altogether. We have to attract and entertain Generation ME. They are a new species.
Andrew, you've generally answered the question:
"How do we sell to Generation ME?"
You have to use the Internet to invite and attract this customer base through subtle, laconic means, all while making it "all about them." Old school web sites don't work because they are all about you and not them. You can't stop at your web site either. You have to use social media.
I am hungry for some detail. 
Let's assume I have a web site that's all about me and not about my Generation ME audience. Let's also assume I have a smart sales team that is clearly failing because we are still using Baby Boomer methods. Our bookings and the last few years' financials are clear proof we have to take drastic action. 
What exactly do we do? How do we change our web site? How do we use the Internet and social media to get our team making sales to Generation ME? Does our sales team still need more than the Internet and social media? If so, what is it? Don't we still want face to face meetings and direct correspondence? If so, how do we do these things differently? Also, how do we tie these things into social media and the Internet?
Wow!  You have asked me a few questions that I would ordinarily answer with many other questions.  However, for the purposes of this exercise, let's first focus on your website and let's pretend...
a. you have engaged an SEO firm or individual to increase your Google ranking and site traffic,
b. you are getting MANY site visitors and click through's, but most are not picking up the phone, engaging, inquiring further, and by no means purchasing anything! (This by the way is more the norm and very often the case.).
First let me say, if this is you, that is Great News!  How could this possibly be great news ? It is great because a VERY difficult part of your marketing/sales is already done… you are bringing the horses to water.  All that anyone who understands ME GENERATION CONVERSION has to do now is to make them drink – which in my professional opinion is sometimes much easier than bringing the horses in the first place. The trick is, how do we make them FEEL thirsty?

These 7 Steps To Conversion should help!

1.     Find Your Tribe  The days of marketing to the masses are over (well, for the majority of us that is).  To successfully market and sell your product/service you need to get Hyper-specific.  So, let me share with you an example of what I mean…We have a particular client that offers (manufactures and sells) custom Radiant Heating Systems - www.thermaray.com. Now we can choose to market this to the masses (from the home-owner to the office building developer) or we can try to find our tribe and be the leader of it (in that category at least).  So, with this in mind, what if we decided to market/sell to specifically Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing (MEP) Engineers?  What if we narrowed it down further and found those MEP engineers that are affiliated with firms that cater mostly the retail (fast food) industry?  These are businesses and decision-makers who could really benefit from knowing more about this technology and possible saving LOTS of money - never mind the environmental benefits?  We could possibly even make those MEP engineers look like super-hero's to their retail (fast food) developing clients?  Right?
2.     Speak Their (That Tribe’s) Language  Now that we found our tribe (MEP engineers and VPs of construction for national, fast food retail chains), we need to learn how these people talk?  What do they want to hear?  What are the words and phrases they use?  What are the critical understandings?  What are their common, everyday challenges?  What is a typical day like?  What solution(s) would help with these everyday challenges or even give them a leg up on their competition?  In doing this, we make sure we speak their language, make it all about them (see below) and how we are going to transform them/their company/their industry in a new direction.
3.     Make It About Them (Not You or Your Business!)  Probably the one thing that frustrates me the most in looking at the majority of websites today is that they are not written and designed to create conversion (getting someone to buy or at least pick up the phone).  Isn’t this the objective of almost every website – to generate interest in the form of leads for salespeople?  If we know that Telling Is Not Selling then how are we going to communicate in a way that makes it about all about THEM?  What are we going to say that resonates with them?
So in review...  remember to find your tribe, speak their language and make it about them.  If you can do this, you are halfway home.
4.     Discover and Communicate Your Why (Be Their Leader)  People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.  Or, in context with our tribal conversation… tribe members won’t follow you because of what you do but because of WHY you do it.   Watch this TED talk by Simon Sinek <—-this is a hot-link so click it.  If this doesn’t resonate with you then someone please check me in to psych ward!
5.     Get Them Out Of Their Head And In Their Heart  If it is your goal to generate leads and/or relationships from your website (or any promotion for that matter; and why wouldn’t it be?), then make sure all your energies are focused on your tribe’s feelings.  Again, in context… speak to your tribe as if they are you and your are them.  How would your tribe feel if you can bring them more money, save their time, increase their sales, find them more followers, make some of their problem go away, etc.  Speak to them in a way that moves them – emotionally!
6.     Keep Your Why Short  Before you lose them emotionally, end it.  Get them while they are out of their head and in their heart.
7.     Have A Compelling Call To Action  So many professional service providers (engineers, accountants, lawyers, technology folks) say nothing at all.  They communicate what they do, perhaps even their unique value proposition (what makes them different) and then think the rest (their reputation, resume, or portfolio) is enough.  And for a select 1 to 5 percent that may be true however, for the remaining majority, that is clearly not enough.
My mother always told me, “Andrew, if you don’t ask then then you don’t get.”  Well mom, you were right (about so many things by the way).  So, please don’t be too prideful (whomever you are) and ASK!  And trust me, if you do a great job on steps 1 through 6, they will come… willingly and gladly.  For more on how to compose a great call to action click HERE.
If you Mr. Business Owner can somehow accomplish this, NOW... the question that remains is, what do we do to leverage this from a sales perspective.  Now that we've re-empowered the sales person, how do we scale this?

Andrew Kolikoff

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