November 2014

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Control Solutions, Inc. - Minnesota

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Online Engagement Builds New Customers in BAS

The new customer is tech savvy, informed, and less reliant on traditional sales techniques-they want to be engaged online.

Manny Mandrusiak

Manny Mandrusiak
Managing Creative Consultant,
4 Bravo Marketing

Contributing Editor

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It was not that many years ago when a person could walk into a room with sales people and hear reps clicking away claiming leads and fighting over who gets to answer the sales line.  Those were great times, but as the song says “those times are a changing”.

Traditional sales and marketing approachesTraditional sales and marketing approaches are no longer effective, and often older sales reps are stumped as to why their funnel just “dried up”.  You’ll hear comments about how no one knows why the phone stopped ringing.  The reason is actually pretty simple…the customer has changed, and changed across all the verticals.

I was recently at a conference where one of the presenters talked about how customers in every vertical have changed their buying habits and behaviours. They have become “Customer 2.0.

There are many definitions as to who Customer 2.0 actually is, and a really simple one is that Customer 2.0 are those who were born with a computer keyboard in their hands.  Technology savvy individuals who have lives that move at the speed of light. 

When one considers how much more mobile the current workforce is, it makes perfect sense.  Life has gotten busier; everyone is expected to do more with less. Potential customers are also extremely well connected through mobile devices, and this means that that have the ability to access information with ease wherever they are.

They are individuals who like using online social tools that engage them as customers.  They also like to feel connected online to companies, and sales people, who engage them online and have online profiles.

An individual who is looking to create a secure Cisco Borderless network in a building is not going to reach out to a Cisco rep as a first action.  The first thing that is going to happen is that they are going to conduct a Google search on Cisco Borderless Systems and start looking at the Cisco AP 500 Series of products. Then Customer 2.0 is going to conduct some research on the various networks and products. At that point if a sales person is lucky they will call, (Customer 2.0 likes to purchase online so they may simply order hardware or download software).   They may not always be completely correct for their needs, but they will have a good idea of what features they should be looking for in a solution.

In the past the first step would have been for a customer to reach out and find a Cisco rep or reseller and then go through the rest of the traditional sales cycle. The presenter re-enforced a fantastic point. Customer 2.0 is a busy person, why would they sit through a complete product demo when they can perform a search on the internet and see specs, demo videos, and most importantly reviews from other customers.  They will have done their homework, and to me that means that role of a traditional sales person has to change. It has to transform from sales person to facilitator/customer experience specialist.

Now I made that title up, but what does it actually mean.  In my opinion it means that as a sales person I not only have to be extremely knowledgeable about the products and services that I am selling, but I approach each customer not from the perspective of closing a sale, but from one of facilitating a positive purchase experience.   I have to appreciate that the customer has done their homework and work with them to provide them with a satisfactory solution. 

If you have ever been in an Apple store they do a fantastic job of embracing this sales philosophy because they know that they are dealing with an informed customer who is there by choice.  They totally respect that and build a customer base on providing superior service and an exceptional customer experience.  This results in a huge customer base which is extremely loyal to Apple’s products.  This is a huge character trait of Customer 2.0 because when you get down to it Customer 2.0 is made up of Millennials and members of Generation Y.  Almost every sales/marketing book or website that you read looking for information on the buying habits of Millennials and Gen Y will tell you that they are fiercely loyal to their favorite brands, and love to talk about that loyalty online through online social tools using: Facebook likes, and hashtags on Twitter.  Now keep in mind that these are the places where other Customer 2.0’s go to research information on new products, and services, that they are looking to purchase when they are starting their buying cycle.  It is a hugely successful cycle that can often make, or break, product lines; however, if you properly engage Customer 2.0 online it will pay dividends.

contemporary What does it mean to those of us who are in the sales field?  It means that we have to be very conscious of our own digital footprints both professionally, and personally.  I can’t overstate how important it is for anyone in a sales role to care about their digital footprint.  It is a big part of engaging customers using social tools and continuing to provide a positive customer experience.

I personally have customers who reach out to me using whatever medium is most comfortable for them.  Some text, some send Facebook messages, and some reach me using LinkedIn.  It is all a matter of preference for the Customer 2.0 on-the-go.  I feel that if I can capture two minutes of their time; whenever it works best for them, then I have added them to my network and my funnel.

This is an article inspired by a conference that I attended during Small Business Week that was geared toward increasing sales pipelines in a world that no longer needs sales people. I personally believe that sales people are absolutely necessary in a satisfying customer experience with a company. The main points that I wanted to share was that sales people in every vertical need to understand that their customer’s behaviours have changed, and their preferred method of engagement is no longer waiting for a sales person to call them.  They are more them capable of finding the sales people that they want, and the sales people that they find are those who engage them online.


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