Buying decisions are always the result of a change in the customer’s emotional state. While information may help change that emotional state, it’s the emotion that’s important, not the information. In fact, all buying decisions stem from the interplay of the following six emotions:
- Greed. “If I make a decision now, I will be rewarded.”
- Fear. “If I don’t make a decision now, I’m toast.”
- Altruism. “If I make a decision now, I will help others.”
- Envy. “If I don’t make a decision now, my competition will win.”
- Pride. “If I make a decision now, I will look smart.”
- Shame. “If I don’t make a decision now, I will look stupid.”
Every successful sales approach either creates or augments one or more of these emotional states. When enough of these emotions are present inside the buyer’s emotional state, a buying decision becomes inevitable.
Understand Your Customer’s Beliefs
However, these changes in emotional state can only be accomplished when the sales approach takes into account the customer’s belief system. It is this belief system that determines how each emotion play out.
For example, if a potential buyer sees IBM as her main competition, the “fear” and “envy” emotions will be vivid if the sales approach emphasizes competing with IBM. (In the high-tech world, this is called “waving the blue flag of death.”)
By contrast, if the potential buyer is an executive at IBM, she might be more afraid (and also a tiny bit envious) of competition from an unidentified upstart firm with the potential to disrupt a cash cow product.
Similarly, a sales message that “this is a green product that saves the environment” might score high on the “altruism” scale of some crunchy-granola executive in Seattle, but fall dead flat when presented to a decision maker who is politically conservative.
In other words, if you’re going to create the emotions that drive decision-making, you need to know not just the audience’s current emotional state, but also the beliefs that they’re using to evaluate the emotional weight of anything that you might present to them.
And that means research. The more thoroughly you research your audience, the more likely you’ll be to understand their current state and the better you’ll marshal emotions to change that state.
What You Need to Learn
It is only in this context that information finally comes into play. The emotional change you’re seeking in your customer will probably result from the expression of new information and the reframing of old information.
Remember, though, that it is not the information itself that is important, but the emotional effect that the information has on your audience. This is an essential distinction.
For example, suppose you’re trying to sell an inventory control system to a high-tech firm. Your research indicates that 1) the company has been dinged by investors for having high inventories, and 2) its main competitor has just implemented a “just in time” inventory system.
That’s just information. What’s really important is the emotional effect that those two facts will have when juxtaposed with one another–based upon the prospect’s likely belief system.
Similarly, let’s suppose your research also reveals that the prospect’s CIO was just replaced and the new CIO was promoted from the ranks. What’s important in this case is that the new CIO may lack confidence and is probably be risk-averse.
This handy bit of information helps you focus your sales approach to play upon the new CIO’s likely belief system (i.e., “If I screw up; I’ll look stupid and may lose my job”).
How many of you have ever realized that ‘Brands’ have started moving to having slang names. Here’s Marketing’s Top 20 slang brands.
- American Express / Amex
- BMW / Beemer
- Bollinger / Bolly
- Buckfast tonic (wine) / Buckie
- Cadillac / Caddy
- Champagne / Champers
- Chevrolet / Chevy
- Facebook / Stalkbook
- Guardian / Grauniad
- Heineken / Heinie
- Jack Daniels / JD
- Kronenbourg / a pint of numbers ….
- Marks & Spencer / Marks & Sparks
- McDonald’s / MaccyD’s
- NatWest / NatWorst
- Microsoft / Billysoft
- Primark / Primarni
- Rolex / Rolly
- EasyJet / Squeezy-Jet
- Woolworths / Woolies
Do you agree that slang brands help in increasing retention?
When your dream client doesn’t perceive value, they are unwilling to move away from a price-based, transactional buying model. When they only perceive a certain type of value, they aren’t easily persuaded to buy a different type of value, even a level of value that is greater.
You can waste a lot of time and energy chasing prospects for whom you can’t align the value you create. Here is how you avoid the mistakes of misaligned value.
1. Disqualify prospects that don’t perceive value in your value proposition
You know the prospective clients I’m writing about here. They spend a lot of money in your category, but the only thing they care about is the lowest price. It doesn’t matter what kind of value you create; they simply aren’t buying. This is where misalignment begins.
When a prospective client does not-or will not-perceive what you do as valuable, you must disqualify them. It is best to eliminate these non-opportunities as early as possible.
One of the driving factors behind how your prospective clients perceive value is their business model. Anyone who is ever sold to Walmart understands how business models drive buying decisions.
If your prospective client’s business model is based on offering their clients the lowest price, they’re going to expect their partners to create value by helping reduce their costs. That is how you create value as a part of their value chain. This model requires that your prospect be laser focused on price so that they may capture part of your margin and pass it off as price reductions to their clients.
Disqualifying prospective clients whose beliefs or business model prevents them from perceiving value in what you sell eliminates wasted time and allows you to focus on clients who do perceive value in what you do.
2. Confirm that the value you create is worth paying for throughout the sales process
Your prospect has made it through the qualifying stage, but your work isn’t yet over. You have to continue to confirm that your prospect perceives value throughout the sales process.
You don’t get to decide what your prospects perceive as valuable. The best you can hope for is influence. As you work to help your client understand the value you create and how they will benefit, you have to confirm that they perceive that value.
As you work through your sales process and your prospect’s buying process, you need to confirm that what you are collaborating on and building together creates the exact value they need. If you can’t confirm that, you expose yourself to the risk of losing the opportunity to another salesperson that is better aligning their own value.
It’s also worth noting that different stakeholders within your client’s organization may each have their own very different perception of value. You need to work to align your value with individual stakeholder needs, too.
3. Push back and reiterate the value you create instead of reducing your price
I have a fundamental belief. If you create value, you are entitled to keep some of it. The more value you create, the more you are entitled to keep.
You can do your best to prevent misalignment by disqualifying non-opportunities and confirming the value you are creating throughout the process. But you can still run into misalignment problems at the end of the process.
Misalignment occurs at the end of the sales cycle when the perception of value isn’t great enough to overcome price. This is where most salespeople and organizations get into trouble. Instead of sharpening their value creation, they sharpen their pencil and write down a lower price. Worse still, some decide to reduce price and still create the value that should command a higher price.
The right thing to do is the difficult thing to do. When you have a misalignment at the end of the process, you need to go back and reiterate the value you create and push back against discounts. You need profit to execute and deliver what you have sold. In order to capture that profit you need to increase the perception of value; reducing your price does nothing to improve the perception of value.
Avoid misalignment by disqualifying prospects for whom you can’t create real value, by confirming that what you are building creates the exact value your prospect needs in order to say yes, and sharpen your value creation before you sharpen your pencil.
Leads are the lifeblood of any business. Converting leads to loyal customers is what it takes to stay in business and thrive. By managing your leads in a systematic and structured way, you can increase both the number of leads you generate and how many of those leads you convert. Many companies use a three-step process for processing leads: Marketing nurtures leads, inside sales qualifies the leads and converts them to opportunities, and sales works the opportunity. Others use just two steps: Marketing converts the leads to sales opportunities when they meet agreed-upon criteria, such as a high lead score. Sales then works the opportunity.
These seven best practices can help you increase your pipeline, make sure you focus on the right leads, and track what works and what doesn’t:
1. Define the Perfect Lead
Know their problems and interests, what content will attract them, where they spend their time online/offline, which channels they prefer for communication, and what their role is in the buying process. Determine which behavioral traits indicate that they’re ready to be passed to the sales team. Familiarize all sales and marketing teams with this persona and your lead generation strategy.
2. Lure Them With Targeted Content
Companies that blog generate 67% more leads than companies that don’t blog. It’s an opportunity to influence the buyer’s decision by showcasing your company’s leadership and expertise, as well a method to learn more about your customers’ needs. Segment your audience and deliver targeted content with clear calls to action. Integrate lead generation with your social media strategy to increase brand visibility, reach broader audiences, and educate prospects.
3. Align Your Marketing and Sales Teams
They should be your company’s quarterback and receiver. They should know the plays before the game even begins. Establish a mutually agreed upon marketing-sales lead response time to work leads efficiently. Allow both teams access to a centralized database of customer contacts and marketing and sales activities. The more visibility and insight each teammate can provide about the customer, the better your chances are of garnering interest and closing.
4. Plan the Nurture Journey
The nurture journey is critical to a) building relationships with prospects, and b) retaining lesser qualified leads for future interest. This is arguably the most frequently broken or neglected part of lead management. Only pass leads to the sales teams once that lead reaches a lead-score threshold. If that threshold hasn’t been reached and they haven’t qualified as the “perfect lead,” keep your lead in the nurture process. What are your top of the funnel, mid-funnel, and bottom of the funnel offers?
5. Invest in Marketing Automation
If you believe your business will grow, you’ll eventually need marketing automation software anyway. So unless you intend to not scale your business, save yourself the trouble of fixing a broken process, and just start off with the right tools. This will help you make smarter decisions about where to invest and show the impact of your marketing activities. For more information, read the Lead Nurturing Basics: How You Can Transform Your Marketing infographic by Pardot.
6. Keep Your Data Clean
Inaccurate data is costly, and can lead to prospect attrition, reputation damage, and lower conversion rates. With quality data, you’ll be able to determine the effectiveness and weaknesses of your sales and marketing activities.
7. Establish a Feedback Loop
You’re not actually done after the deal closes or when you lose a lead. Valuable insights have been gathered by various teams at this point. Why was the customer initially hesitant to purchase and how did sales overcome this? Which product features were a deal breaker? How many interactions were required before the purchase? Establish a system where feedback can be provided to everyone involved in the lead management to improve your processes going forward.