Emotions win over Reason in Sales

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Decades of neuroscientific research suggest that salespeople who use reasoned argument on a sales pitch will close fewer deals than a seller who appeals to the emotions.

We (humans) are rational beings and trying to appeal to our customer’s intellect, showing them the reasons why our product is a sensible choice and meets their stated needs seems to be a great idea. The whole school of Solution Selling is based on this premise. Hundreds of years economists based their theories on the postulate pf rational behavior.

However, our daily observations and personal experience may suggest that we (humans) are not that rational at times. Think about Global themes of 2016: Brexit, Trump… Is that rational? Or, perhaps, emotions took over?

So, what’s in it for me, the seller?

Often (not always), customers make decisions about a purchase with a part of their brain that operates on emotions, not reason. Reasoned argument may not be particularly effective in appealing to such buying instincts, scientists have found.

A deal is always a change and people are naturally resistant to it. So, what salespeople need to do, is to activate client’s emotional response.

…for example, fear of losing money or missing out. It is that ‘burning platform’ that will galvanise them to risk making a change.

Cold reason has its place and should not be disregarded. The point of the research is that, when used alone, logical argument is far less effective in moving the needle. It is a viable helper, but almost never the trigger.

Remember that , when you prepare for your next pitch.

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Millennials drive Change in Retail

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2017 is the year Millennials overtake GenX; and it is a headache for retailers.

According to McKinsey Retail Report, it is going to be the year when Millennials will have more buying power than any generation ever. Almost 70% of them say they are influenced by friends’ social-media posts; 83% say they trust recommendations by friends and family.

Millennials increasingly discover products online before going out to shop.

68% research offers on-line before going shopping. Moreover, this generation spends more time on personal hand-held and wearable devices then any preceding one. “Who needs a computer if you’ve got phablet, iPad or Android smartphone?” You can read more on this here.

The need, then, is to create a seamless experience between on-screen and on-site shopping.

Fortunately, technology today offers several viable solutions:
  • Using smartphone for e-checkins, e-communication and e-engagement with shoppers and consumers, to blend the offline and online shopping experience. There are successful startups that offer such experience already.
  • Creating “virtu-real” formats to provide consumers with a more interactive retail experience, for example, through the use of virtual fitting rooms and augmented-reality zones. Burberry flagship store in London does exactly that.
Millennial consumers want to shop for experiences as well as products. They expect personalised interaction and offers. And through an App on the smartphone.
These changing shopping habits pose a real threat for traditional retailers and brands. However, as always, there are innovative ways to capitalise on these demographic trends. Startups like RLClub help business do it today… I suspect — this will become a new trend in marketing.

 

Another story on CX

Amazon is a true disruptor and a real nightmare for competitors…

Probably because Bezos consciously ignores competition, keepping organisation laser focussed on Customers instead. This alows Amazon to be a rule breaker and concentrate all efforts on what drives value — CX

Here is another example: have a read. 

Customer Relationship Management and the Internet — from Rosie Zhu

I found this short article on CRM – it’s a good summary on the recent evolution of this business tool… have a read.

Technology advances, especially the internet, have not only brought an evolution in the way customer relationship management (CRM) is conducted, but it has also heightened the need for CRM. Through the internet, companies are able to customize their customer’s shopping experience, predict their buying behaviours, attract customers and build lasting relationships (Chen & Popovich, 2003). […]

via Customer Relationship Management and the Internet — Rosie Zhu

On The Grammar Schools Debate

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On Monday, Teresa May will present the plan for new Grammar Schools in the UK. This has been one of the hottest topics in the political debate in the country during the past few days. And the debate is largely about social mobility, “winners” vs. “losers”…

The main argument of anti-grammar camp can be paraphrased as: “Selective schools, by definition, select the best and leave out disadvantaged children; thus,  hinder social mobility and boost inequality.” I disagree.

Free grammar schools would actually give the opportunity of a top quality education to talented and hard working children from disadvantaged families. Today many of them have no chance! Talent and achievement comes out of effort and determination – whether of parents or of a child. This is true in sports, in business and in education. Resolute rich can always send their children to an independent school. A family, leaving on an average wage can’t… A child from that family is often destined to attend a comprehensive school today, mixing with not so hard working and (even more important) less motivated pupils, who invariably drag the overall standard down. This is simply not fair on such a child.

The current system of mediocre comprehensive schools and astronomically expensive independent schools breeds inequality.
Free grammar schools is essentially a crusade on inequality.

Competition and selection is simply part of life and we should prepare our children to compete rather than encourage shying away form competition. Good universities have fewer seats than applicants, good jobs tend to have many applicants too. Look at the Nature. There are only so many trees that can grow on an acre. Only one spermatozoon fertilizes an egg. Humans enjoy modern high-yield and delicious crops thanks to selection. In human society we tend to like having choice and an opportunity to select, for example, when we shop… The point is – selection is not bad. In fact, it tends to produce superior results. It is an engine of evolution and progress. Selection is part of life and for a reason – it is actually good.

Selective process does not have to be brutal once-in-a-lifetime chance.  Grammar schools should not be closed to children, which failed at 11. There should be another window of opportunity at 14. Tenacious, resolute, hard working children, who fail at 11 would be able to embrace the feedback and keep working in earnest to improve their weak areas, building on strengths. A second chance would be a great motivator. This alone would boost the education level in comprehensive senior schools. It works in other nations.

So, free selective education indeed is a social mobility vehicle – it gives a chance to children from disadvantaged families. It fosters competition, which pushes overall results and standard up. It prepares children for the real world.

Finally, selective education can (and probably should) be modernized to be more inclusive… and for that to happen we need more grammar schools. Having fewer contenders per seat would make getting into a grammar school less stressful and more feasible. The supply should get ahead of demand so that more pupils can get in.

More Grammar Schools please!

Customer Experience

In May, I visited Salesforce.com World Tour in London — an amazing event. Every Keynote presentation was about CX (Customer Experience)… In a nutshell — end to end control and conjoined execution, aimed at providing best customer experience is the way to win today. We’ve entered the age of the customer — an era when focusing on customers is more important than any other strategic imperative.

It’s not about Internet and Tech companies only, that’s why it is not about UX. It’s about CX. Businesses seem to be rediscovering a simple truth — Customer is the single reason for any business’ existence. Companies from various sectors such as retail, car manufacturing, home appliances, and even heavy industry wake up, increasingly wining or losing on the battleground of customer experience. Arguably, only companies that recognize that they are in ‘CX business’ are successful.

WHY?

  • Commoditization has stripped away existing sources of differentiation. Competitive barriers of the past — such as manufacturing strength, distribution power, and information mastery — can’t save you today. Traditional industry boundaries have dissolved. Automakers now find themselves competing not only with other automakers but also with services like Zipcar, which obviates the need for car ownership.
  • Customers have more power than ever. With online reviews, social media, and mobile access, it’s easy for your customers to know more about your products, services, competitors, and pricing than you do. Your business is transparent for the customers, whether you want it or not. As strategy guru Michael Porter said: “Where the buyer has full information about demand, actual market prices, and even supplier costs, this usually yields the buyer greater bargaining leverage.”

Convinced? SO, WHAT NOW? 

You can find plenty about business processes transformation, aligning them with the customer journey, and how data will boost your customer intimacy… But the truth is you have to start with PEOPLE.

The organization and its people have to change their practices and behavior, their attitudes and beliefs. Data driven marketing and decisions, process alignments and new customer communication channels are the tools, which help. However, they will render barren and useless, if mindset and behavior don’t change. All CX leaders understand that they can provide a great experience only through frontline employees. Such CX begins with workers who know about it, care about it, and are well positioned to deliver it.

That’s why it is so difficult and takes time —  behavior and mindset change takes a lot of investment on the leadership side and ROI is not ‘obvious’. It’s a decision of “true/false” type, not of positive or negative NPV. Everyone in the organization has to believe in a CX programme and to engage with it actively. Employees must know that leadership clearly understands the situation, has an organized way to move forward, and is serious about change.

We have entered the age of the customer. Relatively quickly, we’ll see businesses, which managed to adapt, rise and those who can’t — fall. Exciting times!

Overcoming indifference and objections in selling.

I’ve stumbled upon this interesting article on a specific objection to a sales pitch. It suggests 11 ways to overcome “I already work with your competitor” (or I dare to suggest “We already have a solution and everything is fine” alternative).

I found that derivatives of options 5, 6 and 10 working for me many times. We can paraphrase them as “I respect your choice, may I know why you’ve made it and how is it going so far?”. They are straightforward, logical, understandable and simple, yet allow for a start of a meaningful conversation. Many people tend to like talking about themselves and their work. Many also want to demonstrate they have made good decisions and choices. So, such questions tend to ‘open up’ people and help them talk. They also may help you fetch useful information about competition.

7 and 8 may be powerful, but need a good and current  knowledge of the issues the business and person are going through. If you can find it – great! It would make you very professional, position you as an expert and strengthen your case enormously, since you are no longer ‘selling’, but actually solving their real problem. There is one issue with this approach though – you can’t use it every time, because you may not be in the position to get such inside knowledge. Hey, the good news is that you have 11 options and not these 2 only 🙂

In my opinion – 4 and 9 are ‘dead-end’ and I would never start with that closed punch. Maybe use them only after I am well into a good conversation… or better in a follow-up meeting. Number 3 is better, although is still quite narrow and not very ‘conversational’.

And finally, I am not so sure about 1 and 2 – they seem to be nice ‘hooks’ and attention grabbers in theory, but I do not see the other person ‘opening up’ after such introductions.

What do you think?

What works for you?

 

The future of jobs and of our children

 

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Have a look at this post on LinkedIn.  It’s quite long with lots of links to supporting materials and references… So, find a quiet moment, when you would have at least 15 min to devote to it…

Here is the essence of the passage, as I understand it:

“We are being afflicted with a new disease of which some readers may not yet have heard the name, but of which they will hear a great deal in the years to comenamely, technological unemployment. This means unemployment due to our discovery of means of economising the use of labour outrunning the pace at which we can find new uses for labour. But this is only a temporary phase of maladjustment.”

 “New disease” is quite old actually – this is the quote from almost 100 years ago…

  • Nothing has changed and history repeats itself (as always).
  • Technological and economic advances are inherently good.
  • At the same time, these advances often create short-term issue of unemployment.
  • This issue is only “temporary phase of maladjustment”, however.
  • We need to be clever to play our game correctly as a society (less likely) and as individuals (that’s where our children may need our help in making the right choices).
  • The ultimate dream is – work less, have more, enjoy life.

 

I am quite optimistic!   What do you think?

New reality… #marketshift

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The news consumption game has passed a new milestone – social media outstripped TV according to the report, published @BBC.  The article is actually about the implications for propaganda and political campaigns.

However, this shift clearly has implications for marketeers and sales teams too.

Of the 18-to-24-year-olds surveyed, 28% cited social media as their main news source, compared with 24% for TV.

My teenage children do not consume TV at all… 0% (have a look here). So, whoever is trying to send a message to them via the most creative and ubiquitous (but traditional) TV add will heat no one. Not a single viewing. Millennials are like that — they feed on their personal gizmos. And they expect personalized and relevant content — delivered to them, intended for them – for the individual, not a data point in a target segment…

Social networks and respective mobile Apps on iOS and Android devises offer precisely that. No surprise they outstrip TV. It is a result and reflection of the demographic shift and it will only become bigger every year. 92% of teens report going online daily — including 24% who say they go online “almost constantly,” according to a new study from Pew Research Center.

These people are future customers. Are you working hard to change the comms strategy and processes in your business and to capitalize on this trend? You better be.

 

Race to zero

Being the lowest cost provider can never be a long-term strategy. By definition it is a race to the bottom. Agree?

Let me clarify… If ‘lowest cost provider’ is your only strategy, your business is doomed. Why? Cause you can cut costs only so much.

Of course it is only right to cut off the fat. And every business should be doing it routinely (but it does not have to be part of its strategic equation). If you focus most of your efforts and wit on costs, however, and go beyond the fat, starting slicing the muscles off, you will have the skeleton in the long run. Then your business is simply dead.

Low price (and presumably low cost) is a good strategy to rapidly penetrate markets. This, however, has to be coupled with an innovation machine, constantly and continuously spitting out new products and services to its customers. The trick is to avoid commoditization. A good example of a company successfully pursuing such strategy is Amazon. If you can’t – read the paragraph above.

There are actually very few businesses, which declare ‘lowest cost provider’ as their strategy nowadays. The last one I remember was Compaq… Where is it now? Although, it is rare for a business leader to proclaim ‘lowest cost provider’ as a strategy, if you look at daily practices, there are plenty of businesses, which practice it even without preaching it.

They will probably never admit it, but those businesses are usually obsessed about their bottom line rather than customers. Typical excuse – we do it, since under competitive pressure we couldn’t find a better way… yet, we have to deliver results. The leadership of such organisations has forgotten the reason they exist! (have a look here).

They routinely cut costs because that’s the ‘easiest’ and fastest way to achieve profit objective…  short term though. More dramatically – they believe their objective is to churn out certain profit. Sadly, customer is not even in the picture.

Stay away from those businesses.