Yep, it’s the truth. I hate sales. The thought of being a “salesperson” has always rattled my cage. I recall a conversation when I was social service director at our local hospital about sales and I haughtily mentioned how fortunate I felt not being in “sales”. Imagine the shock when my companions informed me that I certainly was in sales. They rightly pointed out that I had come to my role in the hospital under considerable suspicion. I did not have a medical background; held an advanced degree in counseling which was not nearly as scary as my B.A. in Psychology; and no one was sure what my role was supposed to do.
In other words, according to my friends, I had to “sell myself”. First to the nurses with whom I would work closely, then the doctors who were my source of referrals and then to patients and their families. While I agreed wholeheartedly with their assessment; I refused to call it “sales”. I was in a “helping profession” – not selling cars, vacuum cleaners or some other device.Obviously I had a very narrow view of sales.
While it’s true I hate sales – I love marketing. I thrive on the creative process required to come up with clever ‘stuff’ that others can use to advance themselves in their business or profession. Yet sales and marketing are simply two sides of a coin designed to bring us clients and customers so that our businesses will grow. And thrive!
Over the years, sales and the process thereof has changed. Or should I say the process has changed because consumers have changed. The advent of the internet and the arrival of social media account for much of the change because the general consuming public is more sophisticated, informed and educated that ever before. We tend to do considerable research before making a purchasing decision – we can do so because research is as easy as the touch of the keyboard.
And if sales has changed, so has marketing. Marketing is what gets our widgets before an audience who’s been identified as interested in widgets. Whether the audience purchases or not is up to us.
Sales is now a fairly well-honed science. We talk of the “sales funnel”; qualified leads; 30, 60 and 90 minute “elevator speeches”, etc. And there’s the courses the gurus teach on how to sell of Facebook; get recognized on LinkedIn and how to use Google+ for marketing purposes.
I don’t know about you; but it all makes my head swim!
Let me tell you what prompted this post. I ran across a very interesting short article by April Yvette, Award-Winning Marketing & Sales Expert, Influencer, Strategist Speaker, Trainer, Seen on: Shark Tank TV show, NBC, FOX, etc. (according to her LinkedIn Bio). Entitled “Storytelling Is More Effective Marketing”, Yvette starts with the quote from the inimitable Seth Godin and then says the following:
“Back when I first started my sales and marketing career, we were taught to “sell the benefits” of a product or service instead of “feature dumping” (maybe you can relate.) That makes sense. But there is a much more effective way to market.
People have changed how they make buying decisions. Therefore, leading with “benefits” alone is not the best approach to attract new customers or to build brand loyalty. Instead, leading with:
1. An emotionally compelling, authentic STORY,AND
2. Useful, relevant, entertaining CONTENT is key to attracting new clients. And that is the path to extraordinary sales growth and customer loyalty.
Do you have a compelling brand story?”
We know that successful folks are the one’s who have forged relationships with others in which know, like and trust is mutual. Often times, mutual know, like and trust is established because we have something significant in common. A personal example is the fact that I was widowed at a young age with children still in school. When I meet another woman who has had a similar experience; there’s an unseen emotional bond that occurs immediately. Here’s someone who has shared the life journey I have! We’re connected by our common life experience.
It was that personal life experience which permitted me to earn the trust of families of terminally ill loved ones and those impacted by sudden tragic death. That trust gained the attention and respect of the medical personnel with whom I worked. The experience was the story I told that helped make the connection – that helped “sell” me and then the services I offered.
But before anything else – there was the common life event that created friends from strangers almost instantly! The story that bonded us was my compelling marketing moment which led to the “sale” – it you want to look at it from that angle!
Yes, the advent of the internet began the dramatic sales and marketing change; but social media carved it in wet cement. If you want to achieve the success desired with your particular widget; then discover the stories in your own life you can tell to the target audience you’ve chosen. And tell them over and over again. . . in different ways; in varying venues and to everyone you meet. For you never know who that someone who isn’t interested in your widget, knows who have a similar life experience and is waiting to make the connection with you.
Linda S. Fitzgerald, CEO-Visionary Partner
A Women’s Place Network, Inc. dba
Affiliated Women International (AWI)
Connecting Women in Business WorldWide
Home of Neighborhood Boutiques & COFFEE in the NEIGHBORHOD
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