If you have almost anything as “yours,” then you’d be familiar with the concept of buying and on the other handselling. Whether it’s your old car, old furniture, company product or even your idea, on some point, we all want to sell successfully. And here is a million dollars question: How to sell successfully? Well, here is what I found out, read on.
How to sell? A fun fact: people ain’t no fools!
There is a tremendous amount of articles, books, and instructions about how to “win” the sales. From one-person companies to online retailers to multi-national organizations, most of them have guidelines for their sales team (or sales-persons) on how to persuade their customers to buy what they are selling. Unfortunately, most of the instruction techniques consist of giving lousy information, including hidden fees, or play the waiting game. I also got familiar with a more advanced set of techniques to manipulate the customer’s mind when I was mentoring in a startup weekend of neuroscientists in Tehran. There are several ways of managing the human mind to buy products under the subject of Neuromarketing. But here is the problem with these kinds of techniques: people are no fools, they have the power of information on their fingertips and they use it to catch the manipulating sales-person!
81% of shoppers conduct online research before buying, explains Kimberlee Morrison on Social Times. They search the internet, study about similar products, compare and most importantly share their experience. At ClickZ Live San Francisco, Google Analytics Advocate Adam Singer said, the average person consults 10.4 sources before finally making a purchase. This generally spans channels, is sparked by in-store visits and revisited with email messages, and continued across search and business websites. The same behavioral patterns apply to business consumers, where the purchases are more serious. According to the 2014 State of B2B Procurement study from the Acquity Group, 94 percent of business buyers do some form of online research. The same behavioral patterns apply to individual consumers.
How to sell? Look through the eyes of your audience.
Selling and buying are not new things, from ages ago when people wanted or needed something, they either just took it if it is not somebody else’s or they try to barter services with the owner. What is common in every transaction, barter or purchasing, is that there is always a problem scenario on the customer side. The problem scenario refers to what the customer feels like a problem and tries to ease or solve it with the barter or transaction. So instead of being a seller talking about ourselves, our company, our products, it is for the best if businesses can look through the eyes of the person who has a problem and try to understand them. That’s why demographic market segmentation consisting of age, average weight income, etc., is not enough alone. Because when we see our people in person, and we want to build trust, we don’t ask them for such demographics, we ask about how they think, how they see the world, how they feel and what they do. And that called “persona segmentation.” It seems businesses need to know their customers in persona level so that if we are the CEO of our company and we walk down the street, we can recognize our customers from a mile away.
Use AIDA (OR) as a platform for your sales process.
Usually, there is a standard process that customers go through. As mentioned above, selling and buying are not new things. From centuries ago, traders found that they need to complete four specific steps on how to sell successfully. Nowadays, there are an additional two steps — the whole process called AIDA (OR).
- A for “Attention” or awareness– First, you need to get the attention of your customer. They should be aware of you and your product’s existence. And when they do, they give a little bit of their time to you to see your offering.
- I for “Interest”- Here is your chance to give something interesting to your customer. Whether it’s a presentation, poster, etc. it needs to be interesting to keep the focus of the customer on what you are offering.
- D for “Desire”- This is a tricky step because no matter how you get your customer’s attention, and you raise their interest, if what you offer is not a match for what they have in mind as their “problem scenario,” it’s no use. Your product or service needs to solve your customer’s problems and to be a match for what they need. That’s why it is essential to know your customers.
- A for “Action” – Here you ask your customer to do something in return for the first three steps. Whether it’s pushing the download button or a kind of payment, the action step needs to be simple and easy to do for your customer. Now, until this step, IF you take your costumer’s attention, raise their interest level, match with their desire, there is a good chance they do the action you want, and this is probably where you sell your service or product. But this is not the last step. You want your customers not just to be your buyers but to be your ambassadors. That’s where you should think of the O and the R.
- O for “On-Boarding”- This is where you take responsibility not just for the product or service you sold, but the experience they have with your product. That’s why you should create a version of “how-to” and show your customers how exactly they can bring the most out of your product. This can be a manual like most of the electrical products have, or it can be a collection of simple tips on a mobile app.
- R for “Retention”- This is where you make sure your customer is not just happy for a minute, and you try to keep your customer satisfied as long as she/he uses your product. So you send retention emails to the customer, ask for ratings, reviews, and the most important thing: ask them to share their experience with others. It seems organizations that sell this way, build trust, and grow organically.
The Three Paradigm Shifts
- From Sales Campaigns to Movements> Originally the word “campaign” is a military word and whether it’s in politics or advertisement, the mindset behind a campaign is still a step by step how-to, to reach a specific goal which is most likely in the interest of the campaign owners. What is different from the “movement” is that a movement starts with a leader and probably never ends until it satisfies the shared interests of the whole group.
- From Sales, People to Thought Leaders> The other paradigm shift I want to draw your attention to is that the time for “selling” something is over. If businesses wish to long term sustainable sales, it is essential for the people responsible for their purchases, to lead the way for their followers and think of them as “people,” not numbers or targets. And I think I have to emphasize here; people can sense that if we are thinking of solving their problem or picking their money out of their pockets.
- From Costumers to Loyal Followers> As Simon Sinekmentions constantly, there is a vast difference between “repeated business” and “loyalty.” By thinking about our costumers as followers, we end-up making true loyal costumers. The difference is that true loyal customers, do not turn because they see a shortage in price, quality, etc. they’ll love you and your product like it’s their own and like it’s a part of their identity.
I think the bottom line here is; if businesses want to sell their product or services sustainably and benefit from a long-term relationship with their costumers, they need to think of solving problems of their customers more instead of talking about themselves.