I was reading an article on Seth Godin’s blog this morning about Price vs. Cost and it got me thinking about how we sell. Most sales people focus on price. I get it, because price is important. Every product or service we sell has a price associated with it. If we step into the WAY back machine I wrote a piece in 2007 about price vs. value where I talked about the price of Starbucks coffee and why people buy it anyways. It was a long time ago though and I have certainly rethought some things over 10 years so lets revisit this topic today.
Thinking About Price
Pricing a product is difficult. Price it too low, you gain sales but you lose out on potential profit per sale. However, if you go the other way and price it to high you gain profit per sale but lose gross sales. There is a sweet spot marketers are trying to hit that maximizes sales and profit. There is a lot of research and math that goes into this, but the first thing we have to realize as sales people is: Not everyone is our customer.
Here is a diagram showing what we are trying to accomplish when we price a product or service:
Category 1 and 2 are not our customer. There are a few on the fringe that we can convert, but for the most part these people do not have the money and can not afford you. Category 4 is the easy sale. This guy loves your product and sees the value. This sale generally closes itself. Where we make our money is the fringe of category 2 and the meat in category 3. So how do we as sales people convert the sale for the guy who is saying we are too expensive? We demonstrate value.
What is Value?
Warren Buffet gives the best definition in my opinion. He states Price is what you pay and value is what you get. It sounds simple, but that is the trick in every sale. We must as salespeople convince our clients that the value we add is greater than the cost they pay. If the customer perceives value its an easy deal, if they are not convinced your product has value you have a tough row to hoe.
How Do We Demonstrate Value?
Demonstrating value is how we solve the price vs. cost equation. How do we do that? By building quality trust based relationships, asking good questions, and showing how our product solves their problems and adds value. The more value we build the easier things are at closing time.
We start early in the relationship by listening carefully to the client. Notice I said relationship. Even if you sell your product in 20 minutes or less you are still building some relationship. The longer your sales cycle the more important this skill is. You need to start out by asking a lot of questions and listening carefully. layer your questions to develop a deeper understanding. Then repeat what you heard in your own words to make sure you have a clear understanding of the issue. Once you are clear you can ask a deeper question or share a powerful feature – interest – benefit check to build value before moving to the next topic. The feature – interest – benefit check is your best tool to build value as you are talking. It allows you to confirm interest and understanding so that when it comes time to ask for the sale they have already told you multiple times how the product will help them solve their problem, save them time, or help cut costs.
Closing Thoughts on Price vs. Value
Price vs. cost is only ever an issue when value is in question. if we do our job as sales people to build solid trust based relationships, ask the right questions and demonstrate the value of our product we will close more sale easier. I know that sounds like a lot, and it is. for some of you it is going to require you to rethink your entire selling system. For others its just going to require some self-reflection and some minor tweaks. Either way it is a change worth making and your customers will appreciate it and refer others to you if you do.
If you are looking for a great book to help you solve the price vs. cost equation and build value I highly recommend Selling Value: Key Principles of Value-Based Selling by Don Hutson. This book goes deep into the issue of building relationships and value and will help you rethink your own processes.
How do you overcome the price vs. cost issue? What techniques do you use to build value and deepen relationships? Leave me a comment… I’ll write back!
That’s right! Most of the people I see on Twitter are doing Twitter wrong. Sadly it didn’t use to be that way… but in the last year or so I’ve noticed more and more people who are just doing it ALL wrong On Twitter. I’m afraid its turning into a giant soapbox and it is getting harder to find people who are engaged in conversation.
Back in the early days of Twitter, I loved the beauty of it. 140 characters were blissfully simple. find a cool article, say a few words add a hashtag and link and share it. Then the tools came out and honestly they were cool. We were able to find similar Tweeps, hashtag, and follow hashtags in tools like Tweetdeck. You could even set your blog to auto tweet. Then we got HootSuite and Buffer and that is where the fall started. Once twitter could become completely automated people started just rebroadcasting RSS feeds in mass and loading up posts into Buffer to tweet every 30 minutes. The theory was that the chance of your stuff being seen was so small that you NEEDED to blast out as much data as possible as fast as possible. If you didn’t there was no hope anyone would see anything. Twitter had become a soapbox and not a place for quality conversation.
The engineers at Twitter got wise to this and set API limits that slowed this down, but it was really too late. Don’t get me wrong, there are still great people holding fabulous conversations on Twitter, but many of your “active” people you follow are not listening at all. The reality is Twitter is better for you if you engage a few people and don’t worry about every follower seeing every tweet. Position yourself so people are seeing you out possibly even visiting your profile to scan it. I use lists to do this with the people I find the most engaging or interesting.
To be fair, I have no harsh feelings for either HootSuite or Buffer. They are great tools and I used HootSuite for a long time and still use Buffer and Revive Old Posts to keep my feed fresh. I surf the web late at night and find good stuff compose tweets, and then set them to send the next day while I am busy working or out with my family. The difference is, I’m still checking in. I’m reviewing my notifications, responding to people who reply to me and thanking people who retweet me. I’m using the tools but I’m not doing Twitter wrong. I’m making every effort to be efficient, share good content, and still be as engaged as possible.
The Key To Social Media Is being Social
The tools are there to make you more efficient not something you just turn over to a computer and set on ignore. It’s called “Social Media” and not digital broadcast for a reason. The point is to be social, make connections, and share ideas (or cat memes) with others. If you are just looking for more ways to blast out more “stuff” so you can get more traffic to your content marketing blog YOU are doing Twitter wrong.
So what spawned this Twitter rant? Has this just been stewing in my mind for years? Am I turning into a crotchety old man that just thinks that things aren’t as good as they use to be? or did I have an epiphany?
Monday afternoon I decided I wanted to do a top 10 list of must follow sales bloggers. To get unbiased research I reached out to 15 respected and established sales bloggers. Not A-list celebrities who pack stadiums, but solid people in the industry whom I have followed for years and watched grow solid businesses. I tweeted all of them with a reply letting them know I was writing a blog post. I ask them to give a shout out to one or two top people in the industry they thought others should follow. I got one reply back from Mary T Morgan within minutes with two names and one other blogger liked my tweet but failed to answer the question. the rest? Crickets…
This irritated me partly because I have worked on things with some of these people and several of the write about social selling! These people look busy with dozens of tweets a day, many of them mentioning peers… but it’s obviously all automated. It’s an illusion of presence. How can you write about social selling and not monitor your own account? How can you grow a business if you are asleep at the wheel of some of your best communication tools?
The short answer is this: You can’t. Many of these people are in a group together. Their streams are full of mentions, but all they are doing is auto-tweeting about each other. Yes, it extends reach, but they are missing the point. You need to engage with your audience not to give the illusion of engagement.
How To Do Twitter Right
Look, I’m not advocating for everyone to stop using the tools that are out there. In fact, I think they are GREAT! I use several social media marketing tools myself. I’ve also been in groups where I committed to rebroadcasting a few posts a day from a peer in return for them doing the same. There is NOTHING wrong with that at all.
What I’m asking people to do is think about their personal brand and how to manage and grow it through building solid connections and relationships. Really think about your social media marketing and consider whether you are helping or harming your brand.
Ive talked a lot in the last few weeks about being generous with your time and knowledge. Social media is the easiest place to do that. Remember the point of social media is to build connections and be social. Yes, as marketers or salespeople we do this to drive business, sell a product, or spread a social cause. However, the key difference between social media and traditional media is our ability to have a conversation. If you look at a few days of your twitter stream and all you see is a long list of your own links you are doing Twitter wrong.
What Can I do Different?
Reach out to people! See an article you like? Say thank you! Notice someone tweets on a topic you love? Ask a question! See someone asking a question? Answer it or offer to help! Use a Twitter Poll. Set up lists of interesting people so you can follow them more closely. Make an effort to engage one or two people a day and over time, you will see your own click-through rates climb. Your blog traffic will improve, and you will get more retweets. Why? Because people remember the people who engage them and are more likely to notice and re-engage if they had a positive experience with you the first time.
Social media marketing is easy, incredibly easy actually. That is why it so irritating to see so many people doing it wrong. If you think social media marketing or marketing, in general, is all about shouting your message as loud and often as possible you are part of the problem. I get that you have an awesome message, and I get that it’s important for people to see it. However, far more important is that they hear it and pay attention. How do you do that? You have to be engaging. We hear that a lot but what does that mean really? Aren’t you being engaging when you blast out your latest blog post every two hours on every media platform? No… You are not. At best you are shouting and in the worst case, you are spamming.
How Do I Become Engaging on Social Media?
There are Several things you have to focus on if you want to be engaging:
I don’t think any of these ideas will come as a surprise to anyone, but it’s worth having the discussion about what it means.
When you ask anyone how to get visitors to my blog, or how do I get people to retweet me the first thing anyone will tell you is to write great content or “Content is king!”. So what is “Great Content”? To me great content is simple. Great content is about writing articles that solve a problem or answers a question in a way that is entertaining, useful, or unique, and shows a strong point of view.
You should not just say “A lot of people think this and others that…” Be willing to put yourself out there. I’m reading your blog because I see some value in what YOU think. Do not be afraid to be strong and share controversial opinions. It’s scary to put yourself out there, but this is how you get people to comment and share your stuff. Nobody comments on or shares a boring post. However, if they disagree with you they are 2x as likely to comment and your supporters will chime in. Some of my favorite posts are ones where most people disagreed with me.
You should never be afraid to give too much away for free. I use to be afraid to share my best stuff, my secret sauce, the things that make people want to pay me for what I know. The truth is, the more you share the more people see how much value you add and what you can do. They will appreciate your generosity and keep coming back. It’s difficult to remember some times, but being generous with your knowledge is the key to developing great content.
Finally, make your posts actionable. When someone is done with your post they should be able to do something new. Create step by step instructions, leave them with an action item to do or think about. Give them a book to read or another blog post to visit. You can do whatever you want, but there should be a next step. I frequently do all of these things.
Write in a Conversational Tone
My favorite bloggers all write in a conversational tone. When I read what they are saying it sounds organized, professional, and intelligent. Of equal importance though, is that it sounds like they are talking directly to me. Chris Brogan is one of my favorites because when I read his writing, I feel like he is in the room with me. I get a sense of who he is and I feel a connection to this man that I have never spoken to. If you want to get a feel for what that looks like check out this post he wrote on Facebook Live. You can see he is giving a lot of great information there, but as a reader, it doesn’t feel like he is just shouting his news to the world. To me, it sounds like a friend who has written me just to let me know what he is excited about. Another example from my own blog is my post “Long Time no See.” In this post, I talk about what I did during the four-year break I took from blogging and my divorce and remarriage. <–That’s a pretty interesting story BTW.
You Need To Make Connections
The marvelous thing about blogging and social media, in general, is that the conversation can go back and forth. Before I follow a new Twitter account one of the things I do is click the Tweets & Replies button to see if they have any conversation at all or is the account just shouting into a void.
There are a lot of people on Twitter complaining about how they get nothing out of it, or that nobody engages with them. I’m going to give you the “secret” to being successful on Twitter. Talk to people! Don’t just rebroadcast your RSS feed and then complain that nobody follows you back or engages with your content. When I read something I really like on Twitter I try to reply to that person publicly thanking them for the information. If I have strong feelings I’ll agree or ask a question and see if I can learn more or spark a conversation.
I also make an effort reply to people who tweet my blog posts and thank them personally. I do this myself not with a service, I’ll ask them what they thought or for feedback. This gives me a chance to learn, but their replies are also public and your conversation can occasionally draw other people in or attract new followers. People like to follow other active engaging people. If I just wanted to see your RSS feed I’d add it to Feedly and follow it there.
Once you start making connections you need to foster and mature that relationship. This sounds very difficult, but the reality is, it is very easy. Here is how I do it. When I find engaging people I add them to a twitter list. This lets me see a much cleaner version of my Twitter feed with just the people I am most interested in talking too. If it’s someone who’s content I am particularly interested in I will add their blog feed to Feedly as well. If I am extremely interested I’ll also sign up for their newsletter.
None of that in and of itself builds relationship. What these two things allow me to do though is keep a close eye on the 20-30 people I am most interested in. It ensures I see more of their Tweets and when I am working on that list I am in retweet and reply mode. When I am in Feedly I am in blog comment mode or looking for ideas to write about and posts to link to. What I want is for these people to see my name and face everywhere they look. I want them to think WOW! I see this Brad guy everywhere. More importantly though they see me sharing their content, commenting with substantial comments and holding conversations about their stuff with not only them but other people as well.
What I want is for these people to see my name and face everywhere they look. I want them to think WOW! I see this Brad guy everywhere. More importantly, though they see me sharing their content, commenting with substantial comments and holding conversations about their stuff with not only them but other people as well.
Why do I do this? There are a number of reasons. first, when people notice this activity they generally appreciate it and will follow back. Second, I am a little hopeful they will return the favor. Maybe they will visit my blog to see who I am? Maybe they will link out to me or share my content? When I notice some interaction back I’ll reach out via email, their contact page or Twitter DM and initiate a more private conversation to share ideas on how we can help each other. That is where relationship starts. helping others with nor real expectation of anything in return. My experience tells me if you do this a lot it always comes back to you in one way or another. If I do this for a number of weeks and get no response though I’ll disengage and move on. I’m not interested in building relationships with people who do not want to work the relationship both ways.
That is where the relationship starts. Helping others with no real expectation of anything in return will help you make real friends. My experience tells me if you do this a lot it always comes back to you in one way or another. If I do this for a number of weeks and get no response though I’ll disengage and move on. I’m not interested in building relationships with people who do not want to work the relationship both ways.
You Have to Care About Others
Because I have talked about all of this in very clinical terms, I feel like I need to be clear here and say: You have to be truly selfless in all of this and actually care about the success of others. Thats right, your social media isn’t just about YOU. That’s why it is called “social” media and not internet media. If you want any of this to work you have to be invested in your content, audience, and the people you follow. Think about yourself as a curator of quality content. I try to only share awesome and interesting stuff. especially if it is off my primary topics.
If you are following me you will see some of everything I find valuable. I share content on sales, marketing, news, fatherhood, christianity, occasionally fitness, fishing, video games, and pop culture. I’m trying to connect with people like me. I know I can’t be all things to all people so I focus on being the best me that I can be and making my strongest connections with similar people. Fortunately, a fair about of people seem to think I’m cool enough to follow and interact with.
Closing Thoughts on Social Media Marketing
I said in the beginning of this post that social media marketing should be easy and I hope now that you can see that it is. Yes there is some science to it, but it’s really more of an art. if you are a good citizen in the world of social media your marketing efforts will be far more effective than the person who crafts perfect headlines and shouts out their content at only peak times.
The short version of this entire article is this. If you want to be effective in your social media marketing strategies focus on people and interaction more than you do thinking of headlines and optimizing your posting times. Be a real and engaging person and people will be attracted to you because you will look different that the mindless people shouting “LOOK AT ME!” from the rooftop.
Foursquare used to be my favorite check-in tool, and now I have to say that I still use it, but I’m loosing interest fast. How does a company that beat out it’s competitors and had a solid niche as the only (popular) gamified check-in app fall from grace?
In the beginning everybody fought to be the mayor of their favorite Foursquare hangout but over time the buzz surrounding the social media app seemed to have waned as many users simply stopped caring about the game’s badges and check-ins. Source: What happened to the game mechanics on Foursquare?
Gamification.co nailed it… I can remember the first few times I saw a social check-in on Facebook and thought “How did they do that?” I immediately saw the value in sharing your whereabouts and was hooked on the game sa soon as I downloaded the app. I checked in everywhere I went and even got my Overshare badge. I was even more excited when check-ins started netting me tangible items like the grocery store that gave me a free doughnut every time I checked in! Pubs gave mayor discounts and there was some cool factor to being the mayor of your favorite locations and battling to keep the title. Unfortunately, things got a little stale and Facebook came out with a check-in system of their own as did Google +, Yelp, Meet-up, and basically every other app on my phone. It makes me sad, because the game was fun and the added benefit of check-in rewards was awesome. but the game never changed and now sadly we are seeing Foursquare pull back further and further from the game and transform itself into another Yelp not that the world needs that.
So what happened? In my opinion the bottom fell out because they did not attract enough mayor or check-in specials early on. This was simply a sales problem and one I think they could have still solved. The demise of Foursquare is going to be them entering into a crowded space and dropping the key feature that made them famous… This kind of gamification is a marketers dream and I can not believe they would walk away from it.
Before you read any further on this post make sure you visit this site: http://www.dhmo.org/ This organization exists to explain the many dangers of Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO) an allegedly dangerous substance with a terrifying list of uses. It’s really worth quickly visiting that link if you haven’t yet.
What I learned about Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO)
Today I was surfing the net and ran across the DHMO (H2O).org site and nearly busted a gut laughing. It caused me to do a bit of googling and poking around to see how people were using this site as a joke or way to teach a lesson. What I found particularly entertaining is how many people in different web forums came out strongly against DHMO before even knowing what it was. Dihydrogen Monoxide is water!
This web site is an excellent (and entertaining) example of how unethical marketers, spinsters, and politicians can play on the emotions of the public. For some, their goal is to use disinformation to close a sale or sway public opinion for financial or political gain. I’m not posting this as a what to do article, but a warning or a what not to do.
You competition may be using similar tactics to take away your clients right now. It is your job to not only service your customers but to educate them. This will not only help them make the best and most informed decision possible but build a great deal of trust and advance your relationships with clients. This trust will cause them to immediately call you when they have any questions or concerns about the industry, your product or service and possibly the product and services of your company. My goal in every client relationship is for them to not just view me as a vendor, but to see me as an honest friend and trusted advisor or consultant.
I hope you enjoyed this, had a good laugh, and will pass this on to a friend. If you want to learn a bit more about how marketers use our brains and emotions to trick us I recommend Buyology: Truth and Lies about why we buy.
It was very busy this week, and finding this was one of my bright spots. -Brad
PS- I’m a runner, and I may have mentioned my DHMO addiction of Facebook to have a little fun with my friends. I’m not sure I recommend it, because some of my friends “got it” and helped me out and the ones who didn’t were pretty upset when I shared that DHMO was water. Who am I kidding… It was TOTALLY worth it. 🙂
PPS- If you thought this was funny you may enjoy this water bottle from Amazon!