Why do we sell at people rather than for them?

Why do we sell at people rather than for them?
Written by Daniel Andrews

Throughout my entire career, sales has been a pivotal part of my role. In my earliest years in the leisure industry, I spent my nights ushering students and party-goers into nightclubs whilst at Uni. These days, here at the tree we work with international B2B and B2C clients, helping to support them acquire and excite new and existing customers. 

Until starting the tree, where we’ve completely redefined the way we sell ourselves and communicate for our clients, there has only ever been one place that I believe sold itself to customers in a truly empowering way: nightclubs.

Experiential communication: Who cares how old you are?

If you’re a marketing manager, business owner or simply work for an agency, I guarantee you’ll have on more than one occasion been guilty of – or heard a business pitch start with – the size of their team, the years they’ve been running, the number of awards they’ve won – or worse – what products they deliver.

Not once in amongst the neon lights of the Bournemouth strip did we every say to a customer – ‘we’ve been established for 3 years, have won numerous awards for our service and currently employ 15 members of staff.’ Who cares? 

You see, big business – and even small business can learn from this - customers want to be offered ‘experiences’; you could call it ‘experiential selling’. 

In the world of clubbing, this meant wooing patrons on the street with exciting offers and the lure of the hedonism inside, and that principle applies for sales more broadly.

The Jelly Effect

Andy Bounds – someone I respect immensely for his book ‘The Jelly Effect’ talks about the efficiency of communication that we use on a daily basis, and in the way that we sell.

Andy’s efficient communications were instilled to him as a young boy having been taught to ask the right questions and give the right information without fault.  I shan’t ruin the book too much so you’ll have to read it to find out why.

The point is, however, that people only need to know the relevant information about the situation they are in or want to be in.

We have multiple conversations with prospects who come to us asking for something like a new website, an app or even an interactive.  Our answer is never “great ,we’ve built websites for international brands and we have experience creating apps for fashion and consumer brands.”

Our answer is “why?”, and then we shut up.

Listen up and reap the rewards

The truth of the matter is, businesses and their managers don’t actually want a new website – they want to increase sales from the online market, improve brand interaction, and move up the career ladder for making the right decision for their company.

To coin a phrase from Andy, they want the “afters” – what I would call ‘experiences’.  A website might be one way of achieving this. However, without getting to the route of the business’s needs, we won’t be able to achieve maximum success.

Likewise, customers want experiences that better their lives.  That’s why it’s so important for businesses to consistently listen to their customers, react to the noise, and deliver inexpensive experiences that set them apart from the rest – Ed’s got a few ideas for you if you’re stuck.

When we run branding workshops or create branded content on a for clients, we drill down into the experiences a customer is going to get from that purchase and encapsulate that in the comms we create. 

"Make a customer, not a sale" – Katherine Barchetti

We operate in a world where it has never been easier to network, collaborate and listen to your customers.

To maximise customer experience and engagement, we need to listen to their individual needs and nurture them. We must let their stories shape the services and products we offer, and learn to interact as humans. 

This is something that people sometimes struggle with on a face-to-face level, and in the digital sphere it can be even more of a challenge.

Social media channels hold the key to developing a two-way relationship with customers, and can enable us to build those human relationships.

Sadly, 58% of consumers who tweet about a bad customer experience won't receive a reply from the company they have an issue with. Missed opportunities like these cost companies revenue in the short term, and damage brands for the long term.

We can only offer customers valuable afters or experiences if we take the time to learn more about them.

So next time you’re selling to a prospect, writing content for a site, or building a branded presentation, stop to think and start your communication with a connection to the experiences and values a customer is going to get after they have completed working with you, or have used your product.

To find out how more experientially focused sales content could improve your customer acquisition, why don’t you drop us a line?


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