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10 Years Ago Today,
Steve Jobs Changed The World Of Sales Forever
January 9, 2007. That was the day that Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone to the world.
Just a few months earlier, Mark Zuckerberg had opened Facebook up to anyone in the world with a valid email address. Before then, only the cool kids were allowed at the table.
The unique combination of having fingertip access to both the sum total of all human knowledge and a rapidly expanding network of “friends” from all around the globe fundamentally changed human interaction.
If you don’t believe me go sit in a room with a few teenagers for any length of time.
But it’s not just kids, it’s not just hipsters and millennials. Communication has changed for everyone. And it’s changed the way your customers interact with businesses and salespeople.
10 years ago, the sales funnel looked pretty much the same as it had since the dawn of trade. If you were a silk merchant in an ancient bazaar, you would set up your stand with your finest, brightest, most colorful cloth prominently displayed, blowing in the wind and you would stand nearby doing whatever it took to engage passersby in a conversation.
And once you had them talking, you had all the power. They didn’t know the first thing about thread count, or exotic dyes, or the 7 brave camels that gave their lives to bring your silk across the Himalayas from the farthest reaches of the orient.
They sure didn’t know how much silk like yours cost anywhere else. They probably didn’t know anywhere else they could even buy silk like yours.
And because they were already talking to you. You had the power.
After that, it was just a numbers game. If you got 100 people a day to engage in a conversation, 50 of them would ask the right question that you knew were buying signals and you’d end up shaking hands and closing a deal with 20 of them. Wallah… the world’s first sales funnel. Attention. Interest. Desire. Action.
Our silk merchant only had to get their attention to keep the sales funnel full. And ten years ago, that’s really all you had to do. Get them a brochure. Get them in. Get them talking.
But you don’t have a monopoly on the information now. And the power dynamic between buyers and sellers has been irrevocably altered.
Today’s silk buyers have access to the sum total of all human knowledge about the silk trade at the tips of their fingers. They can find a hundred other vendors selling similar fabrics. They can research your competition. They can research your prices. They can research your quality. They can research your reputation.
And they can do all of that without ever bothering to put on pants and leave the house, much less contact you to get the information. The sales funnel is broken because they only need you for the final step: ACTION.
The sad truth is in today’s instant access economy, if you’re not on their shopping list before they start shopping, you don’t stand a chance.
The ironic part is that even though so much of the sales process happens online these days before you get a chance to influence the decisions, before you get a chance to tell your story, before you can even start building a relationship with the potential buyer, people are still people, and people still prefer to do business with people they know, like, and trust.
But you don’t get a chance to help them know, like, and trust you until they’ve already reached the bottom of the sales funnel, after they’ve researched their purchase, after they’ve made all the important decisions, after they’ve decided how much they’re willing to pay. Your product is turned into a commodity and the only thing you can do is smile and hope they like you.
Take the car business, for instance. Well over 90% of all vehicle purchases begin with an online search. But according to the National Automobile Dealers Association over 70% of people who buy a new vehicle say they bought the car they bought because they liked and trusted their salesperson.
People prefer to do business with people they know, like, and trust.
Your customers don’t need you for access to information anymore. Information is everywhere.
But they still need you for confirmation, to assure them that they actually understand what they think they understand.
They need you for customization, to help them see how the generic information they’ve found fits into their actual life and makes it better.
And they need you for personalization, the human touch, to hold their hand, look them in the eye and let them know that they’re making the right decision, that everything is going to be OK.
So you’ve got a choice. You can wait for them at the finish line, pounce on them once they’ve decided on a course of action and hope that you can magically gain their friendship and trust in the brief time you have before they decide on a different course of action.
Or you can meet them at the starting gate and run the race with them, showering them with useful, helpful information, guiding their decision-making process without actually trying to sell them anything, simply being a friend until the time comes for them to be a customer.
If you’re in business, you’re in sales. And if you’re in sales, you’re in the business of making friends.
That’s the way it’s always been. That’s why the ad execs on Mad Men had 3 martini lunches with clients every day. That’s the reason half the people on the golf course ever picked up a club. That’s why we sit through horrible, overcooked chicken lunches every week at the Rotary Club.
Making friends gets deals done.
But the world changed.
And you have, in your pocket, on your desk, or possibly in your hand right now, the greatest tool in the history of the universe for making friends, for forming human bonds and connections, for building an army of people who know, like, and trust you before they’ve ever even met you… your phone.
Your network is your net worth. But your network isn’t limited to people that you meet in the Rotary club or on the golf course. Today you can build a worldwide network connecting with people in every corner of the world.
And opportunities arise from connections.
Terry Lancaster helps salespeople and entrepreneurs create armies of buyers who know, like and trust you BEFORE they’ve ever even met you. He’s a #1 best selling author, TEDx speaker, and a beer league hockey all-star as if there could ever be such a thing. Connect with Terry at TerryLancaster.com