When I first started in sales, the only way you could buy the products I sold was by talking to me. It seems bizarre, writing that now, but this was before the internet. Now, as a buyer, I no longer have to talk to salespeople, I can evaluate your products and services just by going on-line, reading your website, watching youtube videos, reading your content. All in salesperson avoidance mode.
Gartner, will tell you that the buying process is nonlinear and complex and we know that. Just think about our own buying journeys. I'm in the process of buying a new Apple Mac. I start by reading articles, reviews, on mobile. I then went and looked at the Apple website from my iMac. I then went back to articles and reviews on my mobile. Then watched some videos on my iMac. I then had a discussion with my business partner Adam Gray, as I trust his advice about anything to do with tech.
But is Apple a good company or a bad company?
One of the areas that have completely transformed how we buy are societal issues.
Not only are we reviewing your products and services but we also review how you are taking a stand on society, both globally and locally.
Look how much is on Apple's website to convince you they are a good company.
This is what I mean by "value alignment" are your business "values" aligned with that of your prospects?
Is you business giving your clients and prospects value alignment?
Buyers are looking for business to take a stand, to align with my beliefs as a buyer. If your manufacturing something, I want to know, for sure, it hasn't been built with slave labour in sweatshops. I also want to know that your supply chain is carbon neutral and the packaging your use is recycled. I also want to know that your business isn't, white, male and stale, when we look at websites we check out how diverse you board is.
For example, where does your business stand on the following?
I make a rhetorical questions, you might not care, but your buyer does and you may be losing sales because you are not communicating your stance. Here are two examples from BP and Accenture.
Buying in 2021
Buying today isn't about feature and function, it isn't just about benefits and price, we now buy based on our belief systems.
Does the business we are buying from take a stand? What do I mean?
Following the announcement that Derek Chauvin was guilty at the George Floyd trial, Julie Sweet, the CEO of Accenture made this comment. This is what you have to now as a business, BP and Accenture are not outliers, this is now the norm.
Yes, I know Nike did this!
You may recall, back in 2018, Nike, a major National Football League sponsor, made Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback who catalysed a protest movement over police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem, a face of its advertising campaign.
In this case, Nike had a two pronged attack. They paid for advertising (which we are not talking about here), they also used the social media influence of Colin to make the point. Why? Because, Nike know that more people believe in Colin and can associate themselves with him than they can a company. People, buy from people, after all.
Taking a quick look at Nike's Twitter account as I write this blog and there are not any "buy our product, because we are great" tweets like we see on 90% of Twitter channels, there is this pinned tweet on pregnancy and the last tweet was about changing the world with sustainability.
The world of social has changed.
Being on social isn't just the job of sales and marketing
Business often think that the job of being on social belongs to sales, while, afterall, you have read articles about social selling. Sales are customer facing so shouldn't they be the people on social?
Not any more.
All employees need to be empowered on social
The role of the CEO in a digital organization
The job of being on social belongs to everybody. Yes, sales need to be on social as they are the revenue and profit creation engine. But as you can see from the above examples, so should the CEO. It is the CEO who drives the business values and culture. The CEO will also "talk to" investors, future investors, shareholders, current and future employees.
Human resources (HR)
Human resources (HR) should also be on social, they have a similar role to the CEO, it is through HR being on social that your business will come the employer of choice in your industry or sector. HR need to be talking about culture, diversity, work life balance, etc, it is through this that you will gain a pipeline of new talent.
One of our clients in North America no longer spends money on recruitment consultants and job ads.
Procurement and supply chain
Procurement and supply chain should also be on social, so they can find new suppliers, maybe there are other suppliers out there that have a better quality and a lower price? Now that salespeople are no longer in "push" mode and they are offering insight, this allows a business to have a far more agile supply chain and procurement process.
I could go on ....
So does your business have a value alignment with your buyers?
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