October 27/November 3, 2014; Volume 28/Number 10
By Lisbeth Calandrino
I just came back from The International Surface Event East in Miami Beach, where I presented a seminar called “How Social Media and the Internet Have Changed How Your Customer Buys and What You Can do About it.” It was extremely well attended, and the breakout sessions were very telling. Despite continued changes in social media platforms, business owners are trying them and forging ahead.
Many attendees said they came to the seminar to get some tips and understand the new world of communication. Two years ago it would have been a fighting match; it looks like many have given in and are reaping this new way of connecting.
As one participant put it, “For the first time, I’m in control of the message and the money. I can do it myself and get results.”
Google continues to track the changing voice of the customer. It would seem like it’s obvious if the customer’s voice has changed, so should the salesperson’s role. Funny, it doesn’t seem to be working that way. With customers depending on the Internet and friends’ opinions for advice on products, the traditional role of the salesperson has virtually been eliminated. Instead of having to close the customer, the salesperson has become more of a marketer.
The role of selling is now in your customer’s hands. According to Social Trends Report 2013, “Before entering a store, 62% of millennial shoppers already know what they want to buy through prior online research. Eighty-four percent of them say consumer-written content on brand sites influences what they buy.” Instead of trying to resell the customer who comes into your store, it’s time to figure out how to influence her before she gets to the store. Your salesperson and his/her previous sold customers are the only ones with this power. The power of the next sale has gone from the salesperson to the customer. The salesperson’s role is to find ways to communicate and influence the customer.
No advertising in the world can overcome the power of a review from a satisfied customer. Many businesses are accomplishing this by having their salespeople write blogs and engage their customers online. Salespeople are asking customers to write reviews and also post photos of their jobs.
Bringing in customers should be everyone’s goal, but in order to do this they have to be connected to the Internet.
Successful businesses are having their salespeople engage with the potential customer on Facebook, Pinterest and other platforms. Having a profile on LinkedIn will build expertise and trust. I would suggest soliciting comments about installation as well as photos that can be put on your Facebook page.
Before anything works, one must have a marketing strategy. It is simple enough to build various pages; it can be done by a “techie” of any age. Putting together a page is different from having a marketing strategy utilizing social media. This takes an understanding of the target customer. With the millennials entering the consumer arena, the target customer is becoming blurred. Working with both customer groups takes a great deal of skill. Holding events in your store and pairing them with a charity will satisfy both groups.
Consider your website the hub of your business wheel and the various marketing avenues the spokes. In order for the spokes to work, the hub must be intact, up-to-date and provide information the potential customer needs.