By Debra Wheatman Why is it that communicating online is such a challenge? The minute we get in front of email, we rattle off messages that are unclear, with typographical and grammatical errors. Why is writing an email different than writing a letter? (A lost art at this point.) How many times have you written an email with the aforementioned problems, but other issues as well? Have you ever gone back and read an email and thought to yourself "That didn't sound very nice." What about people who use things like c u l8r, ttyl, and lmao? How about the emoticons? These things might be ok if you are emailing a friend. In business though, it is unprofessional. No doubt communicating via an online method is difficult. You cannot use facial expressions or body language that would otherwise be present if you were standing before someone. Or if on the phone, you have the benefit of conveying emotion in your voice. Here are some tips to help you communicate effectively online: 1. Make sure your message is clear. Include a subject line so the reader has a sense of what the topic is. 2. Don't send emails when you are angry. You are more likely to say something that you shouldn't. Once committed to 'paper' your messages can precipitate a string of back and forth interactions that fuel the equivalent of an online argument. 3. Don't communicate in all capitals. In the online world, this is the equivalent of yelling. 4. Edit your messages before sending them. It is better to be short and sweet when sending email. You have a better chance that the full email will be read and your message communicated. Anything more than a few lines should really be done via phone or in person. 5. Be careful about what you send in email. Information sent online is very public; others can access it. There is no such thing as a deleted email. 6. Business communication is business. Whether in an email or a formal memo and should be treated as such. Leave l8r for later. Email is a great way to communicate when used properly! Deb Wheatman is an authorized DISC Administrator and Chief Career Officer, ResumesDoneWrite.Blogspot.com. Connect to her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.
January 28, 2022
Recently, a long-time colleague, the chief sales officer for a $21M technology company, reached out to catch up and asked for help to get to market in the primary vertical where I focus. He went on to share that his company made an initial go-to-market attempt by assigning a sales rep because of their familiarity with the product. He then admitted a modest return on their investment and a residual lack of knowledge of the industry, few connections, little brand recognition, or sales results. Fast-forwarding to today, he expressed urgency to relaunch with a short game to start generating revenue quickly and a long-term plan to establish themselves in the space.
For everyone who needs to crush a go-to-market with a new brand, a product line extension, or a new vertical, you need speed to market, the right audience, and well-placed efforts to avoid wasting precious time and resources. Here are (5) of the essential steps that I think of as stops along the road to an effective plan to entrench your brand, incite change, and deliver measurable sales results while catering to a new buyer consciousness and decision-by-committee buying process.
We’ll assume of course that the product and business have been vetted with a well-substantiated business plan to address market opportunity, competition, trends, risks, contingencies, buyer profile, pricing model, financials, and infrastructure to produce and support the product, process, and customer.
Stop #1 – Build Mind Shifting Insights
We all think our product is great, but a survey of chief marketing officers found that only 13% believed they could pass an ultimate differentiator test by taking the names and logos off of their commercial content, hand it over to a competitor to present to the customer, and expect that customer to find their way back to buy from them for their specific solution, outcome, or benefit.
A further challenge to profitable, sizeable sales opportunities in the present-day multiple stakeholder buying journey is the 38% of sales cycles that end with the buying group deciding not to decide. Research reveals the following about the modern buying cycle*:
- Average buying group - 11 diverse, cross-functional people
- Average buying cycle - 4-5 months to investigate, gather info, evaluate, issue RFPs, demo, re-demo, and deliberate
- Typical staff hours per buying cycle - 85-90 hours or more
- Frequency of solution purchase attempts that end in choosing not to choose - 38%
Translating this to the back of a napkin assuming a sales executive works on 60 sales opportunities in a year:
- 15 Opportunities/Qtr x 38% = 20 Opportunities/Yr x an Average of 10 Hours = 1 Month/Yr.
The numbers are devastating if we’re losing 4 out of 10 times to the status quo, independent of being commoditized and losing to a competitor. So how do we beat these odds and gain back lost and unproductive time and resources?
- Teach our buyers something new that they wouldn’t have discovered on their own
- Challenge the way they see their business
- Give them a compelling reason to take action and press into change rather than commoditize our product and their decision down to the lowest cost or risk or choose to do nothing
How? We shape our brand, message, targets, tools, and strategy by mining for understanding. Understanding our customer's business, industry, business environment, and the distinguishing value of our product to form the customer’s journey as we offer deep commercial insights, create change, and differentiate ourselves from our competitors.
Stop #2 – Discriminate When Picking Targets
No really, this kind of discrimination is ok. Just as it is hard to strip the complex down to the simple, it is counter-intuitive to throw out a smaller net to catch more fish. Two litmus tests will put us over our target to selectively invest precious resources and time on opportunities with the greatest likelihood to convert.
1. The last two years have shaken up the organizations, industries, and regions that are thriving or surviving. This means a previously good prospect may not be in a position to make decisions or spend today. The imperative is to research and segment to avoid opportunities that are going nowhere. Going back to the data subsequent COVID-19, companies seem to fall into three categories:
- 10% - In a growth mode (i.e. consumer products, video conferencing, PPP, ventilation systems)
- 30% - Business as usual with some cost reduction measures
- 60% - In slow motion, struggling to operate with heavy scrutiny on spending
Do the research. Where does your potential customer base fall? Rather than potentially writing off the 60% and miss meeting your numbers, dig in to uncover the hidden gems that have healthy sectors for their business or are doing a good job of pivoting their strategies to grow with a new market or product.
2. Evaluate companies to find where you can create the greatest demand and generate urgency with your insights about their business. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What is their status quo and behaviors that I want to change?
- What are the incorrect assumptions that they have about their business?
- What don’t they know but should about their business?
- What is the level of pain they are in by staying the same vs. adopting change? Quantify “how much” better will you make their business to substantiate that a new way is their only viable way forward.
If you can’t make a compelling case for yourself, they aren’t a good prospect.
Stop #3 – Nurture A Tribe
In a cultural shift, buyers now link their decision to their perception of your brand and experience as they interact with your company and product. This new consciousness looks for an easier and more enjoyable journey, shared concern for values and causes, access to a tribe to affiliate with other users as they interact with your product and brand, and they expect reciprocal loyalty with escalating rewards for their ongoing participation with your brand.
Stop #4 – Automate Touch Points
Smaller teams and fewer resources necessitate we plan our go-to-market and ongoing support of our community with automated touchpoints in tandem with personal touch. Creating rhythms with campaigns, multi-purposed content, and using a handful of innovative tools to support our communications with automation is essential to supplement personal interactions with our network, social media engagements, speaking events, and conferences.
Stop #5 – Rock Your Social Media
In a few short years, our ability to virtually network in the absence of travel and in-person events, convey volumes of information, and create seismic impact has exploded with social media. Out-of-touch, one-dimensional blog posts, reposting lackluster content produced by an uninformed marketing department, or depending on “thought leadership” as the primary strategy to stand out from competitors has no statistically measurable impact on changing buying behavior. Instead, adding to in-person opportunities with face-to-face video content, articles, and active engagements with your executives and sales leaders who teach new and compelling insights will drive credibility and motivate change. These are essential for relevance, influence, and dominance. Miss the boat and fall behind.
*Research taken from CEB Advisory Group analysis and 2012 CEB Commercial Insights Assessment
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