What do we mean by inbound marketing & the false beliefs in customer loyalty? While it is a long-standing tenet of business, “the customer is always right” may not be so, at least in the eyes of the traditional sales professional. Customer loyalty is part and parcel of good business, but when sales professionals insist on their target always having the final say is not the best mindset if they don’t actually know of what they espouse.
Solution sales processes are clearly outdated in their traditional form, yet clung to by nearly all professional sales executives, at least in the B2B arenas. Based on years of research by the Harvard Business Review, with tens of thousands of interviews pertaining to solution sales tactics, today’s best practices in sales and marketing strategies and tactics point to a dramatic shift from traditional thinking. Most business today that focus on the B2B marketplace insist that traditional methods are needed, yet conventional wisdom isn’t what it is expected to be. Solution sales pros that “know what’s best” may not really understand that today’s customer has spent valuable time, talent, and treasure searching out a solution that best suits their problem at hand- and can do so today far better than ever before. In the past, most companies relied on the solution sales pro to know it all, and there was no need to “go it alone.” With technology evolving by the day, there are multiple choices now available that may not have been in the past.
The challenge is not in the use of traditional pipeline management and sales managementInbound marketing supports customer loyalty. techniques or even tightly held customer belief systems; it is the current decision maker’s behavioral reality that must be observed. Rather than solving problems through traditional “in your face” solution selling, today’s methodology is to provide the information needed to position products and services in the best light, and make it available for the customer to discover. Driving revenues for the short term successes by creating a false sense of customer dependence (some over-think it is customer loyalty) will never replace addressing the real problems that plague business.
The Customer Today Has More Information, More Choices, and More Tools.
Today’s customer has made their way through more than half the discovery distance before even considering reaching out to a sales organization. Therein lies the rub. For those companies being uninvolved in the “early discovery stages” by providing bountiful, engaging and informative content on the front end, may never allow them to have the opportunity to reach the interview or exploratory stage in the acquisition process. It is no longer about selling inasmuch as it is about educating. Or as I often tell our clients, become a resource not merely a sales outlet. Today’s successful sales and marketing organizations must focus on educating the prospective customer, nurturing them along the sales funnel (selling process) and building the relationship if they intend to create REAL and sustainable customer loyalty.
Whether it be B2B or B2C, the process is quite similar. Today’s customer is looking for the best fit for their issue; product or service. The success will come to those that provide information, education and engaging professionalism rather than a slick sales pitch or a low, low price.