Good selling is about “helping people to buy”

This is a post I have drafted  several months ago, but didn’t complete until today.

A tweet by Marie-Christine Schindler promoting a guest blog entry by Danna Vetter called The 5th P of Marketing is People in Brian Solis blog triggered me to complete it.

Kotler’s famous Four P’s are so passé.

They belong in a past era of mass marketing of interchangeable consumer products, with dominating producers and uninformed consumers.

Today, with information overflowing and readily accessible for anyone, those days are gone.

Nowadays it’s not about selling. It’s about helping people to buy.

Kotler’s P’s need to be viewed from the buyers perspective. Here’s my take:

  • From Product to Offering – we buy composites of products and services
  • From Price to Value – the key is what the offering is worth to me the buyer, and I pay not only in money, but perhaps in waiting time or through other sacrifices
  • From Place to Availability – it’s not only about where to buy, but how to buy and when. Is the sales process easy and self explanatory? Can I shop online or only physically between 11 and 18?
  • From Promotion to Communication – shouting messages in any kind of megaphone won’t get you many customers nowadays. Engaging in dialogue, listening to your customers will, at least if you want them to come back.
Sure you can stay old school if you’re ok with drive-by sales and one off customers. If you want any kind of lasting relationship with your customers, you had better listen to them and respond. In any kind of media; live, offline, online, social.
Sales training used to talk about the sales process. I prefer talking about the buying process (adopted from Joe Danielson)

Helping the prospective buyer to move from identifying Needs via becoming Aware of what you have to offer, Evaluating alternatives, Deciding to buy from you, Actioning on the decision and finally Experience what they bought from you

The job of marketeers and sales people in combination is to help prospective buyers progress through this process as smoothly as possible – to help them buy.

  1. It all starts by the customer becoming aware of a need they have, possibly by you making them aware of it
  2. Next, they need to become aware of you and what you have to offer. You need to make it to their short list, to be eligible
  3. Once you’re eligible, you need to provide sufficient information and arguments for them to be able to make a decision in your favour
  4. Finally, they decide. Perhaps since you have managed to strike a chord with some key, well thought-out argument. But it doesn’t end there…
  5. You need to help them take action on their decision. If your store isn’t open when they have the time to buy, they may well go elsewhere. If your online shop is difficult to manoeuvre or the check-out is complicated, you might lose them too
  6. Finally, you had better live up to expectations, to deliver on your promises. If you do, they are likely to both progress much faster through the process when it’s time for renewal and they may even spread the word, introducing other customers to you with an initial, positive mind set
It’s worthwhile noting that points 1, 3 and 5 are primarily Rational while 2, 4 and 6 are more emotional and more influenced by your branding efforts. This does not exclude your involvement on the Rational side. Supplying potential customers with facts allowing them to evaluate and offering a smooth sales process are very much within your reach.
This model works just as well for B2C as for B2B, for fast moving consumer goods as well as for major investments. The process is the same but the media, arguments, sales process etc differ and the process may be more or less time consuming and repetitious. But the basics are the same.
So, stop selling. Start helping to buy
ps. of course, this way of reasoning does not apply only to traditional buying as in paying money. With a little bit of flexibility, it can also be applied to convincing people about your point of view, to give money to charity and so on

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