SBE News

Why your sales are slipping and what you can do about it.

By Kristin Zhivago – The Digital Revolution Show – March 3, 2017

Are your sales slipping? Perhaps the Digital Revolution has something to do with that. We think we are marketing and selling properly to today’s buyers, but we are still not selling the way our customers WANT to buy. I’m going to describe what’s happening and what we can do about it.

Waiting to see the Pope in 2013

Waiting to see the Pope in 2013

Waiting to see the Pope in 2005

Waiting to see the Pope in 2005

We talk about the Digital Revolution a lot around here. You might think, Hasn’t “digital” been with us for years? Why are we in the middle of a digital revolution now? What has changed?

Buyers have changed, drastically, and because buyers drive sales, markets, industry, and commerce in general, what they are doing is changing all things economic.

In the last two years, mobile and Google have given each of us access to “anything I want to know or buy – now!” – right in the palms of their hands. Everything we need to find what we want, consult other buyers, compare various options, and then buy – instantly – is all right there, as close as our fingers.

As buyers, we take this for granted.

As sellers, we are behaving as if the consumer is still depending on newspapers, magazines, billboards, and TV for their product information. Oh, sure, we have websites. We run digital ads. We work on SEO. We are putting flags in the ground, just like we did when we were running ads and “building our brands” and “building awareness.” And we still cling to our sales funnel.

We are building lots of things that don’t meet buyers where they are. Why is there a gap between what we’re doing and what customers want, and what can we do about it?

  • Consumers are buying “at the speed of thought,” while companies are still moving at corporate speed. Many companies spend 6 months getting a site up. They want it to be perfect before they launch. In contrast, the companies moving at Internet speed get a prototype up in a few weeks, then use that prototype to get market feedback and find ways to increase sales. By the time the first company gets their site launched, the second company has already been learning new lessons from customers, getting more traffic to their new site, and making more sales.
  • There is no “sales funnel.” There is a buying process, which consists of a series of decision points. You can’t guess what those points are. You need to observe them and map them. Customers ask questions during the buying process; if you hear certain questions more than a couple of times, create something you can send them that answers those questions. If you keep creating those pieces, the only question they’ll ask (for even the highest-scrutiny product or service) is, “Where do I sign?”
  • People inside the company don’t know enough about their buyers and the buying environment. They think they do – we all always think we do – but we are always wrong. That’s the bad news. The good news is, if you conduct even 10 – 20 customer interviews (see my book!) and then use the tools available to all of us now – including Google Analytics, Google Trends, SpyFu, Moz, and Alexa – you can see where you really stand compared to your competition, in the “mind” of Google, and in the minds of your customers.
  • Everyone is guessing, and everyone is focused on the wrong stuff. Does this sound familiar? You’re in a room with others in your company. You’re all trying to decide. Which color should the banner be? Should we use this typeface or that one? What if we do a mailing campaign? What if we get a CRM?

While you are agonizing over these decisions, there are real customers looking for your solution and not finding it, or coming to your website and not seeing what they need to see, or calling your company and being put on hold for 8 minutes (this just happened TODAY to our social/media relations specialist when calling one of the most popular marketing automation companies!).

As buyers, we know how tough it is to find and buy what you want. Just getting the most basic questions answered is often a pain. As sellers, we are in a completely different world, trying to make ourselves look good at the expense of sales, and spending way too much time discussing issues that don’t matter. Harsh, but true.

What the leaders do

In every market, there are a few competitors who get it and who are running away with the market, even in the midst of this digital buyer’s revolution.

Can you see why your sales are slipping?

Spyfu Graph I can’t tell you how common this type of graph is. This graph shows the number of keywords a given company is being found for. When we do a digital impact appraisal for a company, the company asking for the appraisal is usually like that company represented by the purple line, then there is often an up-and-comer like the red line company, one that broke out of the pack.
And then, there is the yellow line company.

You might think “we’ll never catch the yellow company,” but the Digital Revolution has also brought us something very special – the ability to literally see what those top companies are doing, and learn from their success. You don’t have to create pay-per-click ads from scratch; you don’t have to guess about which keywords are working for your competitors; you don’t have to wonder who’s linking back to their site (those “backlinks” are very important to Google). You can see all this, for real, and take advantage of it.

The Digital Revolution is like all other revolutions; it strips away our comfort zones and forces us to think and behave differently. If we don’t go where the buyers are, and move at their speed, we are doomed to stay down there at the bottom of the graph.

We need to change, and we can.