My daughter recently started a new career in financial sales and she called to ask me for some sales advice. I guess I should be flattered. We were discussing the merits of reaching a broad audience using social networking but we kept coming back to one thing that works the best. You and me! It’s the personal connection that still makes it or breaks it in this world.
The Internet, social networking, cloud computing and other technology advances are fundamentally changing the way we do business. New technology enables instant communications, messaging, and information access at super-sonic speed, and our customers expect immediate information and response.
The golden rule used to be that if contacted by a customer that you would get back to them within 24 hours. Today, the expectation is within a couple of hours or less. In fact, in just 2 hours, 25,000 new users join Twitter, 5.4 million tweets are sent, 5 million new status updates on Facebook are published, 1.6 million applications are installed, 167 million videos are viewed on Youtube and the list goes on.
The popularity of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, and LinkedIn have lured many sales pros into scaling back their personal cold calls and relying on social media to get more qualified leads. Some salespeople tell me they actually get new customers through social media. Well, maybe if you have a commodity business. I do make many contacts this way myself but it still requires personal connection and referrals to solidify the bond.
In this world of iPads and iPods, business decisions are still based on personal relationships. Customers make their purchase decision the old-fashioned way: it’s because they trust the salesperson and their company. Think about it. We are selling products, services, investments, systems, etc. and asking people for their time and money. Why would they work with someone who they don’t know or hasn’t been referred?
There is an old saying in sales: People buy on emotion and justify with logic. If your customers don’t like you, they won’t buy from you. You can try to impress your customers with your new iPad but to win them over; you’ll have to prove that you’re honest and reliable. The reality is you need people to start liking you within the first few seconds of your relationship. New gadgets won’t make it happen, but a trusted referral and a personal connection will.