Posts tagged sales
Guest post by Michael J. Pallerino, taken from the April/May issue of our bi-monthly magazine, Connect.
So, how do the worlds of improvisation and business compare? Tom Yorton, CEO of Second City Communications (SCC), shows you eight improvisation techniques that can help your business.
No. 1: Seek Those “Yes, and …’ Moments
Improvisation is about affirmation, creation and mutual support. Its training is built on the concept of what it calls “yes, and” moments. That’s when other members of the group put an idea or proposition forward, the group affirms the proposition, and then additional information is added. This allows the team to reach its full potential before objections derail an idea.
No. 2: Follow Your Fears
Fear usually is an indication that something important is at stake.
People feel fear because they care about an outcome. In improv, actors are taught to “lean into” conflict, not walk away from it. This practice likely reveals something new.
No. 3: Plan Less and Discover More
The less you plan, the more you’ll discover; the more you plan, the less you’ll discover. Every organization wants to be known as innovative and creative. Yet,
most conditions that allow for innovation and creativity seldom are present. Standard routines and processes govern most daily work experiences. In improvisation, the absence of a plan allows room for discovery.
No. 4: Start in the Middle
Improv actors know that a linear, orderly progression makes for a boring scene. In business, people take great pains to lay things out in logical progressions. There is comfort in following the flow. But when there’s a crisis or need to innovate, success sometimes comes from taking leaps and making creative connections in the absence of perfect information and thoughtful preparation.
No. 5: ‘Bring a Brick, Not a Cathedral’
Employees don’t like to feel small and insignificant. This causes them to hold back ideas and feedback. In improvisation, seemingly small contributions are important to the whole. If each ensemble member brings something, the collective energy is greater than one person carrying the load. When your contribution matters, you’re obligated to bring something to the game.
No. 6: If One Idea Doesn’t Work, Try Another
In improvisation people move quickly. There’s little time to analyze or assess only time to listen and react. Consequently, ideas and inspiration come and go fluidly. Improv actors know that right and wrong usually is a false dichotomy; there are only possibilities and choices. Performers are rewarded by their willingness to support the ensemble and adapt on the fly to new ideas.
No. 7: Try Not to Top Someone …
…at least until you’ve equaled him. Because business usually is a competitive endeavor, people always are trying to one-up each other. This comes out of a fear of looking bad and falling behind in an internal competition. Someone else’s gain means your loss, which creates a stifling environment. In improvisation, the best way to “get fed” is to do some feeding of your own.
No. 8: Make Accidents Work
The world has a tendency to throw curveballs. The key is how you respond to it. In improvisation, the axiom “make accidents work” describes much of its existence. Unlike in variable data printing where every outcome is tightly planned, there is no such thing as a preordained outcome in improvisation. It’s about living in the moment. Learn to embrace the possibilities that “accidents” offer.
Are your direct mail marketing numbers spiking or splatting? If you want to bring in at least three new projects from your existing clients in the next 60 days stop selling and start solving. Solution selling is the quickest way to move from being a bother to being a trusted advisor in your customer’s mind. You’ll see a turn for the better in your numbers by making this adjustment.
So for the next two months, put one marketing or sales project on hold to give your staff time to ask your customers what big business problems they are wrestling with. Nothing engages customers faster than addressing their pain and fears.
What Keeps Them Awake at Night
Learn the three biggest worries that are keeping each CEO awake at night if you’re a B2B business or frustrating or enraging each A-level customer if you’re a B2C business. Then develop a solution to each problem each month and you’ll be delivering gold while also increasing your company’s revenues.
Start by segmenting your customer database to assemble a round-table, a CEO summit, or series of focus groups with pivotal customers to gather the specifics you can build a plan around. Better yet, send your sales force out to talk to your customers through a pain funnel one-on-one. This effort should uncover pertinent, fresh info to act on as well as improving customer relations. It will also help you hone your marketing copy.
When an appliance company did this exercise, it learned women were feeling guilty for not keeping up on their domestic chores but didn’t feel comfortable hiring outside maid services. In response, the appliance company crafted a direct marketing campaign for its robot vacuum that boosted sales 20%. Its female customers gave a big nod affirming the pain driven home in the postcard that read:
- Does vacuuming take up too much of your time?
- Do you shudder with frustration every time you look at the dirt on the floor?
- Are you frustrated by all the arguments you have with your spouse about vacuuming and wish it could be different?
Women rushed to purchase the robot vac because it solved their immediate problem — taking away the pain and guilt of a dirty house without adding time or additional tasks to their to-do list.
After you have a true understanding of your customer’s pain, you can fine-tune your marketing messages and, more importantly, add value by providing your customers more pain remedies through white papers, eBooks, and webinars. Delving deep to take away their pain is the perfect way to position your company as the go-to expert.
Intensify Their Pain
When your sale is low on a customers’ priority list, it is because they believe they have bigger problems to focus on. You can compress the sales cycle by getting them to experience the consequences of the problem in advance of it happening. You want to make this problem feel real in the present moment through story telling.
LifeLock moves the threat of identity theft to the forefront of its customers’ minds through stories. LifeLock drives home that the bad news is your data is out there, but the good news is they have your back.
My husband and I have had to deal with fraudulent use of one of our credit cards no less than 3 times over the last few years and it was a pain to deal with each time, but not nearly as much of a hassle as it would be to prove fraud if one of us had our identity stolen. I’ve heard the horror stories from victims of identity theft who were out thousands of dollars and countless hours of time trying to battle against this crime. It is comforting to know that I am able to take proactive steps to prevent this type of theft from occurring and if it does occur, I have an ally on my side, ready to help battle against it, through LifeLock’s protection plan.
Tamara Walker, R.N
“My husband was skeptical, but I signed us up, and forgot about it. A couple of months later, on a family vacation, my husband received a phone call asking if he was applying for a new credit card. Someone was trying to steal his identity. LifeLock had stopped the thief cold. We continued on with our vacation knowing we were safe.”
When St. Jerome pulled the thorn from the lion’s paw, therefore removing its pain, Jerome gained a loyal friend and protector for life. When you remove the pain from your customer’s paw, you’ll gain business and loyalty for life, too. Find that thorn.
Want to know another trade secret to spike your sales? Variable Data Printing.
Today’s decision makers have changed. They scrutinize buying options more carefully. Their expectations are higher across the board. They want to understand the opportunity costs of making a purchasing decision; or rather, the value of the alternatives that he or she is giving up to choose your company.
Undoubtedly, your prospects control the buying process.
To help decision makers navigate successfully through the buying decision process, imagine your team of sales and marketing professionals as city planners or heads of transportation. It is their task to build the onramps, highways and traffic lights that will keep your prospects moving to the destination: a buying decision.
As heads of transportation, your sales and marketing will need to define the key communication points needed along this educational and relationship-building process.
Multi-channel marketing campaigns are perfect for complimenting sales interactions with automatic mail and email communications. But be careful. Not every interaction with the buyer or customer is about closing a new deal; it’s about delivering relevant information at the right time to the right individual. If you add irrelevant messages or touches, congestion ensues and the buyer goes elsewhere to obtain the information they need.
Decision makers want more information. We’re not just talking about an extended list of features and benefits. We’re talking about empowerment through education, fact finding, and knowledge acquisition.
Companies are currently grappling for pole position as the trusted advisor, a role now paramount to success for not only new business, but for up-selling and cross-selling existing clients as well. The question for you is whether your company will be the source of this information, or will your prospects go elsewhere to satisfy their curiosity?