“Enchantment” and How to Build Business Performance
Bumped into an interesting video interview, posted on The Brand Builder Blog about a new book buy Guy Kawasaki called Enchantment.
Anyone who’s spent any time in Social Media has probably at least heard of Guy through his voluminous Twitter account(s), as “one of Apple’s old marketing gurus,” or in his role as a venture capitalist.
I haven’t read the book, though it sounds interesting but the video itself had a fascinating take on building a business. In the video, Guy and the interviewer, Brian Solis, talk about the three pillars of creating a business that “enchants”: Be likeable, be trustworthy, and back it up with a competent (or better) product.
But here’s the interesting part: Guy says that to be an “enchanting” company, we don’t have to succeed wildly at all three. Using Apple as an example (based on his first-hand knowledge), he states that contrary to some people’s perceptions, Apple is in fact a very anti-social company. They don’t actively engage with customers, they don’t go out of their way to “listen” to the public.
In Guy’s mind, the reason Apple is popular is because they hit the product portion of their business so far out of the park that no one pays attention to anything else. The products provide such a great experience that no one pays attention to the fact that iTunes is actually a really clunky piece of software, that the iPhone was saddled for a long time to the worst U.S. domestic phone carrier (AT&T), or that the iPad doesn’t play Flash video.
He goes on to say, however, that other businesses compensate for less-than-perfect product with stellar “likeability” and trustworthiness. We go to restaurants all the time where the food is only “okay,” but we “enjoy” it because the experience and service are so great. Does Zappos really have the greatest selection of shoes, anywhere, ever? No, not really, but the level of trustworthiness is so high, that Zappos’ customers don’t even think about it. Their customers’ experience is based on something other than having every possible combination of boot, shoe, and color on planet earth.
So what does this mean for us?
It seems pretty obvious, but it’s about focus. There’s very few companies producing product at the level of Apple. If it was easy to build customer trust like Zappos has, more of us would.
So—do we know where we stand? Do we have any of the three right?
Every good business has to be competent, but to have any chance of “enchanting” our customers, we have to be excellent in at least one—and striving to build all three.
The Meaning of “Result Y”
We forget sometimes just what exactly it is all this technology in business is supposed to be doing for us.
The point of it all is that ultimately we want to replace the aspect of human intuition….or do we?
On the surface you’d think that was it, right? If anything, we want sales to be predictable. It’s all the variables that get us tangled up, nervous.
Which source of leads is working? Which rep is doing the calling? Does that rep know the target market? Is the prospect really a right fit, or are they just a pie-in-the-sky, wishful thinking opportunity? Are we going too fast, too slow?
How do we sound to our prospects? What are they talking about behind our backs? In their budget meetings? Are we on the top-5 vendor list? The top 2? How’s our collateral look? Is our product demo up to snuff? Why’d they say that on our last call? Were they really looking for Feature X, or were they just feeling out our response? Why does it take X days instead Y days to close deals?
How much of a difference does technology make in answering these questions?
The answer, of course, can be “lots,” “none at all,” or occasionally both.
Sales technology is, and should be designed to replace guesswork. There’s dozens, maybe hundreds of points along the sales process where real, hard data makes a big difference. Knowing, for example, what your highest-converting pay-per-click ads are tells you where to focus energy, time, and money on your marketing. That’s hard metrics–“We convert 22% of clicks into contactable leads.” Then using your software tools, you track lead conversion: “We convert 55 % of contactable leads into opportunities within 30 days, and another 16% within a year.”
Here’s what the numbers don’t tell you:
How the prospect/customer perceives you in your market (though the numbers can be trailing indicators). Why you have a strong presence in a particular vertical. Which features of your product are most in need of update, which need to added, and which need to be dropped. Why you just lost a deal when the prospect was an ideal candidate. Why you just won a deal when the prospect is nothing like any of your existing customers.
Data is data, intuition is intuition. Data is only meaningful when interpreted, and that requires the ability to recognize the reality of what is being measured.
Technology produces data designed to answer classic If/Then statements: “If I do Action X, the data shows me Result Y should happen.”
It just won’t tell you why the prospect thinks Result Y is important, or if Result Y is even going to matter in 6, 12, 24, or 144 months.
“Aligning the Alignment” – 4 Ways of Increasing Sales (and Connecting Them to Marketing)
Somewhere between 2008 and today, the phrase “Aligning Sales and Marketing” went from hot topic to overused buzzword. The last year especially it’s been discussed ad nauseum: online, in print, during webinars, trade shows, executive meetings . . . the list goes on.
But as Adam Needles at Propelling Brands reports, a 2010 research study by SiriusDecisions showed less than 10% of companies are deploying the right processes and technology to actually create the type of alignment needed for high-powered B2B demand gen.
Lots of talk, very, very little action.
There’s a host of reasons for the gap, a big one being that even in spite of the talk, many companies still don’t see the value of a true Sales and Marketing alignment. But I’m discovering that even if an organization understands the need, they often have a hard time “aligning the alignment”—in other words, they know what they need to do, they just don’t know how what they’re doing (or buying) is going to get them there.
Ultimately, regardless of avenue, there’s really only 4 ways to increase sales:
1. Greater lead quantity – Expanding into new verticals and markets, approving more ad spend to drive traffic, opening up more avenues, referral and affiliate programs.
2. Greater lead quality – finding better markets, better targets, better qualified prospects, and linking ad spend to actual conversions and revenue.
3. Greater sales rep effort – phone calls, appointments set, collateral delivered, etc., linked to management tools that show how the process is actually running.
4. Greater sales rep skill – coaching, scripting, needs analysis and qualifying approaches within each step.
Whatever it is you’re investing in, it should be designed to increase, monitor, and evaluate one of those four things.
CRM is about tracking and monitoring #2 and #3, and on some qualitative levels, #4. Marketing automation is about tracking #2, some of #1, and a tiny bit about #3. Lead Management and lead nurturing systems are about #1 and #2 (you get the idea).
The worst problems in sales and marketing alignment happen when a company invests in a technology, consultation, service, or product—but it’s not even in an area that the company was really addressing. Misdirected efforts cause pain and hinder growth, because everyone is chasing after results that can’t be had. Conversely, real growth happens when process changes and metrics are based on improvements that can actually be made—and the technology investments back it up.
Each of the four elements can increase sales depending on the actual need—just don’t invest in something that isn’t designed to fix your real problem. Making more phone calls doesn’t improve lead quality; tracking and managing the things that create better quality leads does.
By the same token, “coaching up” sales skills doesn’t increase your lead pool, setting hundreds of prospect appointments doesn’t fix poor sales skills, and getting amazingly high-quality leads makes no difference if your reps only make 3 total contact attempts to reach a decision-maker before they give up.