Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I Share, You Share. But They... Are They Also Sharing?

¡Let's build this up together!
A few weeks ago, chatting with a couple of dear fellow, Andrés (@ Ander73) and Tania (@ TaniaMontoro) about social networks pillars, Andrés commented that almost everyone who "live" on this side of the line, understand that sharing and conversation are key to social media strategies.

And it's true: almost all of us "who live on this side," we are completely aware of this fact, we know how social networks function and perform, and we understand that sharing and conversation are key elements.

But if that is so, why are still out there so many companies still not understanding how to take full advantage of their social media presence?

Why many entrepreneurs still think that this is a child's play and nothing more, and  pay little attention to it?

We must break through the barrier and show this reality to the world.

It is easy for those of us involved in this social media thing, who have received specific training on the subject or have been related to it within our professional environment for some time, to understand why the conversation and interaction are so important, and what significance both might have within a marketing strategy and in achieving certain, specified goals within a plan.

But not many of those who are starting up their businesses today, or even many longtime business owners and people in influential positions, who lack of specific training in social media and marketing subject, understanding it so easily nor see it the same way and, in many cases, the only thing they have is the experience generated by the day-to-day managing of their business.

For them, talking about ROI, interaction, communication, target market, added values, unique selling proposition, social networks, facebook, twitter, instagram, and so many other terms, familiar to all of us, becomes little more than confusing, and that’s why they remain on "the other side of the line", non believers, full of doubts, not even daring to take the first steps.

It is them who need to understand why it is important to share and converse in social media.

As we help more business owners and people in decision making positions, become aware of this reality and how the rules of the marketing game have changed in social platforms, we will be doing our job for social networks to reach their full potential and be valued at their true extent as communication channels, and on the same boat, our jobs as professionals who offer services on this area will also be valued properly. And that will be good.

It is them who must take an active part in this dynamic and productive process, which in many parts of the world is already generating positive results, increasing sales and building stronger relationships between customers and companies committed to doing the job properly

Strengthening customer relationships through conversation.

It is amazing the reach your company can obtain through the proper use of social platforms and tools within integrated marketing plans.

Inviting companies to share in an open, honest and transparent way with their audiences, they get to generate interesting conversations and nutritious with their customers, and they can also get to know, in a close and certain way, who their customer is and how to effectively take care of them.

This action promotes the development of stronger relationships with customers, with its corresponding positive impact on business volume.

That is why we must promote, in a simple language that can be understood by everybody, this new way of building relationships with different audiences on the market.

Let’s make conversations and sharing involve us all, in a true 2.0 environment, with neither boundaries nor limits for anybody!

Related article: The Interaction In Social Media: Why Are “Your Comments” So Important?



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Using “Click to Chat” Platforms to Create a Unique Customer Experience.

Photo courtesy of iAdvize.
Among the goals you should have set for your company if it’s selling its products over the Internet, is to find the way to make your visitors enjoy a fascinating experience while shopping on your site.

Keep in mind that in many cases, regardless of how dynamic your site might be, when your client needs your attention, unfortunately their options are often narrowed down to a phone call, sending an email, filling out a contact form indicating what their needs are or, as in many cases it happens, to browse through a comprehensive database where you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions.

Seizing the opportunity to solve your customer’s problems in real time.

Many websites dedicate entire spaces to offering advice and recommendations to help you create an unparalleled shopping experience for your customer.

Today I want to share with you my opinion about a tool that I use quite often: Access to a customer service chat window, available 24 hours a day, which for me has been the most effective tool of all that I have used so far to contacting companies over the Internet, and it has helped solve problems on many different occasions.

These tools are grouped under the name of "Click to Chat" platforms and represent a highly valuable opportunity for you to take care of your customers’ needs right on real time, as they are happening, without having them waiting for your response until the next business day or, in the worst case, lose a customer because he couldn’t get answers to a specific question right at the moment he was making the decision to buy your products.

Try to look at it as if you were your own customer.

And since I'm offering you this recommendation because I have personally used this platforms many times, I’m letting you know how I got the most out of them.

I have my web site services with a company in the United States. Usually I access my account’s control panels at night, when I come back home after work. In the moments is late at night, as it might also be the situation for you.

And you know most of the companies don’t work around the clock, therefore my window of time to make a phone call or get directly in contact with them is very limited.

So far all the incidences that I’ve had have been promptly resolved, because they have a tool which allows me to directly chat with their customer service representatives, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and it has been so convenient for me to be able to get answers to all my queries in less than five or ten minutes the most, right at the moment I need them.

If you compare this situation to waiting for hours, days, or even until next Monday, when you happen to have the problem on Friday night, then you can easily realize the immense satisfaction you get to feel as a customer by having your problems solved in real time through the use of platforms like these.

What are the most obvious advantages of online click to chat platforms?

From my point of view, there are many, and for sure I won’t be able to write them all down here, but here it goes:
  • The relationship with your customers becomes closer, more human, and that's positive.
  • Only takes one click to your clients to contact you and, most importantly, it doesn’t cost any money to them.
  • You offer your client the opportunity to openly and completely speak and share with you either their satisfaction or frustration, it’s the same. At least you have an opportunity to sort things out, and your customer will definitely appreciate it.
  • Your company’s image is definitely strengthened by showing you really care about listening to what your customers have to say.
And I think the most important of all, it keeps your customer from making the decision to go somewhere else right when they were on the middle of the buying process.

Like I said at the beginning, for me it’s a tool I really like and use, as long as the company makes it available to me. The example I’ve shares with you at the beginning of this post, is just one of many I could write about.

I use the “Click to Chat” platforms not only with them, but also with the people handling my house’s mortgage, with the bank, with some of the applications I use to manage social networks, and some other service providers who might not come to my mind right now, and it’s always proved to be very helpful.

Therefore, and to wrap up this post, I want to offer you a recommendation: If you want to assist visitors to your website in having a better experience while shopping, make this tools available to them.

It’s probably going to cost you some money, but it will always be a very profitable investment.

If you find my recommendation useful, here you’ve got  a few companies you can visit and request more information on their specific services and pricing plans.

iAdvize.
Velaro.
Clickandchat.
Liveperson.
Kayako Engage.

Related Articles: How important is what your customer experiences with your product?


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

How to Make a Successful Sale: Do We Create Needs or Simply Discover Them? - Part II

Can we really create needs?
Last week's article was focused on the fact that, as people dedicated to marketing  products, brands and services, our main task is to discover the needs that motivate our customers to finally make the purchasing decision for what we offer, and based on this discovery to develop all our commercial and advertising efforts.

If we can’t find such need, it’ll be very difficult to connect our product with its consumer and make the sale happen.

One of the comments I received about the post, reminded me that one of the major products developer of our time, once said that "We create needs"

I am 99% sure that we DO NOT create needs.

And I say 99% because, like everything else in this world, there is no absolute truth about anything and there should always be room for a second opinion, and a third, and many more.

Now I'll try to show you where my opinion is coming from: If it were possible for us “to create needs”, then consumers will simply be programmable robots to whom we would be able to dictate what, how and when to buy our products. And we all know it doesn’t happen that way.

If it were possible for us to create needs, companies would need not to diversify, sales would suffer no ups and downs, there would be no competition, all brands would be alike, product consumption would remain stable, regardless of the economic crisis, and a lot of things more, and as we see, none of this actually happens.

New products are created because there are business opportunities for them.

Products are created because somehow its creator has discovered a market niche to which marketing efforts can be aimed and turn that product into a profitable business.

But first, this discovery of the need must be made. The product developer must have found that there is a need in the consumers' side which must be properly taken care of and/or fulfilled, and makes sure this new product he’ll be bringing in will fill the gap and do the job more efficiently, or even on a unique way, as it has been in Steve Jobs’ case, who directed his products’ marketing efforts towards specific market segment and did it in a wonderful, unique way for each of the products they developed.

What made Steve unique, in my opinion, is that he was able to look further ahead and find out that things could be done in a better way, that products could go a step further in satisfying consumer’s needs and anticipated what consumption trends might be among people for those new products.

But anticipating is not the same as creating. Finding out where things are heading to and getting there before anyone else is not the same as creating a brand new place. And that is the virtue successful entrepreneurs have: they know how to analyze the market looking for new business opportunities to develop and create new products and services.

If we could create needs, the world would be very boring.

And boring because we would all have the same car. Why would we need a smaller, or a larger one? or why would we even need a luxury car, instead of a two-door sedan if both of them allow us to satisfy our transportation needs the same way? Or maybe everyone would live in the same house, or would wear the same clothing?

Can you imagine what it would be if drug dealers could "create the need to consume" their products?

The power lies, as it has always done, on consumers, who have the power to decide to purchase an specific product, service or brand that suits their needs, and will purchase it from the one who knows how to discover what really motivates them to make the buying decision.

This post is dedicated to you. I do hope you enjoy it.

And here you have the link to Part I: How to make a successful sale: Do we create needs or simply discover them?



Tuesday, October 9, 2012

How To Make A Successful Sale: Do We Create Needs Or Simply Discover Them?

Do we really create needs?
Since the world began and companies have the need to selling their products to consumers, it has been said that sales people create needs in the minds of buyers, and guide them by the hand throughout the buying process.

I'll offer you an example to illustrate this point: I love aviation and airplanes, both large and small. A salesman comes now to my house, or the office (as you like it better) and wants to sell an airplane to me.

The vendor knows I like them airplanes and comes already armed to the teeth with all possible arguments and necessary strategies "to create" in my mind the need to buy an airplane.

Will I buy it? Of course I will not, because right now, even though I like airplanes a lot as I like flying them, I'm not in the situation to buy one. The desire might be there, deep inside, to buy one, but there is not enough motivation and money to do it right now.

If you don’t have the need to buy or simply can’t buy, no matter how much the sales guy puts his best effort into explaining the reasons why you should have his product, you will not buy. It's that simple.

The industry recognized this fact a long time ago.

If you don’t believe what I say, look at the cosmetics industry, for instance. How long has it been since they discovered women buy lipsticks because it makes them feel more beautiful? It’s been a long time. Do you believe that a lipstick that doesn’t appeal to this internal women’s need, would be successful? Doubtfully, and see that their marketing is not based at all on the specific characteristics of the product itself but their consumer’s needs.

Now, what happens, for example, in the case of women who don’t like wearing make-up and promote the “make-up free”, women’s natural beauty. Do you think you could convince them to buy a lipstick? Again, doubtfully, and not because they don’t want to feel beautiful, but because they satisfy their need on a very different way and not just by using lipsticks.

That is why it’s so important to find out the real need, what motivates each of your customers. You might think that this second woman would buy a lipstick because she wants to feel beautiful too, as all women do, but note that, in her specific case, this issue goes a different way

When salespeople say they do create needs in people’s mind, it sounds to me anything but a sales pitch for monday morning sales meetings so that vendors can go out and hit the road with an adrenaline rush.

The needs are deep inside there and it’s our job to discover them.

Remember the famous "Maslow's Pyramid of Needs"? It describes a different number of classifications for the different needs that we people have, from the basic ones to the most profound.

The trick to making a successful sale is learning to discover which of those needs is what motivates a buyer to make the decision to buy a product at an specific time, and, once you discover it, increase the urgency and demonstrate how your product will help your client meet that need.

Note that for each buyer the reason to buy the same product might be different. And that is why it’s so important to establish a dialogue with your prospective buyer to learn about their real needs and connect them with specific features of your product.

The secret lies in the ability to listen carefully and discover the real need.

Only allowing your customer to open and calmly express how they feel about your product, their expectations, concerns and many other related things, you will be able to understand what will motivate them to buy it.

Don’t make the mistake of believing that you can create a necessity on your client’s mind, because you will take a long, hard trip to go nowhere. Instead, focus your efforts in discovering their real needs and connect them with what your product, company or brand offers.

You will be surprised at the results.

When you put it into practice, can you tell me how it goes? If you've done it before, can you share with me how it came out?

Click here to continue to the second part of this post:
How to Make a Successful Sale: Do We Create Needs or Simply Discover Them? - Part II

Related article:
Corporate reputation and sales reps’ responsibility.