The Marines have this saying, “Don’t fall in love with your plan.”
So why is it that businesses and associates pushing ‘solutions’ are so captivated by their product that they forget to focus on whether the prospective client views it as necessary? Does the local bakery you’re trying to sell a social media marketing package to really need a ‘squeeze page’ design on their Facebook Timeline?
Maybe, but here’s a sample conversation reflecting what often happens between small business owners and solution-minded salespeople:
[Solution Seller]: You’re going to love the functionality of this social media optimization package. We’re going to design a custom Facebook Timeline that encourages new people to ‘like’ your page. Imagine the hundreds of people who could be fans of your shop within two months!
[Bakery Owner]: Hundreds of new fans? (I wonder if any of them will visit the shop or live in my community. It sure would be nice to figure out how to find some people who really like Kalamata olive bread and pastries, unlike the coffee jockeys who spend $2 and clog up my tables for hours).
[Bakery Owner]: Daily deals? I’m not sure that’s the best way for me to grow sales revenue (There’s no freaking way I’m offering a daily deal after reading some of the horror stories about deal sites and food service businesses. Plus, shouldn’t I try to grow a compelling reason to buy instead of throwing half off deals at people? I bet there’s a way to make a loyalty deal work though…like the ones Foursquare offers with their check-in process).
What are the false assumptions that derailed this hypothetical conversation?
- Optimization and Fans – It’s curious when people lead off a conversation about social media opportunities by focusing on proprietary software and ‘likes’ instead of the product offered by the business and how it can build a following based on the ideals/practices that have kept the doors open so far.
- Like With a Purpose – Fans are important, but ‘likes’ are fleeting. I can like a page without building any meaningful relationship with the owner. Someone who’s invested serious cash and sweat equity wants to learn how to connect with local customers in ways that encourage them to learn about their company, not just like it. Focusing on the storytelling mechanisms your product creates is more powerful than the number of likes it can drive (Especially since comments and shares often have more of an impact on EdgeRank than just clicking the like button).
- Test Drive in a Real World Environment – Showing someone how to create and schedule a story or building a local loyalty-based offer could be compelling enough to make a sale, if those actions match up with their primary goals for growth and community engagement.
The best salespeople know how to learn on the field and adjust as needed during a mission, just like the Marines do.