Your students are going to love the activities in this eBook!
Please click on the image below to go to AMAZON.COM
Your students are going to love the activities in this eBook!
Please click on the image below to go to AMAZON.COM
All of us who work in sales & marketing have seen the radical changes the field has undergone in the past few years. Many, however, are still living in the past and somehow do not believe the changes apply to their particular kind of industry. B2B companies especially are resistant to the new forms of promotion the Internet and the social media channels have brought about and insist on doing things the old way. Of course they are not succeeding as before, and more and more senior management are missing their sales targets and losing their jobs. If you are in sales and marketing, make sure you rethink your ideas if you still believe in the following myths:
1. Marketing is about hype. If you think that by promoting the features and benefits of your products as loud as you can, the customers will believe they need you, you will be in for a nasty surprise. Customers are a lot more skeptical today. They’ve been yelled at for far too long. They will just shut you off as soon as you start blabbering about your product, skip your ads, block your emails, and close your pop-up banners in a rage. Hype won’t bring you sales. Educate and inform your public, produce useful content (blog posts, video clips, white papers, infographics, e-books) and let them find out about you. Make yourself available on search engines and wait. The customers will indicate when they are ready to buy from you.
2. Salespeople need to talk the customers into buying. You still need to be very proactive in sales, but not as the typical pushy car salesman of yesteryear. Do not try to take advantage of your customers. You need to work more closely than ever to the marketing team in the process of passing as much information and useful content as possible to your prospects before you close. You need to be more of a consultant. The customer probably already knows a lot about the product when he is ready to buy, and he didn’t get the info necessarily from you. There are hundreds of sources of information available online, so make sure you are prepared to pass on very sophisticated and updated info to your customers when and if they finally get to you, as they will very likely already know the basics.
3. Marketing and Sales are very different departments. The former’s job is to pass on qualified leads to the latter. Not anymore! The basic difference now between the two departments in the number of people they address and communicate with. Marketing will still have to segment the market into very specific buying personas (a refined stereotype of the typical customer for a certain product), but they will be talking to a number of people in that segment at a time. Sales, on the other hand, will carry on the marketing process (which is mainly giving the customer as much useful content as possible) when he identifies a specific customer that needs a more personal approach, a one-to-one kind of conversation with a real human being to ask the final questions or understand the finer points of your offer. Many customers will totally skip salespeople and go straight to purchasing through the self-service websites. You need to be better than ever as a salesperson to be needed and relevant in today’s marketplace.
4. Promotion is the heart of success. Embellish the communication about your product and you can get away with anything. Wrong. The product itself is the most important part of marketing today. You should be offering purple cows (as the marketing guru Seth Godin calls them): products and services that are so exciting and awesome that can self-promote and inspire the buyers to purchase them. Think Apple and design. Think Amazon and its obsession with customer service. That’s the new marketing.
5. You sell to customers. Another common mistake companies make today. They still think they are selling their products to customers. It’s the other way around: customers buy products from you. The difference is less subtle than you may think. It means that the customers are in total control of the purchasing process. They will somehow identify their needs (through friends and contacts in social media, through blogs, through well-designed and content packed websites) and get as much info as possible about solutions before getting ready to buy. Your job is to be available on every step of the way (we tend to call the stages towards a purchase the sales funnel; we should be calling it the purchase funnel, though). Therefore, you need to provide content to match the stage the customer is at: from more general and comprehensive to more specific and product-based.
These are some of the most common sales & marketing myths still held by many professionals today. They need to change fast if they want to keep their jobs.
If you haven’t had the chance to read Brad Stone’s THE EVERYTHING STORE: JEFF BEZOS AND THE AGE OF AMAZON, reach out for your Kindle and download it right now. It’s an exciting account of the creation and development of Amazon into one of the most unique companies in history and the life of his peculiar founder Jeff Bezos.
Amazon.com started as an online book retailer and grew to become a company where you can purchase virtually anything, from apparel, to art to web services. It originated the concept of cloud computing service and was the first company, through the Kindle, to turn online reading into a reality for thousand of hundreds of people on the planet. In addition, it claims it will be launching rockets into outer space soon.
If Amazon puts the client first – and, as customers, you and I can certainly attest to that – working for Bezos looks like it’s not a lot of fun. Amazon is supposed to have all the depressing and Orwellian political atmosphere and red tape of huge corporations combined with the lack of resources of a startup. Many of his ex-employees are said to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and the ones who remain there live under constant pressure and fear of getting fired before the end of the day. Bezo’s explosive personality is not very different from that of another difficult boss – Steve Jobs. It is kind of sad to think Nature tends to offset their kind of genius and creativity with a terrifying temperament and underdeveloped interpersonal skills.
Despite these drawbacks, you may find below a number of interesting lessons and facts about Jeff Bezos and his company. They are all based on info I got from the book. You may either try to apply them in your own business or, at least, enjoy these points as mere trivia:
1. Monitor your clients more than your competition. Of course Amazon has always kept a close eye on Walmart, Apple, Barnes and Noble, and Google – their main competitors. But he has always been much more likely to create or optimize processes that, rather than simply emulate these companies breakthroughs in terms of profitability, would actually benefit the client. For him, the client experience has always come first. Short term profit has always been an afterthought.
2. Frugality. Bezos is obsessed with simplicity and adept of an ascetic life style (in this he was not very different from Jobs either, by the way). He has always kept his staff on a very tight budget, cutting all kinds of extra costs with the aim of investing in the clients’ experience. His mantra was low prices everyday (just like Walmart’s), and he would go out of his way to make this happen, keeping his margins to a minimum or even giving them up altogether, such was his confidence in a business model that, if trusted by the client, would payoff in the future. Bezos would carefully consider the need of every extra expense or cost and try to connect it directly to a benefit to the client. Lack of resources, according to him, would spur creativity and imagination from his staff.
3. You may learn more from fiction than non-fictional books. His favorite novel is Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day. I was very happy to hear about this, as I love reading novels and this is certainly one of my all-time favorites. However, I don’t really think you can learn the hard facts about being an entrepreneur from the likes of Philip Roth or Machado de Assis. Fiction in my opinion will help you deal with the human side of business, and will probably keep you from having to resort to antidepressants when you struggle to work under bosses like Bezos, get sabotaged by coworkers or even fired. But, in my humble opinion, only the actual experience and the study of technical reading material will help you grow in your career. The most interesting thing about this aspect of Bezos’s personality is that his love for books boosted the launch of the Kindle, whereas Steve Job’s passion for music – especially Bob Dylan’s and the Beatles’s – was a strong inspiration in his creation of iTunes. Do what you love and you are more likely to succeed.
4. Think very long term. Entrepreneurs need to persist in seeding. The payoff never comes immediately. Especially now, in this fast-paced, ever-changing technological landscape. Appreciate the little victories you achieve every day and fight on. Celebrate every little step towards a moving target you don’t even know if you will ever reach.
5. Be ruthless in the negotiation with your competition. For Jeff Bezos “win-win” was an unamazon way of thinking. You need to score an advantage over your opponents. Think football during these times of World Cup. A draw is not acceptable. Do not even be afraid of disrupting your own business model in your pursuit to win. Do everything to destroy it and create something new instead. If you don’t do it, others will. Cannibalization is OK.
You may not agree with every tip Bezos has to offer, but remember where he got to by using them. Of course, you should always take successful entrepreneurs’s and gurus’ advice with a grain of salt, for, as Malcolm Gladwell explains in his brilliant book OUTLIERS, there is always a lot more to success than meets the eye. A set of special conditions not available to all is always present in the these Cinderella’s stories of ash to riches, so look out for them.
What is your formula for success? Please share it with us (if we are not competing with you).
NOTE: If you are interested in TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART, you might want to check out our successful series of eBooks available from AMAZON.COM (KINDLE STORE). Just click here: http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1lS
I know, paper book lover, you are offended even before you start reading this post. And, believe me, I completely understand your love for this dear old object that dates back to the 1500s, following the development of the movable types by Gutenberg (although in Asia this happened even before). I even share that warm feeling towards the smell of newly-acquired books. Just like you, I’m also awed by its amazing endurance, after all it’s been around for more than 500 years with little variation.
However, I’m sorry to herald the news that its days are numbered. And the process of replacement will be faster than you think. Print books will always be valued, but more and more they will become a relic, used more as an ornament, a piece of decoration, having the status we give to contemporary coffee-table books. They will be regarded as a beautiful, yet a bit funny, object of a previous era, very much like the clay tablet, papyrus scrolls and parchments we respectfully admire in museums today. I don’t remember seeing anyone reading the latest Paulo Coelho on a papyrus scroll on the subway recently! Print books will represent something antique and valuable, but I doubt people will use it practically. E-books will progressively replace them. Starting from school materials.
At the risk of sounding pretentious, I honestly believe that I may have been among the first Brazilians to have a Kindle. I know that because I ordered the hardware the minute it was available to Brazil, meaning that the download of books would work here without the need for any hacking or tricks. That happened two years after its launch in the US. However, I had been reading digitally even before that, as I owned an e-reader account in the medieval days of Palm PDAs.
But let me tell you the reasons I have loved e-books from the first moment I heard about them.
1. Availability of titles in English
If you couldn’t read in English, there was no point in having a Kindle at its inception, as most books available were in this language. I’ve always read more in English than in Portuguese (despite the fact that the latter is my native language), and it was always a bit frustrating not to have access to some of the books I wanted hot off the press. Whenever I traveled to the US, I would come back with a huge load of these Gutenberguian objects, which made my backpack really heavy and uncomfortable. To this day I can’t get over the fact that any content is now just a mouse click away to be ordered, whenever and wherever you are.
I’m always reading three or four books at the same time (sometimes more). I get easily bored, and like to move from one topic to another very quickly. How can you do that with print books when you are away from home? I must confess that this volatility of mine got even worse now that I’m able to carry my library around on my iPhone. Print books begin to feel awkward to carry and even to read from, once you get used to tablets and smart phones. Try accessing the left-hand page of a thick paperback!
Whenever I come across an interesting mention about a book, I instantly access Amazon.com and download a sample. I must admit I tend to purchase it later, which makes me a very easy prey for these kinds of ultra-smart marketing tactics.
There is a lot out there to catch up with and I have only a lifetime. Somehow you move faster on digital text, there are many reasons why, one being the very fact that you avoid losing seconds – that add up – turning pages. All you have to do at the end of a digital page is to tap on it and you are instantly taken to the next one. I have just read about a new speed reading app, called Spritz (http://www.spritzinc.com), and tried it out. I realized it’s pretty addictive and I’m sure I will be moving on to it as soon as it’s available. Yes, I know about the Woody Allen joke: he speed read through War and Peace and all he remembered at the end was that it may have been about some kind of war in Russia. If it gets this bad, I will quit trying to increase my pace, promise.
5. The size of the font
One is not twenty years old forever, and the eyesight suffers with time. Even with glasses, very small fonts are irritating. So, to be able to choose and control the size of the font you are reading in is a great advantage.
6. Instant access to a dictionary
I love words, and the process of making new acquaintances, stumbling upon prospective friends and identifying them is made a lot simpler and quicker on a e-book. Click on the word and the definition pops up.
7. The fact that you can highlight, bookmark and annotate orderly and beautifully
These are some of the things that always comes up whenever I listen to someone defending print books. They say they can’t move on to digital books as they love to highlight and comment on passages. Obviously, they are unaware that these have always been features of e-books, since their dawn. And you can do it in different colors, without ever having the problem of your marker running out of ink.
I’m sure that, by now, you, print book lover, are hating me even more, if you ever got to this point in the text, and certainly will want to hit me in the head with one of the heaviest of these outdated objects you might have at hand: The Complete Works of Shakespeare? I will duck and try to run away, carrying with me not only a similar copy in my e-library, but also, the Complete Works of Lewis Carroll, Oscar Wilde, and Edgar Allan Poe…plus the Bible! Ah, and, classics as they are, they cost me nothing, or only a couple of dollars on Amazon!
NOTE: You might want to check out our eBooks available from AMAZON.COM. Just click here to know more about the series TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART: http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1lS