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About Clay

Clay's recruiting and strategic consulting efforts over the past 20 years have provided firms in the printing and communications industries the talent and perspective that has enabled them to navigate the constant change they’ve faced.

His current company, the bleedingEDGE, provides digital printing firms with 1:1 marketing solutions that enable their small- and medium-sized clients to compete with larger competitors using a cooperative strategy and production model. In addition to the normal 1:1 marketing techniques of personalization and customization, the bleedingEDGE incorporates timing strategies, generational analysis and sociological factors in producing results well above the norm.

 

Don’t Fool Yourself...Your Customers Don't Care About You!

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Your customers—and especially your prospects—don’t care about you. They don’t care about the products you’re selling, and they don’t care about your company. If they did, then they would return your phone calls. They wouldn’t check their texts/e-mails when you’re talking to them. They’d respond to your direct mail, and they’d get excited about the stuff you’re offering; stuff you know would be good for them.

All the sales advice, all the sales books and whatever other help you find can’t change that. They really don’t care. For the most part, you’re just another added burden—taking up their time and mind space with just another agenda item. Your customers want less...not more!

All the sales gurus, sales trainers and sales coaches talk about empathy and relationship selling. But how much of this advice is actually put into action? At the end of the day, you’re probably just selling. You have something to sell and you’re damn sure going to find someone to sell it to.

Unless you’re going to just play the numbers—make enough calls and eventually hope something sticks—it’s only going to get worse. Time and attention are resources that are rapidly depleting. And every day there’s something new taking another little piece.

Unless you want to be a casualty of this inevitability, you’re going to have to prove to your customers and prospects you truly deserve the attention they’re willing to give you.

Empathize; really get into their lives. Put down your briefcase, your samples and your sales playbook. That person you’ve targeted is not just a prospect—a way for you to make quota.

Customers and prospects are people, just like you. They have families, just like you. And those families take priority. They may have a parent that they’re contemplating putting in a nursing home. Their son may have autism. They may be stressing over how they’re going to pay for their daughter’s college.

None of these things have anything to do with their businesses or their jobs—jobs they’re trying to subtract from, not add to. In their minds, you are really just another addition—another slice of their time, time that is already in short supply.

Back when I recruited, my candidates had to figure out what impact they had on their last employers. How did they make them money, how did they save them money and, most of all, how did they make their bosses lives easier? Those who focused on the latter, almost always got an offer.

All of the sudden, employers looked at these candidate differently. What effect could the person have on their lives (personally, as well as professionally)? Maybe this candidate would be someone they could depend on so they could see their children play soccer after school or attend their school play. These are things that matter at the end of the day

Print, or whatever you sell, may not have the same impact on someone’s life that a new employee would, but that doesn’t mean you and your product can’t make an impact. You just have to figure out what that is. How you can fit into the story that is your prospect’s life, and how you can make it a better one?

People don't buy features, they don’t really even buy ROI. What they buy is what that ROI will do for them and their lives, most often their lives outside that office they’re sitting in. The best way to learn this is to listen. By listening, rather pitching, you’ll find out what’s important to them, and what they’ll react to.

I wrote a post on personal blog a couple of months ago about “The Talking Stick.”  Read it, and you'll get my point.

It amazes me how telemarketers can be so arrogant. They think that schwag they’re pushing is so important as to merit calling me unsolicited at 9:00 at night. I didn’t give them permission to call me, let alone at the climax of NCIS.

You probably aren’t calling your prospects—or even customers—at night, but you’re probably calling them when it works for you, not them. How high up on their priority list are you? Probably not as high as you think. Have you taken the time to really get to know who they are and what matters to them? That’s the only way to move up higher on the list.

Have you taken the time to figure out how your “stuff” is going to make your prospects’ life better...not just improve their companies’ nebulous ROI, an ROI you may be paying more attention to than they are. In this time of oversaturation of information and choices, businesses that delve into the realities of life and how the personal and professional overlap will be allowed in their customers’ lives. Those that don’t will be just another intrusion.

Imagine if one of your suppliers took the time to get to know you...really get to know you. Would you do business with them? Would you let that person into your life?

I’m betting you would.

Follow me on Twitter at @clayforsberg and check out more of my ramblings on my blog: "On the Road to Your Perfect World."

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COMMENTS

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Most Recent Comments:
Ken - Posted on May 12, 2011
I agree completely with what you're saying. I've been in print sales for many years and those accounts that have been most successful were ones that had relationships develop along the lines you're prescribing. I've also never been one to crow about equipment or parade a bunch of samples. After all, printing a quality product should be a given and most customers don't really care about the equipment beyond your capability to get it done at a fair price and delivered on time with the least amount of headaches for them. However...If the customers and especially the prospects don't care. If they don't answer your calls, return your voicemail, respond to your direct mail, then how does a sales person get past GO and to the stage of being empathetic to the prospects life and challenges? Don't prospects have a responsibility to the people who are signing their paychecks to take the time and find out what that person on the other end of the line has to offer? I guess it's easier for a prospect to stick with the legacy vendor and not waste their time giving someone else an opportunity to see if they can help. The person on the other end of the line couldn't possibly make their lives any easier...right? It's the devil you know, as they say.
rob reichstein - Posted on May 11, 2011
Clay, no truer words have been spoken (or in this case written). Printers take way too much time extolling the virtues of their equipment. Truth is, no one cares what anyone else says unless it has direct impact on them! It's all about WIIFM - What's in it for me. Get over yourself, get over your equipment, personnel, processes, etc. Just talk about results!
Click here to view archived comments...
Archived Comments:
Ken - Posted on May 12, 2011
I agree completely with what you're saying. I've been in print sales for many years and those accounts that have been most successful were ones that had relationships develop along the lines you're prescribing. I've also never been one to crow about equipment or parade a bunch of samples. After all, printing a quality product should be a given and most customers don't really care about the equipment beyond your capability to get it done at a fair price and delivered on time with the least amount of headaches for them. However...If the customers and especially the prospects don't care. If they don't answer your calls, return your voicemail, respond to your direct mail, then how does a sales person get past GO and to the stage of being empathetic to the prospects life and challenges? Don't prospects have a responsibility to the people who are signing their paychecks to take the time and find out what that person on the other end of the line has to offer? I guess it's easier for a prospect to stick with the legacy vendor and not waste their time giving someone else an opportunity to see if they can help. The person on the other end of the line couldn't possibly make their lives any easier...right? It's the devil you know, as they say.
rob reichstein - Posted on May 11, 2011
Clay, no truer words have been spoken (or in this case written). Printers take way too much time extolling the virtues of their equipment. Truth is, no one cares what anyone else says unless it has direct impact on them! It's all about WIIFM - What's in it for me. Get over yourself, get over your equipment, personnel, processes, etc. Just talk about results!