Storytelling to Sales

group of people holding message boards

“Stop! Don’t Skip this Ad!” is the stereotypical pitch promoting online sales. The personality then flexes their storytelling muscles explaining how they skyrocketed from humble beginnings. Often, sales trainers teach, “People buy with emotion and justify with logic.” In both cases, the delivered marketing message is that their product, service, or point of view must emotionally connect with the marketplace. Furthermore, to communicate with large marketplaces, effective marketers will segment potential customers. Effective storytelling results in sales when messaging reaches segmented niches desiring specific products or services. Consequently, storytelling that strengthens emotional bonds lead to better business results! So, what is the foundation of emotional bonds in business?

Networking
Relationships form in the marketplace to establish like and trust which lead to transactions. Value is the currency. The more value that a seller communicates and exchanges, the stronger the bonds. Once those bonds are strong enough for buyers to share benefits with like-minded professionals, then a network is born. Fundamentally, networking is the platform where like and trust is traded. Whether it is virtual, personal, or reputational, when people and entities are willing to share experiences to either facilitate benefits or avoid costly errors, the network performs as an exchange where value – based transactions happen.

The most amazing aspect of networking is the many ways that information moves. Countless coffee meetings, webinars, lunch dates and happy hours occur specifically to facilitate networking. Groups emerge, dissolve, change missions, dates, locations, and members. Nevertheless, functioning networks have a few simple, common traits. Individuals interact with other individuals. Common values are established so that goals are clearly identified. Trust evolves so that communal beliefs exist that whatever currency is exchanged has value. Essentially, common goals, like, and trust are more important than location, rules, dues, territories, titles, names, or members.

Niches
When exchanging value, it is equally important to understand what the parties will not do, as it is to determine what they will do. Niches reflect the boundaries for what transactions are acceptable in creating value. Beyond interacting with the right individuals, organizations, and entities, establishing identifiably specific targets are necessary to maximize success. Beyond a target industry or territory for a sales force, a niche represents the boundaries where excellence can be demonstrated. With regards to leveraging storytelling to maximize value, the niche represents the environmental language and culture where the story will be most appreciated.

Great sales professionals who can sell ice cream to Eskimos are a myth, in addition to being inappropriate. To establish greater sales, or other business results, the environment where transactions occur must value the delivered goods, services and benefits. The niche represents that environment. Cultivating that environment for individual business benefit is equally important as having great training, product knowledge, or personality. Success requires bringing value where it will be rewarded. Essentially, niches are targets that maximize expectations for success using advantages that individual sales efforts provide.

Takeaways
Storytelling establishes a clear path toward successful business growth. Networking sets foundational connections for groups with common values to grow. Niches identify environments where mutual benefits can be harvested. In coordinating these business success factors, individuals and organizations must maintain focus on the ultimate goal. Achieving specific, measurable business targets is the purpose. Sales drive enterprises. Storytelling is fundamentally an effective tactic leading to success. But, never confuse the journey with the destination. Do what works! Efforts are applauded; results are rewarded! Ultimately, let the story proclaim the results.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Posted in Business Coaching, Business Development, Client Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Grind Goes On And On

three person holding smartphones

Business professionals love winning the big deal! It reinforces their individual branding as superior performers. Such exploits fuel the storytelling that drives their growing reputations and results in even more successful business. Revenue growth confirms individual progress toward a future of more impressive wins. The resulting narrative then leads to greater opportunities. Subsequently, emerging reputations and ongoing communication within marketplaces require repeated excellence. Once the thrill of victory is over, rainmakers resume the lonely work of igniting progress for the next opportunity. This relationship is not linear. As one deal concludes, the next one is already in progress. The grind continues.

Continuous Activity
Success in this dynamic environment is process-driven. Success demands sustained focus. To maximize success, these overachieving professionals learn and execute at a deeper level in specific niches. The more that established practices can be replicated, the quicker new revenue can be recognized. The continuous activity requires purpose and structure. Fortunately, it perpetuates patterns of success and rewards.

Meanwhile, complex markets feature constantly changing innovations, regulations, competitors, and customers. Still, certain fundamentals remain consistent. Even in the face of new applications for given goods and services, old applications do not typically vanish overnight. In fact, the most effective sales professionals develop personally strong rapport with incumbent customers who often share potential competitors and under-development intelligence. Conflicts of interests ethically must be honored. However, new opportunities through superior intelligence gathering provide legitimate competitive advantages.

Periodic Results
Another essential success characteristic for growing revenue involves recording progress of all sales processes. Besides utilizing sales funnel applications to monitor potential sales opportunities and process discipline, incorporate competitors’ opportunities and intelligence to identify growth possibilities. By documenting these strategic insights, great sales professionals flex their ability to detect trends and innovations as new users begin exploring them. To remain ahead of the curve, routine progress checks of possibilities and intelligence must be part of the sales process.

Furthermore, monitoring metrics regarding sales cycles, product availability, and communication patterns with all prospects is an essential success tactic. The more available data that a sales professional accesses, the easier it is to identify discrepancies in projected sales cycle. While any two transactions may not be identical, especially regarding commercial sales, trends still emerge through meaningful data resulting from sufficiently full pipelines. Embrace superior efforts to deliver superior results. Likewise, superior data analysis feeds superior efforts. The equation is clear. Better data analysis leads to better execution and consequently better results!

Takeaways
Regardless of the thrill of victory, continue performing the daily work. Respect the process. Enjoy the small wins. Celebrate the big wins. Every conquest leads to new territory to claim. Accept that after every huge feast, hunger returns again. Successful processes will keep feeding that hunger for success. Furthermore, stay focused on areas of expertise that align with consistently articulated branding. Dominate specific niches. Serve the type of customers that willingly accept individualized, singular excellence. Likewise, allow future excellence to grow on the foundation of previous success. Simultaneously, repeat what works while innovating. If the desire is for successful business growth to continue, then the grind must go on!

 
By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Posted in Business Development, Client Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Followers, Customers, Value – What’s First?

BusinessmanAgainstTheGrain

In a world with hundreds of channels and thousands of websites, how does anyone ever decide on any single entertainment option? Marketers endure the same dilemma in establishing communication with their marketplace. Marketing campaigns have innumerable options to connect with influencers, prospects, and customers. Determining who to talk to first is just as important as what to stay. So much media, such limited budget! Consequently, the marketer’s key question is, “Which communication channel delivers the best revenue results?”. Setting priorities is a great strategy, deciding the best path to maximize value is much, much trickier.

Connection
Tactically, connecting with a designated target audience is a proven first step. Realize that connecting requires two-way communication. For instance, readers accept information in written form. Alternatively, talkers thrive in interpersonal exchanges and best receive information verbally. Something as simple as understanding the specific industry’s acronyms and buzz words can dictate effective communication. Regardless of what media a marketer uses, successful communication depends on the listener being able to receive information in the same manner the speaker delivers.

However, connection gets harder when communicating a similar message across multiple media. Explaining superior benefits during a sales call is much different than on an Instagram video. A message as straightforward as communicating pricing can easily be received much differently across any two channels. The message must be consistent with the connection to create the right emotional bond so that both facts and credibility transfer from the speaker to the receiver. Benefits may be universal, but messaging gets very specific regarding prospects. Connection demands sending information such that it is received properly.

Value
Superior communication helps transform followers into prospects. Nevertheless, business only happens upon transitioning prospects to customers. Value dictates this step. Superior marketing uses various communication channels to ensure that the journey concludes with a mutually satisfying deal. Fundamentally, every customer wants more satisfaction from their purchase, than they would have enjoyed had they spent their money elsewhere. Whether acquiring commercial raw materials or personal luxury items, the value comes down to doing better because of the purchase, instead of holding onto the money. Consequently, the seller must input as much utility into the product or service as possible.

Superior marketing establishes terms so that sellers benefit from that dynamic. The multi-media component means that consistent, or at least complimentary, messaging resonates across airwaves, through websites, and via influencers so that diverse buyers can emotionally justify buying. Marketing across various media works best when consistent themes inspire specific audiences to extract individual benefits. Communicating exclusivity appeals to a specific target market regardless of the media. That customer simply wants to be satisfied that they have something that most people do not. This target, regardless of marketing channel, wishes to buy obvious evidence of their superiority.

Takeaway
Regarding successful marketing strategies, what gets targeted first: followers, customers, or values? The specific target audience depends on how effectively the seller can communicate with them. Any marketer who answers the question, “Who is my target customer?”, with the answer, “Everyone”, fundamentally loses! Multi-media marketing helps solve that riddle. The target customer is no longer a person, it is a mindset. The magic is in the message and how it reaches the individual. Marketers that communicate consistent attributes to an audience who clearly hears what they personally find attractive will succeed. Consequently, effective messaging uses superior storytelling so that each customer hears exactly what they want. Then, they are willing to buy.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Posted in Business Development, Client Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Brand Stands Alone?

Stand Alone Skyscraper

Why do jingles stay in customers’ heads for years? How do families ignore price or quality because of branding? So many questions, so many dollars relying on these answers. Brand loyalty can easily morph into cultural tradition. In some parts of the country, buying a Chevy truck instead of a Ford can jeopardize an inheritance! Fundamentally, great branding leads to extreme behaviors in customers, and consequently, more dollars into corporate coffers! Beyond features and benefits, buying decisions ultimately reveal cultural identity and credible influencers. So, how does a marketer develop such brand loyalty and emotional connectivity?

Declare Value
Products and services deliver specific sets of features, solving certain problems in the marketplace. Business occurs when someone pays for that outcome. Brands create value when that marketplace anticipates satisfaction and believes the purchase will deliver it. Value is obvious when premium products have high prices because of the purchase’s emotional gratification. But, it is equally true at lower prices, when basic satisfaction is enough. Being cheapest can be a recognized value!

But, no product regardless of cheapness relies on price as the only reason to buy. Quality can drop to low, low levels. Ultimately, even minimal value can result simply from endorsements or clever marketing. While celebrity endorsements create widespread buzz, a local presence reinforcing community loyalty serves the same goal. In local supermarket aisles, a generic cola has to communicate at some level that its bargain basement price provides better satisfaction per dollar than Coke. At the bare minimum, “No-name” cola is brown, sugary and fizzy enough.

Continue Communication
Low prices do not mean that products get to claim their value. The marketplace declares value! Brands simply get to manipulate prices to reflect value. Take the example of low-end cigarettes in urban communities. Superior benefits and attributes become irrelevant in the face of feeding a nicotine fix or identifying with the popular brand on the block. Essentially, trend-setting influencers, advocates and images dictate purchase choices and that reality exists completely up the value chain.

In certain categories of consumer brands, regional preferences favor specific competitors. In the northeastern United States, taste, sweetness, freshness are irrelevant characteristics in who dominates the donut market. Krispy Kreme empirically wins handily in these key characteristics, but Dunkin’ Donuts dominates the cash register. Local tastes defies the tongue in this competitive category. Image makers, channel partners, and credible influencers have effectively communicated better attributes associated with Dunkin’ Donuts. The brand embraces the story, the marketing channels perpetuate it such that targeted consumers believe it.

Takeaways
The question remains, “Who needs partners when they have a great brand?” The answer continues to be, “Everyone!” Branding extends beyond sellers shouting their superiority from rooftops. Effectiveness requires building trust through intermediaries and delivering value at every point in the sales channel. Guaranties must be honored. Upgrades must be easily available. Options must be communicated. Beyond the point of sale, every part of the customer experience must be seamlessly executed. Branding is not what is said. It is what is done! Businesses at all levels build brands representing their persona to the marketplace. Ongoing sales success demands every step of the customer experience, whether through collaboration or a singular value chain, executes and communicates directly to the customer. Branding takes teamwork. And, earned trust leads to premium profits.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Posted in Business Coaching, Business Development | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This Network Is Hard Work

Efficient-International-Negotiation

Everyone notices the great schmoozers in the middle of a crowd roaring with laughter. Bystanders are quick to praise their networking skills. Their storytelling holds audiences hostage. They always have the right punch line at the right time. They are quick to make key introductions between influential professionals who secretly wanted to connect. On the golf course or the annual conference’s after-hours event, they look like a million bucks, every time.

However, that schmoozer is fooling the crowd. The best networkers connect buyers with sellers. They access people and products that solve very specific problems. Master networkers religiously provide extraordinary service in every deal where they participate. Most importantly, great networkers create unexpected value between professionals once they get involved. She works hard to positions herself to enjoy rewards that result directly from her actions and relationships. So, how do mere mortals get these skills?

Do The Job
Between making connections and contributing resources, great networkers fundamentally deliver solutions. As business professionals, they realize that work is necessary to create value. Furthermore, they understand that great work results from great preparation. Somebody has to get the job done! Results matter. They simply focus on doing it first. Preparation means that they contribute insight in carefully targeted situations. They know their niche. Besides understanding exactly what happened regarding the latest industry intelligence, they focus on who made it happen.

Additionally, the job involves intimately knowing the competitive landscape. Then, they insert themselves by congratulating, influencing, and endorsing colleagues and customers at every opportunity. Opportunity does not magically find great networkers. Opportunities follow bread crumbs that savvy professionals drop at every occasion. Considering that business development professionals are responsible for securing revenue, the most prosperous ones participate across the value chain. They personally know about sources, raw goods, distributors, and buyers within their industry. Doing the job at this level clearly requires extra work. It then delivers extra rewards!

Tell The Story
To apply such expertise to so many stakeholders, master networkers always communicate effectively and efficiently. Storytelling is their weapon to communicate facts and emotions to audiences that matter most. Consequently, the superior networker pays enormous attention to detail. These details have to reach other influencers who facilitate transactions. Consequently, their self-promotion, referral promotion, and industry promotion create a rising tide that lifts many boats.

A master networker tells stories that are well received and circulated, because he includes multiple characters who have individual incentives to share the story. Great stories benefit from invested audiences! When more people both participate and circulate the story, greater reach and more valuable results happen. Networkers who excel in creating value maximize success because they continuously include advocates and beneficiaries. The best way to create enormous value is to be sure that enough people benefit from transactions reputationally or financially. Get the audience participating in the story!

Takeaways
This network is hard work. You schmooze, you lose! However, professionals who lock in on delivering tangible results create opportunities to continue building rewards. Reputational growth equates to stronger personal branding, and consequently more opportunities for success. Assist in building other individual’s professional reputations. Give credit liberally. The contacts that benefit from the relationship know who really was responsible. Then, encourage them to join and contribute to the next big deal as an insider!

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Posted in Business Coaching, Business Development, Client Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Grabbing Money or Building Value

Money

Barnum’s American Museum entertained millions of young and old customers across America throughout the mid 1800’s with brand new attractions and freakish animals. P.T. Barnum, the outlandish owner, placed signs on specific doors that said, “This Way to the Egress”. Curious customers eagerly approached the door, and subsequent doors with the same sign until they found themselves outside of the museum. An “egress” is another name for “exit”. Consequently, anyone wanting to return to the museum had to pay another admission fee! Understandably, the value proposition of this practice was poorly received.

Money Grab
Grabbing customers’ money through trickery is a death sentence in today’s business world. Information, opinions, and bad news travels too fast. Customers have options and substitutes for most products and services. Consequently, customers who believe that they were mistreated, will take the egress and head toward a competitor. Yet, some businesses continue to dupe customers to buy before they fully understand. The value that business creates disappears as fast as each fooled customer churns.

Re-establishing trust is hard once customer credibility is violated. Businesses focused on the money grab eventually spend too much time and money finding new customers instead of taking care of the ones they have. Even the business’ internal and external storytelling suffers because the message continuously changes as marketers reinvent shady claims. An exciting product, or a dazzling service may capture the marketplace’s imagination initially. But, the marketplace will report poor performance and the damaged brand will have difficulty recovering. Ultimately, customer satisfaction becomes non-existent, marketing costs soar, and doors close in the money grab world.

Money Hold
When sellers build relationships on purpose along with delivering a desirable product or service, the seller benefits from the money hold. Consider an exceptional contractor who transforms kitchens into magical palaces of cooking and conversation. Since the contractor has demonstrated credibility and cultivated a miracle-worker reputation, buyers gladly pay a deposit to get started. Besides establishing trust in the marketplace, his longevity indicates that this contractor is responsible. As a responsible service-provider, the miracle-working contractor earns the privilege to hold money at the beginning of the transaction. As evidenced by his ability to sustain service delivery excellence, the belief is that he also holds onto it well on the back-end.

The money hold mindset reinforces a reputation for excellence with the ability to benefit from referrals. Success encourages subcontractors to want to work with him. Also, suppliers want to attach their reputation to his brand by offering favorable terms in their selling relationship. The value multiplies throughout the subcontractor’s supply chain resulting in superior growth. Essentially, the money hold creates a more positive and sustainable business environment. The value is revealed in the final product, and in the contractor’s brand.

Takeaways
Ultimately, in business, the money will move. Rewards grow according to the level of service provided. Consequently, marketing that emphasizes superior service creates greater opportunities to do good and do well. Service-based branding and superior execution makes a difference in the rewards that a business enjoys. Hyper growth is exciting. But, enduring growth builds better business. Grabbing money attracts a lot of business attention. Holding money builds fortunes. Business success ultimately comes down to making money and keeping it.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Posted in Business Development, Creating Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Your Brand Said What?

Business Secrets Whisper

During an overly animated marketing presentation with a sweat-dripping speaker, an interesting branding question surfaced: “When does your brand take a break?” The presenter stopped dead in his tracks. Took a deep breath and screamed, “NEVER”, before returning to attack his audience. Truly, a brand has several characteristics. It can be liked, or hated. It can be clever, or boring. An effective brand projects assorted human characteristics because its purpose is to speak for the business, person, or organization even in their absence. But, how does a marketer really know what their brand is saying?

Who You Are
An effective brand communicates for a specific business, organization, or person. The “who” may not be a literal person. For example, a celebrity chef has a brand that speaks on his behalf. The chef’s cooking style indicates a certain background. The media channel that broadcasts the show says something about the target audience. Yet, the individual is more complex than the brand. Customers are less interested in the person and more fixated on the image that the person projects. Raving fans want to identify with the celebrity chef because they want people to connect them to the celebrity’s good taste and personal style.

A brand speaks for a business such that it continuously sends information, and reinforce their market appeal. Social media images can flood worldwide audiences around the clock. Even inanimate businesses can project their personality under those circumstances. Essentially, the brand communicates an ongoing set of opinions, images and sound bites so that customers, fans, and pundits can piggyback on the attention the brand craves. A winning brand projects a personality that attracts attention leading to growth. The public then decides how they want to engage it.

What You Deliver
Personality is not the only attribute attracting business to a given brand. A well- executed brand communicates how well an audience values its benefits. At 7:45 AM on a Friday, a favorite coffee house delivers its signature brew just fast enough for an assistant manager to arrive at the office at 8:10 for an 8:00 team meeting. However, the assistant manager knows that the boss has publicly acknowledged his addiction to their dark roast. So, when the employee arrives at the meeting with two cups of dark roast, both he and the delighted boss understand that five more minutes of grace period remained because the boss now had his fix. Brand loyalty results from delivering on emotional promises.

Great brands deliver satisfaction, experiences, reliability, timeliness, durability, or cool points to loyal customers. Customers who ally themselves with such brands willingly pay for the privilege of that connection. Ask your favorite Nordstrom shopper. Such brands clearly tell buyers what to expect, then faithfully deliver it. The only part of the buying process that is more important than what a particular brand means, is when the customer experiences the brand doing what it said.

Takeaways
Acknowledging a brand’s personality is the first step for a marketer to harness its power. A meaningful brand’s character involves the ability to make an emotional connection to the customer. Notice how happy children look when entering Disneyland. The relationship has been established before starting the memorable experience. Can a customer imagine buying a Mercedes-Benz without expecting to be pampered at every dealership visit for scheduled maintenance? Successful brands communicate, then deliver. Whether through messaging or actions, the brand speaks louder than any singular purchase. Successful brands must communicate clearly AND deliver consistently, or accept being disconnected like an AOL email account.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Posted in Business Development, Creating Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment