The very foundation of sales is to engage with current and prospective customers with the aim of demonstrating the business value and proposition of ones products and services.The foundation of marketing is designed to position an organization in markets which have a need for specific products and services.Over time organizations have tried numerous sales and marketing methods always seeking better methods and messages to improve sales.
From Spin Selling, Strategic Selling, Consultive Selling the methods have changed with time. Each method attempting to improve the sales process, the people skills and the ultimate results, more sales.
The marketing functions have largely been driven by innovative messages to attract the target audiences. We’ve witnessed ever kind of commercial, print ads, web site designs and spam email all aimed at getting the customers attention.
Hollywood has historically produced movies which reflect both our cultural state of mind relative sales and marketing methods at any given time in history. In 1987 the movie “Tin Men” depicted door-to-door aluminum siding salesmen in Baltimore in 1963. Working for different companies, the salesmen are prepared to do almost anything — legal or illegal — to close a sale. An investigating government commission charged with uprooting corrupt sales practices in the home improvements industry calls both men before them, and takes away their licenses. Reconciled to their fate, the two men start planning new business deals together.
In 1987 the movie “Wall Street” depicted capital hungry takeover artist who would buy firms, dismantle them and sell the pieces for more than they bought the whole. The movie depicted insider trading schemes as the way to get rich quick and the ruthless ethics of Wall Street traders hungry to make millions. Power from money was the overriding theme, at all cost. In the center of the movie was a moral battle a young man had with these tactics and the foundation of his upbringing by his blue collar working Dad. The movie ends with an SEC inquiry of the Wall Street Firm, damaged relationships but a Dad who is proud of his son for standing on the truth. The movie depicted the consumption with making money at all cost which reflected our cultural values at that time..
Has Today’s Sales and Marketing Methods Matured?
People have become frustrated and worn out with gimmicks, slick messages and outright lies. In an effort to “entertain” us marketing as turned to impressionable advertising and humor vying for our attention in hopes of creating an identity to their product or service. The assumption is that if we identify with owning a particular thing the we will want to buy it to reinforce our own self identity or identity to others.
Bombarded by these messages people have been enamored with owning the next best things at the cost of delayed debt. Strapped with things and the related debt people work longer hours and don’t dare buck corporate cultures for fear of loosing the income that pays for all these things. A deceptive cycle that has created broken relationships both at home and in our professional lives.
Are we witnessing a shift?
The social web enables individuals to interact and converse openly and honestly. It also enables consumers to share, one to one to millions, opinions on all that is being marketed to us. People share their opinions about businesses, good and bad. Businesses are driven by people and people have learned not to trust “corporate speak” rather people trust others they can relate to and converse with openly.
The social web has enabled people to connect with other people who have experienced a product or service and subsequently get direct and instantaneous feedback on a product or service promise verse what is actually delivered. The feedback spreads like a free flowing body of water which simply goes around or over any obstacles in its path.
One to one to millions represents the force of multiple streams of water connecting and subsequently creating a powerful movement which simply runs over any resistant forces. Existing sales and marketing methods will have to shift significantly into engaging, frank and honest conversations or be run over by the ebb and flow of the wave created by the social web.
Understanding these dynamics is more important than the mechanics of the technology that drives the social web. Many businesses are and will continue to adopt the tools of the social web but few will recognize the need to transform organizational thinking and remove cultural barriers that inhibit people to have real relationships.
Simply using the social web as a new tool for sales and marketing is the wrong approach. Without understanding the dynamics of relationships the tools are useless.
What say you?