Brian Fetherstonhaugh, Chairman & CEO OgilvyOne Worldwide, the interactive marketing and consulting arm of the Ogilvy Group, has just published an interesting research report on the future of selling (embedded below – click through to slideshare to download).
Based on insights from 1000 sales professionals across the world, the report outlines the future of selling with 6 key guidelines, all relevant to social commerce.  For the time challenged, here’s the speed summary:
Buying is changing; the new infosphere of social media, information asymmetry and distributed information means buyers have more information than ever before, and are now less dependant on sales information.
However, despite being information rich, buyers today are often insight poor – they don’t know what to do with all the information available to them.  The new opportunity in sales is to help buyers analyse information available by turning it into insight for making smarter buying decisions.
Many brands and businesses have yet to adapt to the new infosphere of social media, information asymmetry and distributed information.  A six-point guide to future-proofing sales (online or offline) includes:
  1. Adapting to the New Buyer Journey – throw out the 19th Century AIDA model.  The new model is a (digital) word of mouth powered virtuous circle not a funnel – trigger event -> research -> shop and buy -> use -> share (trigger event) [cf. McKinsey’s Loyalty Loop] (image below)
  2. Use Online Content as Digital Bait – use content to draw customers to your sell.  There are three kinds of digital bait
    • Beliefs and Points of View – a differentiating [polemic, even] opinion on your category
    • Expertise – provision of high quality expert information
    • Invitations and Offers – making it worth their while
  3. Develop New Listening Skills: Digital Footprints – understand and harness digital buying signals, search terms, prior purchases, social media readership (blogs, forums…), white paper downloads…
    • IBM studied the exact language that IT buyers use in their searches about software topics and then custom designed a whole raft of inexpensive “how to” videos around these topics. IBM posted them on YouTube and tagged them with exactly the same words that buyers use when they search. Lead volume and quality increased
  4. Future-proof Marketing Skills with Behavioural Economics – understand how costs and incentives pattern customer behaviour, emotionally and rationally – elevate the design of offers and response mechanisms to a rigorous science
    • Sometimes, increasing the price will increase sales volume, not reduce it.
    • Consumers are irrationally biased toward the “middle” choices on a menu.
    • Creating a convenient default option is one of the most effective ways to make a sale. Human inertia stands in the way of selling.
    • Adding more choices often will result in fewer yeses, not more
  5. Learn a New Way to Sell: Social Selling – exploit digital word of mouth and word of mouth platforms such as Facebook (500m users, 130m mobile members) as selling platforms
    • The best way to think about social media from a sales perspective is as digital word of mouth; social media has had an enormous impact on buying behaviour: 65% of successful sales professionals believe social media is integral to their sales success
    • Think of sales as the new status update: P&G is selling 29 brands on Facebook, Ford Explorer launched on Facebook [cf. Fiesta Movement], offered fans priority/early test-drive opportunities
    • “My philosophy, I.C.E.E., stands for Inspire, Connect, Educate or Entertain. I try to have each of the tweets I send out fall into those categories” Tony Hsieh CEO Zappos.
  6. Sales and Marketing as Partners not Opponents – rather than act as tennis opponents, sales and marketing should be team members in a basketball team.  Whereas salespeople were paid to honor the dollar and respect the brand, and marketers paid to honor the brand and respect the dollar, the two functions need to work hand in glove to be functional.
    • Together marketing and sales should endeavour to be:
      • Empathetic – starts from the perspective of the buyer
      • Problem-solvers – asking the right questions to diagnose the problem, and then pitching what you sell as the solution
      • Communicators – clarity of message, inspires and motivates action
      • Trustworthy – delivering on what you promise
      • Beer-worthy – customers want to share time with you
      • Relentlessly energetic – evangelise tirelessly
  7. View more documents from Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide.